Snuffbox thumbnail 1
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Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Gold, Silver and Mosaics, Room 72, The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Galleries

Snuffbox

1775-1780 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This box forms part of the group of snuffboxes associated with Frederick the Great of Prussia, who was a cultivated admirer of the arts. He maintained a lengthy, although sometimes heated, correspondence with the French philosopher Voltaire and was a gifted musician, composer and linguist. He had a passion for gold boxes, some of which he may have designed himself. He carried a box at all times; one is even said to have saved his life by deflecting a bullet during the battle of Kunersdorf in 1759.

Although the goldsmith who made the box is unknown, it is modelled on a design by Jean Guillaume George Krüger. Krüger was a London-born artist who was summoned to Berlin in 1753. Twenty designs for snuffboxes survive, all apparently made before the period around 1774 which he spent working in Paris.

Sir Arthur Gilbert and his wife Rosalinde formed one of the world's great decorative art collections, including silver, mosaics, enamelled portrait miniatures and gold boxes. Arthur Gilbert donated his extraordinary collection to Britain in 1996.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Carved bloodstone, gold, set emeralds and diamonds; some coloured, some with foil backing, and cut glass
Brief Description
Snuffbox with vase of flowers. Bloodstone, gold, diamonds, emeralds, glass, foil. Designed by Jean Guillaume George Krüger, Berlin, Germany, ca. 1765.
Physical Description
Cartouche-shaped snuffbox comprised of seventeen panels of bloodstone mounted in a cagework of gold and set with a profusion of diamonds, some of which are coloured yellow and others foiled. The cover is set with a vase, coloured to resemble porphyry, in which is set a bouquet of stylised flowers comprised of emeralds, rubies and diamonds, with smaller flowers. This is bordered by diamonds set in gold and sprigs of flowers. The walls of the box are divided into six reserves set with sprays of flowers. The base is encrusted in a similar fashion with a smaller bouquet of cut flowers.
Dimensions
  • Depth: 7.3cm
  • Width: 9.5cm
  • Height: 5.4cm
  • Weight: 360g
Marks and Inscriptions
No marks
Gallery Label
3. Table snuffbox with vase of flowers 1775–80 The design of this box is inspired by the work of London-born Jean Krüger, who worked in Paris and Berlin. Its decoration includes glass and hardstone, sometimes painted from behind to achieve delicate effects like the mottled appearance of the central vase. Berlin, Germany; based on a design by Jean Guillaume George Krüger (1728–91) Bloodstone, gold, silver, diamonds, emeralds, rubies, hardstones, glass and foil In the collection of Prince Carl Anselm of Thurn und Taxis by 1796, where it was identified as a ‘Boite de Prusse’ (box from Prussia) Museum no. Loan:Gilbert.414-2008(16/11/2016)
Credit line
The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Collection on loan to the Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Object history
Provenance: The Thurn and Taxis Collection; sale, Sotheby's, Geneva, 17 November 1992, lot 144

S.J. Phillips, London
Production
After a design by Jean Guillaume George Krüger.
Subjects depicted
Summary
This box forms part of the group of snuffboxes associated with Frederick the Great of Prussia, who was a cultivated admirer of the arts. He maintained a lengthy, although sometimes heated, correspondence with the French philosopher Voltaire and was a gifted musician, composer and linguist. He had a passion for gold boxes, some of which he may have designed himself. He carried a box at all times; one is even said to have saved his life by deflecting a bullet during the battle of Kunersdorf in 1759.



Although the goldsmith who made the box is unknown, it is modelled on a design by Jean Guillaume George Krüger. Krüger was a London-born artist who was summoned to Berlin in 1753. Twenty designs for snuffboxes survive, all apparently made before the period around 1774 which he spent working in Paris.



Sir Arthur Gilbert and his wife Rosalinde formed one of the world's great decorative art collections, including silver, mosaics, enamelled portrait miniatures and gold boxes. Arthur Gilbert donated his extraordinary collection to Britain in 1996.
Bibliographic References
  • Dragadze, Peter. 'Having It All', The Connoisseur, January 1988, Vol. 218. London: National Magazine Co., pp.82-91.
  • Truman, Charles.The Gilbert collection of gold boxes, volume II, London: Philip Wilson Publishers Ltd., 1999, cat. no. 21, pp. 40-2. ISBN.0856675210
  • Sotheby's Art at Auction: The Art Market Review 1993-94. London: Conran Octopus Ltd., no. 11, p. 233.
  • Von Hohenzollern, Johann Georg Prinz. Friedrich der Grosse, Sammler und Mazen, München : Hirmer, 1992no. 134, pp. 276-7.
  • Seelig, Lorenz. Golddosen des 18. Jahrhunderts aus dem Besitz der Fürsten Thurn und Taxis. Exh. cat. Munich, Bayerisches Nationalmuseum 2007. Munich: Hirmer Verlag 2007, pp. 421-2, cat. no. 4 (appendix); ill. p. 69.
  • Zech, Heike. 'Goldboxes in the Gilbert Collection at the V & A'. In : Art Antiques London. Catalogue of Art Antiques London, incorporating The International Ceramics Fair & Seminar, 10 June - 16 June 2010. London: Haughton International Fairs, 2010, p.13, ill.
  • Zech, Heike. Gold Boxes. Masterpieces from the Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Collection. London: V&A Publishing, 2015, p. 85, ill. ISBN 987-1-85177-840-9
  • Gold boxes : from the Gilbert collection : an exhibition27
Other Numbers
  • GB 167 - Arthur Gilbert Number
  • 1996.516 - The Gilbert Collection, Somerset House
Collection
Accession Number
LOAN:GILBERT.414-2008

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record createdJune 27, 2008
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