Saturday, April 20, 2013

Gifts of Grandeur: The Admiral Jervis Bonbonnière, 1785

Russia, 1785
The Victoria & Albert Museum
John, Regent of Portugal, presented this elegant Russian bonbonnière (candy box) to Admiral Sir John Jervis, 1st Earl of St Vincent (1734-1823). Jervis is famous for leading the British fleet to Lisbon in 1806 in a pre-emptive strike against French forces. Evidence suggests that the present Portuguese miniature of watercolor on ivory that is mounted in the center of the box is probably a replacement for a Russian miniature—perhaps an image of Catherine the Great. The present miniature depicts John VI of Portugal (1769-1826) who is shown wearing the Order of the Golden Fleece.
This gold bonbonnière has been enameled in translucent blue over an exquisite engine-turned ground which has been bordered by rose-cut diamonds. To further adorn the box, a guilloche of blue on an opaque white ground encloses enamel “pearls” (some of which are missing). These neatly off-set the entwined ribbons of rose-diamonds. An inner border of blue and white petals completes the design. 

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