Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Gifts of Grandeur: The St. Petersburg Turquoise Snuffbox, 1820

This and all related images from:
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Russian artisans have always excelled with the concept of the jewel-encrusted box. In the 1820s when the fashion for turquoise jewelry was at its apex in Europe, Russian jewelers adapted the look into a variety of small vessels such as this wee snuffbox from St. Petersburg.

This particular box was a new take on the trunk-shaped caskets which had been popular in Russia at the end of the Eighteenth Century. The shape has been elongated and studded with a beautiful coat of Persian turquoise. The box itself is constructed of gold while the stones are set in turquoise. A diamond-set thumbpiece completes the luxurious package.

This beauty is just one of the many treasures collected by Sir Arthur Gilbert and his wife Rosalinde who formed one of the world's great decorative art collections. Arthur Gilbert donated this extraordinary collection to Britain in 1996 and it has been housed at the V&A on public display for many years. 

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