Saturday, February 1, 2014

Saturday Sparkle: The Star of the Saxe-Ernestine Order, 1840

The Star of the Saxe-Ernestine Order
Created for Prince Albert, 1840
Gold, Yellow Diamonds, White Diamonds,
Opals, Emeralds, Blue Enamel
The Royal Collection

Of the many stars and garter badges given to Prince Albert during his life, this one is the most unusual for its use of opals in place of white enamel and the inclusion of both white and canary diamonds.

This is the Star of the Saxe-Ernestine Order which was given to Prince Albert in 1840. The order was founded in 1833 by Albert’s father, Ernest of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. The star was meant to commemorate Albert’s appointment as Grand Cross of the Order in 1838.

Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
via The Royal Collection Trust
Image Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Prince Albert can be seen wearing this particular star in the painting of the christening of the Princess Royal by 
Charles Robert Leslie in 1841.

The Christening of Princess VictoriaCharles Robert Leslie, 1841
Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
Image Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Click on all images to enlarge.

Unfolding Pictures: A Baton Fan with Blackamoor Finials, 1750

Baton Fan with Blackamoor Finials
French Leaf with German Stick and Guards, 1750
Given to Queen Victoria from Prince Albert, 1840
This an all images:
Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
Image Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
Just before their marriage, Prince Albert presented Queen Victoria with four antique fans from the collection of his family. His grandfather, Duke Augustus of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg, had amassed a remarkable collection of fans with the help of German dealer, Joseph Meyer. The queen was so pleased with the gift that she made a note in her diary that her beloved had given her “Four beautiful old fans.”

Of the four, one is especially interesting. This unusual fan is called a “baton fan” because, when closed, it takes on a cylindrical shape as opposed to the flatter shape of most fans. The sticks and guards are German in origin. 

Created in 1750, the fan guards end in delicately carved, Moorish-inspred, figural heads—each with carefully pierced ears from which gold earrings hang. The fan leaf was painted in France and depicts a romantic, courting scene which the prince found especially appropriate for the occasion.  The reverse depicts a landscape scene of a folly upon a lake.

On February 9, 1840, upon receiving these gifts, and a few others, Queen Victoria recorded her enthusiasm in her journal.  And, look!  Thanks to the very agreeable people at the Royal Collection, I've a photo of the very page upon which Her Majesty wrote of this fan, over one hundred sixty years ago!  Wonderful!

The Home Beautiful: The Cradle of Princess Louise

Cradle for Princess Louise
William Gibbs Rogers, 1850
The Royal Collection
via The Royal Collection Trust
Image Courtesy of
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

In 1848, Queen Victoria commissioned a cradle for the infant Princess Louise. She selected William Gibbs Rogers to create the piece. Rogers carved the cradle from boxwood to Queen Victoria’s specifications, designing the piece in the Italian Renaissance style based on images from paintings.

The craftsmanship of the cradle was so fine and precise that, in fact, it took Rogers two years to complete the project. The Queen was thrilled with the result which Rogers signed on the reverse, “W.G. ROGERS FECIT ANNO 1850.” Queen Victoria praised Rogers’ incorporation of the emblems of The Royal Houses of England and Saxe-Coburg as well as the imagery of flowers and plants which were associated with sleep. She wrote in her journal of the piece that it was, “finer than anything of the kind, either antique or modern.”

This cradle can be viewed as part of the Royal Collection

Gifts of Grandeur: A Wedding Gift from Prince Albert to Queen Victoria

Miniature on Bracelet, 1840
Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
Image Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Let's face it, Prince Albert knew he was getting a good deal when it was announced he was going to marry his cousin, Victoria, who happened to be the Queen of England and a whole bunch of other stuff.  It's not as if it came as a surprise.  Albert had long been groomed to be the groom.  After all, his Uncle....ahem, their Uncle...Prince Leopold, King of Belgium, had been pushing for the marriage for quite some time.  It also helped that Victoria had, upon their second meeting, fallen madly in love with the handsome prince, gushing about his fine face, broad shoulders and slim hips.  Oh, yes, Albert was fond of Victoria, too.  But, not quite as effusively.  He was German, you know.

Among the many gifts Albert presented to his royal bride upon their marriage in February of 1840, was this miniature which the young Prince had commissioned from a German jeweler and miniaturist W. Schmidt.  

The gold bracelet held a locket containing a gorgeous watercolor on ivory portrait of the young Prince of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.  This miniature of Prince Albert was painted shortly before his marriage. Schmidt has modeled the face from the oil portrait that George Patten had been despatched to paint in Gotha early in 1840, although Schmidt has substituted evening dress where Patten portrays the Prince at half-length in the uniform of the Saxonian Light Infantry.

According to the Royal Collection:

This bracelet originally had another three lockets on it. This remaining miniature and photograph formed part of a group of jewels placed in the ‘Albert Room’ at Windsor Castle after the Queen's death in 1901. This was the room in which Prince Albert had died in 1861 and the Queen left instructions for a specific list of personal jewellery to be placed there and not passed on in the family.

We're not quite sure what became of the other three pendant lockets.  The one which remains, a shell-shape of gold contains a photograph of Victoria, the Princess Royal (their first-born) which was taken before her wedding day in 1858.

Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
Image Courtesy of
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
The miniature is set in a flexible gold bracelet clasp supplied in 1860 by Garrards (this replaced the original velvet band upon which the locket was presented in 1840) with the interior cover engraved with the inscription "ALBERT / 1840"  and the exterior applied with floral decoration.  The reverse is inscribed with a four-leaf clover and the engraved inscription "Coburg 1st October 1860."  


What's the significance of that day in October, 1860?

The clover and date both refer to and commemorate the Prince Consort's lucky escape from death in a carriage accident which had happened while ALbert was visiting his homeland of Coburg.

Queen Victoria recorded in her Journal a year later: 

The anniversary of that fearful accident which befel [sic] my dearest Albert at Coburg last year. May God ever extend His mercy to him, as He did so signally then. Have founded a Charity at Coburg, in remembrance of it.
Sadly, but not surprisingly, Victoria's prayers went unanswered as Albert was not extended any mercy.  He died two months after that journal entry, in December of 1861.

I wonder how the missing pendants looked.  The pendant shell which does remain is engraved "from Victoria / 1st Feb 1858.

The bracelet portion which was added by Garrards can be tucked away and the miniature can be worn as a pendant.

Masterpiece of the Week: Sir Edwin Landseer’s “Princess Victoire of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha,” 1839

Princess Victoire of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha
Sir Edwin Landseer, 1839
The Royal Collection

This unusual portrait from the private collection of Queen Victoria is the work of the magnificent Edwin Landseer from whose skilled hand came some of the most beautiful portraits, landscapes and animal scenes produced by any British painter.

The sitter is Queen Victoria’s cousin, Princess Victoire of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. Victoire was the daughter of Queen Victoria’s mother’s elder brother, Duke Ferdinand of Saxe-Gotha. She is painted from the back as she gazes out into the horizon. Landseer included Victoire’s black cocker spaniel in the piece. It’s hard to say if this was because of a particular attachment Victoire had to the dog or because Edwin Landseer really 
enjoyed painting dogs—something for which he is remembered to this day.

Landseer considered this highly detailed work to be “just a sketch” as indicated in the notation on the reverse of the canvas. It is thought that the “sketch” was drawn without Victoire’s knowledge. Viewers of the work found it odd and enchanting. The painting was given as a gift to Queen Victoria from one Baroness Lehzen on September 10, 1839. The Baroness described the work as “a lovely sketch in oils Landseer has done of Victoire’s back, as a surprise for me; it is so like, - such a treasure — just the figure of that Angel.”

Landseer shows us that a figure that is drawn properly is recognizable as a particular person even from behind. This strange pose at once reminds us of his talent as a painter and the quiet beauty of Princess Victoire of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. 

Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
Via The Royal Collection Trust
Image Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Her Majesty's Furniture: The Coburg Sideboard, 1851

Germany, 1850-1851
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Oh, Prince Albert…you can take the boy out of Germany, but you can’t take the Germany out of the boy. Though courtiers suggested to Queen Victoria that her Consort might want to tone down the whole, “I’m a foreign prince” schtick at various points, Prince Albert was unabashedly German in almost every way. Though Prince Albert’s pre-Victoria life was actually kind of terrible and sad, after his marriage he romanticized Germany and his boyhood and developed a rather peculiar tie to all of the things which he ignored when he actually lived in Germany.

So, by 1851, when the Prince’s baby, “The Great Exhibition” had launched, he was keen to make sure that Germany was represented. And, then, came this sideboard and its heavily carved brethren. Ferdinand Rothbart (1823-1899), a German furniture maker, presented a handsome suite of furniture at the Great Exhibition of 1851. Rothbart was assisted by one Th. Kolb whose history is all but lost now. The suite included four chairs among other objects which were all manufactured by Thomas Hoffmeister and Thomas Behrens in Coburg, Germany around 1850.

The entire lot was commissioned by the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg. Just for the record, let’s not forget that Albert was the Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (which was, by the way, the official name of the Royal Family from Victoria’s 1840 marriage until King George V changed it to “Windsor” on July 17, 1917 during the First World War when there was, understandably, some anti-German sentiment).

After the Exhibition, and after the sideboard—the most admired piece of the lot—was awarded an “Honourable Mention” by the juries there, Prince Albert bought the whole lot, intending to use the pieces in Balmoral Castle. However, during the construction of the new castle at Balmoral, the furnishings were taken to the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh where it was used in the Evening Drawing Room. Evidently, Albert changed his mind and the suite never made it to Balmoral. It remained in Holyroodhouse until 1923 when Queen Mary donated the furnishings to the University of Edinburgh. I find this rather queer as it’s the first time I ever heard of Queen Mary donating anything to anyone. She much preferred having people donate things to her. I suspect, however, that these pieces weren’t really Mary’s cup of tea. She, too, at times tried to distance herself from her German roots. After all, aside from being related to Prince Albert as well, she was also the daughter of the uber-German Duke of Teck. Perhaps she just didn’t want these pieces around. The University grew tired of the suite as well, and, in 1967, donated the lot to the V&A which seems quite content to have it. 

This particular sideboard was described in the 1851 Exhibition catalog as being “in the German-Gothic style of the middle ages.” Well, yes, it is. It’s quite Gothic—complete with ogival arches and repeated motifs similar to Gothic window tracery. The door panels are deeply carved with hunting scenes and motifs. The central doors depict a group of deer in a woodland setting. These are flanked by figures of men with spears, knives and bugles. Boars and bears round out the theme. The whole of the reverse is covered in deep, plush, red velvet, which, where exposed, is faded to brown.

Object of the Day, Museum Edition: A Miniature of Queen Victoria’s Father, Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, 1814

Edward, Duke of Kent
Miniature on Ivory in Gold Locket
The Royal Collection
The fourth son of King George III and Queen Charlotte, Prince Edward, the Duke of Kent and Strathearn was a military officer with expensive and debauched tastes as well as a host of illegitimate children. At the time of George III’s death, the King only had one legitimate grandchild, and she died young—leaving no one in line for the throne after the Prince Regent (later King George IV) and his younger brother, William. George III’s unmarried sons tried to make suitable marriages to produce a legitimate heir presumptice. Among this rush, The Duke of Kent married Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saafeld. They had one child—Princess Alexandrina Victoria of Kent. The Princess was the only legitimate issue in line for the Crown, and after the death of her uncle, King William IV, she ascended the throne as Queen Victoria in 1837. The Duke of Kent never saw his daughter as Queen. He died seventeen years earlier.

But, here he is on a watercolor on ivory miniature in a gold locket. The painting is by Johan Georg Paul Fischer and dates to 1814.

Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
Via The Royal Collection Trust
Image Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Queen Victoria was painted in 1821, before her accession, holding this miniature in a portrait by Sir William Beechey which depicts the the Duchess of Kent with Princess Victoria. The elaborate gold locket is the work of the jewelers Rundell, Bridge & Rundell, and shows their masterful chasing and repoussé work. The Duke is identified by his Garter emblems, his coronet and his name, EDWARD. The locket’s reverse is similarly chased and is adorned with the badge of the Bath within the collar, and the collar and badge of St Patrick.

Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
Via The Royal Collection Trust
Image Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Fischer based this miniature on a portrait by Sir Beechey which also dates to 1814. No stranger to the Royal Family, Fischer’s first Royal sitter was King George III, whom Fischer painted for his Golden Jubilee.

Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
Via The Royal Collection Trust
Image Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Friday, January 31, 2014

Gifts of Grandeur: The Countess Harley Teleki Brooch, 1610 and 1620

The Victoria & Albert Museum
This jeweled locket of enameled gold is set with table-cut diamonds, rubies and emeralds. As a truly stunning centerpiece, the largest ruby is set in a heart-shaped gold frame and pierced by two arrows. A smartly enameled locket in the back of the jewel contains the miniature portrait of a man.

Such a brooch would have been presented by a man to his love. This example was made in Prague between 1610 and 1620. Cupid, the cherubic son of Venus, the Roman goddess of love, was as popular a symbol of love in the Seventeenth Century as he is today. In fact, he’s been shooting arrows into hearts for many centuries and reached a new height in popularity during the Italian Renaissance. 

Figure of the Day: Pulcinella, 1755

The Victoria & Albert Museum

Pulcinella and his rival/buddy Scaramouche were and are a staple of the Italian Commedia dell’arte long before he traveled to England where he became known as Punch. As such, he’s been a common theme in the arts for centuries. Here’s an example of an Eighteenth Century depiction of Pulcinella which shows his transition from Italian valet to voice of the British people/murderous scamp.

The figure we see here has been very badly damaged. It was found in the grounds of Holland House, the London house of Sir Charles Hanbury-Williams, who was the British Envoy at Dresden Court in Germany. In 1748, Hanbury-Williams was presented with a host of diplomatic gifts of Meissen porcelain which he kept at Holland House. Three years later, he lent examples of these Meissen pieces to the Chelsea factory in order for them to be copies. This was likely one of those pieces.

Pulcinella stands in his typical dancing pose, with his right arm and left leg raised (the former missing, and the latter broken at the ankle). As usual, he is depicted with his very pronounced hump, a pointed hat and mask, and his trademark hooked nose.

As I mentioned, this was found at Holland House. However, it’s a miracle that it survived. This figure was among several artifacts discovered in the rubble of the house after it was bombed in 1940 during the Second World War. It’s just further proof that Punch always beats the Devil.

Mr. Punch in the Arts: “Pulcinella” by Jean-Ernest-Louis-Messionier

Jean-Ernest-Louis Messionier
Circa 1860

French Classicist painter and sculptor Jean-Ernest-Louis-Messionier was best known for his monumental scenes of battles, military figures and of Napoleon. However, he did the occasional genre painting and sometimes painted other artists.

This painting of Pulcinella shows one of Messionier’s rare non-military subjects. An actor is dressed in the guise of Italy’s “Pulcinella,” Mr. Punch’s ancestor. In a brightly-hued costume against a theatrical backdrop, the subject looks cheerfully out at the viewer, resting his hands upon his grotesque stomach.

Messionier seemed to have a fascination with the idea of “Pulcinella.” This theme appears also in some of the artist’s attempts to create engravings.

Drawing of the Day: La Gran Tragedie di Ariosto, 19th C.

Non e un si bello in tante altre persone, Natura il fece, e poi roppa la stampa.

(There never was such beauty in another man. Nature made him, and then broke the mould.)
                --From "Orlando Furioso" by Ludovico Ariosto

La Gran Tragedie di Ariosto
Naples, Nineteenth Century
The Victoria & Albert Museum

This illustration comes from Naples and dates to the Nineteenth Century. It’s remarkable to me in that it shows the development of the The Punch and Judy tradition. As we know, Mr. Punch came to the U.K. from Italy where he had his roots in the Italian character, “Pulcinella.” 

The drawing depicts a Pulcinella-type show, however, we can clearly see that the puppets, to me, more so resemble the look of the popular Nineteenth Century Mr. Punch than they do Pulcinella. So popular was Punch that many Italian “Professors” styled their own puppets after the British Red Nose as opposed to their own masked Pulcinella.  

I can't say for certain that this crowd in Naples is watching a variation of a Pulcinella character.  The puppet on the left's costume is that of Arlecchino or "Harlequin." However, I would like to note that he clearly exhibits Mr. Punch's attribute of a humpback--not something usually associated with Harlequin. 

The title of the performance (as depicted on the front of the fit-up) is "la gran tragedie di Ariosto.” The title refers to “Orlando Furioso,” an epic poem by Ludovico Ariosto. This poem was a popular subject for traveling puppet shows.

A Recipe for Punch, Chapter 51

Chapter 51

"Fascinating,"  Punch declared in his finest "Julian" voice as he and Miss Blessum arrived at the terrible cell where Morgana had been kept for nearly a year.  "Here I thought there wasn't a corner of Fallbridge Hall that I hadn't seen, and, yet, within the past day, I've seen so much that I never expected."  

He faced Miss Blessum so that she  so that she could not escape his gaze.  "Tell me, however did you find this particular room?  Tucked away it is."

"I did not, Your Grace.  Mr. Jackson knew of it."  Ivy answered.

"Open the door for me, please."

"Yes, Your Grace."  Ivy nodded nervously.

"I wonder what purpose it served."  Punch smiled.  "Oh, after you..." He waved the woman in before he entered.  "Tell me, were the chains on the walls here or did you and Mr. Jackson have then installed?"


"Go on."  Mr. Punch grinned.

"We had Gregory install them."  Ivy gulped.

"Ah,"  Punch nodded.  "Hmmm...the manacles look as though they'd have been a bit snug on my aunt.  She does not technically have wrists, you know.  Just wee indentations where her...claws...pincers meet her arms.  I can't imagine that she would have been terrible comfortable.  And, well, those leg irons.  Those must have cut and chafed her terribly--her one leg as...swollen as it is.  Open them."

"Your Grace?"

"The shackled and leg irons."  Punch smiled.  "Use your keys and open them.  Then, hand your keys to me."

"I...I do not think that..."

"Do it!"  Punch shouted.

Ivy did as instructed.

"Now, the keys."  Punch held out his hand.  Ivy reluctantly deposited the keys in his palm.

"Miss Blessum, I should like to see how the manacles fit a person with wrists so that I might imagine how they might have fitted my Aunt Morgana.  Please place your wrists in the shackles."

"Your Grace..."

Punch narrowed his eyes.  "You will do it while conscious or..."

"Surely, Your Grace, you couldn't be so..."

"Cruel?"  Punch interrupted.  "Cruel as to keep another human being chained to a wall, in a cell, in an attic?"  He laughed.  "Why not?  It's quite the thing in Yorkshire, I'm told."  His smile faded.  "Now, place your bony wrists in the shackles."

She did has instructed and Punch snapped them shut.  "Do you see how loose they are?  Not loose enough that you could escape, mind.  But, still, loose enough that they're not cutting into your flesh--not that you have much flesh.  Now, think.  My aunt's...arms...are much thicker than yours.  How might that feel?  Think of that.  Do...really think of it.  I shall ask you for your observations when I return."

"You're going to leave me here, Your Grace?"


"For how long?"

"For how long was Miss Morgana locked here?"  Punch smiled as he closed and locked the door behind him.

Come back on Monday for Chapter 52 of A Recipe for Punch.  If you've missed any chapters, you can catch up in the Chapter Archive.

Print of the Day: Pulcinella in Rome, 1815

Click image to enlargePulcinella in Rome
Bartolomeo Pinelli, 1815
The Harry Beard Collection at
The Victoria & Albert Museum

From the Harry Beard Collection at the V&A, here’s an etching of a Pulcinella Show (Mr. Punch’s Italian ancestor) being performed in Rome.

The etching was made in 1815 after a painting by Bartolomeo Pinelli (1781-1835). Pulcinella wears his traditional white robe and cap and his black half-mask. Like Mr. Punch, Pulcinella is often armed with a large stick, truncheon or cudgel which he uses to dispatch those who might prevent him from achieving his random goals.

Also interesting is the depiction of the crowd watching the show. Pulcinella, again, like Punch, is the great communicator—attracting people from all corners of life. Here, we see monks curious children, a maid, a gentleman, a middle-class mother and child, and, even a rake smoking a pipe.

Object of the Day, Museum Edition: A Pulcinella Mask, c. 1670-1700

Leather Mask of Pulcinella
Naples, Italy, Late Seventeenth to Early Eighteenth Centuries
The Victoria & Albert Museum

In the Seventeenth Century, street performers, pantomime actors, opera stars and puppeteers across Europe were, unbeknownst to each other, developing a set of common characters who would eventually join into one great satirical genre populated by stock characters which endure to this day. While these characters still retain their individual identities in their countries of origin, they all married to produce, in Britain, Mr. Punch and his companions.

The main source for Mr. Punch, as we know, is his Italian cousin, Pulcinella from the Commedia dell’arte who not only gave birth to Punch, but also lent some of his puppet DNA to France’s pig-tailed Guignol. We must remember, however, that before these little fellows (with the exception of Guignol who was born as and remained a puppet) initially strutted for the delight of society as masked human actors in a tradition that is still enjoyed today.

This molded leather mask is from an Italian Commedia dell'arte troupe which performed in Naples around 1700. This black mask is immediately recognizable as that of Pulcinella. In fact he still wears a similar mask.

Pulcinella was initially portrayed as a dimwitted servant, known for his big beaky nose, hunchback, distended stomach and a prominent wart on his forehead. By the time he became Mr. Punch, he had had his wart removed and lost the black mask, but the other characteristics remained. As the Seventeenth Century progressed, the character of Pulcinella became more well-rounded. By the time this mask was made and used, he was not necessarily a servant, but rather a trickster peasant, a dentist (like his cousin, Guignol), a physician, a painter or a soldier.

As Pulcinella changed, the mask also changed. The earliest versions of the mask featured a moustache and beard which served to obscure most of the actor's face. But, by the time Pulcinella reached Britain where he would become Punchinello, and ultimately, Mr. Punch, the character donned a half-mask like this one.

Curiously, as Italian performers of the period traveled to England to seek new audiences, the retained some of the old Commedia dell'arte characters, creating a type of early pantomime called a “harlequinade” (which is great with ice on a warm day). But, Pulcinella was not among them. He, in typical Punchinello fashion broke out on his own. Ever the independent spirit, Punchinello was a star in his own right and the English embraced his shocking and amusing antics, calling him “Mr. Punch” and making him the voice of the people. Mr. Punch introduced new versions of some of the traditional stock characters, assigning them characteristics and roles which better suited his own story.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

An Unexpected Day Off

Hello All,

Sorry, but it has shaped up to be a very busy day, and I'm going to have to take the day off from our fun here.

We'll be back at it tomorrow.

See you then.


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Mastery of Design: The Putti Snuffbox, 1750

Click images to enlarge.
German Snuffbox
Circa 1750
This and all related images from:
The Victoria & Albert Museum

I always like the snuffboxes that are constructed of different media. Typically, we see examples made of precious metals or porcelain, but every so often, we get one of shell or bone which is just lovely. This one is made of tortoiseshell—a medium which found its way into a variety of the decorative arts.

The cartouche-shaped box depicts a scene of putti playing in a fountain—as they do. It’s quite a clever use of carious precious materials. The pilasters with their scrolling decoration are made of inlaid gold while the putti themselves are rendered in ivory. Mother-of-pearl inlay forms the fountain while lapis lazuli and malachite add notes of blue and green respectively to the piece.

There’s no doubt as to the Rococo influence here. Made around 1750, this box is a nifty example of a German take on the Rococo. There’s some debate about just where in Germany the box was made. Some say Southern Germany, particularly Bavaria, while others insist that the piece was constructed in Berlin.

The sides are adorned with more putti and gold shells while the base is engraved with a gold rocaille. The reeded mount comes alive with shell and the scrolled thumb-piece adds interest to the front. Today, the box forms part of the magnificent Gilbert Collection at the V&A.