From March 5th to August 15th 2021, DIVA will be hosting the touring exhibition Masterpieces in Miniature: Treasures from the Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Collection organised by the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in London. This is the first time items from all categories of the Gilbert Collection will go on display on the European continent. That honour falls to DIVA, the Antwerp museum for diamonds, jewellery and silver. Some objects, such as the sixteenth-century partridge cup, are exclusive to the Antwerp exhibition.
Alice Minter, curator of the Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Collection - V&A: “We are so proud that DIVA in Antwerp is to be the first to present the international touring exhibition ‘Masterpieces in Miniature’. And where more appropriate to show the Gilbert Collection than in a city that has been a major European production and trading centre for art and luxury products from every corner of the world, including diamonds, jewellery and silver, ever since the sixteenth century. As an unconventional art collector and philanthropist, Arthur Gilbert was something of a celebrity, which means that the famous waxwork of him will look very much at home in a museum called DIVA!”
A magnificent collection
The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Collection is a homage to exquisitely crafted objects, many in precious metals and often small in scale. The Gilberts spent over forty years amassing their collection of nearly 1000 items of fine silverware, gold (snuff)boxes, enamels and mosaics made in Europe between the sixteenth and twentieth centuries. Their passion for craftsmanship and beauty resulted in a collection that is unparalleled today.
Arthur (1913-2001) and Rosalinde Gilbert (1913-1995) made their first fortune in the fashion industry in London in the 1930s. They swapped London for their newly designed villa in Beverly Hills and set up a successful property development business in America. A second success story soon followed. Their search for “beautiful things” to decorate their home soon developed into a passion for collecting. The couple travelled the world looking for mosaics and the very best gold, silver and enamel objects.
“To me, making money just for the sake of making money doesn’t make any sense. So I evolved into a collector.”, Arthur Gilbert explained.
The desire to share their collection with others by putting it on public display was of real importance to the couple. In the 1970s the collection went to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, before being transferred to Somerset House in London in 2000 and from there to its current home at the V&A. This is the first time items from all categories of the Gilbert Collection will go on display on the European continent. The collection will travel on from here to America and Asia.
About the exhibition
Masterpieces in Miniature is an ode to Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert’s impressive legacy and a chance for the public to admire these treasures from close to. DIVA, the museum for diamonds, jewellery and silver, is the first venue to host this prestigious touring exhibition.
Eva Olde Monnikhof, director of DIVA: “We are extremely proud to have the opportunity to present one of the world’s best cabinets of curiosities here in our museum. The partridge cup made by Jörg Ruel in the late sixteenth century was high on our wish-list. Besides the extraordinary carving and choice of materials, the cup also provides context for one of our own masterpieces: the sixteenth-century owl cup with Antwerp marks. These love birds will meet for the first time in the city where love is sealed with a diamond ring: Antwerp.”
Visitors to the exhibition are plunged into the world of the Gilberts and their dazzling collection. They will make the acquaintance of Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert and come to understand their collecting habits, travel with them as they go in search of exceptional craftsmanship and beauty and encounter famous historical figures such as the tsarina Catharine the Great, Napoleon Bonaparte and Queen Victoria. The showpieces include a snuffbox belonging to Frederick the Great of Prussia, made of chrysoprase, a rare gemstone mined in Silesia and set with hardstones and diamonds. The diamonds were coloured by placing them over pale-pink, green and lemon-coloured metal foils.
Dries Otten (°1978) has been commissioned to design the set for Masterpieces in Miniature. The Antwerp-based interior architect, furniture and set designer is famous for his playful use of colour with historical references. He has already designed exhibition sets for the TextielMuseum, Bozar and Texture.
Wording for publications
Masterpieces in Miniature: Treasures from the Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Collection. A V&A exhibition – Touring the world with the support of the Gilbert Trust for the Arts – presented at DIVA, museum for diamonds, jewellery and silver in Antwerp.
Alice Minter, curator of the Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Collection - V&A
Jessica Eddie, assistant curator of the Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Collection - V&A
The Victoria and Albert Museum, London (V&A) is the world’s leading museum of art, design and performance with collections unrivalled in their scope and diversity, spanning 5000 years of human creativity. It was established in 1852 to make works of art available to all and to inspire British designers and manufacturers. Today, its purpose is to champion creative industry, inspire the next generation, and spark everyone’s imagination.
- When: Friday March 5th to Sunday August 15th 2021
- Where: DIVA, Suikerrui 17 – 19, 2000 Antwerp
- Opening times: 10.00 – 18.00 hrs Mondays to Sundays, closed on Wednesdays
- Ticket prices: standard ticket €12 per person
To arrange previews, guided tours or interviews with the curator, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org