Object Image

Triton with a nautilus shell

Amsterdam, Netherlands, London?, England

This carved nautilus shell was once owned by the famous collector William Beckford, who commissioned the mount in the form of a fish-tailed sea god, probably in London. To carve the shell, the outer layer was cut off and the design was painted on the mother-of-pearl underlayer with a beeswax mixture. The unpainted parts were then corroded away with alchohol and the detail finished with a small scalpel. Beckford had a great admiration for such objects and the combination of precious metals and rare or exotic materials were highly prized as part of cabinets of curiosity.

Earliest Rothschild collector: Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild; b.1839, d.1898


c 1700 {nautilus shell}, c 1810-1830 {Triton and base}
Silver, gold, shell, ivory, ink and marble
Image and text © Waddesdon Manor, 2019

Where you'll find this

Waddesdon Manor
Permanent collection

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