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Lorenz Biller

Nautilus cup late 17th century with early 19th century additions

Nautilus shell with silver gilt mounts, diamonds, rubies, emeralds, garnets, sapphires, pink quartz, turquoises | 30.0 x 18.0 x 12.0 cm | RCIN 50610

Lantern Lobby, Windsor Castle

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A nautilus cup with silver-gilt and jewelled mounts. The elaborately pierced and foliate cap is studded with jewels and terminates in a bacchic mask. The stem is cast in the form of a kneeling figure of Atlas, on an embossed oval base inlaid with two garn

Detail of kneeling Atlas ©

A nautilus cup is created from the shell of a nautilus pompoilius, found in the Western Pacific. The chambered shell was usually stripped of its outer layer to reveal the nacreous surface below and this was sometimes carved into the form of a helmet or sea-monster.

This is the second of two nautilus cups purchased by George IV in 1826. It came with a red morocco case and was already jewelled at this date. The form of the kneeling Atlas, seen here, is characteristic of nautilus cups produced in Augsburg.