The scagliola frame, imitating porphyry, surrounds a scagliola slip and a white marble panel inlaid with the image of a peacock feather.
It is Italian, probably from the 18th Century and is thought to have been acquired by Brownlow, 9th Earl of Exeter (1725-1793), whilst travelling in Italy on one of his two Grand Tours in 1763 or 1768.
The 1804 Burghley Inventory records: ‘Furniture sent from Town after the Inventory was taken…..a scagliola picture of a peacock’s feather.’
The object was completely restored in 2008 after being found in a cupboard in an extremely distressed state.
Scagliola is made from a mixture of plaster, glue and dyes which are then polished, usually to imitate marble, but in this case porphyry, an igneous rock with crystal inclusions.