This beautiful group, circa 1764-6, is mounted on a triangular marble pedestal sculpted by Nollekens after the antique.
It is carved on the three sides with: a nymph carrying flowers and leading a kid, a youth with a lamb and a girl with cymbals.
The sculpture was purchased in Rome by Brownlow, 9th Earl of Exeter (1725-1793).
The 1763 Burghley Inventory, in a later addition, records: ‘Egypt’n Hall …Boy & Dolphin upon Tripod removed to ye Great Stair Case,’ where it remains today.
The antique from which the pedestal was taken was in the Barberini Palace in Rome before its acquisition by Catherine the Great of Russia.
Joseph Nollekens, the London-born son of a Flemish painter, studied sculpture in Rome, before spending a decade there as a dealer in antiques and a restorer and copier of antique originals.
Returning to England, he became famous for his portrait busts and was one of the most fashionable portrait sculptors of his day.