An Italian silver-gilt casket, second half 18th Century.

The casket, in the manner of the Valadie workshops, is decorated with panels of agate, heliotrope and lapis lazuli.

The sides have chiselled urns and scrolling acanthus supported by cherubim; the corners with grotesque masks and scroll feet.

The lid has a rectangular gilt-silver relief of putti teasing a goat, after Duquesnoy, and there is a shield with monogram on the back.

It was probably designed for a christening robe, 34.3cm.

Francois Duquesnoy (1597-1643) was a Flemish Baroque sculptor who worked mostly in Rome. Several copies were made of his bas-relief of putti playing with a male goat, which became popular with Dutch artists.

The casket previously belonged to William Beckford (1760-1844) who became an art collector on a massive scale after inheriting a vast fortune in 1770.

In 1823, his collection was dispersed in a great sale, at which Brownlow, 2nd Marquess of Exeter (1795-1867) purchased the casket.


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