This exquisite group, after Bernini, and probably by an expatriate North German craftsman, sits on an ebonised base with ivory reliefs of Perseus and the dragon and swags of fruit; height overall, 41.9cm, width, 24cm.
The subject is the beautiful Daphne, daughter of the river god Peneus, who ran from the unwelcome amorous approaches of the god Apollo. Daphne called to her father for help and he saved her by turning her into a laurel bush. The 5th Earl of Exeter’s purchase of the piece, for 60 crowns, was recorded in Culpepper Tanner’s notes of 1681 and recorded again by him in the 1688 Burghley Inventory as: ‘My Lady’s Clossett……A Daphne & Apollo in Ivory on a pedistall of Ebony & Carved by —‘. Culpepper Tanner was the 5th Earl’s steward.