This is a superb example of aristocratic collecting whilst on the Grand Tour. The purchase of this luxurious souvenir, for 60 crowns, is recorded by Culpepper Tanner, steward to the 5th Earl of Exeter (1648-1700), whilst they were travelling in Italy in 1681. It is recorded in the 1688 Inventory of Burghley: “My Lady’s Clossett……A Daphne & Apollo in Ivory on a pedistall of Ebony & Carved by —.”
Greek myth tells of Apollo insulting Cupid, who, in revenge, shot him with a golden arrow to incite lust for Daphne. Daphne was pierced with a lead shaft that made the young god repulsive to her. To aid her escape from Apollo, her father, Peneus, a river god, turned her into a laurel bush. Frustrated and heartbroken, Apollo rendered the laurel evergreen and made it his symbol.