These intricately carved figures were purchased by John, 5th Earl of Exeter (1648-1700) whilst on the Grand Tour and are thought to be the work of a German craftsman working in Italy.
The figures depict Mars, Lucretia, Cleopatra, Pallas Athene, Catalina, Venus accompanied by Cupid, Cicero and Alexander.
They are recorded in the Burghley Inventory of 1688: ‘My Ladyes Dressing Roome ..2 figures carv’d in box being a Cleopatra & a Pallace’. ‘My Lady’s Closett..2 ffigures in Box, a Venus, a Lucretia by —-‘. ‘The Best Bed Chamber ..4 Carv’d figures in Box, an Alexander, a —-, a —- & a —- done by —–”