The 5th Earl of Exeter (1648-1700) purchased these intricately carved figures, which are thought to be the work of a German craftsman working in Italy, whilst on the Grand Tour. 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 —–”
A group of three: Venus with Cupid, Cicero and Alexander appeared in the Travelling Earls exhibitions in 2009 and 2018.