Nautilus - inv. 784
The Nautilus is a rare species of marine creature which lives in the seas around Indonesia, the Philippines and New Guinea. These delicate shells, embellished with carvings, were hung up or used as cups supported by refined settings. Owing to their exotic origin, as well as their fragility and the delicacy of the decoration, they were highly prized by collectors. The Poldi Pezzoli Nautilus is carved with genre scenes based on engravings by Jacques Callot, set within volutes and sprays of vegetation, around which flutter insects taken from Flemish repertoires of the same period. On the edge of the shell, carved in silver and pierced, there are holes for hanging the shell and, between volutes and leaves, a two-headed eagle and a coat of arms. The work was produced by a workshop in Amsterdam in the mid-seventeenth century, most likely for a prominent Habsburg client.