Bodkin Case thumbnail 1
Bodkin Case thumbnail 2
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
British Galleries, Room 118a

Bodkin Case

ca. 1780 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Object Type
This case would usually be described as a needle or bodkin case, an elegant case in which a lady could keep her sewing and dressing implements. However, in the 1784 catalogue (p. 66) of Horace Walpole's collection at Strawberry Hill, his house at Twickenham, it is described as a 'tooth-pick case of gold, enamelled with cameos; a present from Lady Diana Beauclerc'.

People
Lady Diana Beauclerk was an amateur painter of considerable talent and a close friend of Horace Walpole. She was praised by Sir Joshua Reynolds, and she was the author of designs which were used in ceramics by Wedgwood. In 1775, Beauclerk executed seven drawings illustrating Walpole's tragedy in blank verse, 'The Mysterious Mother', which pleased him so much that he built an octagonal room for them at Strawberry Hill, which he called the Beauclerk Closet. Walpole expressed his enthusiasm for enamelling in 1759 at the end of a commission for an enamelled watch which he arranged for Sir Horace Mann: 'if anything a quarter so pretty was found in Herculaneum we should admire their enamellers more than their Scipios and Caesars'.

Design & Designing
From the late 1760s the taste for Neo-classical design favoured enamelling which imitated cameos. The white heads or figures stand out from the chocolate ground.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Parts
This object consists of 2 parts.

  • Bodkin Case
  • Lid
Materials and Techniques
Enamelled gold
Brief Description
Enamelled gold bodkin case made in London, ca. 1780
Physical Description
Enamelled gold bodkin case with blue enamel ribbons and flowers framing four cameos on a chocolate ground.
Dimensions
  • Height: 9.8cm
  • Width: 1.5cm
Dimensions checked: Measured; by APS
Marks and Inscriptions
'A present from Lady Diana Beauclerk to Sir Horace Walpole'
Gallery Label
British Galleries: This case was a present to Walpole from his close friend Lady Diana Beauclerk, who may have commissioned it especially for him. Lady Diana was a talented amateur painter, whose designs were used by the ceramics manufacturer, Josiah Wedgwood.(27/03/2003)
Credit line
Acquired in memory of Prof. G. M. Petersen
Object history
Made in London

Given to Sir Horace Walpole by Lady Diana Beauclerk, a young lady of the Bedchamber to Queen Charlotte. The case was sold to Henry Farrer in 1838. On 17 June 1963 it was lot 268 in the sale by Sotheby's of objects owned by Sir A. Chester Beatty: bought by Hakim, a London dealer.



Walpole Exhibition, V&A RF.2008/527

Sterckshof Exhibition, RF.2010/400
Summary
Object Type
This case would usually be described as a needle or bodkin case, an elegant case in which a lady could keep her sewing and dressing implements. However, in the 1784 catalogue (p. 66) of Horace Walpole's collection at Strawberry Hill, his house at Twickenham, it is described as a 'tooth-pick case of gold, enamelled with cameos; a present from Lady Diana Beauclerc'.

People
Lady Diana Beauclerk was an amateur painter of considerable talent and a close friend of Horace Walpole. She was praised by Sir Joshua Reynolds, and she was the author of designs which were used in ceramics by Wedgwood. In 1775, Beauclerk executed seven drawings illustrating Walpole's tragedy in blank verse, 'The Mysterious Mother', which pleased him so much that he built an octagonal room for them at Strawberry Hill, which he called the Beauclerk Closet. Walpole expressed his enthusiasm for enamelling in 1759 at the end of a commission for an enamelled watch which he arranged for Sir Horace Mann: 'if anything a quarter so pretty was found in Herculaneum we should admire their enamellers more than their Scipios and Caesars'.

Design & Designing
From the late 1760s the taste for Neo-classical design favoured enamelling which imitated cameos. The white heads or figures stand out from the chocolate ground.
Collection
Accession Number
M.7:1, 2-1998

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record createdNovember 17, 1999
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