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  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    France (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1550 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:


  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This comb is made in France in ca. 1550 by an unknown artist. The type and the scene of lovers by the fountain depicted in this ivory comb is not uncommon. Ivory combs, together with mirror cases and gravoirs for parting the hair, formed an essential part of the trousse de toilette or étui (dressing case) of the typical wealthy lady or gentleman in the period. The two leading cities for ivory carving were Paris and Dieppe. Luxury items, such as combs were often made in Paris, especially during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. During the seventeenth century Dieppe became increasingly significant for small-scale sculpture in ivory, perhaps because it was a port.

Physical description

Ivory comb ornamented with renaissance arabesque and in the centre panel carved with a scene showing a man and woman in a garden standing either side of a fountain of love. Two putti attend, one carrying a helmet the other a mirror; on the other side a naked couple recline in a chariot drawn by two horses and led and followed by putti. Bearded masks are carved at each end between panels decorated with scrollwork.

Place of Origin

France (made)


ca. 1550 (made)



Materials and Techniques



Height: 7.6 cm, Width: 11.3 cm

Object history note

Bequeathed by Mr J.F. Mallet of the firm Mallet of Bath in 1947; formerly in the Spitzer Collection.

Descriptive line

Comb, ivory, with love scenes, French, ca. 1550

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

La collection Spitzer. vol. I. Paris, 1890, p. 68, no. 140
Longhurst, Margaret H. Catalogue of Carvings in Ivory. Part II, London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1929, p. 73
Trusted, Marjorie, Baroque & Later Ivories, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, 2013, cat. no. 210



Subjects depicted

Subject; Garden; Masks; Arabesque; Man; Horse; Putti; Lovers; Woman; Chariot; Mirror; Helmet


Household objects; Personal accessories; Sculpture


Sculpture Collection

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