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Handle - Handle (three putti)

Handle (three putti)

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    France (Possibly or South Netherlandish, made)
    The Netherlands (Perhaps, made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1650 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Carved ivory

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This ivory handle formed of three putti playing is in the style of Francois Du Quesnoy (1597-1643), a Netherlandish sculptor who worked in Rome. He assimilated the classical style. His tender and sensuous reliefs of cupids, satyrs and small children were highly influential, especially in the Netherlands. Ivory was a luxury material, and was sometimes used for fine cutlery handles. The tines of the fork have here been lost.
Knives have been used since prehistoric times, but the history of knives, forks and spoons for eating in Europe probably commenced in the fourteenth century, and their use became accepted by the sixteenth century. Until the late seventeenth century it seems to have been common practice for people to carry their own cutlery, often in a leather case. Ebony, ivory, fish skin, tortoiseshell, amber, bone, horn and shell were all popular for decorating cutlery. Around 1730 ceramic handles were introduced to Europe from China. Although cutlers were required by their guilds to be able to make a complete knife, handles of carved ivory, silver, bronze and glass were usually imported or made by specialist craftsmen.

Physical description

The handle is carved with three putti clambering over each other. Two are standing back to back of each other, supporting the third on their shoulders.

Place of Origin

France (Possibly or South Netherlandish, made)
The Netherlands (Perhaps, made)


ca. 1650 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Carved ivory


Length: 7.5 cm

Object history note

Bought in 1859 (Soulages Collection).

Descriptive line

Handle of fork, ivory, three putti, French or South Netherlandish, ca. 1650

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

Inventory of Art Objects Acquired in the Year 1860. In: Inventory of the Objects in the Art Division of the Museum at South Kensington, Arranged According to the Dates of their Acquisition. Vol I. London: Printed by George E. Eyre and William Spottiswoode for H.M.S.O., 1868, p. 32
Longhurst, Margaret H. Catalogue of Carvings in Ivory. Part II. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1929, p. 93
p. 431
Trusted, Marjorie, Baroque & Later Ivories, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, 2013
Trusted, Marjorie, Baroque & Later Ivories, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, 2013, p. 431, cat. no. 459





Subjects depicted



Eating; Household objects; Sculpture; Tableware & cutlery


Sculpture Collection

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