A rare set of three exquisite antique shellwork sculptures, fashioned as flower arrangements.
England, late 19th century with restorations.
Diameter 11 in / 27 cm
Height 23.5 in / 60 cm
Diameter 7.5 in / 19 cm
Height 18.5 in / 47 cm
Why we love them
These exquisite shellwork bouquets are handcrafted from hundreds of different seashells, meticulously positioned, using wire and paper so that they imitate floral bouquets. The flowers vary in their type and colour, ranging from white carnations to pink peonies and roses. All three shell flower arrangements are contained within glass domes, set on wooden bases.
These shellworks were crafted in England in the Victorian period (1837-1901). Shell-work was highly fashionable in this period, particularly among the aristocracy. It became a popular pastime among middle and upper class Victorian women to use shells to decorate small boxes, mirrors, frames etc. Shell-works like these are sometimes referred to as ‘Sailor’s Valentines’, since they were often brought back by sailors and given to their loved ones as souvenirs of sea voyages.
A rare find, very few of such pieces have survived in this amazingly good condition.