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The Curious, Ever Fashionable Shell

Published on , by Anne Doridou-Heim

Animal, object and curiosity of nature all in one, the shell questions and fascinates us.

€26,000 Nautilus cup, silver gilt mount with repoussé decoration of waves and a triton,... The Curious, Ever Fashionable Shell

€26,000
Nautilus cup, silver gilt mount with repoussé decoration of waves and a triton, Augsburg, 17th century, upper section probably later, h. 28 cm/11.2 in, gross weight: 505 g/17.8 oz. Cannes, April 6, 2018. Azur Enchères Auction House. Émeric and Stephen Portier.

Since antiquity, the shell has always been popular. An attribute of the goddess Aphrodite, it was used as an ornament in Roman grottos, a curiosity in the cabinets of Renaissance humanists, an exchange currency in distant civilizations, an object endowed with multiple virtues associated with initiation rituals in Africa and Oceania, and today a souvenir of the seaside. Timeless and universal, it fully assumes its many lives, passing from science to kitsch without a blush, and lending its generous forms to all kinds of artistic interpretations.
 

€2,600 Shell carved in cameo style with a lively scene on a landscape background, probably Naples, mid-19th century, h. 24 cm/9.4 in.Paris

€2,600 
Shell carved in cameo style with a lively scene on a landscape background, probably Naples, mid-19th century, h. 24 cm/9.4 in.
Paris, Drouot, April 15, 2016. Millon Auction House.

€975Pearly nautilus, h. 31 cm/12.2 in.Paris, Drouot, October 21, 2021. Binoche & Giquello Auction House. Mr. Briano.

€975
Pearly nautilus, h. 31 cm/12.2 in.
Paris, Drouot, October 21, 2021. Binoche & Giquello Auction House. Mr. Briano.

€2,688Joseph Muller, New Caledonia Penal Colony, late 19th century, pearl oyster engraved with a village of huts beneath palm trees, 22.6

€2,688
Joseph Muller, New Caledonia Penal Colony, late 19th century, pearl oyster engraved with a village of huts beneath palm trees, 22.6 x 20.8 cm/8.9 x 8.2 in.
Paris, Drouot, January 29, 2021. Ader Auction House.


Never withdrawn into its shell, it is open to the world and allows itself to be fashionably displayed.

€520 Cassis madagascariensis shell carved in an oval medallion imitating a cameo of the profiles of Mars and Venus, French work, second ha

€520
Cassis madagascariensis shell carved in an oval medallion imitating a cameo of the profiles of Mars and Venus, French work, the second half of 19th century, h. 16 cm/6.3 in.
Paris, Drouot, June 28, 2019. Millon Auction House.

€702Central Europe, 19th century, nautilus mounted on a turned ivory base, h. 27 cm/10.6 in. Paris, Drouot, February 13, 2019. Copages Auc

€702
Central Europe, 19th century, nautilus mounted on a turned ivory base, h. 27 cm/10.6 in. Paris, Drouot, February 13, 2019. Copages Auction House.

€6,500 Admiralty Islands, Oceania, Kapkap pendant, clam shell and tortoiseshell, diam. 11.5 cm/4.5 in.Paris, Drouot, June 23, 2017. Ève Au

€6,500
Admiralty Islands, Oceania, Kapkap pendant, clamshell and tortoiseshell, diam. 11.5 cm/4.5 in.
Paris, Drouot, June 23, 2017. Ève Auction House. Ms. Woliner.

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