Still Life with Shells, Signed, British School Mid-19th Century

Still Life with Shells, Signed, British School Mid-19th Century


Oil on linen, Still Life of Shells on a stone ledge. A very competent study in exquisite detail. 

The image depicts two large shells. On the left Cypraecassis rufa (Linnaeus, 1758) commonly found along the Kenyan and southern African coast. Known as the Bullmouth, Red Mouth or Grinning Mouth Helmet or ‘Cameo Shell’ as it was often used for carving. Many examples of cameo work in the Victoria and Albert Museum date from the same period as the painting. 

On the right is Turbo marmoratus (Linnaeus, 1758) or Great Green Turban - a very large shell, as indicated by the heavy shadow it casts. It ranges from East Africa to Fiji and was prized for its nacre since the 16th century. It found its way to Europe via trade in East India. By the Georgian period it was particularly prized for use as a veneer in the manufacture of luxury items, small spoons and buttons. By the late Georgian/early Victorian period the British Empire was at its peak and the import of these exotic shells was indicative of it's vast extent.

The age and style of the original frame, the quality of the linen canvas and the style of painting indicate a date about 1850.


Image size 29 cm x 24.5 cm

Framed size 43 cm x 38 cm


Excellent - professionally cleaned and restored, reframed in high quality Italian lacquered timber moulding. Original frame in poor condition available to buyer for reference or restoration.

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