The oval box with silver sides and stand away silver hinge,
having a tortoiseshell cover and base,
the cover inlaid with silver pique, mother of pearl, gilt metal and copper,
featuring "Arlecchino", the Harlequin character from "Commedia dell' Arte",
within a silver oval, wearing a plumed hat and engraved copper vest,
and standing on a mound with flowers playing a lute.
(The face, sleeves, club and one hat feather are made of silver.
The hat, trousers and flowers are made of mother of pearl, the lute a yellow mother of pearl.
The vest, shoes and rocky base are of copper.
All reflect different colors under various lights.)
The usual role of Arlecchino is that of a faithful valet or servant,
in addition to providing comic relief as a clown and acrobat.
Here he plays the lute, and is likely in pursuit of a pretty lady .
The use of this character in the "Commedia dell' Arte" has been traced back to as early as 1593.
Provenance / Literature :
British Silver Boxes 1640-1840, The Lion Collection, John Culme.
The harlequin being featured first on p. 22 as the illustration for
"The Collection"; and again as Coll. no. 107. p. 113
Condition : Excellent with all pique and shell intact;
some minor denting and small losses to the rolled silver mount edges;
the edge of the shell with some slight abrasion
Note : These boxes are quite rare.
Two Arlecchino boxes are included in The Albert Collection, one carrying a club (Coll. no. 147.p. 32)
and as Columbine, also carrying a club (Coll. no. 351. p. 33)