The body of the flask is formed of the shell of an ostrich egg and is mounted in silver-gilt to form a powder-flask. The low, circular foot has one band of engraved foliate ornament, which decorates the convex surface as it curves down to the narrow foot-rim; the latter is chased with a dense arrangement of dots in four parallel lines. The short, waisted stem rising from the stepped foot is burnished but undecorated except for a single incised line encircling the join with the foot. The upper part of the stem has a triple moulding, on which rests a plain, shallow, cup-shaped calyx, from behind which emerge the four vertical strap-mounts and, between them, the four large pointed leaves (with serrated edges and engraved details) that are made as an integral part of the calyx. The four vertical strap-mounts follow the contour of the ostrich egg, holding it firmly in position, and are decorated in low relief with cast ornament: a central row of oval beading between two mouldings bordered by hand-cut, serrated trefoils. Near the top of the shell, each vertical strap disappears beneath an applied cast oval cartouche containing an elaborate lion's mask in high relief. The scrolling outline of the oval cartouche descends to a point, terminating on the line of beading in the centre of the vertical strap, and, in width, each cartouche is slightly greater than the vertical strap beneath it. The upper edge of each of the four cartouches is joined to a wide, flat, circular mount, which surrounds the neck and follows the contour of the shell. This mount is bordered by similar serrated trefoils to those bordering the four vertical straps, but in four places they have been trimmed away to create almost semicircular arcs to accommodate the tops of the four cartouches. A small hinge-plate with two loops has been soldered on top of the engraved foliate scrolls, directly above each of the semicircular arcs, and the loop at the top end of the cartouche is designed to be located between the two loops and securely fastened with a pin. In addition, two of the four cartouches have a second, and slightly larger, loop soldered immediately below the first loop; this second loop is used to fasten the ends of the chain, which is also connected to the revolving silver-gilt hook projecting horizontally from the upper part of the finial of the stopper. Above the broad band of engraved foliate scrolls (on the circular mount surrounding the mouldings on the base of the neck), there is a plain silver-gilt cylinder, threaded on the inside, which forms the short, lower neck of the flask. The large threaded section of the cover can be screwed into it, until the slightly projecting cap rests tightly over the rim of the neck. The upper surface of the cap is ornamented in relief with a ring of raised ovolo decoration, and in the centre there is a triple moulding at the base of a second - but narrower - plain silver-gilt cylinder, threaded on the inside, which forms the short upper neck of the flask. The long threaded section of the stopper can be screwed into it until the projecting cap (with triple mouldings) rests tightly over the rim of the neck, thereby sealing the flask most effectively - even the bottom end of the threaded section of the stopper has been closed with a small disc of silver. The flat, circular top is surmounted by a little sculpture in the form of a miniature double bust - a head of a putto facing both ways, like a Janus. The double head has no shoulders but is contained, immediately below the neck, by a strapwork scroll, out of which emerges on either side a narrow, four-sided, angular cornucopia which curves to form a semicircle and terminates in an e

The body of the flask is formed of the shell of an ostrich egg and is mounted in silver-gilt to form a powder-flask. The low, circular foot has one band of engraved foliate ornament, which decorates the convex surface as it curves down to the narrow foot-rim; the latter is chased with a dense arrangement of dots in four parallel lines. The short, waisted stem rising from the stepped foot is burnished but undecorated except for a single incised line encircling the join with the foot. The upper part of the stem has a triple moulding, on which rests a plain, shallow, cup-shaped calyx, from behind which emerge the four vertical strap-mounts and, between them, the four large pointed leaves (with serrated edges and engraved details) that are made as an integral part of the calyx. The four vertical strap-mounts follow the contour of the ostrich egg, holding it firmly in position, and are decorated in low relief with cast ornament: a central row of oval beading between two mouldings bordered by hand-cut, serrated trefoils. Near the top of the shell, each vertical strap disappears beneath an applied cast oval cartouche containing an elaborate lion's mask in high relief. The scrolling outline of the oval cartouche descends to a point, terminating on the line of beading in the centre of the vertical strap, and, in width, each cartouche is slightly greater than the vertical strap beneath it. The upper edge of each of the four cartouches is joined to a wide, flat, circular mount, which surrounds the neck and follows the contour of the shell. This mount is bordered by similar serrated trefoils to those bordering the four vertical straps, but in four places they have been trimmed away to create almost semicircular arcs to accommodate the tops of the four cartouches. A small hinge-plate with two loops has been soldered on top of the engraved foliate scrolls, directly above each of the semicircular arcs, and the loop at the top end of the cartouche is designed to be located between the two loops and securely fastened with a pin. In addition, two of the four cartouches have a second, and slightly larger, loop soldered immediately below the first loop; this second loop is used to fasten the ends of the chain, which is also connected to the revolving silver-gilt hook projecting horizontally from the upper part of the finial of the stopper. Above the broad band of engraved foliate scrolls (on the circular mount surrounding the mouldings on the base of the neck), there is a plain silver-gilt cylinder, threaded on the inside, which forms the short, lower neck of the flask. The large threaded section of the cover can be screwed into it, until the slightly projecting cap rests tightly over the rim of the neck. The upper surface of the cap is ornamented in relief with a ring of raised ovolo decoration, and in the centre there is a triple moulding at the base of a second - but narrower - plain silver-gilt cylinder, threaded on the inside, which forms the short upper neck of the flask. The long threaded section of the stopper can be screwed into it until the projecting cap (with triple mouldings) rests tightly over the rim of the neck, thereby sealing the flask most effectively - even the bottom end of the threaded section of the stopper has been closed with a small disc of silver. The flat, circular top is surmounted by a little sculpture in the form of a miniature double bust - a head of a putto facing both ways, like a Janus. The double head has no shoulders but is contained, immediately below the neck, by a strapwork scroll, out of which emerges on either side a narrow, four-sided, angular cornucopia which curves to form a semicircle and terminates in an e
WB.113,
AN1537493001

Using digital images of objects in the collection

You are permitted to use images from the British Museum website subject to our terms of use.

If you require a higher resolution image (with the longest edge at 2,500 pixels, which will appear at a maximum of 21 cm when printed at 300 dpi), you can request it using the free image service below. You will need to register with your name, address and email address, and the image will be sent to you as an email attachment.

The image will be released to you under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) license. You can read more about the British Museum and Creative Commons here.

For uses not covered under the Creative Commons license, or to license high-resolution versions of the images for commercial uses, you can contact the British Museum’s image service at bmimages.com.

Register for our free image service

Already registered? Please login:

Forgotten your password?