Micro ivory carving

Micro ivory carving

This delicately carved ivory relief, circa 1780, is a tour de force of virtuoso ivory carving on a minute scale. The technique, known as filigree or micro-carving, was popular in the late eighteenth century and pieces were often incorporated into jewellery or snuff boxes. The scene on this brooch depicts sailing boats on a blue ground. I am attributing the carving to Stephany and Dresch because of the quality and the subject matter. Stephany and Dresch were described as ‘the most eminent sculptors in ivory in Europe . . . who will execute any design for Rings, Bracelets, Lockets, or for Cabinet pieces’. Their work was ‘so fine that a glass is necessary to discover its beauties’. They soon attracted royal attention and by 1793 they were describing themselves as sculptors ‘in ivory to Her Majesty’ and subsequently ‘Sculptors in Miniature on Ivory to their Majesties’.  The brooch measures 3/4 of an inch by 2/3 of an inch. Fine carving on a miniature scale, unable ever to be replicated.

sold  £3000

similar below by Stephany and Dresch in Elfenbeinkunst