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Creator:
Dennis, Sarah, 1712-
Title:
Shellwork flower arrangement.
Alternate Title(s):
Shell cabinet
Published/Created:
County Cork, Ireland, circa 1730.
Physical Description:
1 shellwork flower : shell, silk, fish scales, wood, glass ; in cabinet 49 x 39 x 19 cm
Holdings:
Rare Books and Manuscripts
In Process
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Fund
Accessible by request in the Study Room [Request]
Note: As a COVID-19 precaution, the Study Room is closed until further notice.

Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Classification:
Three-Dimensional Artifacts
Notes:
Shellwork flower arrangement composed of intricately composed shells to represent flower petals, with leaves and stems fashioned from green silk, made by Sarah Dennis (née Newenham), of County Cork, Ireland. The original damaged limewood vase has been replaced with a modern reproduction, copied from the vases depicted as item 91 (pages 180-181) of the Ronald Phillips Ltd. Catalog (2006). Shell cabinets were used to teach young women about all the different types of shells, the various flowers created from the shells as well as the techniques for making the arrangement. The shellwork is encased in a black and gilt japanned wood cabinet, with hinged front door.
In addition to original shell specimens, the outer petals of one of the flowers includes material from a fish of the genus Gadus (i.e., a cod or one of its relatives).
The cabinet belongs to a small group of shell cabinets executed by Dennis. A further two cabinets from the group, with very similar shell flowers and identical japanned cases, are known. The cabinets are mentioned in the will of Cooper Penrose of 1815, which is retained in the Cooper Penrose records in the Cork Archives. The cabinets stayed within the family at Woodhill until 1933, when the family sold the house and moved to England. The Cooper Penrose collection was rediscovered by the Knight of Glin in the 1980s, prior to its sale and partial dispersal. A large part of the collection was purchased by John and Helena Mooney for the Crawford Art Gallery in County Cork.
Thomas, I. Shell: a world of decoration and ornament, page 144
Restricted fragile material. Use requires permission of the Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts.
Subject Terms:
Flowers in art.
Women in natural history.
Form/Genre:
Shellwork.
Japanning.
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