An ivory spire

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Origin
Probably France
Period
First half 18th century
Material
Ivory, String
Dimensions
43 cm
Literature

C. Plumier, L'art de Tourneur, Lyon, 1701 (reprinted Paris, 1749); L. E. Bergeron, Manuel du Tourneur, Paris 1796 (and second edition 1816, pl. XXI, 1991); K. Maurice, Der drechselnde Souverän, Zurich, 1985, p. 112, fig. 123; G. Laue, Gedrehte Kostbarkeiten, Munich, 2004, pp. 46, 47, 72, fig. 16

Complex tour de force ivory objects, without any plausible utilitarian function, were intended purely as expressions of the turner's skill. As the treaties on turning which emerged in the 17th century elucidate, the turner did not endeavor to imitate nature but rather to surpass it - ars naturam superat - and in doing so, expressed his control of the universe through reason.
Similar forms to this elegant example of the turner's skill can be seen in the 1719 catalogue of Nicolas de Grollier de Servière's turning cabinet (Maurice, op. cit., p. 112, fig. 123) and fig. 1.

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