7th Dec, 2023 10:00

Dolls & Teddy Bears Auction

  Lot 759


A fine mid-19th century shell cottage diorama

Sold for £1,400
Estimated at £800 - £1,000

A fine mid-19th century shell cottage diorama, possibly a Royal residence, an elaborate single storey L-shaped house, the main building with single room, with vaulted ceiling and dormer widows, the interior decorated with gold star patterned wallpaper, some pieces of furniture, a seated ‘alien head’ composition-headed elegant lady with elaborate floral headdress and jointed wood body, a similar whiskered gentleman in British military dress uniform presenting her a bouquet and three Grodnerthal children playing nearby; at the front door with steps down is a shell gentleman in frocked coat and top hat, leaving carrying a book; the other room contains two beds, one with a Grodnerthal child asleep, to one side is a backdoor with porch, three pairs of chimneys covered with marquesite dust, the house sitting on top of a landscaped garden, the back terrace with a feather parrot on star and a elderly shell lady leaving by the back steps, the surrounding garden includes a composite cat stalking a shell mouse, a mirrored pond with glass fountain, a shell rowing boat and feather swan, a feather peacock perching on a feather tree and various shell chickens, displayed on a weighted ebonised base with glass dome, base 19in. x 21in. (49cm. x 54cm.), 17in. (44cm.) height of dome - this house was purchased by the original vendor’s Uncle Bill in 1925 when he was aged 5, in the Aldershot area. It is probable that the lady in the house is supposed to represent Queen Victoria and the uniformed man, Prince Albert. In 1849 Queen Victoria visited the Shell Cottage in the grounds of Carton House, Kildare, Ireland, which looks virtually the same as this house, but the shells are on the interior. She had her 4th child in 1844; in the same year she had her portrait painted in a headdress that matches the one she is wearing here. Queen Victoria was known as The Famine Queen, after personally donating £2,000 to the famine relief, so had strong links with Ireland - this house was purchased by the current vendor at SAS in June 2014