Mirror back, Dido and Diana

WB.46     about 1600 • Painted enamel on copper • mirror

11a shows Meleager and Atlanta with the head of the Calydonian boar, and has a modern frame, probably made for Frédéric Spitzer. 1lb shows Dido appealing to Diana. 11c shows a tree watered by cupids inscribed in French ‘love will die if it isn’t watered’. Both 11b and 11c are signed ‘S. C.’ for the female enameller Susanne Court, and come from the collections of the Dukes of Marlborough.

Curator's Description

Painted Limoges enamel mirror back; copper, oval; set in a frame of gilt metal beading; Dido, Queen of Carthage appealing for help from Juno; a galleon, in a gulf, in which Aeneus is departing; above, amidst clouds, the half figure of Juno; signed; painted in semi-opaque enamels on a white preparation, translucent enamels over coloured foils and white-grey grisaille with flesh tones; contours delineated in black by enlevage, with gilding; counter enamel, transparent and colourless; inscribed.

This object was previously owned by Marlborough, and collected and bequeathed to the British Museum by Ferdinand Anselm Rothschild.

How big is it?

7.4 cm wide, 9.7 cm high, 0.7 cm deep, and it weighs 39g

Detailed Curatorial Notes

Provenance: Formerly in the collection of John Spencer Churchill, 7th Duke of Marlborough (1822-1883), at Blenheim Palace and sold in the sale of enamels from Blenheim at Christie's London on the 14th June 1883 (lot 20). It is unknown when it entered the collection of Baron Ferdinand Rothschild.

Commentary: There is a signed mirror-back with the same subject attributed to Suzanne de Court in the British Museum, inv. no. 1913,1220.68. An unsigned mirror with the same subject (but without the ship) was auctioned at Sotheby's London in the sale of Old Master Sculpture and Works of Art, 3 December 2014, lot 85.


  • 'Catalogue of the choice collection of Limoges enamels, from Blenheim palace...', Christie's, London, 14 June 1883, lot no. 20
  • Charles Hercules Read, 'The Waddesdon Bequest: Catalogue of the Works of Art bequeathed to the British Museum by Baron Ferdinand Rothschild, M.P., 1898', London, 1902, no. 46
  • O.M. Dalton, 'The Waddesdon Bequest', 2nd edn (rev), British Museum, London, 1927, no.46.
  • References

    1. Read 1902: Read, Charles Hercules, The Waddesdon Bequest. Catalogue of the Works of Art Bequeathed to the British Museum by Baron Ferdinand Rothschild, M.P., 1898, London, BMP, 1902
    2. Dalton 1927: Dalton, Ormonde Maddock, The Waddesdon Bequest : jewels, plate, and other works of art bequeathed by Baron Ferdinand Rothschild., London, BMP, 1927
    3. Scrase handlist: Scrase handlist

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