Skip to main content

Turbo Shell Cup: MAR.M.71 & A-1912

An image of Standing cup and cover

Photograph Copyright © The Fitzwilliam Museum

Terms of use

These images are provided for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons License (BY-NC-ND). To license a high resolution version, please contact our image library who will discuss fees, terms and waivers.

Download this image

Creative commons explained - what it means, how you can use our's and other people's content.

Colours in this image

Alternative views

Object information


Turbo Shell Cup


Probably Vianen, Ernst Jansz. van (Silversmith)
Perhaps Verhaer, Albert (Silversmith)


Silver gilt; turbo shell mounted in silver-gilt, the stem and foot in the form of a putto standing on a tortoise; the fitted cover surmounted by the figure of a warrior

Silver-gilt; the rim of the turbo shell is mounted with a deep silver-gilt border, which is engraved with scrolling flowers and foliage. Beneath this is a rope border over an engraved border of tongues. The central strap is formed as a pair of entwined snakes with a lion's mask capital. The two side straps are formed as hermes. The shell is supported on a stem modelled as a putto standing on a turtle. The stepped cover has an engraved border of scrolling flowers and foliage. In the centre, on a raised gadrooned boss, stands the finial modelled as a warrior.


History note: Not known before testator

Legal notes

C.B. Marlay Bequest

Measurements and weight

Width: 11 cm
Width: 4¼ in

Place(s) associated

  • Utrecht ⪼ Netherlands

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Bequeathed (1912-06-18) by Marlay, Charles Brinsley


Early 17th Century
Production date: possibly AD/CE 1628


Label text from the exhibition ‘Feast and Fast: The Art of Food in Europe, 1500–1800’, on display at The Fitzwilliam Museum from 26 November 2019 until 31 August 2020:Turbo shell standing cup and cover with a boy standing on a turtle Turbo shells come from large sea snails living in warm tropical waters, often near coral, and were in great demand by European collectors. They were individually harvested – like pearls – by divers who risked their lives in deep waters, and then sold, by merchants, to specialised shell shops in the Dutch Republic. In this virtuoso example, the polished shell has been skilfully converted into a drinking vessel by mounting it on a stem and foot, curiously formed as a naked boy standing on a turtle. It has a tightly fitting, lift-off cover to prevent poison from being introduced and unwanted matter from falling inside. The protective purpose of the cover is reinforced by the fact that it is crowned by a standing warrior. Its lack of wear suggests that it was primarily kept for display.

The mark of three lozenges was used by Albert Verhaer, recorded in Utrecht in 1590 and in Haarlem 1593-1607, and by Ernst van Vianen recorded in Utrecht 1602-40.

School or Style


People, subjects and objects depicted

Components of the work

Shell: composed of turbo shell Surface Of Mounts: composed of gold Mounts: composed of silver To Top Of Finial: Height 20 cm Height 7⅞ in
Gross: Weight 285 g Weight 9:3 oz:dwt
Cover: Decoration: Stem:

Inscription or legends present

Inscription present: a shield within a double circle

  • Location: On the front of the rim amongst the engraved decoration
  • Method of creation: Struck
  • Town mark

Inscription present: three lozenges within a shield

  • Location: On the front of the rim amongst the engraved decoration
  • Method of creation: Struck
  • Maker's mark
  • Text: L
  • Location: On the front of the rim amongst the engraved decoration
  • Method of creation: Struck
  • Date letter

References and bibliographic entries

Related exhibitions

Identification numbers

Accession number: MAR.M.71 & A-1912
Primary reference Number: 160127
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Tuesday 24 November 2020 Last processed: Thursday 18 November 2021

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Applied Arts

Citation for print

This record can be cited in the Harvard Bibliographic style using the text below:

The Fitzwilliam Museum (2020) "Standing cup and cover" Web page available at: Accessed: 2021-11-30 19:01:52

Citation for Wikipedia

To cite this record on Wikipedia you can use this code snippet:

{{cite web|url=|title=Standing cup and cover|author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2021-11-30 19:01:52|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

Bootstrap HTML code for reuse

<div class="text-center my-3"> <figure class="figure"> <img src="" alt="Turbo Shell Cup" class="img-fluid" /> <figcaption class="figure-caption text-info">Turbo Shell Cup</figcaption> </figure> </div>

Please enter your name as you would like to be addressed
Please enter your email address
The object accession number - this is prefilled
Please enter your query with as much detail as possible

More objects and works of art you might like

Standing cup and cover

Accession Number: M.5 & A-1994

Cup and cover

Accession Number: MAR.M.53 & A-1912

Cup and cover

Accession Number: ML.18 & A-1992

Coconut cup

Accession Number: MAR.M.56 & A-1912

Suggested products from Curating Cambridge

You might be interested in this...

Sign up for updates

Updates about future exhibitions and displays, family activities, virtual events & news. You'll be the first to know...

University of Cambridge Museums logo
Arts Council England Logo
Research England logo
The Technology Partnership logo
Brewin Dolphin Logo