As she dips the tip of her quill in the inkwell hidden in the miniature celestial globe, she takes her eyes off her letter and lets her mind wander to contemplate the movement of the heavenly bodies..
This spectacular inkstand features a celestial globe on the left (with the constellations and the positions of the starts marked on the surface) and a terrestrial globe on the right (with the major cities of the continents and the longitudinal and latitudinal lines indicated).
The two globes open up to reveal an inkwell and a container for powder to dry the wet ink on the paper.
The center is a porcelain crown that originally housed, of course, a bell for a servant. Because somebody’s got to deliver that letter!
Painted in the deep green ground and decorated with exuberant rococo ornaments and winged putti, this écritoire, I think, is easily the most beautiful of its kind..
And these globes that make this such a unique artifact–
Are they simply signs of the owner’s scientific erudition?
Or do they suggest perhaps that a woman who touches the hearts of her correspondents with her letters is capable of moving the world?
(écritoire “à globes”)
France, manufacture de Sèvres
soft-paste porcelain painted and gilded and silver-gilt mounts
London, Wallace Collection