Ivory turning was a fascination, and pastime, for aristocrats from the late Renaissance through to the eighteenth century and they were often known to have employed a master turner as their teacher. The craft required patience and skill, since the material was not only rare, but also extremely delicate. The Grand Duke of Tuscany, Ferdinando de' Medici, was one such ivory carver and his sophisticated cup and cover, for example, resides today in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
These exquisite, virtuoso, objects frequently took fantastical abstract shapes and were often regarded as the centrepieces of any kunstkammer collection. Owning such pieces not only demonstrated one's wealth and intellect, but also one's power since the manipulation of wondrous natural elements such as amber, hardstones and ivory meant that nature, and indeed the universe itself, could be categorised and shaped by mankind.