Two rare Iznik bottles from the golden age of the Ottoman Empire will return to New Bond Street in Mayfair after nearly a century when they are auctioned at Bonhams next Indian and Islamic sale on April 23 for an estimated £150,000.
The bottles were previously sold by the well-known antiques dealer Frank Dickinson from his gallery at 104 New Bond Street in January 1919 for what was then the huge sum of £501 10s. The buyer was Leonard Daneham Cunliffe, the Deputy Governor of the Bank of England, co-founder of the merchant bank Cunliffe Brothers, a Director of the Hudson Bay Company and a major investor in Harrods. Cunliffe, whose tastes were eclectic, but always with a great eye for quality, used his ever expanding collection of antiques to decorate his various homes, which included properties at 109 Eaton Square and a neo-classical country house, Trelissick House, near Truro. When Cunliffe died in 1937, the major part of his vast collection of Renaissance bronzes, paintings, Chinese ceramics, Limoge enamels, furniture and paintings, was bequeathed to the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge.
Trelissick House and the Iznik bottles passed to his step-daughter Ida Copeland, and they have remained there until recently. Ida's husband, Ronald, was the president of Copeland and Spode, the well-known English ceramics company based at Stoke-on-Trent. In 1931, Ida stood successfully against Sir Oswald Mosely and won the seat as Conservative MP for Stoke, which she held until 1935. In 1955 Ida gave 376 acres of Trelissick gardens, parkland and woods to the National Trust, retaining the house itself for the Copeland family.
The bottles, originally purchased as 'Rhodian' bottles, wrongly named after the Greek island of Rhodes, where a large number of Ottoman Turkish Iznik ceramics were found, appeared on a number of inventories after their acquisition in 1919, variously described as Persian and only being identified as Iznik dating to circa 1575 recently. With their bold and colourful floral designs, they are expected to sell at Bonhams salerooms at 101 New Bond Street, just three doors down from the antiques gallery where they were bought by Leonard Cunliffe.
Alice Bailey, Head of Bonhams Islamic Department, says: "To find one Iznik bottle of this type from the second half of the 16th century is very rare, but to come across two splendid examples in the same English collection is astonishing. The market for important Iznik ceramics is very strong, particularly amongst Turkish collectors, and these pieces are certainly worthy of a major collection or institution."
The contents of Trelissick House, the Copeland family home, including the Spode-Copeland Collection of ceramics, will be sold by Bonhams on-site as a single owner house sale on 23rd and 24th July 2013. In scope, scale and importance, the collection of Spode is unrivalled in private hands. The sale will also include fine English and French furniture, Chinese porcelain, silver, wine, books and paintings, including a collection of John Frederick Herring Snr paintings originally commissioned by the Copeland family in the 19th century. Held in the picturesque setting of Trelissick House, the house sale will be a major event in Bonhams summer schedule of sales.