An exceptional piece of Vezzi porcelain (circa 1725), superbly painted with a scene showing Venus and Adonis embracing, more than tripled its £70,000-100,000 estimates to sell for a staggering £338,500 in the Fine European Ceramics sale at Bonhams, New Bond Street yesterday (18th June). The sale made a total of over £1.1million.

Only a handful of large Vezzi vases are recorded and this vase is one of the largest pieces of Vezzi porcelain known. The Vezzi factory was only in operation for a short period of time, and all surviving pieces are regarded as absolute rarities.

Meissen ceramics made up the next four top lots and the second highest price in the sale was achieved by a very rare Meissen ten-sided bowl (lot 44), circa 1723, which sold for £106,900 against pres-sale estimates of £40,000-60,000. The bowl is painted in the Japanese 'Kakiemon' style with blue underglaze, enamels and gilding with figures holding flowering branches.

World War surviving porcelain with a fragile history is among the other sale highlights

A large oval Meissen tray from the famous Swan Service, circa 1740, doubled its estimates as it sold to a buyer in the saleroom for £64,900. The dish, modeled by J.F. Eberlein, is molded with swans swimming amidst bulrushes and holds a gilt-edged border painted with the arms of Brühl and Kolowrat-Krakowska. The Swan Service was made in 1737-43 and it eventually numbered more than 2,200 pieces. The service was almost completely destroyed during the Second World War as the Soviet Army descended on Berlin in 1945.

Other highlights in the sale included other Second World War survivors: A pair of Höchst figures from an important private collection, the Emma Budge Collection, sold for £35,000 to a bidder in the saleroom. The ceramic figures of Pantaloone and Pantalone from the Italian Comedy have a dark and fascinating story to tell.

Emma and Henry Budge returned to Germany in 1903 after Henry had made his fortune financing American railroads. They built a magnificent villa in Hamburg which became the venue of many philanthropic charity balls and the center of the city's cultural and social life. By the First World War, Emma Budge had amassed one of the most important decorative arts collections in Germany.

When her husband died in 1928, Emma Budge had no children and had intended to leave her collection to the city of Hamburg - the city of her birth - but changed her mind when the Nazis came to power. Being from a Jewish family, her collection and estate was forcibly sold by the state and her heirs received none of the proceeds. In an effort to reclaim their heritage, lawyers of the Budge heirs have successfully persuaded museums to return objects to the family. The items sold in yesterday's sale were sold by Bonhams on behalf of the Budge heirs.


NOTES FOR EDITORS

Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to www.bonhams.com

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