A rare Meissen plate from the 'Hanbury Williams / Duke of Northumberland' service circa 1748-50

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Lot 89
A rare Meissen plate from the 'Hanbury Williams / Duke of Northumberland' service
circa 1748-50

Sold for £ 36,000 (US$ 50,698) inc. premium
A rare Meissen plate from the 'Hanbury Williams / Duke of Northumberland' service
circa 1748-50
Painted with a seated wolf in a landscape vignette, enclosed by a flower wreath tied at the base by a yellow ribbon, a beetle and an insect overhead, the gilt-edged wavy rim with three flower specimens, 23.9cm diam., crossed swords mark in underglaze-blue (very minor wear to gilt rim)

Footnotes

  • Provenance:
    Gift from Augustus III, King of Poland and Elector of Saxony, to Sir Charles Hanbury Williams in 1748;
    Dr. Edward G. Shiffman Collection, sold Sotheby's New York, 19-20 October 1994, lot 314;
    Acquired in the above sale

    Literature:
    Hoffmeister 1999, I, no. 191;
    Chilton 2007, pp. 282-283

    Exhibited:
    Hamburg, Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, 1999-2009

    This celebrated gift from Augustus III to the British envoy to the Saxon court between 1747-49, Sir Charles Hanbury Williams, has been discussed in detail by T.H. Clarke (Clarke 1975) and Meredith Chilton (see Literature). Hanbury Williams apparently made a good impression in Dresden, noting in June 1747 in a letter to Henry Fox, ''Tis impossible to tell you how well I am with the king' (quoted by Chilton 2007, p. 280). Hanbury Williams' confidence appears to be confirmed by the gift of this service early in 1748, though it was not delivered until the end of 1750 or the beginning of 1751. The reason for this magnificent and unusual gift so early in Hanbury Williams' tenure - it was customary that gifts were received at the end of a diplomatic mission - is not certain, though it may have been made to ensure Hanbury Williams' help in an unsuccessful attempt to secure a loan of £500,000 for Saxony from the British government (Chilton 2007, p. 289). Hanbury Williams was subsequently sent to Hannover, Warsaw and Berlin, where he incurred the dislike of Frederick the Great. He remained envoy to Dresden and Warsaw until 1755, when he was appointed ambassador to Russia.

    The service was shipped in January 1751 to Hanbury Williams' friend, Henry Fox, in Holland House, London. With the exception of a handful of pieces, most of the surviving pieces from the service are in the collection of the Duke of Northumberland at Alnwick Castle. It is uncertain when it entered the family's possession, though it may have been as early as 1756, when the Earl of Northumberland - later 1st Duke - apparently subscribed to a raffle of 'Dresden porcelaine' (Chilton 2007, p. 282). Apart from the two plates in the Hoffmeister Collection (Hoffmeister 1999, I, nos. 191-192), one of which was sold in these Rooms, 25 November 2009, lot 97, and is now reuinted with the rest of the service in Alnwick Castle, only two other plates are known outside of Alnwick Castle: one in the Seattle Art Museum and the other sold by Sotheby's London, 15 April 1997, lot 112.

    According to T.H. Clarke (op. cit.), the flower decoration on this service is based for the most part on J.W. Weinmann's Phytanthoza-iconographia, of 1738-40, and some of the insects can be traced to engravings by Jacob Hoefnagel (1575-1630), after drawings by his father Georg (1542-1600), published in Frankfurt in 1592. The printed sources for the animals are varied, dating between the early 16th century and 1745. Many are derived from a set of ninety engravings by Johann Elias Ridinger, Entwurf einiger Thiere, published between 1738-40.
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