Some of the greatest royal dinner services ever to grace a table head Bonhams sale of European ceramics

Fine European Ceramics
23 May 2012
London, New Bond Street

Most people needing a dinner service might pop down to John Lewis, Harvey Nicks or Marks and Spencer and if they are really pushing the boat out may go to Harrods.

Augustus the Strong, Elector of Saxony and King of Poland and Lithuania did things differently. He commissioned Meissen to produce some of the most lavish and sophisticated dinner services ever made. Today largely split up and distributed world wide, every plate or cup from these famous dinner services causes excitement when they appears on the market for sale. Some of these items, known as white gold in their heyday were stored in what was called the Japanese Palace in Dresden that Augustus built to house his finest porcelain.

Bonhams sale of a European private collection of Meissen porcelain on 23rd May in London offers an opportunity to observe what a collector with a particularly fine eye for the best Meissen porcelain managed to assemble.

Lot 39 is a Meissen armorial dish from the 'Coronation Service', circa 1733-34, painted with the arms of Saxony and Poland and scattered floral sprigs and bound wheat-sheaves, estimated to sell for £10,000-15,000. It comes from the Royal collections of Saxony, Japanese Palace, Dresden.

The 'Coronation Service' was probably ordered for the coronation of Friedrich August II of Saxony as king (Augustus III) of Poland in Cracow on 17th January 1734. The service - the first Meissen armorial table service - was presumably intended only for display on a buffet, as silver was used on the royal table. The service was delivered to the Japanese Palace in Dresden in 1734.

Another exciting item that will enthuse collectors is lot 37, a Meissen yellow-ground plate from the 'Gelbe Jagdservice', (Yellow hunting service) circa 1733-34 with a lobed panel in the centre painted with a phoenix and three sprigs of flowers, three quatrelobe panels around the brown-edged rim painted with flowering branches, crossed swords it is estimated to sell for £10,000-15,000.

This service is the only Meissen dinner service known to have a coloured background. It was ordered around 1730 by Augustus the Strong, and later became known as the "yellow hunting service", because of the similarity of the ground colour to the livery of the Saxon court huntsmen.

Sebastian Kuhn, Director of European Ceramics at Bonhams, comments: "These are not plates for everyday use, nor even for scrambled egg on Mother's Day. They are almost beyond price and value, something to amaze and delight lovers of European history with which they were so inextricably tied up – used as diplomatic gifts, and status symbols. They speak of another time and other values, of art and excellence and privilege. Given their fragility each one is a miracle of survival."

Related auctions