Public nature of Royal 'toilette' revealed at Bonhams

The Marouf Collection, Part I: highly important 18th century Meissen porcelain 5 Dec 2012
London, New Bond Street

Public nature of Royal 'toilette' revealed at Bonhams

The Marouf Collection, Part I: highly important 18th century Meissen porcelain 5 Dec 2012
London, New Bond Street
Half-figure service

Public nature of Royal 'toilette' revealed at Bonhams

The Marouf Collection, Part I: highly important 18th century Meissen porcelain 5 Dec 2012
London, New Bond Street
Rare Meissen bourdalou

Rare chamber pot is among most valuable items in single-owner sale

A rare Meissen bourdalou, otherwise known as a chamber pot, will go under the hammer along with several highly valuable pieces relating the royal toilette at Bonhams single-owner sale of Meissen ceramics on 5th December at New Bond Street. The ornately decorated porcelain bourdalou, produced circa 1724 is estimated at £50,000 – 60,000 and is one of the most beautifully decorated examples of porcelain in the Said and Roswitha Marouf Collection.

Other key items from the toilette included in the sale are an important Meissen armorial beaker (estimate £25,000-30,000), a Meissen armorial tureen, cover and stand (estimate £60,000-80,000) and a rare Meissen écuelle and cover (estimate £20,000-25,000).

Although it was one of the most intimate parts of daily life, unlike today, many elements of the toilette were made public and it became an important ritual in the eighteenth century European courts. It was a way for courtiers to flaunt their wealth and rank in society, with elaborate displays becoming commonplace for those in the highest echelons of court.

After the lady was sponged and bathed by her maid in private, the public part of the toilette was literally 'performed' with the assistance of servants. Often the lady would be dressed, take her breakfast and have an elaborate hair-do in front of a host of onlookers. It was a privilege to be a spectator on these occasions, and the beautifully decorated porcelain toilette pieces were luxury items that showed the reverence that was paid to the toilette ritual.

The bourdalou would have been a well-used item in the eighteenth century practice of the toilette. The phrase 'bourdalou' originated in the eighteenth century after the name of the priest Louis Bourdalou who preached at the court of Louis XIV. His sermons were so fascinating that the ladies of the court were loathe to leave his service to relieve themselves. They used an oval jug with handles, constructed so that ladies could put it beneath their skirts and have their maids carry it away after use.

Another important intimate object in the sale is an armorial chocolate beaker, which is highly decorated and carries an estimate of £25,000 – 30,000. Originally part of a set of six beakers, it was given as a wedding present to the Princess Maria Amalia of Saxony for her marriage in 1738 to Charles VII, King of Naples. The young bride was only 14 years old when her marriage was arranged by her father, King Augustus III, successor of Augustus the Strong, who first set up the Meissen porcelain factory near Dresden. The armorial beaker is one of the few surviving pieces from the wedding present, which originally comprised six teabowls and saucers and six chocolate beakers. It represents the most exceptional elements of Meissen porcelain; unrivaled quality and fascinating provenance.

The chocolate beaker was most likely used in the public part of the toilette, when a lady of the court would take her breakfast. Another remarkable piece that would have been used for the morning meal is the armorial tureen, cover and stand, estimated at £60,000 – 80,000. Made around 1745, it is spectacularly decorated with landscape scenes, scattered flowers and gilt. Originally made for Maria Josepha, daughter-in-law of Augustus the Strong and wife of Augustus III, the item made its way back into aristocratic hands, owned for many years by the Dowager Duchess of Westminster.

The Said and Roswitha Marouf Collection brings together a stunning collection of exceptionally rare pieces, such as an unprecedented eight objects from the 'Half figure service', arguably the rarest and most sought after chinoiserie decoration on Meissen porcelain. Many pieces in the collection have been published and exhibited in museum exhibitions, including the legendary 2010 exhibition in the Japanese Palace in Dresden to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the founding of the Meissen manufactory. The whole collection is superbly documented in the catalog 'Passion for Meissen' written by Professor Ullrich Pietsch, Director of Porcelain in Dresden.

Sebastian Kuhn, Director of European porcelain at Bonhams said "The Said and Roswitha Marouf Collection is without doubt one of the most important collections of 18th century Meissen porcelain to come to the market. After the success of the Hoffmeister collection sales, it is incredible to see such a selection of fine pieces, including some rare and intimate items from the royal toilette, with fascinating provenance.

"Said Marouf has been an avid collector all his life, and started out collecting pocket and wrist watches. It is not hard to see why his eye for detail attracted him to the extremely detailed and intricate decoration of early 18th century Meissen porcelain".

Highlights from the sale will be on view across Europe and in New York on the following dates:

Cologne: 6-9 September
Paris: 13-20 September
Munich: 19-23 October
New York: 27-31 October


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 appraisal services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to

  1. Nette Megens
    101 New Bond Street
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