Bonhams : Important Italian Porcelain at Bonhams Fine European Ceramics Sale in London
Important Italian Porcelain at Bonhams Fine European Ceramics Sale in London

A fascinating cross-section of European ceramics ranging from Italian Renaissance maiolica to German stoneware and faience of the 17th and 18th centuries, is a striking feature of Bonhams Fine European Ceramics sale to be held in New Bond Street on Tuesday, 2 July. The sale also offers a strong range of European porcelain from the 18th and 19th centuries.

Vezzi porcelain

The sale includes a particularly interesting and varied selection of 18th-century Italian porcelain from private collections. Among these is a very rare chocolate beaker and saucer made in the short-lived Vezzi porcelain manufactory. Founded in Venice in 1720 by Francesco Vezzi, it lasted for only seven years, and it is thought that fewer than 200 pieces have survived. The vividly-coloured decoration is attributed to Ludovico Ortolani, who also painted the Vezzi vase that was sold by Bonhams in 2014 for £338,500 – a world record price at auction for Vezzi porcelain. The beaker was brought to the UK in 1938 by a Miss Schmidt from Vienna. Estimate: £10,000-15,000.

Capodimonte porcelain

Additionally, there are examples of some of the rarest porcelain made at the Capodimonte manufactory in Naples. Founded in 1745, the Capodimonte manufactory produced an unusually translucent and pure white soft-paste porcelain that is considered the most beautiful in Europe. A Capodimonte tea and coffee service in the sale, is exceptional both for its size and the exquisite and rare decoration of large and naturalistic butterflies, insects and moths. This style was introduced by the Du Paquier manufactory in Vienna in the 1730s and an equal fascination for the natural world, and for insects and butterflies in particular, can also be found on Meissen porcelain of the early 1740s. This exceptional service – the only one to survive with this decoration – is well-documented and has long been in a private collection. Estimate: £80,000-100,000.

Other Capodimonte porcelain in the sale includes three extremely rare examples decorated with ground colours, of which the green and chestnut brown are the only known examples.

Bonhams Head of European Ceramics, Nette Megens said, "This diverse sale traces the modern history of European ceramics and is especially strong in the area of 18th century porcelain. Once the secret of making fine porcelain in the west had been mastered in the early 18th century, European rulers engaged in fierce competition with each other as to whose manufactory could produce the most desirable pieces. The result was an outpouring of creativity that is well represented in the sale."

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