Strong Performance by Exceptional Private Collections at Bonhams European Ceramics Sales in London

Two exceptional private collections contributed to a combined total of more than £1,600,000 at Bonhams European Ceramics sales in London today (22 July) with 70% sold by lot and 89% sold by value. A very early and delicate Böttger Stoneware covered bottle vase from the sale of Important Meissen Porcelain from a Private Collection sold for £131,313 (estimate £50,000-80,000; while a wonderful collection of both Hispano-Moresque pottery and Italian maiolica albarelli (apothecary jars), property of The Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans Foundation made more than £400,000 in the Fine European Ceramics sale.

Bonhams Head of European Ceramics Nette Megens said, "This was an exceptional result that cements Bonhams reputation in the field, and a great tribute to the outstanding quality of both the Meissen collection and the albarelli from The Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans Foundation. The early Böttger Stoneware covered vase was very rare and, not surprisingly, the bidding on this piece was especially keenly contested. Albarelli with such excellence provenance rarely appear on the market and the prices exceeded all expectation."

In addition to the Böttger Stoneware covered bottle vase, highlights of the Meissen collection included:

• An extremely rare pair of tortoise boxes and covers in excellent condition. They are described in the factory archives as 'butterboxes shaped as tortoises', and there is only one known comparable example which was in the collection of the Grand Dukes of Tuscany, and is now kept in their former home, the Palazzo Pitti in Florence. Sold for £100,063 (estimate: £25,000-35,000).

• An important Meissen silver-gilt-mounted tankard circa 1725-30. The banners on the sides of the cartouche on this tankard bear the Electoral crossed swords of Saxony and the Polish Eagle, respectively, suggest - together with the exceptional quality of the decoration - that it may have been made for a member of the court or as a gift from the Elector. Sold for £81,313 (estimate £30,000-50,000).

• A figure of Augustus the Strong made around 1720. It is a small, elegant piece and exceedingly rare; no other has come to auction in 30 years. The gold decoration was probably applied in the Funcke Workshop in Dresden. The Dresden court-goldsmith Georg Funcke decorated porcelain of the Meissen manufactory from 1713 and worked in enamel colours as well as silver and gold. Sold for £81,313 (estimate: £40,000-60,000)

Among the highlights of the Hispano-Moresque pottery and Italian maiolica albarelli from The Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans Foundation were:

• A rare Spanish Hispano-Moresque albarello, Valencia (Manises), circa 1400-1450. This jar is decorated with many of the motifs favoured for pharmacy jars, including two bands bearing an 'alafia'; a stylized inscription of the Arabic word for "health and happiness." Glazed jars of this type were however used in different sizes for storing and transporting foodstuffs and drugs, including wine, water, butter, honey and olives. Sold for £87, 563 (estimate: £30,000-40,000).

• A Spanish Hispano-Moresque albarello, circa 1435-50. The ivy-leaf pattern on this jar is one of the most recognisable patterns in maiolica production in Manises at this time. It was used on a multitude of vessels, including armorial pieces. Sold for £37,563 (estimate: £12,000-18,000).

• A Spanish Hispano-Moresque lusterware albarello, Valencia (Manises), circa 1400-1450. This piece features a 'disc-flower' pattern which often served as a background for stylised Gothic letters and motifs like birds or flowers in blue. Sold for £31,313 (estimate £6,000-8,000).


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