These go under the portmanteau titles of The Collector at Christie’s and Style at Sotheby’s.
Both rooms have sales in this class coming up in London in May that will feature elements of traditional pottery and porcelain.
The ceramics element of Sotheby’s May 22 sale includes two single-owner collections, one devoted to Vincennes and Sèvres from an Italian collection, the other to Meissen figures of animals assembled by two generations of the Barlow family.
Both domestic and exotic animals feature in the Barlow property including three rare Kändler models of cats from c.1750.
Meissen also features in Christie’s sale in King Street held on the same day.
As well as porcelain tablewares and figures it will include a rare early Böttger red stoneware covered tankard dated to c.1711-12 with a silver mount of similar date.
The tankard stands 8¼in (21cm) high and features a six-arm mark for the potter Georg Michel to the base of the handle.
Shape of things to come
Christie’s will also be offering a ceramic extra on May 21 in the form of a new themed sale titled Reshaped: Ceramics Through Time.
The auction house explains the concept as something that “celebrates the versatility of ceramics as a medium for creative artworks from ancient times to the 21st century…. the sale will illustrate how ideas can weave through time, being reshaped and remodelled into different artworks along the way”.
The auction mixes traditional ceramics of European, Asian and Middle Eastern origin with pieces by 20th century and contemporary potters and artists.
One such ‘pairing’ is a 7¼ in (18.5cm) high 17th century pewter mounted saltglazed stoneware tankard moulded with a mask to the body, possibly from Cologne, estimated at £1500-2500, and an 11in (28cm) high limited edition pot by the artist Jean Cocteau titled Visage conceived in 1958 and produced in an edition of 30 estimated at £2000-3000.
Bonhams still flies the flag for the dedicated ceramics sale in London and its latest British auction is the glass and ceramics sale on June 5.
One of the strengths of this event is a group of around 20 pieces of Regency porcelain mostly from one collection.
This comprises Worcester pieces from the Flight Barr and Barr and Chamberlain periods that are notable for the high quality of their decoration, be it topographical, portrait or still life subjects.
A highlight of this section is a butter tub from the so-called Nelson service, an extensive and elaborately decorated 150-piece breakfast service that was ordered by Lord Nelson after a visit to Worcester in 1802. It is guided at £10,000-15,000.
Another rarity is a Flight Barr and Barr plate painted c.1814 by the talented artist Thomas Baxter with a portrait of the actress Mrs Siddons in the role of Melpomene, muse of Tragedy, after the original painting by Joshua Reynolds.
It is inscribed in Baxter’s hand to the reverse: Mrs Siddons in the character of the Tragic Muse The original Picture by Sir J Reynolds PRA.
Baxter was a great fan of the theatre and is known to have sketched during performances even drawing Sarah Siddons on stage.
One of Baxter’s pupils, Solomon Cole, recalls the creation of this piece: “Soon after Baxter arrived at Worcester… he painted a cabinet plate the subject of which was Mrs Siddons in the character of the Tragic Muse which then the Marquis of Stafford purchased for fifty guineas.”
A second plate was afterwards painted by Baxter, precisely the same in all respects, which was in the Collection of Mr H Rokeby Price. It was sold by Phillips in 1988 and is now in the Museum of Royal Worcester, making this example the Marquis of Stafford version. It has an estimate of £15,000-20,000.