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Both early ‘crinoline’ designs by Johann Joachim Kändler (1706-75), they were formerly in the collection of Baron Maurice de Rothschild, selling subsequently at auction at Christie’s in 1977.

One, a 6in (15.5cm) high group from c.1737, depicts a lady in a large crinoline dress seated holding a pug dog. A man kneels to kiss her hand while her gaze is directed to a figure of Gottfried Schindler, the jester at the court of Augustus the Strong who was in the service of Meissen patron Count Bruhl at the time this group was created. Schindler is shown dressed in the uniform of a hussar and playing an instrument known as a musette de cour (a form of bagpipes with goatskin bellows).

The group, which had a crack to the base and some restoration and minor losses, was estimated to make around SFr50,000-70,000 at the auction on June 16 but ended up selling for SFr175,000 (£147,060).

The second group, dated to c.1736, measures 5in (13cm) high and depicts a couple embracing, the man with one hand resting on a large birdcage. There was some restoration to the arms and legs and also the hem of the dress, but again the estimate of Sfr40,000-60,000 was outstripped with the hammer falling at SFr95,000 (£79,830).

Heaven for the 9th circle of hell

Pictured below is the catalogue cover lot of a dedicated ceramics auction held in Milan on July 1 by Wannenes (30/25/22% buyer’s premium) and titled The Grazia Biscontini Ugolini collection – fine ceramics from two private collections.

The 150-odd lots comprised mostly maiolica and other Italian earthenwares from the Renaissance to the 20th century.

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The istoriato charger dated 1531, €100,000 (£90,910) at Wannenes in Italy.

This 11in (28cm) diameter istoriato charger dated 1531 to the reverse was decorated at Urbino and lustred at Gubbio in the Andreoli workshop. The decoration, probably by the artist known as painter of the Apollo basin, depicts a scene from Dante’s ninth circle of hell, showing Virgil and Dante watching Count Ugolino and the Archbishop Ruggieri. The charger had a provenance to the Galerie Riccardi in Florence and then to Giorgio Ugolini, 1950. Estimated to make €50,000-80,000, it ended up selling for €100,000 (£90,910).

Another highlight was a late 18th century Naples factory biscuit group depicting the Laocoon, the famous ancient marble statue excavated in Rome. The substantial 20 x 15in (52 x 38cm) group modelled by Filippo Tagliolini after the antique, c.1785, is one of only a handful known: one is in the Museo Civico Gaetano Filangieri, Naples, while another sold for £32,000 at Bonhams in London in December 2018.

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18th century Naples factory biscuit group, €30,000 (£27,720) at Wannenes.

This example, which has some minor firing losses and restoration, sold just over the upper estimate at €30,000 (£27,720).

£1 = SFr 1.19/€1.10