Rare surviving items from the world-famous collection of Meissen porcelain assembled by Gustav and Charlotte von Klemperer from the late nineteenth century, which survived Nazi looting and the 1945 bombing of Dresden, were auctioned at Bonhams
New Bond Street. The 38 lots many in a broken or fragmentary state - were 100% sold and made a fantastic £546,492.
The top lot was a rare Meissen figure of a dancer circa 1740 which sold for £126,000 (est. £50,000-80,000) but other high prices were achieved for two Meissen dancing Harlequins which fetched £108,000 and £74,400 (each est. £20,000-30,000). Fragments of an important Meissen model of a classical temple of Minerva smashed their pre-sale estimate to sell for £20,400 (est. £2,000-3,000).
The porcelain has survived a tumultuous past. Von Klemperer (1852-1926), chairman of the Dresdner Bank, collected 834 pieces of fine Meissen over a period of three decades and it is commonly considered to have been the greatest ever collection of Meissen porcelain of the modern collecting era. After his death it passed to his descendants, before being seized by the Nazis on Kristallnacht in November 1938.
On the night of 13th February 1945 a truck was parked in the palace yard packed with all the pieces plates, figurines, animals, vases, a chandelier and more, when bombs fell on the city and it was assumed that the entire collection was destroyed. It was only after the war, when they sifted through the rubble in the castle courtyard, that museum staff recovered several whole pieces along with numerous fragments of the glorious originals. It is miraculous that any of these fragile pieces survived the bombs at all, says Sebastian Kuhn, Bonhams Continental Porcelain specialist.
Sebastian comments, These pieces even those in a fragmentary state are evidence of the exceptional quality and rarity of the Meissen porcelain owned by Gustav von Klemperer, probably the greatest collector since the 18th century. They are also an evocative reminder of the terrible fate of the collection. We are thrilled that there was so much interest in them and that they sold for such excellent prices.