A pair of exquisitely decorated Castelli maiolica campana vases and covers was one of the top lots in the Fine European Ceramics sale at Bonhams
on Wednesday 23rd May. After competitive bidding, the vases sold for the exceptional price of £40,850, smashing the pre-sale estimate of £20,000 - 30,000.
Originally owned by the legendary 18th century art collector, Sir Andrew Fountaine, the vases were sold in the famous Fountaine Collection sale in 1884, which included stunning works of maiolica from Narford Hall in Norfolk.
Sebastian Kuhn, Director of the Ceramics department at Bonhams said: These vases are fabulous examples of highly coloured maiolica ceramics from the Fountaine Collection, much of which is now in the Victoria and Albert Museum. It has been very exciting to see so much interest in the vases, which were originally part of a prominent Norfolk collection, with a fascinating history.
Sir Andrew Fountaine was a distinguished bachelor who, after sampling the delights of Italy, dedicated his life to re-designing the family seat of Narford Hall and furnishing the property with an extraordinary collection of artworks and ceramics. The author Richard Beatniffe said in 1773 that nothing is more striking than the cabinet of earthenware and it seems that there are few private collections in the country that would rival that of Sir Andrew Fountaines 18th century collection.
The vases are particularly fine examples of maiolica, a form of highly decorated and coloured ceramic, with scenes based upon engravings by Domenico dalla Greche and Nicolas Cochin. They feature striking religious stories with one of the works, Destruction of Pharaohs Host in the Red Sea, created after a design by the great master Titian.
The top lot of the sale on Wednesday was A Nymphenburg white figure of Julia from the Commedia dellArte, which sold for £56,450, outstripping the pre-sale estimate of £10,000 15,000. Other sale highlights included several examples of fine Meissen porcelain.