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Rare royal Sèvres from doomed French court lead Bonhams Fine European Ceramics sale
A pair of Sèvres hard-paste vases, circa 1778. Estimated £70,000-90,000. Photo: Bonhams.


LONDON.- A rare pair of late 18th century Sèvres hard-paste vases, made for a member of the Court of Louis XVI at Versailles, lead Bonhams Fine European Ceramics sale on Wednesday 14 June 2017. Once in the collection of the Earls Spencer, they are estimated at £70,000-90,000.

Only 13 vases of this style were ever made by the Sèvres porcelain factory. They were manufactured to order between 1778 and 1779, and buyers included the King himself, and his aunt, Madame Victoire. It is believed that the pair of vases in the Bonhams sale was bought by the king and presented to his sister in law, the Comtesse d’Artois.

The vases were decorated by the prominent gilder, Jean-Jacques Dieu, whose name appears in the archives of the Sèvres porcelain manufactory between 1777 and 1811. They are richly decorated with chinoiserie sea battles – one ship on each vase bears a shield with the French royal arms – and have goats head handles.

Just over ten years after the vases were delivered to Versailles, the French Revolution broke out in 1789 and many of the aristocracy, including the Comtesse d’Artois, fled. The pair in the Bonhams sale next appear in England in the collection of diplomat William Poyntz, though how he acquired them is not known. They passed by inheritance to Poyntz’s daughter Georgina who, in 1755, had married John Spencer, later First Earl Spencer, the family of Princess Diana.

Bonhams Head of European Ceramics Nette Megens, said, “These vases are exceptionally rare and with a wonderful provenance, having been in distinguished English collections for most of their existence. Their close connection with the doomed court of Louis XVI make them even more intriguing and attractive.”

Other highlights include:

• A large Royal Copenhagen Flora Danica dinner service, second half 20th century, estimated at £35,000-55,000.

• A very large framed Berlin plaque of ‘The Wise and Foolish Virgins’ dated 1884, estimated at £20,000-30,000.

• A Vincennes silver-gilt-mounted bleu-lapis-ground jug, cover and basin, circa 1754, estimated at £15,000-25,000.





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