Rare Meissen red-ground bottle vases lead Bonhams 500 years of European Ceramics sale

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Rare Meissen red-ground bottle vases lead Bonhams 500 years of European Ceramics sale
A pair of Sèvres blue-céleste ground flower vases (vases 'hollandois nouveau ovale'), dated 1764. Estimate: £40,000 - 60,000/€46,000 - 69,000. Photo: Bonhams.

LONDON.- An extremely rare pair of Meissen red-ground bottle vases made in around 1735 lead Bonhams 500 Years of European Ceramics sale in London on Wednesday 7 December 2022. They are estimated at £120,000 - 180,000/€140,000 - 210,000.

Nette Megens, Bonhams Head of Continental Ceramics, said: “This form of bottle vase was almost certainly made exclusively for the Dresden court since all of them are marked with the AR monogram for Augustus Rex. The vases were produced in several sizes and ground colours and were most notably displayed in the Japanese Palace in Dresden. The pair of vases in the sale are so special and desirable because of their size – they are the largest of their type – and most importantly for their red ground-colour which is unique among vases of this shape (red was in any event among the rarest ground colours employed at the Meissen factory). They were formerly in the collection of one of the greatest collectors of the 20th century, Catalina von Pannwitz (1876-1959). Bottle vases in this form have long been recognised for their aesthetic value and their importance in the history of Meissen, and the sale provides collectors with an exceptional opportunity to acquire examples of outstanding quality and significance.”

Bottle vases of this large size, painted in imitation of a Chinese original in the collection of Augustus the Strong, were delivered to the Palace as early as July 1734, and another five of the same size with a turquoise or celadon ground colour were delivered in 1737. A similarly large bottle in the Rijksmuseum is decorated with the only known example of a marbled green ground. Red is one of the rarer ground colours on Meissen porcelain and known mostly in combination with European landscape scenes dating to the early 1740s.

Other highlights of the sale, which consists of 219 lots, include:

A pair of Sèvres blue-céleste ground flower vases (vases 'hollandois nouveau ovale'), dated 1764. The vase 'hollandois nouveau ovale' went into production in 1758 in five sizes and continued being made until the 1780s. The smaller sizes, including the fourth size of which the pair in the sale are examples, were known to have been made from the 1750s until the mid-1760s (and were often produced in pairs). Other examples of the fourth size can be found in the collections of the Huntington, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Rijksmuseum, the Musée des Arts Decoratifs and Harewood House. Estimate: £40,000 - 60,000/€46,000 - 69,000.

A pair of Meissen turquoise-ground sake bottles, circa 1733-34. In 1730, the plans for the decoration of the Japanese Palace in Dresden were changed so that the piano nobile was reserved exclusively for Meissen porcelain. Each room was to be decorated with porcelain of a different ground colour with the celadon-green ground porcelain intended for the south-west corner cabinet. In November 1733, Augustus III placed a large order of porcelain, and it is likely that this pair of sake bottles were among the pieces delivered to the Japanese Palace by the end of 1734. Estimate: £40,000 - 60,000/€46,000 - 69,000.

A very rare Sèvres bust of Empress Marie Louise, the second wife of Napoleon Bonaparte, circa 1811. The bust is a faithful biscuit copy of the official portrait of Empress Marie Louise, commissioned by her husband Napoleon from the sculptor François Joseph Bosio. It was made as a counterpart to the Sèvres bust of the Emperor himself by Antoine-Denis Chaudet (1763-1810). Two "magnitudes" i.e. larger than life versions of the portrait of the Empress were made in biscuit and the one offered is the larger of the two. It was ordered by either Count Sanson, a highly placed diplomat about to enter service with the Russian Tsar, or Queen Hortense, second godmother to the King of Rome. Estimate: £40,000 - 60,000/€46,000 - 69,000.

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