Private collection of Meissen figures leads sale

A private collection of Meissen figures, including examples of the c.1755 Cris de Paris, or Cries of Paris series, will be sold in Tennants Auctioneers’ Spring Fine Sale on March 18, leading a strong selection of ceramics in the sale.

Meissen porcelain figures are extremely collectable, admired not only for their artistry and ingenuity, but also because they represent 18th-century European aristocracy’s voracious appetite for porcelain. The first factory to make ‘true’ porcelain, Meissen employed skill artists and craftsmen who throughout the 18th century increasingly produced sculptural and figurative porcelain drawing inspiration from art, religion, everyday life, and nature.

Cris de Paris soon became Meissen’s most popular figure series, depictions of urban street traders, inspired by Guillaume de Villeneuve’s 13th-century poem, ‘Crieries de Paris’. Recognisable for their bold colour, the figures are based on thirty-four sketches by Cristophe Huet, who depicted his subjects with a great degree of pathos and animation, which were then transformed by modeller Johann Joachim Kändler into porcelain. Parisian street vendors from the series on offer include ‘The Lottery Seller’, estimated at £4,000-£6,000, ‘The Cook’, estimate of £3,000-£4,000, and ‘The Spirits Seller’, with an estimate of £3,000-£4,000.

Among a selection of Sèvres porcelain in the sale is an 1827 ‘Etrusque’ Tea Service, decorated with flowers and gilt foliate borders, estimated at £3,000-£5,000, and a selection of biscuit porcelain figures from a private collection including dancing couples and the pair ‘Les Trois Graces Portant L’Amour’ and ‘Bacchus Porte Par Les Bacchantes’ made circa 1775, estimate of £3,000-£4,000. Further notable ceramics come from  the Estate of Stephen Hamilton Rawlins of Scarborough, which includes a good offering of toby jugs, including a circa 1790 Ralph Wood type pearlware sailor toby jug, estimate of £600-£800, and an interesting circa 1690 English Delft blue dash charger, probably made in Brislington and decorated with tulips, estimated at £1,000-£1,500).

A second private collection, this time focusing on 18th-century glass and English ceramics including Prattware, Pearlware, Creamware and Whieldon-type figures includes interesting lots for collectors such as a Whieldon-Type Creamware Bull-Baiting Group made circa 1770 once in the C.B. Kidd Collection, estimated at £500-£700.

Elsewhere in the sale, the first part of a private collection of glass paperweights will be offered, including examples by Clichy, Baccarat and St Louis, such as a circa 1850 St Louis small fuchsia paperweight, estimate of £500-£700.

A further private collection of Welsh lovespoons includes fine examples of the craft including an 1871 Welsh treen triple love spoon with initials ‘HW’, estimated at £800-£1,200. An interesting 16th-century Mexican feather mosaic picture of St Christopher carrying the Christ Child is offered with an estimate of £700-£1,000.

An antique Mexican feather religious picture

Having flourished as an Aztec art form in pre-Columbian Mexico, the Spanish colonists prevented the Amantecas, or feather artists, from continuing to produce their traditional indigenous subjects, however they did encourage them to produce Christian subjects. In the 16th century many such pieces were sent to Europe to show the quality of this exotic art and also to represent the progress made in the conversion of the New World to Christianity.

Gillow & Co side cabinet

Fine furniture in the sale is led by a Gillow & Co. exhibition quality Victorian specimen wood, marquetry, parquetry and gilt metal-mounted side cabinet, dating from the 3rd quarter of the 19th century. This fine piece of craftsmanship has rich inlaid marquetry panels of birds and is stamped ‘Gillow & Co, R and HP’, estimated at £5,000-£7,000. Also of note is a late 18th-century George III mahogany library desk in the manner of Gillows, estimate of £4,000-£6,000, a pair of late 19th-century satinwood, kingwood, tulipwood and marquetry-inlaid serpentine commodes, by repute once the property of Sir Francis Dashwood of West Wycombe House, estimated at £4,000-£6,000, and a Regency mahogany triple-pillar dining table, estimate of £3,000-£5,000. A rare late Victorian two-seater sofa or chaise is also offered with an estimate of £2,000-3,000.

Further highlights in the sale include a rare and unusual circa 1930 Cartier blue guilloche enamel bell push timepiece, estimate of £3,000-£5,000, and a circa 1950 Isfahan carpet from central Iran, estimated at £2,000-£3,000.