Sunday - 21 September 2014

Louis XV dish serves up £70,000 in Surrey

23 December 2013Written by ATG Reporter

Although missed at the cataloguing stage, this 13½in (35cm) Vincennes dish established a new house record for Wellers of Guildford when it sold at £70,000.

Consigned from a local deceased estate (a property described as modest), it has a regal history. Dating from c.1753, the well-preserved dish was once part of the Louis XV Service, the first large service produced by Vincennes.

Its creation marked the introduction of the famous bleu céleste ground as well as many new shapes designed specifically for the service by the goldsmith Jean-Claude Duplessis.

It was delivered to the king in three stages between December 1753 and December 1755, and comprised a total of 1749 pieces at a cost of 87,272 livres.

Additional deliveries were made in 1756 and 1757, and, although the king disposed of part of the service in May 1757, further supplements were purchased from the Sèvres factory in 1771 and 1773.

Terry Wright, one of Wellers' longest serving auctioneers, was on the rostrum facing eight telephone bidders and a heavily annotated commission book when the dish - initially described as Sèvres and estimated at just £70-90 - was sold on November 28-29. Bids arrived in £5000 increments.

It was bought by Voltaire Antiquites Vandermeersch, Paris-based specialists in French porcelain. Camille Leprince of Vandermeersch said the new acquisition - for which a drawing by Duplessis exists in the archives at the Manufacture Nationale de Sèvres - was a particularly rare shape and one not included in the collection at Versailles.

He said it would form part of an exhibition of French porcelain the firm are planning for London in June 2014.

An 11in (28cm) octagonal dish or plat d'hors-d'oeuvres,one of eight made for this service, was sold by Christie's New York in October 2012 for $50,000.

Vincennes in Paris

A few days after the dish sold at Guildford, another rare piece of Vincennes went under the hammer at Beaussant Lefèvre in Paris on December 6. Coincidentally, Michel Vandermeersch acted as an expert for this Drouot sale.

The eagerly-contested piece was a rare unpublished soft-paste sucrier c.1749-51 from a single-owner collection formed in the early 20th century.

What distinguished this 6½in (16.5cm) diameter piece was the highly detailed chinoiserie vignettes painted to the body and cover. Although the artist is unknown, the designs are based on engravings by John Ingram, Gabriel Huquier and Pierre Alexandre Aveline after paintings and drawings by François Boucher.

Those on the cover came from La Pâtée du Petit Chien and Air from a series of the elements. The body featuredFireandSmellfrom a series of the senses.

The auctioneers had given the sucrier an estimate of €40,000-60,000 but on the day competition from a mix of French and non French collectors acting through different agents took the final price to €490,000 (£429,825) plus 20% buyer's premium.

Camille Leprince told ATG that M. Vandermeersch ranked it among best pieces of Vincennes he had seen in his 40 years. "Considering there is no royal provenance the price is amazing", he added.

The buyer's premium at both Wellers and Beaussant Lefèvre was 20%.

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