Sherborne auctioneers Charterhouse posted a new house record today when this 16.5in (42cm) maiolica istoriato charger sold for £460,000.
The buyer at the single-lot sale on February 14 was the Bond
Street jewellery and objects of vertu specialist SJ Phillips.
A magnificent example of Renaissance pottery represented the
discovery of a lifetime for Richard Bromell - now in his 28th year
as an auctioneer. In November he spotted it in a house in Somerset
where it was hanging on a wall behind a door - its significance
unknown to the vendor who could shed little light on its
Although suspended only by a makeshift wire hanger, the like of
which gives ceramics specialists sleepless nights, it had survived
its five centuries in remarkable condition. The only significant
imperfection was an 1.5in (3.5cm) restuck chip.
Staff at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford had been happy to
confirm Mr Bromell's instincts. Professor Timothy Wilson of the
Ashmolean Museum aided in the identification of the charger, dating
it to Urbino c.1540, while Dr Mercedes Ceron identified the scene
as The Feast of Herod.
Although there are a few alterations to the print (the omission
of the figure of Death) the source for the ambitious decoration is
an engraving by the German printmaker Sebald Beham (1500-1550).
Who painted it is a matter for further research.
There was the tantalising possibility of a signature painted
within the drapery of a figure seated to the right of the main
table (and an area of glue residue to the middle of the reverse of
the charger where a label had previously been applied) but it was
The buyer's premium was 19.5%.