They were part of a £577,000 consignment from the family of Eila Grahame, the Kensington Church Street dealer who died in 2009. The proceeds of the contents of her London property, a Suffolk cottage, as well as other items that have remained in storage will go the Art Fund and the church of St Mary of the Assumption at Ufford, where Grahame is buried.
As detailed in the catalogue, only three other dishes from this series are recorded. Two are in the Museo Richard-Ginori della Manifattura di Doccia with another in the Metropolitan Museum in New York. The decorator is thought to be Johann Carl Wendelin Anrieter von Zirnfeld (1702-47), who previously worked at the Du Paquier factory in Venice, or his teenage son Stephan Carl (1727-1801).
The source of the decoration is probably an album of designs by Jacopo Ligozzi (1547-1627) which passed into the hands of Doccia factory founder Marchese Carlo Ginori in about 1740 giving Anrieter a direct source from which to copy. Twenty pages of this album are now in the Uffizi.
The trio of silver-form dishes at Cheffins – all displaying large cracks and heavily worn – depict exotically-dressed figures within borders of insects and botanical sprays. The larger pair, each 14in (36cm) across, show a man holding a bagpipe accompanied by a ram and a lady seated by a sheep. The smaller dish, measuring just over 12in (31cm), is painted with a lady seated on an Ottoman rug, accompanied by a stork.
The winning bid, tendered well above the £4000-6000 estimate at the auction on November 3-December 1, was made by an overseas dealer.
It is the latest in a string of strong prices for polychrome decorated Doccia wares of this period. Sotheby’s sale of items from the collection of the late John Winter in December 2015 included two dishes hammered at £55,000 each – one decorated in the Du Paquier manner with bold floral sprays and another printed in sepia and painted in blue, mauve, yellow and brown with a view on the Grand Canal, Venice after Canaletto.
In 2011 Bonhams set a high for the Doccia factory when an unrecorded 2ft 8in (82cm) high white-glazed figure of the Farnese Hercules – one of the series of large-scale sculptural groups produced before Ginori’s death in 1757 – sold for a premium-inclusive £657,250.
The buyer premium at Bonhams was 22.5%.