Meissen clock
A Meissen clock case modelled by George Fritzsche, dated 1727 and photographed in Berlin, 1927 when it was in the collection of the Oppenheimer family. Photo credit: Ludwig Schnorr von Carolsfeld, Sammlung Margarete und Franz Oppenheimer.

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The 100 lots of early 18th century Meissen will be offered in New York in September at Sotheby’s, which describes it as the most “significant collection of Meissen porcelain to come to auction in the last half century”.

It had been owned by the late Dr Franz and Margarethe Oppenheimer. In 1927, the collection was recorded in a two-volume catalogue published privately and authored by ceramics scholar Ludwig Schnorr von Carolsfeld, curator of the then Schlossmuseum, Berlin.

Following persecution in Germany by the Nazis because of their Jewish heritage, the Oppenheimers fled to Austria in December 1936. They had to move again after the Nazis took control of Austria following the Anschluss in March 1938. The family then settled in New York from 1941.

The Oppenheimer family

A portrait of the Oppenheimer family from the mid-1930s.

Leaving many of their possessions and wealth behind, this porcelain collection changed hands several times over the years. It eventually became part of the holdings of the Dutch state from which it was loaned to three museums in the Netherlands: the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the Kunstmuseum Den Haag in The Hague, and the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam. It was then finally restituted to the Oppenheimers’ heirs earlier this year.

Many of the 100 lots have royal and noble provenances, including pieces from the collection of Augustus the Strong, Elector of Saxony, King of Poland and founder of the Meissen porcelain factory. The collection is estimated in excess of $2m.

Sotheby’s will release further details about the collection this summer, ahead of auction.