Modelled as a seated woman holding a hawk and resting her foot on a tortoise (traditional animal attributes for Touch), it was estimated at £300-500 but sold at £3800 in Derby on October 14-18.
Probably inspired by similar sets made at Meissen and at Derby by Italian-born sculptor Agostino Carlini, Willems’ models debuted at the Chelsea Porcelain Manufactory’s annual auction in March 1755 with the ‘large and beautiful figure representing Feeling’ first offered for sale the following year on April 10, 1756.
As large-scale figures (all are around 12in/30cm high), the records suggest they were sold separately as individual works of porcelain sculpture. Probably for this reason no complete set of five appears to have survived (although the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, has four, missing Sight).
Bamfords’ example was unusual on two other counts. While most surviving figures are enamelled this figure of Touch was left in the white. The bocage of blooming flowers is also far more developed than that which appears to, for example, the figure in Boston or another in the Museum of London collection.
Figures from the series appear on the market occasionally: Smell sold as part of the Crane collection at Bonhams in 2010 for £3000.
Of particular interest to local buyers at Bamfords was a single collection of 38 lots of Pinxton porcelain.
With all lots selling, they totalled £7200, close to double the top estimate. Made in the eponymous village about 20 miles north of the saleroom, Pinxton was founded by wealthy landowner John Coke and the Derby factory painter William Billingsley in 1796. Today, Coke’s home, Brookhill Hall, is the meeting place for the very active Pinxton Porcelain Society – with many members bidding at this sale.
The collection comprised mostly domestic and tablewares made in the period before the factory changed hands in 1804 (it closed for good in 1813).
Top-seller was a c.1800 lot of two 7½in (19cm) wide boat-shaped sucriers, one painted with pink roses, green leaves and gilt foliage, the other painted in carmine and gilt.
Pitched at £100-150, these sold at £580. A butter dish and cover, c.1796-99, decorated with the red sprig version of pattern 1 within iron red borders, was estimated at £60-100 but took £500.