The ideal combination of works of art with a noble provenance that were not only fresh to the market but also moderately estimated made the sale at Neumeister (30% buyer’s premium) on March 30 a guaranteed success. The hammer total was more than €1.4m.
On offer were 600 lots from the legacy of Ferdinand Eugen, Duke of Württemberg, who died in 2020.
They had been in storage for some 90 years, having originally belonged to the family’s castle Schloss Carlsruhe in what was then Silesia and is now Poland.
Several years before the Red Army destroyed the castle at the end of the Second World War, the works of art had been packed in crates and transported to another Württemberg residence in south-west Germany. Since then, they had been out of sight, prompting the auction house to give their sale the title Hidden Treasures.
Bidders from 30 countries, including China, the US and Poland, joined in the action. Both they and the auctioneers needed considerable staying power: the auction lasted from 2pm until just before midnight.
Few lots failed to find buyers and a very high proportion went for multiples of the guides, with several pieces achieving six-figure prices.
A case in point was an early 19th century, probably French brûle-parfum in alabaster with gilt bronze mounts. It was not in perfect condition and was estimated at €2500. After prolonged bidding, an unnamed buyer secured it for €118,000 (£98,335), the top price.
Also much in demand were table decorations manufactured c.1800 by Werner & Mieth in Berlin. The company specialised in objects incorporating so-called Flussglas, a type of opaque milk glass, which they had delivered from glassworks in Bohemia.
A pair of vase lamps and three vases brought €50,000 (£41,665), 10 times the estimate; a 14-piece table decoration with gilt mounts and alabaster plinths was bid from €7000 to €55,000 (£45,835). Both lots were knocked down to a south German collector on the phone.
The huge silver tureens previewed in ATG No 2534 took €15,000.
In the run-up to the sale, it was clear that a small, late 18th century work table with bird’s-eye maple veneer would bring more than the guide of €25,000.
It came from the workshop of the renowned cabinetmaker David Roentgen and, although it was in far from pristine condition, the price was driven to €88,000 (£73,335).
More of a surprise was the result for an inlaid Italian marble table-top, probably from the 19th century: it soared from the guide of €5000 to €68,000 (£56,665).
And perhaps because it was Easter, bidders also went way over the odds for 26 brightly painted, 19th century porcelain eggs which were guided enticingly at €100: the closing bid was €19,000 (£15,835).
£1 = €1.20