Auction Highlights: Five Centuries of Magnificent Objects

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Sotheby's 2018 From Earth to Fire sale brings together a magnificent selection of silver, ceramics, and objects of vertu. With estimates ranging from £1,000 to £80,000, this auction offers something for the aspiring collector and seasoned connoisseur alike, with highlights including 500 years of British and European silver, private collections of gold and enamel boxes, and ceramics and glass from the Joseph M. Morpurgo collection. Click ahead to view the slideshow.

From Earth to Fire
01 May 2018 | London

Auction Highlights: Five Centuries of Magnificent Objects

  • An Edward IV silver diamond point spoon, ‘African’ leopard’s head, maker’s mark a wheatsheaf, London, circa 1470.
    Estimate: £15,000–£20,000.
    This rare early piece was commonplace at the dining tables of nobility in the 15th and 16th centuries and would have been carried to every important meal by its owner. The diamond-point finial is based on the prick or goad spur which was common in the 13th century, and replaced the acorn as the most common form. Thought to have been found buried in the ground, this spoon bears the earliest maker’s mark yet to be recorded and is in remarkable condition for its antiquity.

    From Earth to Fire

    01 May 2018 | London



     

  • A Dutch silver plaquette, unsigned, possibly Adam van Vianen, early 17th century.
    Estimate: £10,000–£20,000.
    This plaquette , originally from a tazza or a piece of furniture, is thought to be by the great Adam van Vianen, widely considered to be greatest silversmith of the Dutch Golden Age. Although unsigned, the exquisite chasing, as well as the existence of another almost identical signed example, have helped us attribute it to the Dutch master. The scene itself depicts the conversion of St Paul on the Road to Damascus, after an engraving by Antonio Tempesta in 1605.

    From Earth to Fire

    01 May 2018 | London



     

  • A large Dutch or German green tinted glass roemer, mid-17th century.
    Estimate: £2,000–3,000.
    Though they were a common feature in the masterworks of still life painters such as Willem Claesz. Heda and Floris van Dijck, relatively few roemer have survived today.



    In the mid-17th century the roemer was the preferred vessel for drinking wine, and was distinctively studded with berry prunts which helped to ensure a firm grip. The particularly large size of this example suggests it would probably have been reserved for special occasions.

    From Earth to Fire

    01 May 2018 | London



     

  • A pair of German parcel-gilt silver beakers, Johann Conrad Treffler, Augsburg, 1699–1703.
    Estimate: £6,000–£8,000.
    This finely engraved pair of beakers was made by the eminent Augsburg Goldsmith Johann Conrad Treffler. Each beaker depicts two of the four godly personifications of the four seasons; Bacchus for Autumn, Ceres for Summer, Diana for Winter, and Flora for Spring. Silver played an important part in German culture during this period with these emblematic beakers representing a fine example of ‘trinkspiel’ (drinking game) wares.

    From Earth to Fire

    01 May 2018 | London



     

  • A Dutch ‘Black Delft’ small oval plaque, early 18th century.
    Estimate: £800–1,200.
    Black Delft is among the rarest of early Dutch Delft. In the early 18th century Delftware with a black ground was exceptionally difficult and costly to produce. It is assumed that many Delft potters simply did not try to achieve this colour and as a result approximately less than seventy pieces are now recorded. This plaque comes from the exceptional Dutch Delft and Glass collection of Joseph M. Morpurgo (Lots 1-20).

    From Earth to Fire

    01 May 2018 | London



     

  • ‘Clovis and Clotilde’. An ivory fan, French, circa 1720.
    Estimate: £3,000–4,000.
    This lavishly painted paper leaf fan comes from an important private collection of extraordinary fans, begun in the late 1940s in Cambridge. Special fans often commemorated major political events, among them coronations and royal weddings. This French fan depicting the coronation of Clovis and Clotilde, the first king and queen of the Franks, reflects the 18th century fascination for the myth of Clovis I, whose Empire, unified under one faith, formed the base for Charlemagne’s reign.

    From Earth to Fire

    01 May 2018 | London



     

  • A George II silver-gilt cream jug, probably George Wickes London, circa 1740.
    Estimate: £15,000–£20,000.
    This cream jug , one of the finest recorded, pays homage to the rococo era. Influenced by the designs of Adam van Vianen, this finely cast example remains unmarked, although similar examples have been attributed to the great Paul de Lamerie. This jug is recorded in the ledgers of the silversmith George Wickes in 1742 for its ‘gilding’ at which point it was in the possession of the Irish politician, the Rt. Hon. William James Connolly.

    From Earth to Fire

    01 May 2018 | London



     

  • A set of four George II silver salts, Paul de Lamerie, London, circa 1740.
    Estimate: £20,000–£30,000.
    These four shell form salts bear the maker’s mark of Paul de Lamerie, widely considered to be the greatest British silversmith of the 18th century. Only one other set of four salts with cast shell bowls are recorded, dating to 1739, housed at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in New York.

    From Earth to Fire

    01 May 2018 | London




     



     

  • Six Kloster Veilsdorf porcelain figures from the ‘Seven Planets’ series, circa 1765.
    Estimate: per lot £3,000-5,000.
    This impressive series of figures, which may also be interpreted as the days of the week, was modelled by Wenzel Neu (circa 1707–1774), in his brief tenure as Modellmeister (chief modeller) and porcelain painter at the Kloster Veilsdorf factory between 1764–1765. The figures are from the Semler collection of Fulda and Thuringian porcelain, which represents fifty-five years of family collecting (Lots 239-257, 310-327).

    Lot 241




    Lot 242



    Lot 243



    Lot 244



    Lot 245



    Lot 246

    From Earth to Fire
    01 May 2018 | London



     

  • Two Fulda porcelain portrait medallion coffee cups and saucers, 1780–85.
    Estimate: £3,000–5,000.
    In 1764, Prince Bishop Heinrich VIII von Bibra (the third member of the von Bibra family to be chosen as a prince-bishop, who reigned 1759-1788) founded the Hochfürstlich Fuldische Porzellainmanufaktur on the grounds of the former Fulda faience factory. In the middle of the 18th century it was common for Electors of small German states to become patrons or have a commercial interest in porcelain factories. The lady who features on these cups , who was clearly an important member of Fulda society, remains unidentified.

    From Earth to Fire
    01 May 2018 | London



     

  • A gold and enamel snuffbox, Les Frères Toussaint, Hanau, circa 1785.
    Estimate: £8,000–12,000.
    Only recently discovered as eminent bijoutiers and gold box makers in Hanau in the 18th century, the brothers Charles and Pierre-Etienne Toussaint were responsible for making Hanau an important centre for the production of gold boxes. This beautiful example depicts a nymph and putto at the altar of love.

    From Earth to Fire

    01 May 2018 | London



     

  • A Naples (Real Fabbrica Ferdinandea) porcelain plate, circa 1800.
    Estimate: £3,000–5,000.
    This beautiful dish was produced at the Real Fabbrica Ferdinandea factory during the reign of Ferdinand IV of Naples. It depicts the Rape of Hippodamia, as it appeared in a fresco in the Baths of Titus, or Thermae Titi, built in Rome in 81 AD. The Baths were excavated in 1776 and the findings were recorded in the large work by Ludovico Mirri, Vestigia delle terme di Tito e le loro interne pitture.

    From Earth to Fire
    01 May 2018 | London



     

  • A gold-mounted tortoiseshell and cameo snuffbox, Pierre-André Montauban, Paris, 1798–1809.
    Estimate: £8,000–12,000.
    Subjects from antiquity, such as the Roman priestess Tuccia with her sieve, as well as motifs from Greek mythology like Eurydice and the serpent, inspired stonecutters and gem-engravers throughout the centuries. Both unsigned onyx cameos inset into the lid of this elegant box by Montauban were identified as being after two 18th century cameos by the famous Pichler family, stonecutters of international reputation, who also received a commission from Empress Josephine for a cameo of the Pope Pius VII, which she gave to Napoleon I.

    From Earth to Fire

    01 May 2018 | London



     

  • A jewelled gold and frosted glass presentation box, Hanau, circa 1871.
    Estimate: £15,000–25,000.
    William I, whose ruby-set initial is applied to the lid of this magnificent jewelled gold box made in Hanau, was proclaimed the first German Emperor on 18 January 1871 in the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles. Well-known for his conscientiousness, rationality and self-restraint, even this presentation box with its richly jewelled coat of arms of the House of Hohenzollern corresponds to the Emperor’s stately and strict reputation, despite the more playful diamond-set scrolls and flowers surrounding the coat of arms.

    From Earth to Fire
    01 May 2018 | London




     



     

  • A silver, burgauté lacquer, enamel and coral table cigar box and accompanying cigarette box, attributed to Cartier, French, circa 1920.
    Estimate: £12,000–18,000.
    Louis Cartier’s fascination with lacquer began as early as 1888, when the Vicomtesse de Bonnemain commissioned the French jeweller to convert her Chinese lacquer cabinet into a jewel case. About two decades later, Cartier started systematically collecting imported Asian lacquer panels from the leading Parisian antique dealers, which were then mounted in vanity cases and smoker’s requisites, such as these refined cigar and cigarette boxes . The dramatic new colour combination of red, green, black and silver was introduced by Cartier in the 1920s, and was extremely suitable for the colour and design schemes of the Art Deco period.

    From Earth to Fire

    01 May 2018 | London



     

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