A teapot once in the collection of the mother of King George I is the highlight of the concluding part of the auction of ‘The Hoffmeister Collection of Meissen Porcelain’. Part III of the sale will take place on 24th November 2010 at 101 New Bond Street, London. This follows on from the great success of Part I of the sale which made £1,097,100 in November 2009, and Part II which made £1,076,460 in May 2010.
The most expensive item in the Hoffmeister collection, the teapot (estimate £200,000-300,000) dates from1713-14 and is decorated with the coat of arms of Sophie of Hanover, mother of King George I of England. It is the earliest surviving datable piece of Meissen porcelain, and formed part of the first Meissen armorial service – there is only one other piece of this service surviving today – a beaker and saucer that is housed in the British Museum. This teapot represents the only opportunity for buyers to own a piece of a hugely important Meissen service and would be a prestigious addition to any collection.
Worth far, far more than its weight in gold, a tiny porcelain thimble decorated with the coat of arms of an Irish aristocrat is estimated to sell for £20,000-30,000. It is the only recorded armorial thimble created at the Meissen factory, and is decorated with the coat of arms of MacElligot – a Catholic noble family, many members of which served in the armies of the Empress Maria Theresa of Austria. This example was created with two matching snuff boxes and would have been given as a token of love. Bonhams are selling the thimble together with one of the oval snuff-box covers. It was commissioned by Peter Julius Caesar, Freiherr (Baron) von MacElligot and Baron of Trughenamy of the county Kerry (1715-81), probably as a gift for his first wife. Many members of the Irish nobility and their descendents left Ireland after the Treaty of Limerick in 1691 and joined Continental armies; they are known as the “Wild Geese”. MacElligot is probably a descendent of Colonel Roger MacElligot, who joined the Irish Brigade in France in 1697.
Among other highlights in the sale is a very rare Meissen Imari-style dish made around 1730 for the Japanese Palace of the Saxon Elector and King of Poland, Augustus the Strong (estimate £20,000-30,000). The Japanese Palace, on the banks of the Elbe river in Dresden, housed Augustus the Strong’s enormous collection of Asian and Meissen porcelain, the most magnificent porcelain collection of the 18th century. The plate bears the 18th century inventory number of the palace; in 1770 twelve such plates were recorded. The dish was sold from the Saxon Royal collection in 1920, and today only a single example remains in Dresden.
The Hoffmeisters assembled the greatest collection in the world of highly important Meissen armorial porcelain, and, in the 300th anniversary year of the founding of the Meissen factory – Europe’s first porcelain factory – the sale is set to rouse much excitement amongst collectors. Many of the pieces included in the collection boast a prestigious provenance – diplomatic gifts between European princes that passed between some of the most colourful characters of the époque. As a result, Parts I and II of the sale saw enthusiastic bidding from private collectors, museums and dealers from around the world. Among the successful buyers was the Duke of Northumberland, who was able to acquire two plates from the celebrated Hanbury-Williams / Duke of Northumberland Service, which will be reunited with the rest of the service at Alnwick Castle. A Meissen cup and saucer from the Querini service has returned to the Fondazione Querini Stampaglia in Venice.
The Hoffmeister Collection shows the quality and variety of the oldest porcelain manufacturer in Europe – it provides a survey of the first 50 years of the manufactory’s existence, when Meissen dominated the taste for porcelain across Europe. This world famous collection was assembled over 40 years by two German brothers with a passion for this rare 18th century porcelain, and includes the largest and most important group of 18th century Meissen armorial porcelain anywhere in the world. For the past ten years it has been on show at the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe in Hamburg. The collection includes examples of all the early styles of decoration, including copies of Asian prototypes, chinoiserie decoration, European landscape and botanical subjects and armorial porcelain.