Porcelain tea service auctioned at Bonhams for £541,250

One of the most valuable tea services ever assembled, sold for £541,250 at Bonhams, yesterday 5th December 2012. In a busy saleroom, bidders competed for eight items of the legendary ‘Half-Figure Service’-type, a highly important set of Meissen porcelain in the Said and Roswitha Marouf Collection.

Meissen porcelain with ‘Half-Figure Service’ decoration is one of the rarest and most sought after types of European porcelain painting, decorated with delicate and detailed scenes. The exquisite decoration, widely considered to be the finest of all Meissen ‘chinoiserie’ painting, is usually attributed to J.G Höroldt, a pivotal figure in the 18th Century Meissen manufactory.

The decoration is characterized by dramatic depictions of large figures in the foreground with their lower bodies cut off from the waist. The background is populated with complex and subtle scenes. There is a sophisticated palette of colors and ornate gilt decoration adorns the outer edges of the items.

Many of these ‘Half-Figure Service’ pieces have been exhibited in museums, including the important 2010 exhibition in the Japanese Palace in Dresden to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the founding of the Meissen manufactory.

Other top lots in the sale, which realized a total of over £1million, include a rare early Meissen part tea and coffee service, which sold for £85,250 and a pair of ormolu candelabra, mounted with Meissen figures, which sold for £67,250.