PRESS RELEASE ________________________________________________________APRIL 2010
Once again, the ceramics session of a Stephan Welz & Company auction in Johannesburg is liberally peppered with highly desirable examples of collectable work with the added attraction of investment potential. The ceramics session in the April auction forms a core part of Session One, the first of five sessions being held on 20 & 21 April. This particular session starts at 10h00 on 20 April.
One of the early lots to come under the hammer is lot 40, an ever-desirable Moorcroft ‘Pomegranate’ pattern pedestal vase from around 1916. This magnificent piece has also be selected for a double page detail photograph to introduce Session One. It stands 38cm high and bears a full painted signature and a pre-sale estimate of R40 000 – R50 000, relatively modest going by some prices achieved in recent sales
Moving on, the word ‘Meissen’ comes to the fore with an impressive selection of this beautiful porcelain in a multiplicity of applications.
Meissen porcelain dates to the early 1700’s and is intricately linked with the history of European porcelain. Although the Chinese had discovered the secret of using kaolin in making a type of high-fired stoneware as early as the T’ang dynasty (AD 618-907), the first European hard-paste porcelain was only perfected in the 18th Century. The name ‘porcellana’ was first coined by Marco Polo in the late 13th Century when, travelling through China, he came across a translucent, iridescent and sonorous type of ceramic ware reminiscent of a cowry shell. Small quantities of these remarkable wares found their way to Europe but it was the opening of trade routes to the East by Vasco da Gama in the 15th Century that saw the passion for porcelain in the courts of Europe reach frenzied proportions. Considered more precious than gold and more costly, the race was on to discover the secret of this remarkable product. Polish King August II, (1670-1733), a passionate collector of porcelain who recognised the glory and wealth to be had in the discovery of the secret of porcelain manufacture, sponsored the research of alchemist Johann Friedrich Bottger.
Bottger’s first success was in the manufacture of a red stoneware that was left unglazed but was hard enough to be polished. The final breakthrough came in 1710 with the discovery of nearby kaolin deposits; once the red clay was substituted with the pure white kaolin the secret of hard-paste porcelain was uncovered. Based on this success, Augustus established a factory at Meissen, just outside Dresden, which by 1713 was producing a creamy white porcelain now known as ‘Böttger porcelain’. Thus Meissen became the first European manufactory of hard-paste porcelain, producing wares of an exquisite standard admired throughout Europe. Despite best efforts to guard the secret of porcelain manufacture, however, forgeries started to appear and in 1723 it was announced that Meissen wares would carry a trademark of blue crossed swords, derived from Augustus’ coat of arms and now recognised the world over as a mark of finest quality.
This auction sees us with several Meissen pieces, the earliest being this lot 44, a ‘nodding pagoda’ dating from the mid-19th Century. Modeled after the original by JJ Kaendler, appointed by Augustus the Strong as Meissen’s chief modeler in 1733 and indisputably the most brilliant in Meissen’s history, nodders were originally used in China as an early-warning sign of an impending earthquake. This example is impressed 2884 & 95, stands 35cm high and carries a pre-sale estimate of R15 000 – R20 000.
Of very different appeal, lot 103 is still sure to attract great interest and compeitive bidding, being a Tiffany Favril Glass and Patinated Bronze Goose-neck Desk Lamp pre-sale estimated at R 60 000- 70 000
As a final note, Stephan Welz & Company has had a creat deal of success with Ardmore pottery coming under the hammer. In this auction, the appeal is again in evidence, with lot 89, an Ardmore Cheese Dish and Cover by Wonderboy Nxumalo; it was one of his vases that sold for over R 200 000 in Nov 2008.
For further information on these and any other items in the Steohan Welz 20 & 21 April 2010 Johannesburg auction, please contact 011 880 3125 and ask for the the relevant department.