Black and Gold-Striped service plate. Photo: Bonhams

LONDON.- The auction of ‘The Hoffmeister Collection of Meissen Porcelain Part III’ took place today (24.11.10) at Bonhams, New Bond Street and made £790,560, selling 81% by lot and 71% by value. This brings the total for the three sales of finest collection of Meissen porcelain to £2,988,120.

The top selling lot today was an extremely rare Meissen plate from the ‘Black and Gold-Striped’ service circa 1735 which is believed at one time to have been in the possession of Baron de Zoubaloff in Moscow. The plate sold for £48,000. Other top lots include a Meissen circular dish circa 1735 (£48,000), a very rare Meissen armorial teabowl and sauce from the service for the Elector Clemens August of Cologne circa 1735 (£48,000) and a Meissen teapot and cover from the service for Pope Benedict XIV circa 1743 (£45,600).


An extremely rare Meissen plate from the 'Black and Gold-Striped' service, circa 1735. Photo: Bonhams

Superbly painted, perhaps by A.F. von Löwenfinck, the centre with a landscape vignette depicting a recumbent fantasy animal flanked by flowers, and further scattered blooms, a gold and black-striped border around the edge of the well, the brown-edged, wavy rim painted in enamels and gilding with a continuous landscape scene depicting European and chinoiserie figures, 21.5cm diam., crossed swords mark in underglaze-blue. Sold for £48,000

Provenance: Probably Baron L. de Zoubaloff Collection, Moscow, to 1918;
With Andreina Torre, Zürich;
Acquired from the above in 1986

Literature: Hoffmeister 1999, I, no. 185

Exhibited: Hamburg, Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, 1999-2009

From a table service with matching tea and coffee service variously dated between 1735-40, of which a large portion was until 1918 in the possession of Baron de Zoubaloff in Moscow. It has been suggested (Pietsch 1996, p. 230) that the service may have been delivered to the Russian Court). The painting on some pieces has been attributed to Adam Friedrich von Löwenfinck, who left the Meissen manufactory in 1736, though the presence of impressed numerals on some pieces proves that at least some of the service must date to 1739 or later.

Numerous plates and dishes from the service remain in the State Museum of Ceramics in Kuskovo Palace in Moscow, while others were sold after the Russian Revolution. Three plates of this size were sold by the Soviet government at auction in Berlin in 1930 (Rudolph Lepke, Berlin, 21-22 October 1930, lots 861-863), of which one (lot 861 - the only example illustrated in the sale catalogue) is now in the Arnhold Collection, New York (Cassidy-Geiger 2008, no. 182). Four other plates are in the Dr. Ernst Schneider Collection, Schloss Lustheim (Grigat-Hunger 2004, nos. 44-48).

Each of the three sales saw pieces returned to the descendants of the families they were created for. This morning Princess Gloria von Thurn und Taxis successfully bid £5,400 for an extremely rare saucer from a Thurn und Taxis armorial service of which only two other pieces are recorded.


An extremely rare Meissen armorial saucer from the service for Fürst Alexander Ferdinand von Thurn und Taxis, circa 1740. Photo: Bonhams

Painted with the arms of Thurn und Taxis surrounded by scattered small sprigs of indianische Blumen, similar sprigs to the reverse, gilt scrollwork border to the rim, 13cm diam., crossed swords mark in underglaze-blue, Sold for £5,400

: Andreina Torre Collection, Zürich, sold Sotheby's London, 18 November 1996, lot 40);
Acquired in the above sale

Literature: Hoffmeister 1999, II, no. 319

Exhibited: Hamburg, Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, 1999-2009

Alexander Ferdinand von Thurn und Taxis (1704-1773) became third Fürst, or reigning Prince of the Holy Roman Empire, following the death of his father in late 1739. He was awarded the Order of the White Eagle by Augustus III of Saxony in 1739, which is incorporated in the arms on this service and proves that it was made for him, rather than his father, whose arms bore the Order of the Golden Fleece. It is not certain whether the service was a gift from Augustus III on this occasion, or whether it was ordered by Fürst Alexander Ferdinand. The latter was Imperial Postmaster-General and promoted postal conventions between Saxony and the Holy Roman Empire (see also Köhler 2007, p. 199).

Only two other pieces from the service are recorded in pre-First World War collections and have both since disappeared: a beaker in the C.H. Fischer Collection, Dresden, and a beaker and saucer in the Gustav von Gerhardt Collection, Budapest. There is no record of the service in the inventory of the Thurn und Taxis palace in Frankfurt or the accounts at the Thurn und Taxis Archive in Regensburg.

Sebastian Kuhn, Bonhams Continental Porcelain Specialist comments, “It has been an honour to sell such a wonderful collection, put together with such care and precision and we are thrilled with the results today. We now look forward to our next sale of Fine European Ceramics on 8th December which contains many other remarkable Meissen pieces.”

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 three sales of the collection caused excitement amongst collectors. Many of the pieces included 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, II and III of the sale saw enthusiastic bidding from private collectors, museums and dealers from around the world.

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.