"Immensely important, rare and charming" are the words used by an auctioneer to describe the star of its upcoming sale of British Pottery & Porcelain in London on April 18. The piece is question is rare and coveted head from the Chelsea porcelain factory.
So important is this work that the firm's expert was reportedly moved to tears when he first saw it. It is believed that the piece will smash the existing £223,650 (approximately $354,025) World Record price for a piece of Chelsea porcelain, which was set in London in 2003.
"My heart stopped," said Fergus Gambon, Department Director of British Ceramics at Bonhams. "I knew that the only known example of the model was in The Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, regarded as a jewel in the crown of the ceramics collection there.
"No other example was recorded. Yet here was another.... and somehow even better. I was immediately struck by its radiance and beauty. In contrast to the coloured example at Oxford, the Bonhams head has been left in the white as the potter intended."
The rare piece depicts an unknown child with a smiling face and a thick, curly hair. The head dates to 1748-50 and is an early product of Chelsea factory, typifying the delicacy and pathos of the factory's craftsmen during that era.
Chelsea china objects remain among the most coveted in the collectors' markets. The Chelsea factory was the first to produce porcelain in England. Its clientele were at the very highest levels of 18th century society.
These pieces have always been expensive. So we won't be surprised if this scarce 1748-50 Chelsea porcelain factory head sells for a price significantly beyond £223,650. Watch this space for more news on the sale.