A very rare and important 82cm high porcelain figure of Hercules created at the Doccia factory in Tuscany in 1753-55 is to be sold at Bonhams, New Bond Street, London in its Fine European Ceramics sale on 7 December 2011.
This is the first time that a Doccia figure of this size has come to auction and the piece is estimated to sell for £300,000-500,000 ($789,005).
Nette Megens, Bonhams European Ceramics Specialist, comments: "It is an unprecedented event that a Doccia figure of this size and importance comes to the market by public sale. It is truly a once in a lifetime chance for an auctioneer to handle an object of this beauty and museum quality."
The Doccia factory was founded in the middle of the 18th century by Carlo Ginori, and is still operating in Sesto Fiorentino, just outside of Florence. The factory started making large-scale porcelain figures, a hugely ambitions task, in the late 1740s.
The stunning work on offer in this sale is based on the famous antique sculpture of the Farnese Hercules, now in the Archaeological Museum in Naples. The gesso model used in its creation has not moved since the 18th century, and is still kept in the Doccia factory museum.
The factory often used bronze models from well-known sculptors to translate into porcelain and even bought the waxes from the workshops of Massimiliano Soldani Benzi and Foggini.
For this Hercules, artists were sent to Rome to take casts of one of the many smaller marble versions of the monumental Farnese Hercules, which was one of the most famous antique sculptures in the 18th century.
These moulds were brought back to the Doccia factory to be re-worked into porcelain by the most famous sculptor-modeller at the factory, Gasparo Bruschi. Models of this size were generally kept at the factory, while smaller examples, often with their titles on the base, were sold as expensive souvenirs to travellers on the Grand Tour.
Porcelain sculptures of this size are very rare, and most of the known examples are now in museum collections.
Watch this space for more news on Bonhams' 7 December auction.