The fantastic Procida Mirabelli di Lauro collection of Italian porcelain is to be auctioned at Bonhams, New Bond Street on Tuesday, July 6. This Italian single-owner collection, the most comprehensive of its type to ever come on to the market, is expected to fetch £300,000 - £500,000.
Among the highlights of the sale are four plates from the Servizio del'Oca made for King Ferdinand IV's private use, estimated to sell for £5,000 - £8,000, a rare Doccia perfume bottle, circa 1745-50, estimated to sell for £4,000 - £6,000, and a collection of Doccia snuffboxes, circa 1790, estimated to sell for £5,000 - £12,000.
Also on offer are several documentary pieces from the Real Fabbrica Ferdinandea - amongst them a plate with a view of Virgil's Temple, signed by Antonio Cioffi. The collection comprises over 100 pieces and was assembled by Roberto Procida Mirabelli di Lauro from the early 1960s until his death in 2009.
It includes highlights of Neapolitan porcelain of exceptional diversity and range of objects, from rare 16th century Venetian maiolica to precious late 18th century Doccia porcelain and French and Italian snuff boxes. Many of the pieces have been published in the standard literature on the subject.
The highlights of the collection are the neo-classical pieces from Real Fabbrica Ferdinandea, many of which were created in a spirit of competition with Austria under the patronage of Ferdinand IV, King of Naples and the Two Sicilies and his consort Maria Carolina von Habsburg.
Hbsburg was otherwise known as the sister of Queen Marie Antoinette of France. Maria Carolina of Austria married Ferdinand in 1768 and moved from her homeland of Austria to Naples.
At the time, Austrians were producing beautiful neo-classical porcelain which also was sent to Naples. So, perhaps in a spirit of competition, Maria Carolina and Ferdinand restarted their factory and encouraged porcelain production in the neo-classical style.
The resulting works became world-renowned; not in the least when they started serving as diplomatic gifts to the Spanish court, and as souvenirs for Lady Hamilton and other English nobility passing through Naples on their Grand Tour.
"The collection of Roberto Procida fits neatly in the generation of Neapolitan collectors that were extremely rounded in their knowledge and had a wide range of interests - in his case varying from French snuff-boxes to Italian maiolica," said Nette Megens of Bonhams.
"He collected for over 35 years with continued curiosity and true love of the subject, and his passion clearly shows in his choice of objects.''
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