Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

Her English ceramics famously were given to the Victoria and Albert Museum and her fans to the British Museum but another reason why we know so much about her purchases and preferences is that she discusses them in detail in her journals, which record her travels around Europe in the 1860s, ’70s and ‘80s visiting museums and making purchases from dealers with whom she often drove a hard bargain.

As well as the Schreiber collection in the V & A, Continental ceramics and enamels were sold by Christie’s in 1890 and she retained and bequeathed some pieces to her family.

It was a slice of the latter, 125 lots, mostly of English and Continental ceramics and vertu, that had passed to her daughter, Blanche Guest, Countess of Bessborough, that featured in a sale on October 5 of property from the collections of the Earls of Bessborough held by Sotheby’s on the premises at Stansted Park, Hampshire, seat of the late 10th Earl, on behalf of the Standard Park Foundation.

Heading these Schreiber ceramics, and the whole 613-lot sale at £42,000, was this impressive garniture of five porcelain ice pails, covers and liners, made c.1770 at the Cozzi factory in Venice ranging in height from 131/2-161/2in (35 to 42cm) and painted with floral sprays. These are one of Lady Charlotte’s purchases that receive several entries in the journals and, as so often, her observations make entertaining and informative reading.

On October 18, 1862 in Paris she writes:

We have been to Madame Oppenheim’s, 64 Rue Aboukir on Saturday... Salomons of Dresden had directed us to her to see a fine Venetian set which they had bought in partnership. Besides a vast number of other pieces, this service comprised 5 Icepails forming vases with covers liners etc... To separate them from the rest of the service they wanted £60. We have made an offer of £50.

Later she added:

We leave very early for England tomorrow, Just as I had written this, young Oppenheim came in to say that they accepted our offer of £50 for the 5 Venetian vases and accordingly they met us at the train next morning at 7.10.”

Returning to Paris the following year, her journal entry for February 14, 1870 notes:

Went to Oppenheim’s. She has sold the fine Venetian set from which our vases were separated, to a dealer.