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The rare set of plates, each measuring 67/8in (17.5cm) in diameter, was painted with scenes representing the months of the year by the highly regarded enameller Pierre Reymond. For spring the painter’s mind evidently turned to thoughts of love and the merry month of May, shown here, depicts an elopement through the woods.

They were offered on behalf of a deceased Cheshire estate, but they were originally from the Rothschild collection and had been exhibited at the Special Exhibition of Works of Art at the South Kensington Museum in June 1862.

The set – the majority of the dozen in good condition – attracted interest from a number of European dealers, but it was two dealers from France bidding on the telephone who took the final price to £122,000 (plus 10 per cent premium).