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Glass portrait of Lous XIV – £40,000 at Sotheby’s.

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In terms of take-up, these performances mirrored that of the ceramics elements, with the English material seeing much more movement than the Continental, and early Germanic glass proving the most difficult to shift. Interestingly, early Façon de Venise, an unpredictable market, fared markedly better than the other Continental elements. Sotheby's Simon Cottle put this largely down to the current exhibition, on until October 17, at the Corning Museum of Glass in the US. Beyond Venice, Glass in Venetian Style 1500-1750, and its accompanying book of the same title, has generated sufficient interest to see enthusiasts forming new collections around the world.

The top glass price of the series was neither British nor Venetian inspired, however, but an early French piece - the 14 1/2in (36cm) high portrait medallion of Louis XIV pictured here. Not the most
aesthetically attractive entry, but of undeniable academic importance, this was made at Bernard Perrot's 17th century glasshouse at Orleans and is one of a group of eight such recorded portrait medallions of Louis XIV. It is thought that these medallions date from the ten-year period that Perrot spent petitioning for his invention of casting a thick layer of glass into a metal mould to produce relief figures, busts, medals and armorials, before he was granted a manufacturing licence on September 25, 1687. Several of the group have suspension loops, elements of gilding, enamel decoration or mirrored grounds and the plaques may have been displayed suspended in a window or hung on a wall.

Sotheby's newly-discovered example was unusual for the extent of its somewhat crude colour enamelling, but information given by the vendor after the catalogue went to press threw interesting light on the decoration and provenance.

The medallion was acquired by the vendor's father in China in the first half of the 20th century and it is now believed to have been presented by Perrot to the Ambassador of the King of Siam during the King's famous visit to Paris in 1686. It comes with a late 17th century carved wood stand bearing the Siamese monarch's dragon and amphitrite symbols. The 'clobbered' enamelling was probably done later when the piece reached Thailand, a theory reinforced by features such as its similarity to Oriental lacquerwork and the uniform colour covering Louis' flowing locks and the folds of his cloak and the use of green rather than yellow for the Sun King's emblem, features suggesting that the decoration was not executed by someone familiar with this Western subject.

The auctioneers deemed the new information sufficiently important to merit an increase in the original estimate from £30,000-40,000 to £40,000-60,000. In the event, the plaque reached the lower end of the revised guideline, the £40,000 price paid over the telephone. The buyers were the Corning Museum of Glass. "We were thrilled to acquire it," Corning's executive director David Whitehouse told the Antiques Trade Gazette last week. The Corning Museum already has one of the extant Perrot portrait plaques, a clear glass example with traces of gilding. Of his new acquisition with its Royal Siamese provenance Dr Whitehouse said, "It is a quite extraordinary 17th century meeting of east and west. Such things are incredibily rare," adding that, for the Corning's international audience of visitors, the object has a remarkably interesting story to tell.