The pieces had been gifted to his daughter Renée Louise Marie de Rothschild (1927-2015) in 1948 when the family home, Ascott House in Buckinghamshire, was given to the National Trust and the contents dispersed to several museums and family members.
This selection of 27 lots offered on November 9-10 had been packed away and only recently brought to the family’s attention.
They bear notes, antiques dealers’ labels and numbers that correlate with the meticulous inventory kept by Anthony de Rothschild. Beginning his collecting odyssey following a trip to China in 1911 (he was an early lender to exhibitions held by the Oriental Ceramics Society founded in 1921) he amassed the majority of his works throughout the 1920s-30s. Against what were low to modest guides, the collection took £280,000, over 10 times its pre-sale estimate.
Specialist Mark Newstead said buying was equally split between UK, European and mainland Chinese collectors and dealers, with “the Chinese buying most of the jade with strong UK, Chinese and European bidding on the porcelain”.
Leading the collection was a textbook example Le Gout Rothschild object: a pair of gilt-metal mounted biscuit porcelain parrot candelabra, the porcelain Kangxi (1662-1722), the mounts French c.1740-60.
Kangxi parrots of this model exist in various colours and blanc-de-chine – these ones glazed in shades of turquoise and aubergine – and were mounted in France throughout the 18th century.
Two pairs of turquoise parrots with ormolu bases are recorded in the Livre Journal of the marchands-mercier Lazare Duvaux: one pair delivered to M de Presle on November 7, 1752 (360 livres); another to M d’Azincourt on October 2, 1754 (432 livres).
Other near-identical pairs to these are at Ascott House and illustrated in The Anthony de Rothschild Collection of Chinese Ceramics by Regina Krahl (1996) and in the Victoria and Albert Museum.
This pair (not examined out of the mounts) had a long body crack to one of the birds. Against an estimate of £4000-60000, they took £72,000.
A pair of Kangxi water droppers modelled as recumbent horses about to stand took £21,000. To the bases are labels for the De Rothschild Collection (number 392) and the New Bond Street dealership S Gorer & Son. Like some of the pieces in the sale, they had some restoration.
Topping the jades at £14,000 was a Qianlong celadon and russet model of a monkey and infant on a fitted hard wood stand.