Botanical decorated Chelsea dish

Botanical decorated Chelsea dish painted with Acacia Americana (Callandra Houstonia) sold for Aus$16,000 (£8290) at Artvisory.

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With Australia being an important destination for much antique pottery and porcelain in the latter part of the 20th century, a fair bit of this is now coming back onto the market either as deceased estates or because older owners decide to sell.

The late Robert Bob Burke (1932-2022) was a case in point. A pharmacist by profession in the Tamworth, New South Wales area, he spent decades acquiring a collection of choice pieces.

This encompassed furniture, silver and paintings but his particular interest was early English porcelain.

Burke assembled a collection of pieces from the major factories of the 18th century, especially Chelsea and first period Worcester, buying from the major dealers in this field.

Until the late 1980s he made annual buying trips to Europe and in later years took advantage of the internet to fuel his acquisitions.

On February 19-20 Melbourne saleroom Artvisory (26% buyer’s premium) held a sale of Burke’s porcelain which generated a very high take-up, with 95% sold by volume to take just over Aus$1m.

In terms of buyers, the UK accounted for 50% of the sale, Australia 30%, the US around 10% and a further 10% or so from one ceramics buyer in Paris.

Early Chelsea

Topping the bill was the large 15in (38.5cm) early silver shaped Chelsea fable serving dish of c.1752 which was previewed in ATG No 2628 that was painted by Jefferyes Hamett O’Neale with the story of The Lamb Brought up by the Goat.

Estimated at Aus$20,000- 30,000, it ended up selling for Aus$44,000 (£22,800).

Chelsea silver shape dish

The Chelsea silver shape dish decorated by Jefferyes Hamett O’Neale that led the Robert Burke collection sold by Artvisory when it made Aus$44,000 (£22,800).

Another early Chelsea example featuring Hamett O’Neale’s painting that proved sought after was a 4¼in (11cm) diameter dish of c.1750- 52 painted with two horses in a landscape.

This came with a string of provenances to various collectors and prominent English porcelain dealers. Exhibited by English porcelain dealer Simon Spero in 1993, the dish then entered the Billie Pain Collection from which it was sold as part of the auction by Bonhams in 2003 and was next with the English porcelain dealer Robyn Robb before entering the Burke Collection.

Chelsea dish

A Chelsea dish painted by Jefferyes Hamett O’Neale that realised Aus$14,000 (£7255) at Artvisory.

This sold for Aus$14,000 (£7255) against a Aus$7000-10,000 guide. When it sold from the Billie Pain group, a landmark auction at the height of the market for this type of early English porcelain, it realised £11,000.

Two other Robb Chelsea purchases in demand were a couple of 8½in (21cm) diameter plates of c.1755-6 painted with Hans Sloanetype botanical specimens based on illustrations in Figures of the Most Beautiful and Uncommon Plants described in the Gardeners Dictionary by Phillip Miller, 1755.

One, painted with a spray of Acacia Americana (now known as Callandra Houstonia), realised Aus$16,000 (£8290) (pictured top) while the second, painted with a spray of Achillia, a butterfly and an insect, realised Aus$15,000 (£7770).

Chelsea Achillia dish

A Chelsea dish painted with Achillia, Aus$15,000 (£7770) at Artvisory.

No collection of Chelsea porcelain would arguably be complete without an example of the so called Goat and Bee jug, the small 4¼in (11cm) silver shape cream jug thought to have been modelled by Nicholas Sprimont which is one of the earliest-known factory models, dating from c.1445-7.

Burke’s example sold for a midestimate Aus$13,000 (£6735).

Worcester porcelain made up a large slice of the collection.

Worcester hexagonal vases

A pair of Worcester hexagonal vases with decoration attributed to the workshop of James Giles, Aus$24,000 (£12,435) at Artvisory.

A pair of Worcester blue-scale hexagonal vases of c.1765-70 decorated with the Lady Mary Montagu pattern were attributed to the James Giles workshop, an area of specific interest for Burke. Also featured in the ATG preview, they realised the second-highest price of the auction at a mid-estimate Aus$24,000 (£12,435).

Sèvres contributes

Sèvres cabaret

A Sèvres cabaret of 1780, Aus$18,500 (£9585) at Artvisory.

Although Sèvres porcelain accounted for a much smaller element of the sale, it provided two of the highest prices here, a reflection perhaps of the factory’s international standing with collectors. A tea cup and saucer painted with flower and blue ribbon pattern with the date letter for 1759 was pushed to Aus$18,000 (£9325), a multiple of the Aus$2500-3500 guide, and a cabaret set with a date letter for 1780, comprising a teapot, dish, two teacups and a sucrier, realised Aus$18,500 (£9585).

£1 = Aus$1.93