The Judith Howard Collection

5th February 2020

A dish from the first service of Louis XV, that was bought in a junk shop for £13, has sold for £31,250 – becoming the top lot of the much anticipated Judith Howard Collection of Sèvres porcelain.

The large circular dish (lot 35) was made in 1754 as the first service produced by the Vincennes factory, and the first to use the popular (and expensive to produce) turquoise bleu celeste ground. Despite being broken and riveted, the dish was fought over between the room and a telephone bidder and chased up to a hammer price of £25,000. The rare piece had been instantly recognised by former V&A curator, Judith Howard, when she first spotted it in a shop in Hungerford in 1982 and added it to her then already extensive collection.

Judith’s daughter, Charlotte, who grew up among her mother’s china cabinets and spent her childhood accompanying her to fairs and antique shops, said her mother was charmed when it came to unearthing rare and unusual pieces. “She had a sixth sense when it came to finding the gems among the dross,” she explained. “She was a magnet for rare antiques where you would least expect to find them, and the Louis XV plate was not her only discovery.”

Other key lots during the sale on 4th February included a rare and possibly unique plate made for Madame du Barry (lot 195) , which sold for £15,000, a plate (lot 152) from the Archduke Ferdinand’s service (Marie Antoinette’s brother) which fetched £8,750, and a stand from a later service for Louis XV (lot 80) which sold for £8,125. The sale had a sell rate of almost 95% and totalled £371,000 (including premium).

Ceramics specialist, Clare Durham, explained the buzz behind the sale. “Judith’s collection was probably the largest collection of Sèvres porcelain in private hands and, in terms of the number of pieces, certainly rivalled that of the Queen. She had unearthed some true rarities and, although many of them had suffered damage, collectors were keen to acquire some of these objects which very rarely make it onto the open market. Judith was a remarkable lady who spent 50 years putting an incredible amount of effort into her porcelain collection and I couldn’t be more pleased to see how that has paid off today.”

To view the results of the sale please click here.

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