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A rare collection of Maiolica pottery sold for £130,000 at Lyon & Turnbull’s Sale at Blenheim Palace in April 2009. The collection had been created by W. A. Beare (1910-2000). Educated at Stow School, he went on to serve an apprenticeship in France before joining the family firm of J & A Beare as a violin dealer and maker.
Beare’s work took him across Europe and America buying violins at auction. Whilst attending sales, a love of ceramics developed and he began to collect Maiolica, alongside Hispano Moresque, Delft and Iznik pottery. Maiolica, the refined, white-glazed pottery was adapted to all objects that were traditionally ceramic, such as dishes, bowls, serving vessels, and jugs of all shapes and sizes. It is distinguished by its white, opaque glaze, due to the presence of tin-oxide, a powdery white ash. Tin was an expensive imported substance and the process of painting the objects, which allowed no room for mistakes, made maiolica a far more expensive commodity than ordinary pottery. Amongst the vessels on sale were albarello (drug jars) which held a variety of substances including ‘Prune Grease’, ‘Scorpion Oil’ and ‘Honeysuckle Ointment’.
International competition for the 57 lots from this fine collection saw many of the pots and dishes making three to four times their pre-sale estimates: a mid 16th century Castelli Mailolica albarello, circa 1545-60, sold for £14,000, whilst two Hispano Moresque albarello made £16,000 each. A 17th century Dutch Delft bowl made £6,000 and an Iznik dish of similar age sold for £7,000.
For further information please contact:
Douglas Girton Fine Antiques & Works of Art