Lyon & Turnbull's sister saleroom, Freeman’s of Philadelphia, will offer an important collection of English majolica pottery this autumn. Amassed by well-known philanthropist and collector Michael Coslov and his wife Debra, highlights from the collection will be exhibited in London, Philadelphia, and on Philadelphia’s Main Line before more than 70 lots hit the auction block as a dedicated section in Freeman’s October 7th English & Continental Furniture & Decorative Arts sale.
Many forms within the Debra & Michael Coslov Collection of Important English Majolica reflect the Victorian interest in gastronomy. Game tureens designed with hares, venison, and partridge; lobster and sardine boxes, and oyster plates are just of few of the pieces in the collection. Other ceramics are more humorous such as punch bowls supported by figures of Punch and the rare Minton tortoise-form or “spikey-fish” teapots. While some are inspired by the Orient, depicting monkeys or Chinese men; others are classical or Renaissance in design, such as the Copeland reproductions of the Warwick Vase. These often bright, whimsical and naturalistic designs echo their use in or near the Victorian English garden.
"The Coslov collection contains some of the most recognizable and desirable majolica pieces by makers Minton, George Jones, Copeland and others, and includes most of the important and rare pieces in the genre—acquired with a collector’s emphasis on fine. When brought to market this fall, the collection will garner national and international interest and will be remembered as a landmark sale in the category,"
Vice President and English & Continental Furniture, Decorative Arts & Silver Department Head David Walker.
The history of majolica can be traced to Hispano-Moresque lusterware chargers and vessels from the 13th-century that were made by Moors in southern Spain and Malaga. During the 15th and 16th-centuries, Italian potters and painters produced numerous colourfully decorated tin-glazed chargers and other vessels as well. Together with lusterware, they became bracketed under the term “maiolica.” It is believed that the word “maiolica” came from medieval Italian for Mallorca (Majorca), the island between Valencia and Italy, from where many of these wares were transported. English majolica takes its name from these Spanish and Italian antecedents. It was displayed by Minton to much acclaim at London’s 1851 Crystal Palace Exhibition, and later at 1855 Paris Exposition. The technique, which used a thick tin-glaze—often in deep blues and greens, and bright yellows and turquoise—was later adopted by several English and American factories. Majolica became one of the most popular ceramic forms throughout the second half of the 19th century, but production had all but died out by 1900.