Pick of the week

Country Life Every Week - - Art Market -

Christie’s Ex­cep­tional sale also had its share of ce­ram­ics. The his­tory of one im­por­tant piece might al­most have come from that charm­ing and melan­choly book, Burke’s Vi­cis­si­tudes of Fam­i­lies. Thomas Toft is the most cel­e­brated late-17th-cen­tury Stafford­shire slip­ware pot­ter and he el­e­vated a naïve craft al­most to the level of high art. A favourite theme was the Restora­tion and this was a su­perb 205∕ 8in- di­am­e­ter ex­am­ple with the arms of Charles II in brown slip on a cream ground, so good in­deed that Toft signed it promi­nently.

It was made for the Wil­bra­hams of Dor­fold Hall, Cheshire, in about 1670 and was no doubt hon­oured there for gen­er­a­tions. How­ever, at the end of the 19th cen­tury, a daugh­ter of the house found it serv­ing as a dish to feed chick­ens at the home farm. Although dam­aged, it was val­ued at £18 in 1902. It has now fi­nally left the fam­ily and, de­spite cracks and riv­ets, it sold for £122,500.

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