Pick of the week
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.