A bargain hunter stumbled across the ‘Holy Grail’ of English porcelain and bought it at a flea market for £2.
Now a family member is set to go under the hammer at auction – with an expected retail price of between £20,000 and £30,000.
The six-inch white figurine of a sleeping baby was bought in Gloucestershire in the mid-1990s by a woman who had an ‘eye for English china’.
She had a feeling it would be something special, but kept it on her shelf for nearly three decades before taking it to an antiques expert for appraisal.
During the meeting, it was revealed that the rare sculpture was made in 1745 by the godfather of English porcelain, Nicholas Sprimont.
Experts say this marks the birth of porcelain production at London’s famous Chelsea factory, which Mr Sprimont ran. A similar example from 1746 is now in the British Museum.
The ornament has since been passed on to a relative of the woman who has decided to sell it.
Latest news from London
For the latest news from the capital, visit Metro.co.uk’s dedicated page.
Auctioneer Charles Hanson has called the piece “extremely important” because it shows early attempts at making figurines in the mid-18th century.
“A find like this is the holy grail for any avid collector of early English porcelain,” he said.
“A lot of people would like to buy it. It represents the loveliest and rarest English porcelain figurine.
“It would have been inspired by the passion for northern European art in the mid-18th century.”
The design may have been influenced by John Michael Rysbrack, and the French factory at Vincennes produced similar examples in the early 1740s.
Mr Hanson added: “It is possible that the sleeping Chelsea child was the result of a model sent from France.
“The mold would have been made using a slip casting technique. Upon removal from the mold, touching up and undercutting of details would have been done by a skilled craftsman known as a repairman.
“They would have made a separate mold for the child’s left hand.
“My early educational years focused on early English porcelain, so finding an object that defines the beginning of its manufacture in the mid-18th century is a thrill for me.”
The Chelsea Porcelain Factory began production in 1743-45 and was the first major porcelain manufacturer in England.
Its first known wares were “goat and bee” cream jugs with seated goats at the base, but it became known for its figurines.
The firm operated independently until 1770 when it merged with Derby Porcelain.
The sleeping baby figure will be sold on March 4th at Hanson Holloway’s Ross auctions in Banbury, Oxon.
Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at email@example.com.
For more stories like this, Visit our news page.
Get the top news, feel-good stories, analysis and more
https://metro.co.uk/2023/02/16/porcelain-figure-bought-for-2-could-sell-for-1500000-more-18293467/ A china figurine bought for £2 could sell for 1,500,000% more