Meissen Pâte-sur-Pâte Urn, ca. 1880

Value (2010) | $3,000 Auction$5,000 Auction

It's been in my family for as long as I can remember. It was owned by my mother's side, and when my grandmother passed away, it came over from Scotland to where I grew up, just outside of Buffalo.

Well, it's a beauty. It's a vase or an urn. It's a vessel. The most striking part of this piece is this medallion here. It's made to look like a carved cameo shell, but it's made of porcelain, on porcelain. And that technique is called pate-sur-pate-- French term: paste on paste. And that is done by applying one thin layer of slip, which is liquid porcelain, over the other, over the other. So, instead of casting this, like a piece of Jasperware, like Wedgwood, this is applied with a paintbrush. So you'll get these beautiful, translucent effects. So usually when you see a piece with pate-sur-pate, which are quite rare, they have these diaphanous gowns, these long, flowing shawls, so that you get to see the light through them. Now, this technique was perfected by a Frenchman called Marc-Louis Solon, and Solon worked for the Sëvres factory in France. So when one sees a piece like this, so beautiful, one immediately thinks, mmm, perhaps this was done by Solon, perhaps this is a piece of Sëvres, and then, when he went to England, Solon worked at Minton, so I thought, perhaps it's a piece of Minton. And it is none of these folks. I'm going to show the bottom. And we see the mark of the crossed swords of Meissen. Meissen is German. And not only is it German, it is seminal German porcelain works-- the most important. They have been around since the earliest part of the 18th century. And so this mark is widely copied, and often you see fake Meissen marks.


This is real Meissen.


It would be difficult to fake the entirety of it. The quality's too great. I've never seen pate-sur-pate faked. This particular mark tells us that the piece was done between 1850 and 1924, and because of the decoration style, we all thought that the time for this was probably during the 1880s, and we don't know who this artist was. This is not Solon. He didn't work at Meissen. We're going to turn it around so folks can see the back, with these lovely serpent handles, not uncommon on an urn at Meissen. And the value on that, at auction, would probably be somewhere between $3,000 and $5,000.

Sweet! Great! I'm surprised.

Appraisal Details

Rago Arts & Auction Center
Lambertville, NJ
Appraised value (2010)
$3,000 Auction$5,000 Auction
Washington, DC (August 21, 2010)

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