A rare Vezzi teapot, circa 1720-27. Estimate £25,000 – 35,000 (€32,000 – 44,000). Photo: Bonhams.
Modelled with six panels including moulded cartouches each with a large chinoiserie figure, all in various pursuits, the spout and handle with similar moulded figures, the moulded areas, cartouches and shoulders of the pot picked out in blue, green and iron red enamel colours, 16cm high, ‘Ve a’ in red enamel to the base (chip to spout and tiny chips to rim)
This model occurs relatively frequently at Vezzi, albeit with variations: there are differences in the moulded chinoiserie panels and in the colour and style of the painted decoration. Some of the teapots, including the present one, have each panel moulded with a chinoiserie scene. Others, such as the one illustrated by Luca Melegati (Giovanni Vezzi e le sue porcellane (1998), no 13), have some panels left empty for polychrome decoration, and some, such as the teapot in the Museo Correale di Sorrento (L. Bucccino-Grimaldi (ed.), Le Porcellane Europee nel museo correale in Sorrento (1978), pl. XLVIII), were not made with moulded panels at all, but simply with empty cartouches for decoration. All of the teapots appear to have the same Baroque spout and handle, although the moulded chinoiserie figures differ.
The present teapot has a uniquely high cylindrical neck, whereas most other examples of this model have a more concave, moulded short neck. There is a teapot with a related but shorter cylindrical neck in the Lokar collection, (Andreina d’Agliano (ed.), Italian porcelain in the Lokar collection (2013), no. 10, p. 34-35). It has a simpler handle and is decorated with alternating moulded and unmoulded panels painted in iron red with elaborate strapwork and the chinoiserie figures are picked out in polychrome colours. All the recorded teapots have widely varying covers so it is uncertain how the cover to the present lot would have looked.
The inspiration for this shape is most likely to be found in Chinese Yixing stoneware. Rare pieces of red Chinese stoneware made their way to Europe through the East India Company and they served as models for faithful copies in Böttger stoneware in the 1710s. Andreina d’Agliano (op.cit., p.34) mentions one such Chinese example with similar moulded panels in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum (C.27-1947). Although this teapot is dateable to the late 17th or early 18th century, the origin of these hexagonal Yixing shapes goes back to the Wanli reign (Late Ming Dynasty). For a related example of this period found at grave sites see Xu Huping (ed.), Appreciation of Zisha Teapots (2004), no. 4. Vezzi used Yixing stoneware as a model for another hexagonal teapot with moulded panels and an anthropomorphic handle. An example of this shape is in the Museo Correr.
For comparable Vezzi teapots in addition to the ones mentioned above, see L. Melegati, op.cit., nos. 12 and 14; another polychrome example from the Cité de la Ceramique, Sèvres, is illustrated by A. Mottola Molfino, L’Arte della Porcellana in Italia, vol. I (1976), no. 19. There is also a teapot of the same shape in the Metropolitan Museum in New York, which has very similar scroll-and strapwork on the shoulder.
BONHAMS. FINE EUROPEAN CERAMICS AND GLASS INCLUDING PAPERWEIGHTS, 26 Nov 2014 13:00 GMT – LONDON, NEW BOND STREET