Royal chamber pot to auction at Bonhams

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2015-06-26 10:46:32

Royal chamber pot to auction at Bonhams

A rare Meissen ceramic chamber pot, known as a bourdalou, features amongst several valuable items relating to the 18th century royal toilette at Bonhams on December 5th.

The ornate and decorative porcelain potty dates from 1724. It would have been a well-used item. This example is expected to fetch £50,000-£60,000.

The bourdalou was named after a priest Louis Boudalou. His sermons were so fascinating that ladies did not want to leave in order to relieve themselves. A handled potty was created for convenience of placing beneath skirts for this purpose.

Other 18th century Meissen highlights include a rare écuelle and cover, valued at £20,000-£25,000, an armorial chocolate beaker, valued at £25,000-£30,000, an armorial tureen with cover and stand, valued at £60,000-£80,000.

The chocolate beaker, originally part of a set of six, was given to a 14 year old Princess Maria Amelia of Saxony as a wedding present in 1738, for her marriage to Charles VII King of Naples. It would likely have been used during breakfast, along with items such as the 1745 tureen, made for Maria Josepha, daughter-in-law of Augustus the Strong, wife of Augustus III.

Such delicate and beautiful pottery for use during the ritual of toilette may seem unusual, but in the 18th century, parts of the process were very public, an ostentatious display, so that the courtiers could flaunt their wealth. Items such as this delicate porcelain would be visible to a whole room of onlookers as a lady was dressed, took her breakfast, and had her hair done for the benefit of an audience.

Meissen is a German porcelain manufacturer, established in 1710 in Meissen. They are well known for their figurines and dinnerware, perhaps less for their toilets. They were the first factory to produce European hard-paste porcelain.

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