THE SERNAGIOTTO COLLECTION
The works in this Sale provide us with a fascinating insight into the collecting passions of three generations of the Sernagiotto family. As becomes immediately evident, the collection has been thought out and built with the desire to provide an almost encyclopaedia-like insight into the applied arts of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth centuries, a taste that had been inherited from the great collectors of the Nineteenth century. This particular desire is especially evident in the collection of ceramics – with a grand total of 543 lots. The extent and the wealth of the collection may be witnessed by taking a look through the pages of the catalogue and viewing the almost infinite sequence of manufactures and ceramics that range from eighteenth-century majolica to porcelain and English creamware as well as industrial ceramic productions from the Nineteenth century. Alongside less characterised lots there is a large selection of relief-decorated Wedgwood pieces including the famous feather decoration as well as the beauty of several emblematic pieces such as the sauce boats that embody both the Rococo forms and Neo-classical sobriety of the porcelain by the English ceramicist – an almost perfect equilibrium.
The collection includes such a large selection of creamware in the English fashion – produced during the last few decades of the Eighteenth-century and the first few decades of the Nineteenth century – that it might rightly be called exceptional. Although there may be relatively few examples – three – of that other invention that made Wedgwood so famous – that is, black basalt – one of these three pieces, a large teapot, is a perfect example of the manufactory’s ability to gain inspiration from those highly elegant designs by Flaxman (or designers who bore the closest of similarities to him). There is also an important group by some of the most famous Continental imitators of Wedgwood, such as the French Cocherel and Le Gros who produced creamware decorated in decalcomania in the English fashion throughout the Nineteenth century. These pieces exude supreme levels of elegance and imagination that without any risk of exaggeration might be called unrestrained, even unbridled.
However, as has already been mentioned, the chronological span of the pieces illustrated is vast, a sign of the encyclopaedic curiosity of this particular family. The collection ranges from famous manufactures like those of Fontebasso in Treviso to those pieces produced in that great flourish of industrial and artistic manufactures at the beginning of the Nineteenth century, thanks to the arrival in England of a new ceramic material, stoneware.
The catalogue presents a vast and highly interesting selection of this typical nineteenth-century ceramic production. A selection which is emblematic, too, of the finest results achieved in this field in Europe and further afield: an opportunity for collectors that has seldom appeared on the market. Alongside European pieces, the collection of Oriental ceramics (and art) stands out not only on account of the quantity of lots on offer (143) but also on account of the variety of decoration and forms. There are both individual pieces as well as an exceptionally wide choice of plates, selected once again with the obvious intention to provide the most exhaustive panorama of those Chinese and Japanese productions that have always been so highly appreciated in Europe. Although the group of silver and pocket watches as well as the furnishings and objects d’art, might appear to be smaller than the sheer amount of lots of European and Oriental ceramics, the collection of miniatures illustrated in the catalogue is one of the richest and most interesting that has appeared on the market in Italy over the last few decades.
It is the wish of the proprietors of the collection that the 1128 lots in the catalogue be auctioned without reserve. Such an opportunity will enable the highest number of collectors to share the emotion that is part and parcel of the search for and acquisition of objects d’art that has so characterised the collecting passions of the Sernagiotto family for almost a whole century long.