This seventy-eight lot collection belonging to New York banker, Robert Pirie was almost 100% sold at Christie’s New York on 5 May. The collection had been formed gradually over many years with the help of the leading British porcelain dealer Robert Williams. It was much enhanced by the acquisition of Sir John Plumb’s collection in 1994. Several major pieces from the collection had already been sold and others given to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. What remained was a highly discerning collection formed in the postwar period when top quality pieces are becoming increasingly scarce, it included four or five outstanding gems and collectors and dealers responded with great enthusiasm.
The finest quality pieces included lot 15, a Vincennes blue lapis vase exquisitely gilt with birds in flight. The painting and decoration were of the highest quality which explained its price of $40,250 against an estimate of $8,000-12,000. It was quality again which determined the huge price of $79,500 paid for a Sèvres rose et vert cup and saucer. The combination of pink and green is very unusual in Sèvres porcelain and both cup and saucer were exquisitely decorated by the factory’s finest bird painter. The top lot of the sale was the $85,000 paid for rose marbre oval flower pot. The shape of this modelled as a shell and known as a “cuvette Mahon”, is incredibly rare, but the marbled ground colour was rather heavy and the central painted panel of lovers in a garden not of the best quality. Had the painting been better the piece could have fetched double.
Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'Vincennes and Sèvres from the Pirie (including Plumb) Collection'