Sold on a Breguet repeater, Qing famille verte bowls and a fine copy of the Medici urn

From the thousands of lots that appear at auctions every week on, here we focus on three exceptional lots bought by online bidders this month.

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A late 18th or 19th century copy of the Medici urn - £7500 at Summers Place Auctions.

A late 18th or 19th century copy of the Medici urn

The sale at garden statuary specialists Summers Place Auctions in Billingshurst on March 24 was among the first conducted under new government restrictions on social distancing.

Just three members of staff were in the room with all bids taken remotely. Helped by overseas bidders the results were remarkably strong: among the highlights being this late 18th or 19th century copy of the famous Medici urn.

The Roman original from the second half of the first century AD was first recorded in 1598 in the inventory of the Villa Medici, Rome and later entered the Uffizi in Florence where it remains today. Alongside the similarly shaped Borghese vase it became one of the most popularly reproduced antiquities, copied in marble, bronze, terracotta, alabaster and biscuit.

This fine quality Grand Tour marble copy standing 3ft 4in (1.01m) sold to a bidder via for £7500 against an estimate of £2000-4000.


A gold repeating lever watch by Breguet

This gold repeating lever watch, sold via for £9800, carries the magic name of Abraham-Louis Breguet (1747-1823).

It was part of a cache of 17th, 18th and 19th century pocket watches bought in the early years of the 20th century by Francis Payne, a successful London-based consulting and mining engineer. They were consigned for sale by his descendants at Lawrences of Bletchingley on March 18.

Like many watches in the sale, this one numbered 3174 had been acquired in the 1920s from the Hanover Street dealer and restorer Louis Desoutter and came with original paperwork from Maison Breguet – in this case documenting repair work and alterations carried out by the Rue de la Paix workshop in 1899. It was offered in a red morocco leather covered octagonal case together with a Breguet key and length of watch chain.


A pair of 18th century famille verte dishes

Like many pieces of Chinese porcelain this pair of shallow bowls carry apocryphal marks from the Ming period - in this case six-character marks for the Xuande (1425-35) emperor. While these are purely honorific the bowls themselves probably date from another great period of Chinese porcelain manufactures, the height of the Qing dynasty in the second quarter of the 18th century.

The 8in (21cm bowls have unusual decoration in the wucai or famille verte palette. To the wells are narrative scenes involving a young boy catching a carp. To the exterior are four copper-red carp swimming in stylised waves - a feature of Xuande ceramics that was much admired and copied in the reign of Yongzheng (1722-35) in particular.

Both pieces had damage. One had seven small rim chips, the other two small hairlines and a prominent rim chip. However, offered for sale at Lacy Scott & Knight Bury in St Edmunds on March 21 with an estimate of £150-200, the pair sold to a buyer via at £5200. 

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