Christie’s Art From The Kiln: Ceramics Through The Centuries

Christie’s currently is running a themed online ceramics auction, Art from the Kiln; Ceramics Through the Ages, comprising 45 lots with estimates from £500.

The sale presents works of ceramic art from 500BC to 2020, including antiquities, 14th-century Syrian pottery, Chinese and Japanese porcelain, Italian maiolica, European porcelain, English slipware and Scottish pottery.

These works, spanning two millennia and originating from across the globe, sit happily alongside a plaque painted by Chagall and works by leading contemporary ceramicists such as Hitomi Hosono, Kate Malone, Felicity Aylieff, Enrique Perezalaba Red and Bouke de Vries. The sale illustrates the ceramicist’s craft as not merely practical and technical, but also a highly creative artistic endeavour.

Clay has been a creative medium for thousands of years and in all their fired forms ceramics have been central to many societies around the globe. The works presented in this sale have been selected for their visual or historic connection, drawing influences and inspiration, echoing each other through time.

Matilda Burn, Specialist and Head of Sale comments, “Art from the Kiln offers a wonderful array of ceramic works of art which are held together by their influences and visual echoes across the years and continents. I think this interconnectivity is what makes all the pieces so accessible to the modern collecting eye and it is exciting to be working on a sale that traverses our traditional collecting ‘silos’’.

To view Art from the Kiln; Ceramics Through the Centuries sale please click here for the link

Sale Highlights include:

Ceramics from antiquity which are decorated in painted myths. Lot 13, An Attic black-figured neck-amphora, attributed to the light-make class, circa 500BC, (estimate £5,000-8,000), shows the story of Theseus and the minotaur in full combat, with the hero grasping the beast and bringing him to his knees. In Renaissance Italy, ceramic makers also painted on pottery to illustrate stories from mythology.

Lot 16, an Italian maiolica Footed Dish (Alzata) mid-16th century, Urbino, perhaps Guido di Merlino workshop (estimate £4,000-6,000), shows the abduction of Helen by Paris. These Italian maiolica works are ‘old master’ paintings on ceramic bodies. The vibrant colours are fired and so remain unfaded over time.

Echoes are also evident across countries and continents. Lot 10, a turquoise-glazed pottery bowl, Damascus, Syria, 14th Century (estimate £5,000-7,000). This is an example of a piece so highly prized in the west for its clear turquoise glaze, that fragments of similar vessels were inserted into bacini and architectural elements. In turn, many early European porcelain works looked to the East for inspiration, where porcelain was first created.

Lot 34, a Meissen Kakiemon sake-flask circa 1728, mirrors flasks created at the Sakaida Kakiemon factory in Arita (estimate £5,000-8,000).

Global influence is also on display in the work of the contemporary ceramicists. Lot 14, Enrique Perezalaba Red (b. 1972) Praise, 2020, (estimate £12,000-18,000), uses experimental techniques to emulate Chinese sancai glazes, subverting expectations with his Mickey Mouse ‘in prayer’. This work combines the influence of Chinese ceramics, covering an American pop culture figure in the act of western devotion. Lot 4, Bouke de Vries’ (b.1960) prehistoric Bactrian Camel, (estimate £5,000-8,000), is constructed from broken pieces of a Tang-style camel and blue and white porcelain fragments which he reimagines as a new and dynamic work of art. This is a fitting symbol of the vast array of influences, styles and techniques which inform each work in Art from the Kiln: Ceramics Through the Ages.

Click here to view the full sale.


Christie’s, the world's leading art business, had auction sales in the first half of 2019 that totalled £2.2 billion / $2.8 billion. Christie’s is a name and place that speaks of extraordinary art, unparalleled service and international expertise. Christie’s offers around 350 auctions annually in over 80 categories, including all areas of fine and decorative arts, jewellery, photographs, collectables, wine, and more. Prices range from $200 to over $100 million. Christie's also has a long and successful history conducting private sales for its clients in all categories, with emphasis on Post-War & Contemporary, Impressionist & Modern, Old Masters and Jewellery.