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Figures & Figurines

One of the most beloved antique genres is that of the ceramic figurine, which can be found in a remarkable array of styles and treatments. Capturing real figures from history as well as imaginary folks, these typically porcelain figurines reflect the finesse of porcelain painters and the vibrancy of the tradition that dates well back in time.

Ceramic figures appear among the identified artifacts of some of world’s earliest prehistoric cultures, but it was not until the early 1700s in Europe that ceramic figurines for sale approached those that we recognize today. It was around this point in history that German innovator Johann Friedrich Böttger discovered the formula for hard-paste porcelain, already known by Eastern artists as a means of creating pieces impenetrable to water and high temperatures.

Böttger’s realization led to his development of the Meissen Porcelain Manufactury, where production of highly decorative porcelain figurines established a worldwide tradition of collecting. This tradition continued into the 20th century, with famed figures such as Bruno Merli, known by his iconic signature "B. Merli," making these figurines a perennial favorite among collectors.


Quick Facts

  • The oldest documented ceramic figurine is that of the "Venus of Dolní V?stonice," found in the southeastern regions of the Czech Republic. It dates to roughly 25,000 B.C.
  • A record for Meissen figurines was set in 2011 with an auction at Bonham’s London. Depicting a reduced-scale version of the classical "Farnese Hercules," the mid-18th century figurine sold for $1,004,166
  • Figurines are typically adorned with the stamp of their maker. Usually featuring the initials of the name of the creator, these marks can also include references to the place of manufacture through city initials or symbolic motifs

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Kai Nielsen for Kähler
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Sellers Who Sell Figures & Figurines


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NORMANDY AUCTION