Ceramic treasures are sold for €1.3m
A rarely-seen collection of Chinese ceramics from one of the country's finest stately homes has sold for twice the estimate.
The 20 treasures from the Alfred Beit collection raised almost €1.3m, which will help to secure the future of Russborough House in Co Wicklow.
Auctioneers at Sotheby's in London said the interest greatly exceeded expectations.
Robert Bradlow, the auction house's expert on Chinese fine arts, said: "It was a privilege to offer these exquisite pieces.
"Sir Alfred made considered choices when selecting objects for his collection, with the emphasis on quality and design, and these criteria are valued highly by today's collectors."
The rarely-seen or displayed collection was bought by Alfred Beit in the 1950s, mostly from dealer John Sparks, but spent most of the time in storage.
Sotheby's said 14 lots sold for €1.28m, well above the pre-sale estimates of up to €535,000.
The top two lots were a black-ground famille-rose bowl, which dates from between 1723 and 1735 and sold for €517,099, and a pair of famille-rose balsam pear bowls that sold for €131,506.
The Russborough palladian mansion, near Blessington, was left to the State.
Alfred, who died in 1994, was a wealthy English aristocrat and former Conservative MP, and one of Ireland's most generous philanthropists.
His wealth came from an inherited diamond mining fortune and a collection of art masterpieces.