Previous News - Bronze by Frederick, Lord Leighton given by sculptor to his godson sells for record £29,000


A bronze by the great Victorian artist and sculptor Frederick, Lord Leighton which was given by Leighton to his godson when the young man attained membership of the Royal Institute of British Architects sold for £29,000 in the Two Day sale at The Canterbury Auction Galleries. The price is believed to be a world auction record.

Standing just short of two feet tall, the sculpture is a smaller version of The Sluggard, the lifesize version of which now in the Tate museum. Also known as “An Athlete Awakening from Sleep”, which was strikingly modern for its time, it shows the artist’s life model, Giuseppe Valona, whose stretching after a long sitting inspired Leighton to model the pose.

The life-sized bronze was completed in 1885 for an exhibition at the Royal Academy, which established Leighton's reputation as the father of New Sculpture. This was a movement at the end of the 19th century which sought to break with classicism and explore greater naturalism in its subject matter.

The Canterbury auction was the first time the smaller bronze had ever been on the market. It was purchased by a Surrey collector bidding on the telephone.

Leighton’s godson was James Bow Dunn (1861-1930), an architect based in Glasgow and Edinburgh and the bronze had remained in his family until now, as had a half-length portrait of Mr Dunn by Edinburgh artist David Alison (1882-1955). The portrait, together with bronze and silver medallions awarded to the sitter by the Royal Scottish Academy, sold for £580.

A Louis XV red tortoiseshell Boulle and gilt brass mounted bracket clock and bracket, purchased by Mr Dunnn’s wife Catherine (née Ballantyne), while the couple were on holiday in Brittany in 1901 had also passed by descent to the Deal family who had consigned the property. It sold to a Midlands collector bidding by telephone for an above estimate £5,800.

The clock’s later two-train movement striking on a bell was contained in an ornate balloon-shaped case surmounted by a seated classical figure cast in gilt brass holding a shield, while the front featured three figures engaged in various pursuits, the whole thing standing on an ogee bracket with cast gilt brass female mask mounts and leaf finial.

James Bow Dunn was born in Pollokshields, Glasgow and graduated from Herriot-Watt University in Edinburgh. He married Catherine Norma Ballantyne, of Walkerburn, Midlothian, in 1898, the same year he was awarded a Fellowship of the Royal Institute of British Architects. He died tragically young after an operation, leaving a widow, a son and two daughters who at that time were living at 7 Ainslie Place, Edinburgh.

From the same home, a bronze bust by James Pittendrigh Macgillivray (1856-1938) - thought to be of the artist's daughter, signed and dated 1916, sold to a local collector for £980.

In contrast, from a Canterbury home, a gilt bronze and ivory figure by the famous German Art Deco sculptor Ferdinand Preiss (1882-1943 of a ballet dancer, titled "Lieselotte" sold to a local dealer for £1,350

Furniture sold well generally, notably a late Victorian two seat settee from a local estate by the renowned London firm of Howard & Sons, which sold to the London trade for £4,600. It was estimated at £1,500-2,000. The “Baring” model settee was upholstered in pale blue rep on turned front legs and castors, the inside of one back leg stamped "Howard & Sons, Berners Street" whose name also appeared on a paper label pasted to underside of the central wooden support rail.

The price contrasted starkly with the £270 paid for a Victorian three seat Chesterfield settee which came from the same home.

Howard & Sons were among the foremost 19th century upholsterers, regarded in the same way as Gillows were for cabinet furniture with whom they collaborated on many important commissions. They exhibited extensively notably at the Great Exhibition of 1851 and the subsequent shows at Crystal Palace, as well as in America and France. As Royal Warrant holders, they supplied several royal residences. with many items of antique furniture, most frequently of course with upholstery.

In the September Two Day sale at The Canterbury Auction Galleries, a pair of Howard & Sons mahogany framed “Bridgewater” easy chairs upholstered in original monogrammed green and white calico and standing on square tapered front legs and castors sold for £5,800 against an estimate of £1,500-2,000, underlining the strength of demand for such pieces.

Interestingly, the same Deal family who consigned the Sluggard bronze also sent for sale a late Victorian brass bound teak military or campaign secretaire chest of drawers which had belonged to the much-travelled Colonel Baynes of the Indian Army.

A brass plaque affixed to the front of the chest detailed its journey around India from Woolwich dockyard and back to Horfield, Bristol, in 1883 and from Jabalpur to Ickham, where Col Baynes retired in 1913, a total of 30,000 miles in 30 years. It sold to a collector bidding on the Internet for an above estimate £1,750.

With a provenance showing it had once belonged to Mrs Gracie Baynes, was a late 18th century mahogany longcase clock by James Warren of Canterbury, which, following Col. Baynes’ retirement, had stood in the couple’s home, The Baye at Ickham.

The eight-day clock had a painted dial with a seconds dial in the arch, and a figured mahogany case, possibly by Lepine of Canterbury. The hood had three brass finials, shaped cresting and turned and fluted pillars, while the figured veneered door had an arched and moulded top over an astragal panelled plinth. James Warren is recorded working Canterbury 1757-1793. It sold to a local private buyer for £1,300.

Another local longcase clock, this one by John Snatt of Ashford, recorded as working in Ashford, Kent, prior to his death in 1780 was purchased by a local private collector for £2,400. It had been estimated at £1,000-1,500.

The clock’s arched brass dial was engraved with birds and urn of flowers and had a subsidiary seconds dial and date aperture. Its oak case was inlaid with chequered bandings and had a deep moulded cornice, blind fret frieze and plain turned pillars to the hood.

The same buyer paid £2,200 against the same estimate for a mid 18th century mahogany longcase clock by John Goodfriend of London which was in need of attention to the month-going two-train movement and restoration to the good quality mahogany case. The clock’s arched brass dial had subsidiary seconds dial and date aperture, the arch showing phases of the moon. John Goodfriend died 1751.

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