Previous News - Kent Auctioneers uncovers bronze by Frederick, Lord Leighton given by sculptor to his godson


Expected to sell for up to £15,000 in Two Day Sale at The Canterbury Auction Galleries

The life-size version of Frederick, Lord Leighton’s striking bronze sculpture called The Sluggard can be seen on exhibition at Tate Britain. A sale at The Canterbury Auction Galleries later this month has uncovered a smaller cast of the same work, which was given by Leighton to his godson.

Standing just short of two feet tall, the sculpture was cast in 1890 and is expected to sell for up to £15,000 in the Kent auctioneer’s Two Day Sale of fine art and antiques on Tuesday and Wednesday, October 23-24.

Also known 'An Athlete Awakening from Sleep', the sculpture represents an athlete who has won in the arena. The pose was strikingly modern for its time and was inspired by the artist’s life model, Giuseppe Valona, whose stretching after a long sitting, gave Leighton the idea to model the pose.

The resulting work balances the real with the ideal of a perfect male body. The momentary pose is captured skilfully but the muscles are emphasised artificially, while the placing of the fig leaf was to spare blushes while it was on public display.

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.

This is the first time the present casting has ever been on the market. Leighton’s godson was James Bow Dunn (1861-1930), an architect based in Glasgow and Edinburgh and it is thought the bronze was given to him on attaining his membership of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1898.

It has remained in his family until now, as has a half-length portrait of Mr Dunn by Edinburgh artist David Alison (1882-1955). The portrait will be sold alongside the bronze together with bronze and silver medallions awarded to the sitter by the Royal Scottish Academy marking his election as an Associate in 1914 and a Fellow in 1930. Portrait and medals are estimated at £500-700

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.

Interestingly, the same family has consigned a late Victorian brass bound teak military or campaign secretaire chest of drawers, the property of the late Colonel Baynes of the Indian Army, which must be one of the most travelled pieces of furniture in the sale.

A brass plaque affixed to the front of the chest details 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 is estimated at £700-1,000.

Chinese porcelain is another strong feature of the sale, notably a blue and white garlic-necked 'lotus scroll' bottle vase, potted in a rare shape which appears to be unrecorded. It is estimated at £40,000-60,000.

The vase has a bulbous rim, slender waisted neck set with a ribbed band dividing a painted stiff leaf border, and a pear-shaped body painted with classic lotus scrolls in the Ming style, with scroll and petal shaped borders to the footrim.

Eighteenth century blue and white wares painted in the classic Ming style adopting the 'heaping and pilling' technique were popular during the late Yongzheng and early years of the Qianlong Emperors’ reigns. The vase was purchased by the vendor’s mother from a house sale in Reigate, Surrey, some time before the Second World War.

From another vendor is a miniature Chinese vase from a Dutch collection which for six years was on loan to and displayed in the Rijksmuseum, in Amsterdam.

The 19th century bulbous vase measures just short of seven inches and is painted in the "Famille Verte" palette with four clawed dragons and cloud motifs on a pale yellow ground. Twin handles are moulded with the heads of mythical beasts and the piece bears the apocryphal Chenghua six character mark in underglazed blue to the base.

Estimated at £4,000-6,000, it comes from the family of collector Willem Frederik van Heukelom (1858-1937) who lived at Museumplein 19, Amsterdam as does a Chinese pale sang-de-boeuf glazed porcelain "beehive" shaped water pot, the body incised with three circular cloud motifs. Bearing the six character Kangxi mark in underglaze blue to base, the pot is estimated at £5,000-7,000.

The sale is on public view at The Canterbury Auction Galleries on Saturday October 20 from 10.00am to 4.00pm; Sunday October 21 from 12.00 noon to 4.00pm; Monday, October 22 from 10.00am to 7.00pm and on the mornings of sale from 8.30am.

The catalogue can be viewed on-line at www.thecanterburyauctiongalleries/com and the sale will be broadcast on the Internet allowing for live bidding on For further information, please contact the auctioneer on 01227 763337 or

Back To News