THE issue of the Manchester Art Gallery’s missing Eric Gill sculpture has been resolved, Cheshire auctioneer Adam Partridge has told ATG.
The spotlight was first turned on the 11in (28cm) high carved
stone bust of a nude, shown right, when Adam Partridge Auctioneers
of Congleton advertised it as part of their March 25-26 sale. ATG
included a preview of it in issue No 1933.
The vendor, a retired stonemason, told how it had been brought
to him for repair more than 50 years ago, but had never been
Estimated at £300, it sparked a great deal of interest as a
possible piece by Gill.
However, Mr Partridge decided to withdraw the lot from sale
after he was shown what appeared to be an identical sculpture
illustrated in a book on Gill by the art historian and former Tate
curator Judith Collins. The book described it as belonging to the
Manchester Art Gallery and "lost by 1992".
The gallery later confirmed that a carving dating to 1913 and
matching the description of the one being put up for sale had been
donated to its collection in the 1920s and had been missing since
Mr Partridge says the vendor told him that, having been in
possession of the sculpture for so long, he had been advised that
he now had title to it and was resolved to sell.
However, any question mark over the piece's provenance and title
would certainly affect its ability to attract a buyer at its true
Last week, Mr Partridge was able to inform ATG that the vendor
had come to an agreement with Manchester Art Gallery for the
sculpture to be returned in the near future.
By Ivan Macquisten
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