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Faithful fans rally to Sister Wendy

20 May 2013Written by ATG Reporter

The name of 83-year-old Sister Wendy Beckett, reclusive nun and famous TV art critic, doesn’t always meet a raptuorous response in the art world, but there is no doubt that the public at large love her.

It was on the strength of her name that at the recent Woolley & Wallis's sale, all 45 of her small ceramics collection found private buyers - generally well above estimates - to raise nearly £30,000 for the Carmelite monastery at Quidenham, Norfolk. "A very good response considering the condition of some of the pieces and that some were modern," said W&W ceramics expert Clare Durham.

Naturally figures of nuns were popular - a c.1755 Chelsea 5in (13cm) figure seated reading a book made £750; a similar Hoechst c.1750 figure made £320 and the rare, mid-18th century, 7in (18cm) tall Meissennunright, probably modelled by Kaendler, trebled hopes at £1300.

However, there were many secular figures too, including the best seller from the collection - five Nymphenburg putti from the Ovidian Gods series. Two after models by Franz Anton Bustelli were dated c.1775 but the other three were later pieces given to Sister Wendy while filming in Europe with the BBC.

Estimated at £800-1200 for the sale on April 30, the five figures, each about 4½in (11cm) high, made £3000.

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