This small sculpture conveying the raw horror of the First World War attracted serious competition at Duke’s of Dorchester.
The 22in x 2ft 2½in (56 x 67cm) bronze by Robert Lindsey Clark was entitled The Broken Limber and was originally intended as a design for a life-size war memorial for the town of Cheltenham.
While the full-scale statue was never produced, this version was unveiled at the Royal Academy in 1924 and subsequently sold for £300 to W.N. McClean, a soldier who had been an army captain in the Great War. It was regarded as Clark's most accomplished work.
The piece depicted two horses straining to pull an 18-pounder gun limber - with broken pole - of the Royal Horse Artillery from the mud.
The lot came with correspondence between the artist and Capt McClean indicating that two replicas of the bronze had also been commissioned, and that these would be marked 'replica' and have an additional rifle butt among the debris at the bottom of the sculpture to distinguish them from the original cast. One of these replicas is in the collection of The Museum of Cheltenham.
The piece was consigned to Duke's by one of McClean's descendants and remained in excellent condition. Estimated at £10,000-20,000, it also came with a carved oak table stand which was fitted with a turntable for the sculpture's display.
Bidding on September 26 was keen and it eventually sold at £46,000 plus 20% buyer's premium to a London dealer against underbidding from another relative of the McClean family.