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The British-Czech couple are known for their many public art works in the UK and they shared a studio in a cottage in Oxfordshire.

Belsky (1921-2000) arrived in Britain in 1940, five weeks after the Dunkirk evacuation. He came with what was left of the Czechoslovakian army that had formed in France.

He became the first foreign-born sculptor to have work commissioned for Trafalgar Square, where Prince Philip unveiled his bust of Admiral Cunningham in 1970. He was commissioned for many public sculptures and his statue of Lord Mountbatten stands on Horse Guards Parade.

Born in Brno in Czechoslovakia, Belsky sculpted portrait busts of four generations of royalty but he believed his work should be for the “delight of all” not just the elite.

His work in Stevenage New Town in Hertfordshire of a mother carrying her child, Joyride, is an example of his ethos. The Grade II listed sculpture was unveiled in 1958. Five of his works are in the National Portrait Gallery as well as 15 public sculptures in central London.


Works by sculptors Czech émigré Franta Belsky and wife Irena Sedlecka are coming up for auction at Mallams in Oxford on April 25. Many of their artworks are on public display around the UK such as Belsky’s 'Joyride' which was unveiled in 1958 in Stevenage New Town centre. Photo credit: Patti Chesters.

His first wife, Margaret Constance Owen, a cartoonist, died in 1989 and in 1996 he married Czechoslovakia-born artist Irena Sedlecka. Her works include those of Queen lead singer Freddy Mercury in Montreux, Switzerland; Beau Brummell in Piccadilly; and Sir John Gielgud as Hamlet. In August 1992 her work was shown at the Czech Embassy in London as part of an exhibition devoted to the work of five distinguished Czech émigré sculptors.

The works from the couple’s studio in the Mallams sale on April 25 include bronze busts of the Queen, Prince William, Prince Philip, a resin bust of actor Peter Ustinov, the maquettes of public sculptures and models of Sir John Gielgud as Hamlet, Freddie Mercury and Beau Brummell. Estimates range from £100-£10,000.