The 3ft 1in (94.5cm) high bronze by the Polish-born sculptor and actress Fredda Brilliant (1903-99) was estimated at £800-1200 at the sale at Woolley & Wallis in Salisbury.
Taking over five minutes to sell, it drew strong competition from bidders in the room, online and on the phone before auctioneer Victor Fauvelle knocked down his gavel to a phone bidder at £52,000.
However, Mould’s valuation proved much closer to the mark and, given the development of the market for modern sculpture since the maquette was brought to the Antiques Roadshow at the Cheltenham Town Hall in 2013 by Brilliant’s niece, can be regarded as a well-placed figure.
Brilliant had lived in India with her husband, the writer Herbert Marshall, during the 1950s and early 60s where she sculpted some of the most significant figures of the post-independence era including Jawaharlal Nehru, VK Krishna Menon and Indira Gandhi.
The full-size bronze and stone Mohandas K Ghandi sculpture is by far her most famous work. Brilliant’s niece decided to sell the piece, together with other 43 pieces she had inherited from the artist’s studio.
Until this sale, Brilliant’s work had a very modest track record on the secondary market – the Art Sales Index lists only eight works as appearing at auction with the highest price being $4400 (£2835) for a 1944 sculpture titled American sailor that sold in a Chicago sale back in 1994.
The 44 works at Woolley & Wallis met with a strong response with the majority selling above estimate and only one failing to find a buyer.
Two other versions of the Gandhi maquette made £5000 and £13,000 respectively, while a 2ft 3in (68cm) high bronze of Vallabhbhai Patel (1875-1950), the first deputy prime minister of India and founding father of the Republic of India, fetched £8000.