Given a more modest £800-1200 estimate by Woolley & Wallis, it drew a five-minute bidding battle and was eventually knocked down at £52,000 to a UK private buyer on the phone.
The sale of a group of bronze, resin and plaster works from Brilliant’s studio on June 5 established a new benchmark for an artist with a hitherto modest secondary market track record.
The Art Sales Index listed 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.
However, as a sculptor of prominent political and cultural figures, many of Brilliant’s works are well known. While living in India with her husband, the writer Herbert Marshall, during the 1950s and early ‘60s, she modelled many figures of the post-independence era.
The 3ft 1in (94cm) maquette (a preliminary model) for the Tavistock Square statue of Gandhi – something of pilgrimage site for Indian visitors to the UK – was signed and dated 1964.
It was taken to the Antiques Roadshow at Cheltenham Town Hall in 2013 by Brilliant’s niece, where dealer Philip Mould valued it at £20,000.
The 44 lots in Salisbury were consigned by the artist’s family. All bar one lot sold for a total of £142,250 with premium.
Interest emerged from India, Poland and the US, although the bulk of 21 different buyers were UK-based.
Two other versions of the Gandhi maquette were offered: a smaller resin figure that made £5000 and a plaster version that fetched £13,000