At the Dreweatts (25% buyer’s premium) Interiors sale in Newbury on January 27 a 16in (41cm) alabaster model of a kneeling monk with hands clasped in prayer leapt past hopes of £400-600 to bring £68,000.
It is very much in the French Gothic taste, with enough patination to the surface and old cracks and losses to suggest it might not be simply an exercise in revivalism.
At least two bidders believed this is a ‘mourner’ from a larger late 14th or early 15th century Burgundian private devotional group or tomb – the best-known example being the 82 figures of similar size that occupied niches around the tombs of the Dukes of Burgundy in Dijon.
Roman red alert
At Adam Partridge (20% buyer’s premium) in Macclesfield on January 21, a 9in (22cm) high red stone bust, catalogued as 19th century, took £17,500 (estimate £100-150). It came for sale from a vendor who had bought it at auction around 30 years ago. Three UK phone bidders made the running.
Sporting chips and old repairs, this was more probably Roman – from the 1st or 2nd centuries when such ‘term’ heads were used as table legs (trapezophoros).
Holes and channels cut to the back of this and other examples support that theory.
The subject, probably taken from a Hellenistic prototype, is Dionysus wearing a wreath of ivy leaves and berries in curling locks with eyes recessed for inlay.
Rosso antico marble appears to have been a popular choice when depicting Bacchic subjects in a Roman villa due to its red wine colour.