Back in action after a seven-month lockdown hiatus, the Summers Place (25% buyer’s premium) garden sale attracted international bidders and a two-day total of more than £1m.
It featured works by and from the collection of the polymath Gerald Moore (1926-2018) – sometime successful child actor, Harley Street oral surgeon and safari park owner.
More to the point, he was an accomplished sculptor and painter. When he retired to Devon in 1993, Sotheby’s sale of the contents of his Sussex estate allowed him to endow the Gerald Moore Gallery at Eltham College, London, to encourage young talent.
At the Billingshurst rooms a 243- lot sale on May 18 was followed by a 440-lot sealed bid auction the next day. Moore’s own material included 38 pieces of sculpture ranging from two 6½in (17cm) tall painted metal Abstract groups at £100 to a sale-topping monumental bronze..
Standing 10ft 6in (3.22m) tall, the stylised figure was estimated at £6000-10,000 and sold at £34,000 to a UK private buyer.
The strength of the sale was for older material – none more so than a 3ft 8in (1.13m) wide carved marble plaque possibly dating to the late Roman period.
Believed to depict the adoration of the disciples with Judas slipping through a doorway, it was pitched at £2000-4000 and sold to at £32,000 to one of the North American private buyers who dominated the upper reaches.
Classical statues also did well including two mid-18th century lead figures.
One, a 2ft 1in (63cm) tall fruit seller by John Cheere on a later stone pedestal, more than doubled top expectations at £17,000. The other, possibly by the equally well-regarded John Van Nost, depicted a 3ft 7 in (1.10m) tall group of Leda and the Swan on a later pedestal. It doubled the mid-estimate at £21,000.
Topping the statues was a 5ft 10in (1.78m) tall, late 19th/early 20th century figure of Venus after Canova. In the unusual medium of Portland stone, it was estimated at £2500-4000 but sold at £28,000.
Take a seat
Portland stone was also the medium for the best-seller among the garden seats: an impressive pair of 19th century, 5ft 11in (1.80m) long carved seats which went just over estimate at £19,000.
A c.1900 Italian carved white marble, double-sided bench, 5ft 9in (1.76m) wide, doubled top hopes at £16,000.
That was a rare UK private success among the higher prices but the best of the cast-iron Coalbrookdale seats, so popular with UK buyers, was yet another North American purchase – a c.1870 curved 3ft 11in (1.20m) wide Laurel pattern example which went above estimate at £6600.