As he entered the sitting room he found a Dame Elisabeth Frink (1930-93) bronze head staring back at him.
He said: “The late owner Audrey Lanigan had created three of the most successful magazine titles of the age in the 1960s-70s – Honey, Petticoat and Over 21. She later became editor of Vanity Fair. She drove an Aston Martin DB2/4 and was married three times, latterly to Denis Lanigan, an advertising executive.
“She died in December 2020 aged 91 and so I found myself valuing the accumulated objects she had gathered during the whirlwind that was her life.”
Along with the “mostly sundry that one finds on these probate calls”, the large bronze bust raised on a teak plinth he “knew immediately” to be the work of Frink.
It is now the star lot in the Gloucestershire saleroom’s 20th Century Art & Design auction on November 6. Tribute I, signed, limited 1/6, 2ft 3in high x 15½in deep x 22½in wide (68 x 39 x 57cm), on a teak stand 3ft 4in tall (1.02m), is estimated at £150,000-200,000.
Frink made a series of sculptures and drawings of four Tribute heads from 1975, all with closed eyes. They were based on her term for people who lived, and suffered, for their beliefs. She said: “In a sense, these sculptures are a tribute to Amnesty International. The heads represent the inhumanity of man – they are the heads of victims.”
Further Frink works from the same estate also feature in the Wotton auction along with those by Keith Vaughan, Christopher Wood, Raoul Dufy, Augustus John, Bob Dylan and LS Lowry.
The sale is to be held at Stouts Hill Manor, an 18th century Gothic revival country house in the village of Uley, just a five-minute drive from the saleroom in Wotton. Stouts Hill was purchased by the LeGrys family a couple of years ago and has been “painstakingly restored to its full potential”.
Dealership Messums Wiltshire also hosts exhibitions, with the latest showing the “most extensive collection of large-scale sculptures by Dame Elisabeth Frink to be shown in this country since the artist’s death in April 1993”.
Man is an Animal runs until January 16 in the 13th century tithe barn – the largest thatched building on the country – which was brought back to life as an exhibition and event space by the gallery.
Loaned from various institutions and private collectors, these works were first exhibited at the Gerhard Marcks Haus Museum in Bremen, Germany, and include creations from the mid-1960s to the mid-1980s, when Frink was at the height of her artistic prowess.
See the website below for more details.