Wooden figure

Thomas Kendall figure titled Eastern Slave Girl, guide £3000-5000 at Halls.

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The 10-plus pieces, to be offered at Halls in Shrewsbury on March 23, were acquired by the vendor’s parents when the artist’s studio was demolished and the contents sold in 1957.

The last significant dispersal of Kendall’s work was conducted by Sotheby’s Chester in the early 1980s but these pieces – some of them key works from his oeuvre – were retained by the family. As most pieces by the artist were unsigned, they have been notoriously hard to attribute on those rare occasions when they do appear on the market. But these pieces have a full provenance.

Some are known from photographs of Kendall’s showroom in Chapel Street, Warwick, which remained open and largely untouched long after his death in 1919.

They include a large 4ft 4in (1.3m) high oak orientalist carving of a girl (pictured above) in diaphanous robes and beaded headdress holding an urn (estimate £3000-5000) and a 2ft 1in (63cm) wide limewood figure of Cupid (estimate £2000-3000). The latter is listed in Kendall’s memo book, dated 1893, where it is described as Sleeping Cupid. Cost £54.0.0. Sell £88.4.0.


The Thomas Kendall figure of a girl can be seen in Kendall’s showroom in Warwick as it looked in 1956.

Born in 1837, Kendall became a luminary of the Warwick school of wood carvers and furniture makers, renowned for high Victorian elaborate decorative artistry. He apprenticed under (and later succeeded) James Morris Willcox and assisted on the creation of the Charlecote Park Buffet, a piece John Ruskin described as being worthy of Michaelangelo.

Among his more celebrated works are the series of intricately carved oak panels commissioned for the House of Commons members dining room.