Design for a cenotaph

Design for a cenotaph to Antonio Canova – priced £8000 from Amy Lim.

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The pen and grey ink wash, 23 x 16½in (59 x 42.5cm), was sold in March 2021 as part of Roseberys’ sale of the collection of dealer Ted Few. It was catalogued as British Neo-Classical School, late 18th/early 19th century relating to Sir Walden Hammer’s monument in Simpson Church, Buckinghamshire. Estimated at £200-300, it was hammered down at £150.

The buyer was Amy Lim, an art historian-turned-dealer, who used her academic training to track down the artist: Charles Heathcote Tatham (1772-1842). She also traced the work back to the Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition of 1823 (cat 954), the year after Canova died.

Tatham was a British artist who met the Italian while working on his Etchings of Ancient Ornamental Architecture (published in London 1799-1800). The two became friends, and the success of Tatham’s work helped popularise a taste for the neoclassical – and therefore Canova’s reputation – among the British elite.

A cenotaph to Canova with certain similarities to Tatham’s design was installed in the Campidoglio in Rome, c.1832. It remains unclear how involved the British artist or his work was in the final result, though it seems his design was influential.

Lim set up her online dealership this year, specialising in historic fine art and some antiques, c.1600-1830, at prices up to £12,000.

The drawing in question is available for £8000.