The dramatic bronze sculpture, An Athlete Wrestling a Python by Frederic, Lord Leighton, sold at Bonhams Important Design Sale today (Wednesday 5 April) for £106,250 against an estimate of £50,000-80,000. This, the inaugural Important Design Sale, made a total of £1,443,750.
An Athlete Wrestling a Python is a very rare bronze reduction by Leighton, a revered Victorian painter and sculptor. The full-scale work, dated 1877, is now part of the Tate Britain collection in London.
Bidding was fierce when a porcelain bowl by Dame Lucie Rie crossed the block. The bowl, of wide conical form raised on a slender circular foot, sold for an impressive £106,250 against an estimate of £20,000-30,000.
Other highlights include:
• A monumental carved white marble figure of 'Diana about to bathe' sold for £85,000 against an estimate of £30,000-50,000.
• A pair of George III carved mahogany open armchairs sold for 6 times their estimate, for a total of £60,000 against £8,000-12,000.
• A hand-built burnished and carbonised terracotta vessel by Magdalene Odundo, OBE, sold for 4 times its estimate of £10,000-15,000 to make £42,500.
Jon Baddeley, Managing Director, Bonhams Knightsbridge said, "This was the first in our Important Design series at Bonhams showcasing some of the very best sculpture, ceramics, furniture and silver in their respective fields. We were delighted with the results which demonstrate that buyers want tightly curated sales that offer fine quality, good provenance and items that are fresh to the market. We are looking forward to our next Important Design Sale on 25 October for which we have already had some exciting consignments. It is interesting to note that buying across collecting categories is a trend that's here to stay."