A sculpture of an ostrich from the workshop of celebrated Renaissance sculptor, Giambologna, sold for £1,824,540 when it went under the hammer at the Cheffins
Fine Sale in Cambridge on 22nd April. Having been held in a private collection for over 180 years, and previously purchased from the Horace Walpole collection at Strawberry Hill, it was sold to a UK-based, private buyer in the room, making a new house record for the firm.
The 30cm-high sculpture, which was detailed in A Description of the Villa of Horace Walpole in 1774, was bought by Walpole between 1765 and 1766, having been created by the workshop of Giambologna between the late 16th century and early 17th century. It was then sold at the Great Sale of Strawberry Hill in 1842, 45 years after Walpoles death, to John Dunn-Gardner of Suffolk, who at the time styled himself as the Earl of Leicester, for fifty pounds and eight shillings, and it has remained in the familys collection ever since.
Martin Millard, Director at Cheffins who took the sale, says: This is a fantastic result and is indicative of the importance of this mannerist sculpture as well as the ongoing popularity of early 17th century works of art. Whilst the family always knew they were in possession of something significant, it was following extensive research that we were able to trace the ostrich back to the Horace Walpole Collection at Strawberry Hill. This exceptional provenance ensured that the piece drew worldwide attention, with a series of both private and trade buyers coming to view the sculpture ahead of the sale.
The work is one of only three known examples of the model, with the other two currently held by The Louvre and the Fitzwilliam Museum. The similar model which is held by the Louvre was first documented in 1689 and had previously been part of the French Royal Collection, before it was donated to the Museum in 1881 by Adolphe Thiers, the President of France. Another model was sold for £260 at the E.L Paget sale at Sothebys, London, in 1949 where it was purchased by Lieutenant Colonel the Honourable Mildmay Thomas Boscawen who went on to leave the sculpture to the Fitzwilliam Museum following his death in 1958.
The price reported is the total, inclusive of buyers premium (24.5 per cent) and VAT.