A draft model of an iconic London statue has sold at auction in Salisbury for £65,000.
Fredda Brilliant’s bronze statue of Mahatma Gandhi in Tavistock Square has become a place of pilgrimage for Indian visitors to the UK, who go there to place flowers beneath it and give thanks for a safe journey.
In 2013 the maquette featured on an episode of Antiques Roadshow, where it was valued at £20,000 – thought to be a high-end retail valuation as her previous auction record stood at just £3,000. Yet collectors had other ideas when it came under the hammer at Woolley and Wallis, with a private telephone bidder eventually securing it at a hammer price of £65,000 including buyer’s premium.
The model was part of the studio of Fredda Brilliant, which was being sold by her family some 20 years after her death. The 44 lots constituted the largest ever offering of the artist’s work at auction and drew considerable interest, which was especially focused on her depictions of important Indian figures at the time of the country’s emerging independence. A standing figure of Vallabhbhai Patel, the first deputy Prime Minister of India, fetched £10,000, while two plaster busts of Rajendra Prasad (the first President of India) and Pandit Nehru (the first Prime Minister of India) totalled £9,375. The collection as a whole reached £142,250 with premium.
Head of Paintings, Victor Fauvelle, believes the exceptional price reflected the statue’s iconic status. “The bronze is an iconic image of this extraordinary man who is revered throughout India and recognised the world over. The prices we have seen realised today, I believe, reflect the buyers’ understanding of the rarity of these works, and the fact that they are unlikely to ever reappear on the market.”