sculpture by pioneering British artist Henry Moore has sold for £400,000 at auction after a bidding war.
The lead sculpture, titled Mother And Child, is considered ‘extremely rare’ as it is a material the sculptor only used for a short time in the 1930s during an experimental stage of his career, the auction house said.
The piece was expected to sell for between £30,000 and £50,000, but a British private collector bought it over the phone for eight times the highest estimate at Dreweatts Modern and Contemporary Art sale on Wednesday.
Francesca Witham, specialist at Dreweatts, said: “We are delighted with the stunning result achieved for Henry Moore’s Mother And Child sculpture.
“It shows that rare and unique pieces will always attract tenders and that the appetite for such works remains strong.
“The sculpture has been enthusiastically contested, with online and telephone auctions, and, having remained undiscovered for over 40 years, this very special lead sculpture is now heading for a new home with a private British collector.”
Dreweatts said the piece was made in 1939-40 and was a gift to the original owner, Hubert de Cronin Hastings, who was editor of The Architectural Review at the time.
In the 1970s it was passed on to his son, John Hastings, who kept it on his mantel among an eclectic mix of items until his death in 2019, the auction house said.
Moore was born in Castleford, a mining town in West Yorkshire, in 1898 and, after training as a teacher and serving in the British Army, he studied at Leeds School of Art and the Royal College of Art in London. .
He is considered a pioneer of his art and was the first British artist to gain worldwide recognition during his lifetime.
Moore’s sculptures are now seen as symbolic of post-war modernism, and the Henry Moore Foundation credits his work with creating a British sculptural renaissance.