Lot 1 (The Cotswold Collection (Live Auction) Lots 1 to 77, 29th September 2020)
Architectural stone: An early fragmentary carved stone torso of a woman
on Cotswold stone pedestal
170cm high overall
The Cotswold Collection
This unique collection was started in the 1920s when a Mr Perry opened a garage on the main Stroud road near the village of Dodington in the Cotswolds. He had the vision to create an extraordinary ‘go to’ destination at a time when the motor car became popular and people started to go on days out. Mr Perry had the business sense to add a cafe to his garage and to offer more than just petrol and tea with cake - he created an environment with an incredible garden as the focal point.
It consisted of sunken gardens full of stunning statues, urns, seats as well as lichen and moss covered troughs and staddlestones. He acquired his treasures by travelling the Cotswolds and the West Country, attending various country house sales at a time when large country houses had become dormant and were being demolished following the Great War. One of the first recorded sales that he must have attended was at the historic Owlpen Manor. This was originally a Tudor house, but was remodelled a number of times over the subsequent centuries. Included in this auction are two pairs of Arts and Craft style stone seats, lots 4 and 5, which he had purchased in the Owlpen Manor sale in 1924 conducted by the auction house Bruton Knowles, well known later as the alma mater of the renowned antiques expert Arthur Negus.
Over the years Mr Perry continued to purchase garden statuary, with the final lots recorded being the extraordinary Cotswold stone lion gargoyle, signed by the sculptor and dated 1833 (lot 59) and the set of six finials, (lot 58) which was bought from The Rocks, a massive country house in Marshfield which was demolished in the 1950’s.
Of particular note are some important life size terracotta figures on pedestals of the classical deities, Diana, (lot 53) and Flora (lot 27) by the celebrated Victorian and Edwardian makers J. M. Blashfield and Pulham. Unusually these Blashfield pieces are signed into the clay rather than being stamped, suggesting that they were individual commissions. Also attributed to Blashfield is a possibly unique dolphin fountain and surround, (lot 26).
The marble figure of Hebe (lot 64) circa 1830 after Canova is a particularly early good quality example and still has the original marble strengtheners between the fingers, which would normally be filed off after transport from Italy to this country. One of the originals was created for Chatsworth, where it still stands today.
From the final purchases in the 1950’s to the present day, the garage and cafe appears to have ceased trading. Late last year, the present owners decided to clear the site and during the clearing, an Aladdin’s cave of stunning objects came to light.
Additionally, there are various 18th and 19th century urns and a stunning pair of 19th century recumbent lions clutching the bones of their prey between their paws (lot 19) which were almost certainly a commission for a very grand house.
As well as important sculptural lots, the collection is rich in more traditional but equally attractive pieces, with troughs, stone tables, finials and staddlestones galore with estimates ranging from £100 upwards.
Summers Place Auctions director, James Rylands comments “It’s been many years since a privately formed collection like this has come to the market. All the pieces were acquired in what is generally accepted to be the Golden Era of collecting between the World Wars. When we held our first sale of garden sculpture 35 years ago, this material was readily available, but now it’s a real treat to see such pieces and we are looking forward to finding new homes for the collection.”
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