Lot 3 (Garden Natural History and Tribal Art, 25th September 2018)
Garden Statuary: An important pair of Coade stone figures of Vestal virgins, late 18th century stamped Coade Lambeth and stamped Coade underneath the bases together with workman’s initials 140cm high. See footnote to previous lot. This rare pair of statues is listed and engraved in the 1784 Descriptive Catalogue of Coade’s Artificial Stone Manufactory as numbers 33 &34, Statues to hold Lights, £16.6.0 each (see engraving). The style of modelling would suggest that they were almost certainly modelled by the leading Coade sculptor, John Bacon, for whom a number of statues are recorded. He first started working for Eleanor Coade shortly after she started her business in 1769. He had received a commission around this time to produce a bust of King George III for Christchurch Oxford. It was customary for modellers to take a mouthful of water to soften the clay by spitting on it as they worked. Bacon decided that this would not appear seemly and devised a little silver filter for the purpose. This elegant behaviour pleased the King whose influence later secured Bacon many commissions, becoming an RA shortly afterwards in the newly formed Royal Academy. This certainly helped put Coade stone on the map as did his own sculptures for the factory, often, as in this pair, in a Neo-classical style which perfectly complimented the architectural features also being produced by Coade. It is highly unusual for Coade pieces to be stamped on the underside and therefore unseen. In addition the pieces have been monogrammed by a workman with an R within a roundel.