Late Gothic marble wellhead stars in our pick of seven auction highlights sold this week – ATG, 1 April, 2022

Roland Ward

ATG’s weekly selection of items that caught bidders’ eyes includes a 15th century Istrian marble wellhead that sold for a six-figure sum in West Sussex.

1. Istrian marble wellhead – £110,000

Estimated at £25,000-40,000, this 15th century Istrian marble wellhead in the late Gothic style sold for £110,000 at Summers Place Auctions in West Sussex on March 29.

It shares much in common with a wellhead which still stands in the courtyard of the Ca’ d’Oro palazzo in Venice.

As that carving is known to have been commissioned by Marino Contarino and made by Bartolomeo Bon in Venice in 1427-28, the dozen similar surviving examples are often attributed to ’the Bon family workshops’. Most are carved with two or more allegorical figures emblematic of Fortitude, Justice, Prudence and Charity inspired by the 14th century capitals of the Palazzo Ducale.

By family repute this example (with later wrought iron overthrow and sandstone plinth) was previously in the grounds of Horton Hall, Northamptonshire, that was demolished in 1936. Once the seat of the Earls of Halifax, it is likely that the wellhead was among the many objects brought back from the Grand Tour by George Montagu-Dunk, 2nd Earl of Halifax in the mid 18th century when both the house and the garden were remodelled.