A 13th Century statuette of the Virgin & Child hidden in a private collection since the middle of the 20th century will resurface at a Sotheby’s European Sculpture and Works of Art auction in London on December 4.
The discovery has led to the uncovering of the statuette’s long and interesting history, during which time it was kept safe by two of England’s foremost noble families and by a community of English nuns.
“This is one of those classic ‘over the counter’ instances when a photograph of an object is presented to Sotheby’s,” said Erik Bijzet, Sotheby’s European Sculpture & Works of Art specialist.
“Immediately I saw that it had something very special and when I first laid my eyes on it and held it, I knew it was the start of what was to become one of the most rewarding challenges in my career. Uncovering documents, many of them centuries old, revealed tantalising new discoveries until the full story finally emerged. The statuette is wonderfully detailed, as is its history.”
Estimated at £800,000-£1,200,000, the statuette dates to circa 1250-1260 and was most likely made in either the Meuse Valley or Northern France. It was brought to England by the Bridgettine nuns of Syon Monastery in 1809.