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Rare Henry Moore masterpiece achieves £3.25M at Bonhams
Mask by Henry Moore. Sold for: £3,248,750 against estimate of £1,000,000 - 1,500,000. Photo: Bonhams.

LONDON.- Mask, an extremely rare sculpture by Henry Moore (1898-1986), sold for £3,248,750 at Bonhams Modern British and Irish Art sale in London today, Wednesday 14 November. Estimated at £1,000,000-1,500,000, it was being offered for sale for the first time for more than 80 years, and had never before appeared at auction. It is the most valuable 1920s sculpture by a British artist sold at auction. The 84-lot sale made a total of £5,456,875.

Bonhams Director of Modern British and Irish Art, Matthew Bradbury said, “This is an excellent result for arguably the most visually appealing and beautiful example from the Mask series that Moore executed between 1924 and 1930. With three determined bidders in the room and on the phone, it was among the most closely fought contests I can remember – a tribute to the exceptional quality of the piece, and to the great demand for Moore’s carved works among collectors.”

The work was one of 12 known, small carvings by Moore titled Mask, and, uniquely, the only one carved from alabaster. It was created in 1929 and shows the deep impact of the 9th Century Toltec-Maya chac-mool sculpture from Yucatan in Mexico, which Moore first saw at the Trocadero Museum in Paris in 1922.

Other highlights of the sale included:

• Panel of Flowers by Cedric Morris (1889-1982) that sold for £106,250, having been estimated at £30,000-50,000. The work was painted in 1929, soon after the artist and his partner Arthur Lett-Haines had left London and settled at Pound Farm in Suffolk.

• Study for Ascot in the Rain by Sir John Lavery (1856-1941) which sold for £187,500 having been estimated at £50,000-70,000. The work showed a scene from Ascot Week in June 1922, when it rained almost every day. It was previously in the collection of the Ist Viscount Churchill, who was His Majesty’s Representative at Ascot between 1901-1934.

• Mincarlo by Barbara Hepworth (1903-1975). Estimated at £80,000-120,000 it sold for £131,250. The work was conceived and cast in 1971, its pierced form reflecting a preoccupation that spanned her entire career.

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