STANSTED MOUNTFICHET, UK.- Sworders
auctioneers of Stansted Mountfichet in Essex, England, will offer an extremely rare head-and-shoulders bronze of Sir Winston Churchill at their April 12 auction.
It is one of only six casts taken from the statue erected in Londons Parliament Square in 1973 to honor the man voted the greatest Briton ever to have lived.
The original 12ft-high bronze was created by Ivor Roberts-Jones RA (1913-96), while the plaster cast taken to create the limited edition of six bronze busts was supervised by Nigel Boonham, past president of the Society of Portrait Sculptors, on behalf of the Trustees of the Ivor Roberts-Jones Estate.
Of monumental size, it stands 34 inches (86.5cm) high by 51 inches wide (130cm) wide and carries an auction estimate of £60,000-£80,000 ($85,000-$115,000).
Roberts-Jones was a founder member of the Society of Portrait Sculptors in 1953 and was head of the sculpture department at Goldsmiths College of Art, London, from 1964-1978. He established his reputation for portrait sculpture, with commissions for Yehudi Menuhin, George Thomas and Viscount Tonypandy, as well as over-lifesize figures of Field Marshall Viscount Slim of Burma and Field Marshall Viscount Alanbrooke, both of which stand in Whitehall.
In 1971 Roberts-Jones was commissioned to produce the full-length statue of Winston Churchill that now stands in Parliament Square, and which is, without doubt, his most famous work. He later indicated that the pose of the statue had been largely inspired by the famous photograph of a grim-faced and sorrowful Churchill inspecting the smoldering bomb wreckage of the chamber of his beloved House of Commons on the morning of May 11, 1941.
In 1995 Roberts-Jones was commissioned by the Czech government to make another cast of the Churchill figure to stand in the recently renamed Winston Churchill Square in Prague. The sculptor replied that the original mold for his figure in Parliament Square had disintegrated, and he doubted very much whether Parliament would allow him to make a cast directly from the statue.
He did produce a clay maquette for a new Churchill head, but died a couple of months after sending it to the Meridian foundry. After further negotiation, and with the support of both Lady Margaret Thatcher and Czech President Vaclav Havel, Roberts-Jones widow, Monica, gave her permission for a copy to be made of the statue in Parliament Square.
With the British Foreign Office and the Royal Parks Agency also giving the project their blessing, all necessary permissions were in place, and an up-and-coming portrait sculptor, Nigel Boonham, was chosen to supervise the making of a cast from the Parliament Square statue. It is from the plaster cast of the head and shoulders made at that time that the bronze to be auctioned by Sworders was created.
Sworders Modern British Art Sale featuring the Churchill bronze will be held at the companys gallery on Tuesday, April 12. All forms of bidding will be available, including online through Sworders website: www.sworder.co.uk