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Bust

A bust is a form of sculpture modelled on person’s head, neck and part of the chest and shoulders. As a portrait type, it dates back to classical Greek and Roman antiquity although it can also be found in non-European ancient cultures.

Busts come in many materials including bronze, terracotta, wood, wax and marble. In the UK, they were particularly popular in the 18th and 19th century with the best Georgian and Victorian examples of well known figures continuing to command strong interest among collectors as well as museums.


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French sculptor's bust of George Washington to be offered in Rhode Island sale

09 March 2020

This 19th century bronze bust of George Washington cast by the French metal founder Ferdinand Barbedienne after the model by the French sculptor Jean-Antoine Houdon (1741-1828) will feature in the Bruneau and Co sale at Cranston, Rhode Island, on March 14.

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Nelson bust sails high to top sale

17 February 2020

While furniture and books fully justified its title, The Oxford Library Sale at Mallams (22.5% buyer’s premium) was led by a surprise star: a rather lowly regarded gesso bust of the sort that would have been a minor decoration to such a room.

Bust of Paul Phélypeaux de Pontchartrain

Bust of leading French statesman by the king’s sculptor fetches £2m in Paris auction

22 November 2019

A rare early 17th century bronze bust of a French statesman discovered in a French country house was knocked down at €2.4m (£2.07m) hammer at the Drouot auction centre in Paris this week.

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The web shop window: Alabaster bust of Napoleon

30 September 2019

Thousands of items are available to buy from dealers online. Here we pick out one that caught our eye this week.

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Going for bust with a £96,000 bid in Essex auction

16 September 2019

This Italian marble bust of an emperor, catalogued as 17th century after the antique, provided a moment of saleroom drama at Sworders’ Fine Interiors auction in Stansted on September 10.

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Hadrianic Dionysos head offered at Cottone’s auction

16 September 2019

One of the highlights of Cottone’s sale in Geneseo, New York, on September 28 will be this marble head of Dionysos, a Roman copy of a late classical (4th century BC) Greek archetype.

bronze sculpture

Head of French statesman: Country house discovery of bronze ‘Bordoni’ bust emerges after 400 years

09 September 2019

A rare early 17th century bronze bust of a French statesman has been discovered in a French country house and will be offered for auction at Drouot in Paris in November with an estimate of €500,000-800,000.

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Previews: £30,000 plus

08 July 2019

Our weekly selection from salerooms and dealerships.

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Bust depicts a short-lived Roman emperor Didius Julianus

13 May 2019

This over life-sized marble bust depicts Emperor Didius Julianus, who ruled the Roman empire for just a few short months in the year 193AD. His fleeting 66-day reign took place during the tumultuous period known as ‘The Year of the Five Emperors’ and came to a grisly end when he was murdered by a common soldier.

Antonio Canova bust

Antonio Canova idealised bust sells at €2m in Monaco

04 May 2019

An idealised marble portrait bust of a 16th century Italian noblewoman by the neoclassical sculptor Antonio Canova has sold at auction in Monaco for €2m (£1.72m).

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Houdon busts take $1.25m total at New York auction

01 April 2019

Single buyer secures two key works by one of the main sculptors of the Enlightenment.

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Rediscovered Jean-Antoine Houdon busts offered in New York State

04 March 2019

Two rediscovered marble busts by the French 18th century sculptor Jean-Antoine Houdon (1741-1828) are to be offered in Cottone Auctions’ next sale in Geneseo on March 23.

Bust of Peace

UK issues export bar for Antonio Canova’s Bust of Peace sculpture

02 November 2018

The UK government has issued an export bar on a previously lost Antonio Canova bust that sold at a Sotheby’s auction earlier this summer.

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‘Rodin’s’ Baptist bust rediscovered at Connecticut auction

22 October 2018

Black Rock Galleries in Greenwich, Connecticut received bids up to $388,000 (plus 18% buyer’s premium) for a bronze it believes is Buste de Saint Jean-Baptiste, a previously lost lifetime cast by Rodin.

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Epstein actress steps on Isle of Wight stage

03 September 2018

A little-known Jacob Epstein (1880-1959) sculpture of the British actress Sandra Dorne took an estimate-topping £11,000 at HRD Auction Rooms (20% buyer’s premium) on the Isle of Wight.

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Pioneer pilot Peggy gives a saleroom lift

25 June 2018

Less well-known than other daring young women in their flying machines, Peggy Salaman, or rather a bronze bust of her, emerged from a Mayfair basement to take off in a Suffolk saleroom.

‘Bust of Peace’, a white marble head by Antonio Canova

Long-lost Antonio Canova bust emerges at Sotheby’s

30 May 2018

One of the few autograph works ever to have emerged at auction by the neo-classical sculptor Antonio Canova (1757-1821) will be offered at Sotheby’s in London this summer.

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Philosopher Wittgenstein shows sculpture skills

04 December 2017

A philosopher of mathematics, the human consciousness and language, Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951) was described by his teacher Bertrand Russell as “the most perfect example I have ever known of genius as traditionally conceived”.

Victoria bust

Government issues export bar for £1.2m Queen Victoria sculpture in hope of finding UK buyer

08 September 2017

A sculpture of Queen Victoria by Alfred Gilbert has been temporarily barred from leaving the country while the government searches for a buyer based in the UK to pay the £1.2m asking price.

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Preview: £30,000 plus

19 June 2017

ATG's weekly selection of items on sale at auctions and dealerships.