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Although best known for his social-realist illustrations of urban life, Herkomer was something of a polymath whose interests extended to film making, composing and wood carving, a skill he learned from his father Lorenz (a Bavarian carver of some renown).

The 2ft 4in by 16in (81 x 46cm) carving offered in Chudleigh on October 8 was believed to have been given to the vendor's father-in-law, the artist and illustrator Ivor Symes, by Herkomer while a student at his art school in Bushey, Hertfordshire.

Always critical of his own art education, Herkomer opened his own school of art in his adopted home town in 1883, later describing the venture in his 'manifesto', My School and My Gospel, 1908.

The Bushey Museum, home to the largest collection of his work, has a similar carving and the subject is also believed to have been cast in bronze. It was estimated at £400-600, but two London telephone bidders took it to a final price of £18,200 (plus 15% buyer's premium).