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Signed and dated 1867, L’Amour Vainqueuer de la Force was one of three sculptures shown by the Italian at the Exposition Universalle at the Paris Salon in 1867, alongside Esclave au Marche and Ophelie.

Caroni was awarded a medal for these works under the category of ‘Sculpteurs et graveurs en medailles du sur pierres fines etrangers’.

Auctioneer Will Farmer described it as ”an internationally important piece of sculpture” and an “exciting find”. He believed it was the first time this has been seen since it was first exhibited in 1867.

It was among the contents of Wordsley Manor, a Grade II-listed George II house built for Black Country industrialist John Holt which now sits in a one-and-a-half-acre plot in suburban Stourbridge.

Owned since the early 1850s by descendants of the Hodgetts glassmaking family, it was recently dubbed ‘the cheapest manor house in Britain’ when placed on the market for £350,000 by owner, retired architect Christopher Firmstone.

The statue is believed to have been acquired by the Firmstone family in the late 19th or early 20th century. Estimated at £20,000-30,000 for the auction on September 2, it attracted 14 phone lines.

The key contest was between an Italian buyer and the UK trade, with the latter emerging victorious.