The original bronze, cast in 1913 – the year Ledward won the British Prix de Rome for sculpture – was modelled on the artist’s wife Margery, and would remain in his studio until he died. It was only in 1960 that it was exhibited at Battersea Park before being installed in the centre of Roper’s Gardens in Ledward’s native Chelsea.
The representational work (Ledward was part of a generation who occupy a transitory position between the New Sculpture of the late 19th century and 20th centre Modernists) provides a welcome contrast to Jacob Epstein’s primitivist female figure sited nearby.
This rare bronze reduction of The Awakening, standing 17in (43cm) high on a marble turned socle plinth, came for sale at Bonhams Knightsbridge as part of an Homes & Interiors sale on October 19. It is inscribed and dated G Ledward 1915. At the time he was serving in the Royal Garrison Artillery, acquiring the experience and memory that would make him greatly in demand as a sculptor of war memorials.
Bonhams said the sculpture came for sale from a Northamptonshire family who had probably owned it since before the Second World War. The buyer at £5500 was a UK private collector.
It appears to be the second-highest price for the sculptor, whose work rarely appears at auction. In 2005 a life-size marble group of two embracing figures titled Eternal Meeting sold at £24,000, also at Bonhams.