Cast of Hamo Thornycroft’s Teucer – £20,000 at JS Fine Art.

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It came for sale in Oxfordshire from a local house.

Following in the trail of Frederic Leighton’s Athlete Wrestling with a Python (1877), Teucer was first exhibited at the Royal Academy in plaster in 1881 with a monumental bronze version shown to considerable acclaim the following year. The sitter was the Italian model Orazio Cervi (1854-1942), with the subject matter taken from the Iliad. The champion Greek archer Teucer was one of the heroes of the Trojan War.

According to Elfrida Manning, the sculptor’s daughter and biographer, no more than 25 of these smallerscale 2ft 6in (75cm) reductions were produced by Thornycroft, cast in bronze using the lost wax method and hand-finished by the artist.

She said: “The care and attention that he lavished on each individual casting of those works that were made available in limited editions, for example Teucer or The Mower, not only demonstrates his professional artistic commitment, making each one a unique work of art; but also testifies … to a desire to bring art into the home” (Marble & Bronze, The Art and Life of Hamo Thornycroft, 1982).

Signed and dated 1881, this cast with a verdigris patina had attracted bidding of close to £14,000 before it was offered from the rostrum. Two phone bidders took it to a price that, with fees, was just over £25,000 at JS Auctions.

Several other casts of this size have been sold in recent years. Christie’s sold one in December 2014 (£48,000) while another was part of the John Schaeffer collection at Sotheby’s in Australia in 2018 (Aus$130,000/£71,000).