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Sketch book of sculptor William Behnes expected to fetch £1,000 – £1,500

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A sketch book of the prolific British artist and sculptor William Behnes (1795 – 1864) is set to come under the hammer at Midlands auction house Cuttlestones’ forthcoming Fine Art Sale on Friday, 2nd December.

Active in the early 19th Century, examples of Behnes’ works can be seen across London in the many busts, reliefs, church monuments and statues. His subjects included nobility and Royalty and, with his appointment as Sculptor in Ordinary to Queen Victoria in 1837, his star continued to rise. Examples of his work include a statue of the Earl of Egremont at Petworth House, a statue of Sir Thomas Gresham, in London’s Royal Exchange, a monument to Dr Andrew Bell in Westminster Abbey and the Trafalgar Square statue of Sir Henry Havelock; the latter famed as the first statue to be based solely on a photograph of its subject.

View Catalogue – Lot 479

Behnes’ success was to turn to tragedy. Bankrupt and with rumours of alcoholism and gambling addiction abound, he was found lying unconscious in a gutter on New Years’ Day 1864, dying on the 3rd January  at Middlesex Hospital. In the ultimate irony for a sculptor renowned for the creation of beautiful monuments to the departed great and good, he was buried in an unmarked grave in Kensal Green Cemetery.

The book set to sell at Cuttlestones’ next week features a significant number of sketches and studies of historical figures such as the Duke of Newcastle, Sir Robert Peel and Sir Thomas Gresham. It also has landscape sketches, studies of monuments, caricatures alongside some pen and ink drawings.

This fascinating insight into the working process of a renowned 19th Century sculptor is expected to achieve £1,000 – £1,500 when it comes up for sale on Friday, 2nd December 2016 at Cuttlestones auctioneers and valuers in Staffordshire.

The full catalogue will be available online at from Friday 25th Nov, with viewing on the morning of and day prior to the sale. For those unable to attend on the day, live internet, telephone and advance commission bidding options are available. For details contact 01785 714905 or email [email protected]

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