Scupltures worth up to £400,000 to be auctioned in village

One of the Jagger sculptures
One of the Jagger sculptures

A pair of sculptures worth hundreds of thousands of pounds are to be auctioned in Billingshurst.

The rare pieces by Charles Sargeant Jagger were sold at Sotheby’s in Billingshurst almost 20 years ago and are now coming up for auction again at Summers Place Auctions on Tuesday June 11.

The three and a half metre high Portland stone groups of a nymph and satyr are expected to sell as one lot for £200,000 to £400,000.

James Rylands, one of the directors at Summers Place Auctions, said: “The nice thing about auctions is that good works do occasionally return to the auction house. Although it is rare that the same auctioneer has the pleasure of finding another good home for a work of art, the prospect is rather exciting.”

Jagger was famous for his war memorials, the Royal Artillery Memorial at Hyde Park Corner probably his best known.

He declined a scholarship in Rome in 1914 when he enlisted in the Artists Rifles. Seeing service at Gallipoli and France and getting injured twice he was awarded the Military Cross.

Jagger completed six war memorials from 1921 to 1923 before starting on the iconic Hyde Park monument.

By the mid 1920s he was a well-established sculptor with an influential circle of patrons including Sir Edwin Lutyens, Sir Stephen Courtauld and H.R.H. the Prince of Wales.

He also began his association with the first Lord Melchett, whose family gave him many commissions including the one for this pair of Portland stone groups of nymphs and satyrs for their home, Melchett Court. Jagger explored a more classical approach with the sculpture’s mildly erotic overtones.

James added: “We are delighted to be able to offer this rare work by Jagger, who is one of our most distinguished sculptors of the first half of the 20th century. Although he is most famous for his post-war memorials, this group is an excellent example of the variety of his work and the fact that he didn’t want to be categorised and created an astonishing depth of work.”

His romantic temperament was evident in his pre-war works, but his later works are easily distinguishable from the earlier classic reliefs by their boldness and simplicity which is distinctly Art Deco.

The salacious expression of the squatting and kneeling satyrs contrasts brilliantly with the yearning expressions of the nymphs with their languid nubile bodies.

The gentle satire employed in these works is striking because of the contrast it makes with the serious subject matter of much of Jagger’s work. Born in 1885 at Kilnhurst, Yorkshire, he was one of three children, all of whom became artists. In 1907 he was awarded a scholarship by West Riding County Council to study a the Royal College of Art. Under Professor Lanteri he achieved considerable success including a major college travel bursary which enabled him to visit Italy and North Africa in 1911 and led to him being awarded the Prix de Rome in 1914. He died aged 48 in 1934.

From 1927 until 1936 the group was on view in the garden of Melchett Court, it was then moved to the second Lord Melchett’s house, Colworth in Bedfordshire before it was bought by Gilbert Beale in 1948. He founded the Childe Beale Trust with the aim to breed and rear endangered species at Beale Park where the sculptures were on view until the trustees decided to sell some of the sculptures in 2000.

For more see www.summersplaceauctions.com or call 01403 331331.