When buying outdoor sculpture, Alex’s advice is to buy what you like but from a reputable dealer that is registered with one of the main dealer associations. This means the price you will pay is the current market price.
‘With outdoor sculpture, scale is important also,’ he says. ‘I often need to encourage clients to be brave about the size of a sculpture – we’re generally conservative when viewing items outside our known environment. Of course, for intimate spaces small is correct, but sculpture should always be a focal point, so size is important.’
If buying a sculpture for a formal setting, Alex reminds us to consider all the vistas, even the one from the bedroom window.
‘In an asymmetrical space, look around you and then consider the work and its material, colour and texture. Place something approximately the same size – but something that’s light to manoeuvre – in your chosen spot and move it around until it looks right. Trust your judgment.’
It’s important that antique sculpture is in good condition and has good provenance, continues Alex. If you’re looking for a modern work, ensure you buy it from a reputable dealer and check the artist’s biography online to see whether they are, or were, a member of an association. Also check whether they exhibited regularly and, if so, where they exhibited.
‘Build up a relationship with your dealer,’ Alex adds. ‘We will advise you and you don’t necessarily need to purchase from us to ask for our advice. We are really quite friendly – it’s our job and we love to share our knowledge.’
If you have a piece of sculpture in need of restoration, ask a registered dealer and they will point you in the right direction, as different restorers specialise in different materials. Stone needs varying attention depending on stone type, climate and conditions. ‘Coade stone is tough, but if the ‘skin’ is broken, take advice,’ Alex adds. ‘It might be time to bring it inside after 200 years. If marble is left outside too long it will disintegrate to dust – you need to cover it in the winter or bring it inside. Wax your bronze if it’s a fine art piece with a patina – and if it’s not, then as long as it’s not holding water inside it will be fine. Most importantly, don’t jet wash anything!’
This guide was originally commissioned by and published in Homes & Antiques’ July 2017 issue.
To download the original version of this article, and other collector’s guides, visit www.homesandantiques.com/antiques/collectors-guides