Charles V Sculpture Sold for RM52 Million to Anonymous Buyer
A lions sculpture from the tomb of French king Charles V sold in London on Thursday for around RM51.8 million, centuries after it was thought lost in the French Revolution.
The 14th-century marble figures by French sculptor sold for RM51.8 million (GBP9.35 million/USD12.13 million), a record for the artist, Christie’s said.
The auction house did not disclose who had bought the lions, a near mirror image of one another, which are believed to have been commissioned by Charles V shortly after he came to the throne.
Beauneveu carved the work over two years, from 1364 to 1366, to form part of the king’s tomb in Paris’ Abbey of Saint Denis.
“These lions are a really important document for Beauneveu, for his style, and for the whole history of patronage of these royal courts in northern Europe in the 14th century,” said Christie’s Donald Johnston, speaking in a video by the auction house.
The French Revolution saw the family tombs dismantled in 1793 and the lions were purchased in 1802 by British aristocrat Thomas Neave.
Until its sale at Christie’s the sculpture remained in the same private collection and its existence had only been known thanks to an 18th-century engraving.
Johnston said despite the lions being small in the drawing, the particular style matches the marble sculpture.
“You can see the very distinctive way that the tails curl up around one of the hind legs of each of the lions and intertwine,” he said.
The sculpture also has rods on the back of the lions which show where they would have been attached to the feet of the king’s effigy.
Beauneveu was tasked with constructing four family tombs and the lions were carved with strikingly detailed manes, with one baring its teeth.