A rare life-size masterpiece by a 19th century French sculptor, which has stood in Westport House for generations, is to be auctioned by Sotheby’s to secure the future of the stately home.
The sculpture of a mother and her child by Aimé-Jule Dalou is valued at between €360,000 and €600,000.
Named Boulonnaise allaitant, it was acquired directly from the artist in 1876 by George John Browne, third Marquess of Sligo, before being exhibited a the Royal Academy of Arts in 1877.
It was subsequently installed in Westport House, where it was on view until late last year.
The terracotta artwork is described by Sotheby’s as “one of last museum quality life size works by Dalou in private hands”.
Jeremy Browne, 11th Marquess of Sligo and owner of Westport House, said the masterpiece had been “enjoyed by generations of visitors to Westport House”.
“We hope that the proceeds raised through its sale will secure the future of one of Ireland’s best-loved attractions for generations to come,” he added.
Dalou was one of the greatest French sculptors of the 19th century and some of his most important works are housed in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and the Musée d’Orsay in Paris.
Westport House is owned and managed by the Browne family. Open to the public, the house, gardens and adventure theme park, have grown to become one of the most popular visitor attractions in the west of Ireland.