Saturday, 23 May 2020

Ian Fleming: Bust sold for £1250

In October 2019 a bust of Ian Fleming was offered at auction by Sworders Fine Art Auctioneers. The bust sold for £1000 plus 25% commission coming to an end price of £1250. 

The bust was first used on the cover artwork for John Pearson's Fleming biography “The Life of Ian Fleming” (Jonathan Cape, 1966). It was then reproduced in small numbers for distribution to the larger book shops across Great Britain, to be used as window decoration when promoting both the biography and Fleming's own James Bond novels. The size of the bust is 52 cm. Not only was the bust seen on the first edition of the biography but also on the book club version (The companion book club 1966). 

 

Very few of these beautiful plaster busts have survived, and those that have usually need some sort of restoration of the gold paint and possible plaster repair too. 

 

When I first saw the bust on the cover of “The Life of Ian Fleming” I felt I would do anything to own it. As I have shown in another blog post (click the link) I am now indeed fortunate to own two of them.

 

It’s nice to discover they have increased in value over the years: they are so worth it. If you are able to buy one you definitely should. 

 

PLEASE NOTE: English is my second language so please excuse any small errors in translation.




When the auction house Christies was selling one back in 2007 they described the lot as written below.

FLEMING, Ian (1908-1964)--After Simone PANCHAUD DE BOTTOMES. 'Ian Fleming'. A cast metal bust finished in gold-painted plaster with initials 'SPB', executed c.1966 after Panchaud de Bottomes' original conceived in c.1931, 520mm high (some minor surface chipping and old repairs)Provenance: The Times Bookshop (purchased upon its closure). A RARE BUST OF FLEMING AFTER THE ORIGINAL BY THE MOTHER OF HIS FIANCéE MONIQUE PANCHAUD DE BOTTOMES, probably produced to publicise John Pearson's biography of Fleming. Fleming met Monique Panchaud de Bottomes at a ball in Geneva in autumn 1930, while he was a student at Geneva University. She was 'a slim, dark-haired local beauty' (A. Lycett Ian Fleming, London: 1995, p.45), from Vich in the Canton of Vaud, some 15 miles from Geneva, and 'she was impressed by [Fleming's] intelligence, charm and sensitivity ... He found her chic, cultured and amusing, the very essence of a modern French-speaking girl. Before long they were inseparable' (loc. cit.). By the summer of 1931 they considered themselves unofficially engaged, and Fleming would spend most weekends at the Panchaud de Bottomes' chateau, where the original of this bust by Monique's mother, Simone Panchaud de Bottomes, was sculpted in the early 1930s. However, Fleming's mother was strongly opposed to the engagement, and brought all possible pressure to bear on him -- emotional, professional, and financial -- and eventually the engagement was broken off by Fleming in 1933. Fleming felt bitter and guilty about the ending of the relationship: 'after this he would never dream of marrying anyone. "I'm going to be quite bloody-minded about women from now on ... I'm just going to take what I want without any scruples at all"' (J. Pearson The Life of Ian Fleming, London: 1966, p. 57), and was thought by his friends to continue to pine for Monique. Certainly, her name and background were used by Fleming some thirty years later in the 'James Bond' novel You Only Live Twice (London: 1964), in which Bond's mother is described as Monique Delacroix, from the Canton of Vaud. This bust is one of a small group that was probably produced to publicise Pearson's biography of Fleming, which uses a photograph of one on the dustwrapper; only a small number are thought to have been made, and few survive.


       

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