An oil lamp in the form of an acrobat, Padua, Italy, 16th century. Estimate £80,000–120,000.
LONDON – On first impression this object is likely to induce a chuckle or two, but, in fact, this bronze acrobat is the finest example of its type in existence. It perfectly represents the balance of historical importance, eye for detail and fun which Stanley Seeger and Christopher Cone cultivated in their collection. Portraying a contortionist with his legs wrapped around his head, it also has a function – that of an oil lamp – so that it could be enjoyed both as an item of beauty and as a utilitarian object. Despite the bawdy subject matter, bronzes such as this were valued by wealthy patrons, who assimilated themselves to ancient collectors, most famously the Roman Emperor Nero, who is said to have carried a bronze figure with him at all times.