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Rare plaster mural of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales to be auctioned


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A rare plaster mural made by an unknown artist depicting part of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales is go under the hammer.

The historic panel, which shows the Miller with his bagpipe, the Wife of Bath with her 'gap tooth', the Squire playing a harp, the Knight and the Friar, is to be sold by Sworders Fine Art Auctioneers on Tuesday, January 25, and has a guide price of £300 to £500.

Historic panel illustrating part of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. It shows Miller with his bagpipe, the Wife of Bath with her 'gap tooth', the Squire playing a harp, the Knight and the Friar. It is to be auctioned and has a guide price of £300 to £500. Picture: Sworders Fine Art Auctioneers
Historic panel illustrating part of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. It shows Miller with his bagpipe, the Wife of Bath with her 'gap tooth', the Squire playing a harp, the Knight and the Friar. It is to be auctioned and has a guide price of £300 to £500. Picture: Sworders Fine Art Auctioneers

Sarah Conlon, whose parents owned the panel, said: "We don't know who designed it but the workmanship is high.

"Artists like Gerald Moira did similar work in bronze. Someone like this may have turned their hand to a more commercial work."

She added: "It has been moved around lately and will need some restoration. This will present no problem to an enthusiast, either public or private. Illustrations of Chaucer in print are legion but this item is surely a rarity."

Objects like it were in vogue round about 1900 and adorned ocean liners and large public buildings like the Trocadero in London. Only a few are thought to have survived.

Ms Conlon ventured: "Canterbury is renowned for its cathedral and pilgrimages and would provide a suitable home for this work of art."

Geoffrey Chaucer statue at the junction of Best Lane and High Street, Canterbury
Geoffrey Chaucer statue at the junction of Best Lane and High Street, Canterbury

She said: "My parents bought various antiques about 30 years ago when they were younger and stronger. They bought this mural because they were so taken with it. But other things intervened and they never got round to putting it up. It was probably over-ambitious for a London flat!

"However, it has been in the background of our lives ever since. My part is in helping to spark interest among Chaucer enthusiasts."

Auction details

Lot 171, described as an arts and crafts painted plaster panel in a painted frame, is 194.5cm (6ft 6in) long and 86.5cm (2ft 10in) tall.

The auction at the Stansted Auction Rooms, Cambridge Road, Stansted Mountfitchet, Essex, begins at 10am. Viewing is by appointment only. For details, visit sworder.co.uk.

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