‘Too big’ bust to be auctioned

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A RARE bust of Britain’s greatest — and most tragic — operatic contralto is to be sold at auction in Edinburgh after it turned out to be too large for a Dumfriesshire mantlepiece.

The bust, of Kathleen Ferrier, by the late and internationally renowned Slovakian sculptor Arthur Fleischmann, was left to its present owner by Ferrier’s friend and fellow musician Leon Fontaine, who had received it from Ferrier herself as a gift.

The owner, whose identity is being kept secret by auctioneers Lyon & Turnbull, kept it in his London home but when he retired and moved to Scotland he found it was too big for his cottage, so decided to sell it.

Ferrier, who died from cancer in 1953 at the age of only 41, was said at the time to be “the most celebrated woman in Britain after the Queen”.

Her death, which came at the height of her fame, shook country.

The bust will be sold at Lyon & Turnbull’s Decorative Arts sale in Edinburgh on April 18 — two days before the centenary of Ferrier’s birth.