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Tuesday, 7 May, 2002, 15:39 GMT 16:39 UK
Statue to fund stately home repairs
Jenkins Venus
Jenkins Venus has been in the UK since 1766
One of the finest Roman sculptures still in private ownership and dating from around the first century is to be sold to pay for repairs to a stately home.

The Jenkins Venus, also known as Barberini Venus, is expected to make between 2m- 3m when it goes under the hammer at Christie's in London.

The naked marble sculpture is currently housed at Newby Hall in North Yorkshire and owned by the Compton family.

But the exhaustive costs of maintaining the country house and its Grade One-listed stables is forcing Newby Hall's current owner to sell it off to pay for vital restoration work.

The sculpture was originally part of the Barberini collection kept in Palazzo Barberini in Rome.

It was bought in 1765 by collector William Weddell who had recently inherited Newby Hall from his father.

He bought the statue from Thomas Jenkins, a flamboyant English banker living in Rome, for a reputedly "astronomical sum" although the figure was never disclosed.

Sad day

William Wendell set about designing a sculpture gallery at Newby to display treasures he had acquired on his travels.

The house and the sculpture has passed through several families, ending with the Comptons.

One of the family members, Richard Compton, said: "There have always been higher restoration priorities at Newby and it's a sad day that the fabric of the house itself and its stables now needs to be addressed.

"Despite being one of the Historic Houses Association's most successful houses open to the public, the opening business does not generate enough revenue to fund major restoration works.

"It is very sad that the Jenkins Venus must be sold but at least my ancestors will be pleased it will go towards further restoration works at Newby."

Carved from Greek Parian marble, the Jenkins Venus is one of the best-known Roman copies of Medici Venus type, representing the sensual side of the goddess of love, nature and fidelity.

The statue will be offered for sale at Christie's on 13 June.

See also:

15 Apr 02 | Arts
Art worth 30m up for auction
03 Apr 02 | Arts
Art collection could fetch 15m
06 Feb 02 | Arts
Bacon paintings sold for 1.9m
26 Jun 01 | Arts
Monet art sale raises millions
04 Feb 02 | Arts
Monks sell 8m art
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