My best auction buy: Annoushka Ducas

Annoushka Ducas, founder and creative director of jewellery brand Annoushka

Annoushka Ducas

Annoushka Ducas

Annoushka Ducas, founder and creative director of jewellery brand Annoushka and also previously co-founder of Links of London, is a keen collector of art and antiques. With husband, businessman John Ayton, they own and have refurbished and redesigned The Horse and Groom pub and hotel in East Ashling, West Sussex.

What is your favourite item you’ve bought from an auction?

Pre Covid one of my favourite places to visit whenever I could was dealer Spencer Swaffer. I have a vast collection of miniatures, which I've collected since childhood – a huge influence on my career designing tiny, precious charms, each perfectly formed, with working parts. Antique shops and auctions are often a great place to find new treasures, but it is very uncommon for me to fall in love with something I can’t fit in my hand!!

In June 2019 I bought a large bronze sculpture of a horse and jockey from auction house Hutchinson Scott in Skipton for £1150 plus commission. It’s around a metre high and a metre long and is a hot cast recast of an original (I think by Pierre-Jules Mêne (1810-79)) made in the last 50 years. As a reproduction it was remarkably inexpensive for something of that size and quality.

Bronze sculpture of a horse and jockey

The bronze sculpture of a horse and jockey bought by Annoushka Ducas through

Why do you love it so much?

As a jewellery designer, I have a huge appreciation for traditional craft and love the idea that this piece has changed as it’s aged over time. It now has a wonderful patina, much like aged gold, only darker in colour – I thought my husband John, who’s horse mad, would love it. The original was created by the lost-wax process, also called cire-perdue, a method of metal casting in which a molten metal is poured into a mould that has been created by means of a wax model. Once the mould is made, the wax model is melted and drained away. Mêne is considered to have been the lost-wax casting expert of his time, later surpassed only by Auguste Rodin. This is much the same way that I create my jewellery and in particular my charms which are, after all, miniature sculptures.

Where did you find it?

I bought it online through which at the time was a very unusual thing for me to do – I hadn’t seen the piece in the flesh, but just had a feeling. Two years later, I’ve overcome a few more tech phobias and now regularly shop this way!

Why did you buy it?

At the time, my husband John had just bought The Horse & Groom – a 200 year old pub, in our village East Ashling, which had sadly lost its charm. He loves traditional pubs and wanted to put it back at the centre of village life again – it’s now a wonderfully warm and charming local, with great food. I’d been roped into helping decorate the 10 B&B rooms and restaurant and was scouring auctions for something “horsey” for the new entrance when I spotted this – I thought he’d love it and it had a charm that I knew would fit the style and age of the pub.

Where is it now?

It is still in the pub where I had planned for it to be. Through CCTV we’ve seen a few guests checking its anchoring, looking for a takeaway!

Horse and Groom pub East Ashling

The interior of the Horse & Groom pub.

If you like the look of Annoushka’s sculpture, browse upcoming auctions for similar bronze sculptures.

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