A sculpture of an ostrich which once belonged to Horace Walpole in Twickenham has sold at auction for more than £1.8 million.

The bronze bird was bought for 15 times its estimated value at the Cheffins Fine Sale in Cambridge on Thursday, 23 April.

It went to a UK-based private buyer for £1,824,540, dwarfing the pre-sale estimate of £80,000 to £120,000, and setting a new house record for the auctioneers.

The ostrich sculpture was at one point owned by Horace Walpole, son of former British prime minister Sir Robert Walpole, and held in his collection at Strawberry Hill House in Twickenham.

It is believed to have been bought by Walpole between 1765 and 1766, having been created by Flemish sculptor Giambologna between the late 16th and early 17th century.

It was sold at the ‘Great Sale’ of Strawberry Hill in 1842, 45 years after Walpole’s death, to John Dunn-Gardner of Suffolk.

Dunn-Gardner, who at the time styled himself as the Earl of Leicester, paid £50 and eight shillings.

It remained in his family’s private collection until this week’s auction.

The ostrich is one of only three known examples of the model, with he other two currently held by The Louvre and the Fitzwilliam Museum.

Martin Millard, director at Cheffins, said: “This is a fantastic result and is indicative of the importance of this mannerist sculpture as well as the ongoing popularity of early 17th century works of art.

“Whilst the family always knew they were in possession of something significant, it was following extensive research that we were able to trace the ostrich back to the Horace Walpole Collection at Strawberry Hill.

“This exceptional provenance ensured that the piece drew worldwide attention, with a series of both private and trade buyers coming to view the sculpture ahead of the sale.”