THIS is the moment the great granddaughter of a "genius" carver saw one of his greatest works for the first time.

Nicki Holt is a descendant of James Peake, who spent four months creating an incredibly detailed spray of flowers and fruit from a single piece of wood.

Ms Holt was invited to view the work at the recent Chelsea Antiques Fair after it was bought by Charles Wallrock, of Wick Antiques in Lymington.

Peake, a friend of King Edward VII, was living and working at Lambeth in 1895 when he created the carving using a piece of lime wood.

It went missing after he died in 1918 but eventually turned up again and was bought by Mr Wallrock. It is currently for sale, with an asking price of £38,500.

Ms Holt, an artist who lives in Suffolk, said: “It was thrilling to see this piece by my great grandfather – I had never seen it before.

“It has always been a bit of a legend in the family and no-one knew where it was. I have a table of his but where most of his pieces went nobody knows.

“He was an incredibly modest person who let his work speak for itself and had no interest in fame. His genius was recognised during his lifetime but afterwards his name was overlooked.

“While I was researching him I noticed this work advertised on Wick Antiques’ website. I got in touch with Charles and he invited me to see it.

“James Peake described it as a labour of love and did it for himself in his spare time. When he worked he had no plans or designs, he just formed a picture in his mind and began carving.

“My father said he was a friend of the king, who we know admired his work.

“In the family he was known as ‘Naughty Jim’ because he had 13 children. He saved six people from death during his life but rarely spoke about it."

Mr Wallrock added: "It was clearly the work of a genius and that's why I bought it – it just stood out.

“It was signed and dated but such is the lack of awareness about Peake’s skill and ability that it didn’t attract the attention it should have.

“Peake’s reputation really needs restoring because he's an artist of remarkable ability. It may be that many of his carvings have survived but the owners don’t know what they’ve got.”