auction at Christie's December 10, 2004 is highlighted by many
small works of great charm, a Roman ship's prow ornament, an alabaster
Mesopatamiam worshipper, a Syro-Palestininan pillar idol, a Roman
gilt bronze bust of Hercules, and a stunning Roman parcel gilt
Perhaps the most adorable
object is Lot 324,
a Roman amber lion that measures only 2 3/4 inches long. Dated
circa 1st Century B.C./1st Century A.D., it is one of numerous
works in this auction that come from the famous Leo Mildenberg
Collection of animals in ancient art. "Finely sculpted,"
the catalogue entry for this lot, maintained, "depicted reclining
with his head turned to the left, the tail curling under the right
hind leg and up over the flank, the ribs subtly indicated, the
mane a mass of wavy locks, the eys and open mouth drilled, the
underside recessed, with a rectangular opening flanged on three
sides to receive a sliding lid." The lot has a conservative
estimate of $3,000 to $5,000. It sold for $5,736 including
the buyer's premium as do all the results mentioned in this article.
work of great charm from the Mildenberg collection is lot 304,
a Greek bronze horse, Geometric Period, circa 740-720 B.C. The
catalogue notes that the 2 5/16-inch long sculpture is "related
to similar bronzes from a workshop at Olympia under Lakonian influence.
It has a modest estimate of $5,000 to $7,000. It sold for
fine works from the Mildenberg Collection are Lots 332 and 333.
The former is an Anatolian bronze donkey, circa 7th Century B.C.
It is 3 5/8 inches long and has a modest estimate of $1,500 to
$2,000. It sold for $2,629. The latter is a Syrian
stag, circa 8th-7th Century B.C. It is 2 7/8 inches long and also
has a conservative estimate of $1,500 to $2,000. It sold for
works from the same collection are Lot 316, a Greek bronze stallion,
South Italian, Hellenistic Period, circa 3rd Century B.C., and
Lot 315, a Greek gilt terracotta appliqué, Tarentine, Classical
Period, circa 450-425 B.C. Lot 316 is 2 5/8 inches long and has
a conservative estimate of $1,200 to $1,800. It sold for
Lot 315, which depicts a panther, is 4 1/2 inches long and has
an estimate of $2,000 to $3,000. It sold for $14,340.
One of the
auction's more unusual works is Lot 390, a Syro-Palestinian basalt
pillar idol, Chalcolithic Period, circa 4th Millennium B.C. The
16-inch-high work's top surface is recessed at the center and
the catalogue stated that this was "perhaps to serve as an
altar." The work has a conservative estimate of $15,000 to
$20,000. It sold
Lot 397 is a Western Central
stone female figure that is dated Late 3rd-Early 2nd Millennium
B.C. The 5-inch-high figure has a separately made head in white
limestone placed atop the body sculpted in reddish-gray steatite
or chlorite. The figure is seated and wears a tufted sheepskin
garment and the catalogue notes that "the now-missing arms
originally inset on the lap." "These enigmatic composite
figures," the catalogue entry continued, "have traditionally
been associated with ancient Afghanistan...but none have actually
been found there....Of the known excavated figures, eleven have
been found in southeastern Turkmenistan, and two in Pakistan."
The lot has a modest estimate of $30,000 to $50,000. It sold
One of the
highlights of the auction is Lot 391, a fine Mesopatamian, Syrian,
alabaster worshipper that is 5 1/4 inches high. It is dated Early
Dynastic Period, circa 2900-2550 B.C. It has an estimate of $35,000
to $45,000. It sold for $95,600.
is a handsome Bactrian white stone idol, circa 3rd Millennium
B.C., that is 4 3/4 inches high and has a modest estimate of $15,000
to $20,000. It sold for $41,825.
is a very fine South Arabian alabaster libation table that is
10 7/8 inches long and has a row of five joined ibexes projecting
from one end. The table is dated circa 5th-3rd Century B.C., and
has a modest estimate of $8,000 to $12,000. It sold for
Lot 418 is a fine South Arabian
of a man, circa 3rd-2nd Century B.C. The 11 3/8-inch-high figure
is wearing a v-neck sheath with a belted bell-shapred skirt and
the front of garment is adorned with dedicatory inscriptions.
It has an estimate of $30,000 to $50,000. It failed to sell.
The auction has several very
works. Lot 424, for example, is a bronze attachment, perhaps for
a bridle, that is an openwork plaque with a stylized head of a
predator and the plaque is center with a fully-modelled head of
stag with antlers in high relief as well as a hunter with bow
and arrow in pursuit. The lot is 6 inches long and is dated circa
4th Century B.C. It has a modest estimate of $10,000 to $15,000.
It failed to sell. Another Scythian work is Lot
bronze attachments of stylized stages with elaborate layered antlers.
The attachments are dated circa 4th Century B.C., and have an
estimate of $10,000 to $15,000. It failed to sell.
One of the more fascinating and
in the auction is Lot 429, a Late Vinca clay female bust, circa
5th Millennium B.C. The 3 1/4-inch high bust has a triangular
head with a pointed chin and long narrow nose and decorative elements
that are deeply incised and inlaid with white paste. It has a
modest estimate of $5,000 to $7,000. It sold for $4,780.
is an excellent headless Roman marble sculpture of Venus, circa
1st Century A.D. The sculpture has a very graceful pose and very
beautiful modeling of her drapery. It is 65 1/4 inches high and
has an estimate of $150,000 to $250,000. It sold for $197,900.
Lot 553 is a very nice Roman
of a reveler, circa 1st Century A.D. The figure has his arms raised
with the palms open to hold a missing attribute, possibly a large
vessel or basket. It is 7 5/8 inches high and has an estimate
of $7,000 to $8,000. It sold for $4,780.
Lot 606 is an impressive Roman
of Sylvanus, circa Late 2nd Century A.D. The 27 1/8-inch-high
statue has an estimate of $100,000 to $150,000. It sold for
Lot 546 is a very striking
Roman bronze ship's
prow ornament with a bust of Pelagia projected from the end of
an upward-tapering hexagonal shaft. The lot, which 11 1/2 inches
long and is dated circa 1st Century B.C.-1st Century A.D., has
an estimate of $30,000 to $50,000. It sold for $53,775.
is a very nice and interesting Roman bronze attachment that depicts
Pan butting heads with a goat on the handle with a mask of Pan
below. The piece is 5 1/2 inches high and is dated circa 1st Century
A.D. It has an estimate of $12,000 to $18,000. It failed to
is a very nice Roman marble statue of Pan that is dated circa
1st Century A.D. It is headless and only has fragments of Pan's
legs and is 12 7/8 inches high but is very animated as Pan is
shown in a running position. It has an estimate of $10,000 to
$15,000. It sold for $9,560.
is a superb Roman gilt bronze bust of Hercules, circa 2nd Century
A.D. It is 5 5/8 inches high and has an estimate of $20,000 to
$30,000. It sold for $28,680.
is a fabulous Roman parcel gilt silver skyphos decorated with
a Nilotic scene that is dated circa late 1st Century B.C.-1st
Century A.D. The bowl is only 4 1/4 inches high but has remarkably
stylized and very fine modeling that has the fluid and exaggerated
style of a Magnasco painting.
One side of the bowl is
decorated with a scene
of a "grotesque man teasing a crocodile, the hunched man
with a protruding spine and enlarged genitalia, depicted nude
but for a conical cap and a mantle belted around his waist. The
other side is decorated, according to the catalogue entry, with
"a grotesque man approaching a hippopotamus, the gangly nude
figure standing on his left leg, the right leg raised high and
bent acutely, lifting an askos in his left hand, and carrying
a basket in his lowered right hand, a crane menacing him from
behind, the hippopoatomus with its head lowered, its mouth open
revealing teeth." "Both the Greeks, in the period after
Alexander the Great, and the Romans, wee fascinated by Egypt and
created a host of art works decorated with scenes ostensibly based
on Egyptian themes but rendered in a purely Classical style. Perhaps
the most famous of these is the great Nilotic mosaic of Palestrina
of the late 1st Century B.C., which is thought to be the work
of Alexandrian artists under Roman patronage. The skyphos shares
the Nilotic landscape with the Palestrina mosaic, complete with
hippopotomi, crocodiles and a rustic hunt. The meaning the interaction
of the grotesque figures with the hippopotamus and crocodile is
unclear. It may be that the scenes are simply a humorous view
of exotic Egypt. It is also possible they have some symbolic meaning,
now lost, or that they are perjorative caricatures of Egyptian
The lot has an estimate of
$600,000 to $800,000.
It sold for $623,500.
Lot 605 is a very fine Roman
utensil that is 11 3/4 inches long. Dated circa 2nd-3rd Century
A.D., its shaft has a draped female figure, perhaps Europa, alongside
a bull. It has an estimate of $8,000 to $12,000. It failed
Lot 610, a "monumental" Roman
draped woman, circa Late 2nd-Early 3rd Century A.D., has an ambitious
estimate of $800,000 to $1,200,000. The headless work is 67 1/8
inches high. It failed to sell.