By Carter B. Horsley
This single-owner auction of
Egyptian Art is
very high in quality and has many museum-class objects. The collection
was formed by Charles Pankow, who died earlier this year at the
age of 80. Born in South Bend, Indiana, Mr. Pankow founded a
company in 1963 in Altadena, California and by 1990 the company
had revenues of more than $650 million, making it one of the 400
largest private companies in the country, according to the auction
catalogue. In 1982, he acquired an historic mansion on Washington
Street in Presidio Heights in San Franciso. The house was built
in 1904 and had a facade inspired by the garden front of Le Petit
Trianon at Versailles and it overlooked San Francisco Bay. Mr.
Pankow's collection, according to the catalogue, included not
only Egyptian antiquities, but also Greek and Roman antiquities,
Chinese Art, Pre-Columbian Art, Impressionist paintings and Russian
and Greek icons.
Mr. Pankow's first Egyptian
a Middle Kingdom bronze vessel with stand that he bought in 1978
at Sotheby's Parke Bernet. The catalogue noted that Mr. Pankow
acquired many of his pieces from Sotheby's in New York and Sotheby's
and Christie's in London and from dealers such as Peter Sharrer
in New York and Marianne Maspero in Paris. The proceeds of the
auction, the catalogue stated, "are to be used to benefit
the Charles Pankow Foundation."
the objects in the Metropolitan
Museum, a turquoise faience figure of a hippopotamus, knicknamed
"Willie," was chosen as its mascot and is emblazoned
not only on ties, hats, bags and t-shirts but also in the minds
of many museum visitors as one of the world's great treasures.
The museum's hippo retains more of its turquoise pigment than
this lot, but there is no doubt that any serious antiquities collector
lusts mightily after such charming objects and they are very rare.
The catalogue notes that related examples are the above-mentioned
one at the Metropolitan Museum, another in the Louvre in Paris
and one that sold at Sotheby's December 9, 2003 (see The City
Review article on that
browner, and slightly shorter. This lot has a very conservative
estimate of $40,000 to $60,000. The one sold at
Sotheby's in December, 2003
had an estimate of $90,000 to $140,000 and sold for $153,600 including
the buyer's premium. This one sold for $66,000 including the
buyer's premium as do all the results mentioned in this article.
The sale was very successful and totalled $6,961,290 and 158 of
the 163 offered lots sold.
notes hippos were regarded by Egyptians as "denizens of the
Underworld" and "were associated with the evil god Seth
- the antithesis of the good god Horus who was presented on earth
by the living Pharaoh," adding tht "One of Egypt's earliest
kings was believed to have been killed by a hippo; perhaps in
retaliation, many temple walls bear scenes of the falcon-headed
Horus standing in a skiff and harpooning a partially or wholly
submerged hippo." Egyptians, however, also regarded hippos
as the protectors of women and there are many statuettes of Thoeris,
the pregnant hippopotamus-headed goddess. In any event, it is
hard to accept these faience hippos as evil for they are far too
charming, if not cuddly.
in fact, is a fine pale green faience figure of Thoeris, Late
Period, 716-30 B.C. The 4 1/16-inch high figure is depicted holding
a sa-sign and wearing a tripartite wig that falls to the top her
chevron-incised crocodile tail. The catalogue notes that "The
goddess Thoeris, or Tawaret, 'was especially helpful to women
during childbirth' and her image was attached to beds, head-rests
and cosmetic articles." This lot has a modest estimate of
$5,000 to $8,000. It sold for $14,400.
is true that hippos can be temperamental and with their girth
and enormous mouth they can be formidable opponents, the notion
of them wallowing in lily pads must surely be domestic bliss.
Certainly contemporary mortals would consider such wallowing luxurious.
illustration of the catalogue is Lot 71, a polychromed wood face
mask, 19th/21st Dynasty, 1305-946 B.C., shown at the top of this
article. The mask, which is 8 7/8 inches wide, comes from the
inner coffin of a large sarcophagus and is painted over a layer
of gesso and linen. It is quite exquisite, especially with its
deep orange color and beatific expression. Although the nose is
somewhat damaged, the face presents a stunning image of feminine
beauty. It has a modest estimate of $50,000 to $70,000. It
sold for $372,000.
The Pankow collection has a
very nice group
of polychrome and gilt cartonnage mummy masks that were impressively
displayed during the auction's exhibition. Lot 74, shown on the
right above, is a mask of a lady, which is fairly obvious by the
exposed breasts, and is Roman Period, circa 1st Century, A.D.
It is 20 inches high and was acquired from Marianne Maspero in
Paris. The mask, which has a dimpled chin, is richly painted with
a wide variety of Egyptian gods and is in excellent condition.
It has an estimate of $40,000 to $60,000. It sold for $90,000.
Lot 163, the last lot in this auction, is slightly smaller but
slightly older than Lot 74. It is dated Late Ptolemaic Period,
circa 100-30 B.C., and is 18 3/4 inches high. Whereas many of
these masks, especially many of the others in this auction, have
strikingly similar and slightly boring, or at least placid, faces,
Lot 163 seems like it was posed for by a young Boris Karloff (the
famous actor who not only portrayed Frankenstein in the movies,
but also "The Mummy)." Lot 163 has a modest estimate
of $6,000 to $9,000. It sold for $6,600.
Another head that is
hynoptically serene is
Lot 100, a limestone head of a man, 30th Dynasty/Early Ptolemaic
Period, circa 380-250 B.C. The 5 5/8-inch high head has a modest
estimate of $15,000 to $25,000 and while the head is bruised and
the right nostril somewhat damaged, it is a very fine work with
an especially sensuous mouth. It sold for $60,000.
blemishes caused by the
ravages of time add considerable allure to many works because
their presence is testimony to temporality, an aspect of art valued
by many connoisseurs. Lot 84 is a stunning relief of the head
of an Egyptian wearing a vulture headdress and the relief is in
superb condition with fine carving except for two small indentations,
one in the bird's left wing and another in the figure's right
shoulder. The lot , which measures 9 3/4 by 17 inches and is dated
to the Ptolemaic Period, 304-30 B.C., has a conservative estimate
of $8,000 to $12,000. It sold for $42,000.
Sometimes a "damaged" piece is
dramatic than if it were perfect. Lot 67, for example, is an indurated
limestone head of a man, 26th Dynasty, 664-525 B.C., that is missing
a large part of the top of its head and the lower part of its
beard although the face is intact and has quite lovely modeling.
The large V-shaped missing slice of the top of the headdress focuses
our attention of the quite lovely notion/style of Egyptian headdresses.
Here the modeling of the headdress is quite smooth whereas in
many other examples it is highly detailed and striated. The 7-inch-high
head is imposing and graceful and its simplicity conjures the
notion that this might have been an unfinished study. It has an
estimate of $20,000 to $30,000. It sold for $54,000.
of human beings are
nice, of course, but figures of gods are often more fascinating,
especially in Egyptian Art.
is a "monumental
granite figure of the goddess Sekhmet. The 31-inch-high statue
is the top of a larger work. Indeed, the bust, the catalogue notes,
"is from a statue which probably once stood among over six
hundred images of Sekhmet, goddess of war and protector of the
king, that lined the courts and passageways of the great temple
Amenhotep III built in honor of the goddess Mut at Thebes, and
where many still stand in the ruins of the complex." (Quite
a few stand in the Temple of Dendur pavilion at the Metropolitan
Museum of Art.) "Sekhmet," the catalogue entry continued,
"was also the divine consort of Ptah, chief god of Memphis
in Lower Egypt. She later came to be identified with the goddess
Mut, who was consort of the chief god of Thebes, in Upper Egypt,
Amun." The large and full-figure Sekhmet statues are among
the most impressive works of Egyptian art and are to be keenly
coveted. This lot has an estimate of $200,000 to $300,000. It
sold for $612,800.
a bronze figure of
the goddess Wadjet, 21st/20th Century, 1076-342 B.C., is shorter
than Lot 63 but because it is full-figured it is almost equally
desirable, which is not to suggest that granite sculptures are
more desirable than bronzes. This statue is 21 1/8 inches high
over a modern base and has an conservative estimate of $200,000
to $300,000. It sold for $433,600. The catalogue
this statue of the lion-headed goddess as "enthroned with
her hands held before here and probably once holding the ankh
and was-scepter, her feet resting on a footrest
in front with an inscription..., and wearing a long close-fitting
dress reaching to the ankles, broad collar, and tripartite wig
of echeloned rectangular curls surmounted by a pierced tenon for
attachment of her crown, her powerfully modeled face with finely
incised whiskers, the sides of the throne finely engraved on each
side with a scale pattern and the union of the plants of Upper
and Lower Egypt..., the back of the throne (very worn) engraved
at the upper register with the Horus falcon, his wings spread
and wearing the sun-disk with uraeus, a papyrus flower (?) held
in the left talon...." The imposing statue is quite stylized
especially in the treatment of the collar and the modeling of
the hands. The modeling of the arms and legs are surprisingly
primitive or simplistic. Presumably the successful buyer might
outrage some connoisseurs by finding imaginative things to attach
to the tenon, perhaps some feathers or reeds.
those with smaller budgets
but savvy, Lot 87 has a great deal of charm. It is a bronze figure
of a lion-headed goddess, 26th Dynasty, 664-525 B.C., "or
earlier." The goddess is, the catalogue entry notes, "seated
in the attitude of Maat with her hands on her knees, and wearing
a long close-fitting dress and tripartite wig, a rectangular hole
in the top of the head for insertion of the missing headdress,
the ears, ruff and mane incised. The statue is 8 1/8 inches high
and is softly modeled with a nice dark patina. It has a modest
estimate of $8,000 to $12,000. It sold for $14,400.
The bargain of the auction most
likely is Lot
125, a quartzite bust of Horus. Dated probably to the 3rd Intermediate
Period, 1075-716 B.C., it is quite imposing although only 6 3/4
inches high. It has a very most estimate of $3,000 to $5,000 and
would make a fabulous first acquisition for a young collector.
It sold for $7,000.
A fine companion piece for Lot
125 is Lot 140,
a bronze Menat pendant that is dated to the Late Period, 716-30
B.C. It is 4 3/4 inches high and has a modest estimate of $2,000
to $3,000 for which one gets a nice assortment of gods. It
sold for $4,200. The catalogue notes that the pendant is
by the heads of a god and a lion-headed goddess, the god wearing
a long beard and short wig of echeloned curls surmounted by a
uraeus and plumes, the goddess wearing a sun-disk with uraeus,
the fragmentary menat molded in relief with figures of the same
two deities confronted and grasping a papryus scepter, a uraeus
with sun-desk on either side.
The Pankow Collection has many
sculptures of high quality, many of which could by themselves
be the star of a nice collection.
Lot 62, for example, is a
bronze figure of
Horus, 21st/22nd Dynasty, 1076-716 B.C., that is 7 inches high.
It depicts the falcon-headed god striding with his left hand raised
in salutation. The god wears a pleated kilt with Knot Isis in
front. The catalogue notes that the arms were cast separately
and the details are finely engraved. It has an estimate of $15,000
to $25,000. It sold for $39,000.
Lot 89 is a very fine bronze
figure of Horus,
Late Period, 716-39 B.C. The 8 1/4-inch high statue shows the
falcon-headed god enthroned with his hands resting on his knees
and wearing a striated kilt with central tab, engraved beaded
collor, and striated tripartite wig surmounted by the crown of
Upper and Lower Egypt with uraeus and fragmentary spiral, the
eyes inlaid with gold or electrum, the back of the throne engraved
with a Horus Falcon wearing the sun-desk and flanked by the Eyes
of Horus..., the fragmentary right side of the throne engraved
with a lion-headed deity seated on a papyrus flower. This impressive
lot has a modest estimate of $6,000 to $9,000. It sold for
Lot 61 is an excellent fronze
figure of Seth,
19th Dynasty, 1292-1190 B.C. The 6 3/4-inch high statue at one
time held attributes in his hands and the catalogue notes that
the animal-headed deity is wearing an unusual kilt with groups
of vertical striations. The figure has remains of gold overlay
and an estimate of $15,000 to $25,000. It sold for $57,000.
The Pankow Collection has quite
a few good
bronze statues of Osiris. Lot 55 is dated 21st/22nd Dynasty, 1075-716
B.C., and is 19 5/8 inches high "as restored at top of crown."
The figures has remains of cobalt-blue glass and is very finely
modeled. It has an estimate of $15,000 to $25,000. It sold
Lot 56 is dated to the same
period as Lot 55
and is half a inch shorter than Lot 55. It is not as finely modeled
as Lot 55 which also has a richer patina. This lot has an estimate
of $8,000 to $12,000. It sold for $27,000.
Lot 14 is dated to the Late
circa 600-342 B.C. It is 20 5/16 inches high and has an ambitious
estimate of $30,000 to $50,000 as part of its crown is broken
and the modeling is not as fine as Lot 56's. It sold for
Lot 59 is dated 26th/30th
B.C., and is 7 1/8 inches high. It has a very modest estimate
of $3,000 to $5,000. It sold for $4,200.