Carter B. Horsley
1/4-inch high magnesite
or crystalline limestone figure of a lioness that is Elam and
is dated circa 3000 to 2800 B.C. is the highlight of the Fall
Antiquities auction at Sotheby's December 5, 2007.
small statuette, Lot 10,
is property of a charitable trust established by the Martin family
and for many years has been on exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum
as part of the Guennol Collection of the family of Edith and Alastair
an ambitious estimate
of $14,000,000 to $18,000,000.
for $57,161,000 including
the buyer's premium as do all results mentioned in this article.
The extraordinary price was not only an auction record for any
antiquity, but also for any sculpture.
M. Keresey of Sotheby's
Antiquities department remarked that the "Guennol Lioness"
is "one of the greatest works of art of all time."
bidders competed for the
work, three on the telephone and two in the room. Auctioneer Hugh
Hildesley opened the bidding at $8,500,000 and when bidding reached
$27,000,000 a new bidder standing the back of the salesroom raised
his paddle. The successful bidder was an anonymous English buyer.
total of $64,955,839
was far above the pre-sale high estimtae of $22,200,000 and 97
percent of the offered lot were sold.
catalogue provided the
following description of the lot:
powerful form and
monumental conception, striding with the left leg advanced, the
broad-shouldered upper body turned fully to the right with the
paws clasped to the abdomen, the head with finely incised detail,
and wide-set eyes with circular pupils, four holes on the back
for insertion of a tail, two holes on the crown of the head perhaps
for suspension, the lower legs possibly once completed in a different
was said to have been
found at a site near Baghdad and the Martins acquired it from
Joseph Brummer of New York in 1948. The Guennol Collection was
exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 1969
and this piece was including in its 2003 exhibition, "Art
of the First Cities: The Third Millennium B.C. from the Mediterranean
to the Indus."
catalogue entry for the
lot notes that "In its uniqueness and sheer aesthetic appeal
the Lioness is acknowledged to transcend stylistically related
examples of sculpture from the same area and time period. Despite
its relatively small size it conveys an unmistakable impression
of monumentality, an effect which the sculptor was able to achieve
by combining bold modeling, powerful proportions, and a physically
impossible posture generating multiple viewpoints."
previous record for an
antiquity was "Artemis and the Stag," a late Hellenisitic/early
Roman Imperial bronze sculpture sgrup from the 1st Century B.C./1st
Century A.D., that was 36 1/4 inches high and was sold for $28,600,000
June 6, 2007 at Sotheby's. The previous auction
for a work of antiquity of $11,652,175 for The Jenkins Venus set
in June, 2002.
previous record for a sculpture
at auction was $29,161,000 paid for "Tete de Femme (Dora
Maar)" by Pablo Picasso at Sotheby's November 7, 2007.
Lot 32 is a 23 3/8-inch high
of a woman from Qataban in Southern Arabia that is dated circa
3rd/1st Century B.C. It was once in the collection of Andre Emmerich
of New York. The catalogue notes that the statuette "is most
likely to come from Timna`, the main necropolis of the Kingdom
of Qatabân, on the western and southwestern slopes of Hayd
Ibn `Aqîl in Yemen" and that "in the 1920s it
was a prominent part of the Guido Cetti Collection, which, although
little known, ranks as one of the most important early 20th Century
private collections of South Arabian sculpture in the round, second
only to that of K. Muncherjee (dispersed at Sotheby's in London
in 1931). Guido Cetti owned a large mussel fishing operation based
in the Italian colony of Massawa, on the Eritrean coast of the
Red Sea....According to a 1965 letter by Abram Lerner, then curator
of the Hirshorn Collection in New York, a Bruno Cetti 'and his
brother' (presumably Guido) made frequent trips to South Arabia
to buy spices; on one trip Bruno brought the entire collection
home to Massawa, most of the way on mule back." The work
subsequently was in the collection of Andre Emmerich.
It has an estimate of $400,000
It sold for $1,217,000.
Lot 50 is a handsome,
monumental marble head
of Zeus, Early Roman Imperial, circa early 1st Century A.D. It
is 17 1/2 inches high and has an estimate of $300,000 to $500,000.
It sold for $965,000.
The catalogue notes that "this
head was discovered 'a few years before' 1881 in the basement
of an almshouse, the Bureau de Bienfaisance (or Maison de la Charité),
on the rue Flourens in Béziers." "In the first
publication of the head local antiquarian Louis Noguier writes,
'The style is excellent, and ancient statuary has left nothing
better in the region. The modeling is thick and powerful, and
the beard as well as the long hair on the left side are very skillfully
detailed. The brow, which is quite prominent, and the highly pronounced
lips combine to give his physiognomy such an expression of grandeur
and nobility that one can only see in him the father or master
of heaven.' The recorded location of the find lies very close
to the forum of the ancient Roman city, Colonia Urbs Julia Septimanorum
Baeterrae, which underlies the modern town of Béziers.
A famous group of Julio-Claudian portraits, originally displayed
in a basilica or temple on the forum, was found in 1844 a few
yards away from where the head of Zeus came to light...."
Lot 69 is an impressive marble
figure of a
women, Roman Imperial, circa 1st Century A.D. It is 78 inches
high. It has a modest estimate of $70,000 to $100,000. It
Lot 75 is an impressive
terracotta horse and rider, circa 7th Century B.C. It is 9 5/8
inches high and has a modest estimate of $7,000 to $10,000. It
sold for $58,000.
Lot 77 is a marble bust of the
Roman Imperial, Hadrianic, or Antonine, circa A.D. 120-180. It
is 18 1/2 inches high. It is after a Greek sculpture of the 4th
Century B.C., perhaps by Praxiteles. It has an estimate of $150,000
to $250,000. It sold for $349,000.
Lot 79 is an impressive marble
of the Emperor Claudius, Roman Imperial, A.D. 41-54. It is 16
inches high and has an estimate of $300,000 to $500,000. It
sold for $629,000.
Lot 95 is a delightful Roman
in the form of a bear. Dated circa 4th Century A.D., it is 4 7/8
inches long and has an estimate of $5,000 to $8,000. It sold
is a nice Persian bronze
horse and rider, Southwest Caspian area, early 1st Millennium
B.C. It is 3 1/2 inches long and has an estimate of $3,000 to
$5,000. It sold for $6,875.
Lot 29 is a very fine pale blue
ushabti of Neferibresaneith, 26th Dynasty, reign of Amasis, 570-526
B.C. It is 7 1/2 inches high and has a modest estimate of $15,000
to $25,000. It sold for $91,000.
The catalogue notes that the
Neferibresaneith was found in 1929 at Saqqara, south of the funerary
complex of King Userkaf. In all, 366 ushabtis were found, most
of them resting on the lid of the stone sarcophagus under the
carbonized wood box....According to Aubert..., "a large number
of these figurines were dispersed by the Service des Antiquités
and found their way to public... and private collections....The
ushabtis of Neferibresaneith are among the most beautiful ones
of the Late Period, comparable in quality to those of Psamtik-Meryptah."
Lot 26 is a brilliant blue
of Pinudjem I, 21st Dynasty, 1075-944 B.C. It is 4 1/4 inches
high and has a modest estimate of $5,000 to $8,000. It was once
in the collection of Paulette Goddard Remarque. It sold for
Lot 10 is an Egyptian bronze
figure of a divinity,
21st/26th Dynastry, 1075-525 B.C. It is 4 15/16 inches high and
has an estimate of $7,000 to $10,000. It was once in the collection
of Natacha Rambova. It sold for $39,400.