Ancient Greek Vases

Formerly in the Private Collection of Dr. Elie Borowski

Christie's

6 PM, Monday, June 12, 2000

Sale 9448

Attic kylix attributed to Douris

Lot 81, an Attic red-figured kylix attributed to Douris as painter and to Python as potter, circa 480 B.C., 11 1/2 inches in diameter

By Carter B. Horsley

According to Christie's, this evening sale of "this near encyclopedia collection of ancient Greek vases is without question the largest - and arguably the finest - assembly of its kind ever offered at auction."

Certainly many of the lots are museum-caliber and the sale was very successful with 93 percent of the offered lots selling for a total of $7,053,906. The next day's regular Antiquities auction at Christie's was also successful with 87 percent of the offered lots selling for a total of $7,888,083. The combined, two-day total of $14.9 million was the "most successful season total for antiquities in Christie's history," the auction house announced.

The collection of Greek vases was assembled by Dr. Elie Borowski, who sold it about 10 years ago to raise funds for his establishment of the Bible Lands Museum in Jersusalem to house his equally impressive collection of Near Eastern Art. A large and fine collection of cylinder seals formerly in his collection is being sold at Christie's Spring 2000 Antiquities auction (see The City Review article on that auction).

Dr. Borowski is formerly a curator at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Canada, a post he left in the early 1950s to begin collecting "in earnest," according to the catalogue. He also became a dealer in the field. Highlights of this collection of 157 vases were shown in an exhibition "Glimpses of Excellence" in 1984-5 at the Royal Ontario Museum.

The auction, which was held in one of the smaller rooms at Christie's, was extremely lively with bidding from all parts of the room as well as considerable "action" on the phones. Barbara Strongin, the auctioneer, was a model of alertness and conducted the auction at a good pace. There were relatively few "passes," but quite a few lots sold well below their low estimates, an indication that reserves were set quite low.

Unlike the very well-dressed attendees at the major evening auctions of Impressionist and Modern Art and Latin American Art, the standing room only crowd at this auction ran the gamut of sartorial styles from pin-stripes to short sleeve shirts, shorts, levis and a lot of men with black shirts and dark ties. One very elegant woman who was the underbidder on several major lots wore a stunning brown coat with a pleated blue collar. She sat next to Dietrich von Bothmer of the Metropolitan Museum who was the underbidder on Lot 60, an Attic black-figured white-ground alabastron that sold for its high estimate of $5,000, not including the buyer's premium.

The highlight of the sale is Lot 81, shown above, an Attic red-figured kylix attributed to Douris the painter and Python the potter, circa 480 B.C., 11 1/2 inches in diameter. The kylix is in near-perfect condition and its top features a maenad striding to the right but looking left, holding an up-ended thyrsos in her left hand and the tail of a cheetah in her right. The underside of the kylix depicts the story of the "Death of Pentheus" with one side showing the Theban women tearing to pieces their young king, who refused them permission to worship Dionysos, and the other side shows women with parts of his body on either side of Dionysios who sits calmly looking back at a piping satyr. The kylix has an "estimate on request" and is expected to fetch more than $1 million. It sold to an anonymous bidder for $1,766,000, including the buyer's premium and the bidding in the auction room was done by one of the owners of the Berry-Hill Galleries at 11 East 70th Street, which specializes in American paintings.

Attic calyx-krater attributed to the Dinos painter

Lot 111, an Attic red-figured calyx-krater, attributed to the Dinos painter, circa 430-420 B.C., 19 3/8 inches high

Another major work is Lot 111, shown above, an Attic red-figured calyx-krater, attributed to the Dinos painter, circa 430-420 B.C., 19 3/8 inches high. The calyx-krater depicts the death of Artemis who was eaten by his hounds when they failed to recognize him after he had been transformed into a stag. Artemis allegedly had boasted he was a better hunter than Aktation and also had angered Zeus by desiring the mortalwoman Semele, who would later become the god's consort. The lot has an "estimate on request" and is also expected to fetch more than $1 million. It sold for $1,051,000, including the buyer's premium, to an American institution.

Attic black-figured neck-amphora attributed to the Leagros Group

Lot 49, an Attic black-figured neck-amphora and lid, attributed to the Leagros Group, circa 510-500 B.C., 14 15/16 inches high excluding the lid.

There are many fine lots that are considerably less expensive.

Lot 49, an Attic black-figured neck-amphora and lid, attributed to the Leagros Group, circa 510-500 B.C., 14 15/16 inches high excluding the lid, shown above, has an estimate of $40,000 to $60,000. It sold for a hammer price of $70,000. One side of the vase shows a four-horse chariot with driver and warrior and the other side shows Dionysos accompanied by two dancing maenads and a satyr. The Leagros group of painters were supposedly contemporary with the red-figure "Pioneer" painters such as Euphronius, Phintias, and Euthymides.

Attic red-figured kylix attributed to the Oedipus painter

Lot 83, an Attic red-figured kylix attributed to the Oedipus painter, circa 470 B.C., 8 15/16 inches in diameter

Lot 83, an Attic red-figured kylix attributed to the Oedipus painter, circa 470 B.C., 8 15/16 inches in diameter, is a very elegant work that has an estimate of $80,000 to $120,000. It sold for a hammer price of $95,000 to an American private collector. The Oedipus painter reportedly learned his craft from Douris, the painter to whom the first illustrated lot in this article is attributed. The top of this kylix depics a satyr bending forward holding an ornamental box with both hands. The bottom of the kylix shows three women spinning wool and the other side shows two men attending a youth who arms himself. Both sides of the bottom have Ionic columns.

Sicilian polychrome Lekanis with lid

Lot 127, a Sicilian polychrome Lekanis with lid, Centuripe, circa 275-225 B.C., 23 1/2 inches high

Lot 127, a Sicilian polychrome Lekanis with lid, Centuripe, circa 275-225 B.C., 23 1/2 inches high is a large and dramatically and ornately decorated Lekanis with a very tall lid, shown above. The front of the vessel is painted in tempera and the lid depicts "The Judgment of Paris." The lot has an estimate of $50,000 to $70,000. It sold for a hammer price of $40,000.

Other highlights include Lot 8, a geometric loutherion, Attic, circa 750-725 B.C., 12 1/2 inches high with delightful depictions of animals and has an estimate of $20,000 to $30,000; Lot 12, a Corinthian black-figured alabastron, circa 620-590 BC., 9 5/8 inches high, that is particularly stylish and strong and has a modest estimate of $7,000 to $9,000 and which sold for a hammer price of $18,000; Lot 13, a Corinthian black-figured head-pxyis, attributed to the Severeanu painter, circa 570-560 B.C., 5 5/8 inches high, with projecting female protomai from the shoulder that has an estimate of only $12,000 to $18,000 and which sold for a hammer price of $9,000; Lot 26, a Euboean black-figured neck amphora, circa 560-550 B.C., 15 11/16 inches high with very lively painting and an estimate of $20,000 to $30,000, and which sold for a hammer price of $35,000; Lot 41, an Attic black-figured neck amphora, attributed to the Swing painter, circa 540-530 B.C., 14 13/16 inches high, that has some paint loss but considerable nobility and an estimate of $40,000 to $60,000, and which sold for a hammer price of $30,000; Lot 44, an Attic black-figured hydria, manner of the Lysippides painter, circa 530-520 B.C., 21 3/4 inches high, that has a chariot scene on its side and an extremely nice frieze of warriors along its rather flat shoulder and an estimate of $80,000 to $120,000, and which sold for a hammer price of $150,000; and Lot 48, an Attic black-figured pelike, attributed to the Plousious painter, circa 520-510 B.C., 14 1/4 inches high, that is lovely although one side is missing much of the head of a man playing at a gaming table with another man and has an estimate of $70,000 to $90,000, and which sold for a hammer price of $55,000.

See The City Review article on the Spring 2000 Antiquities auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Fall 1999 Antiquities auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the Antique Jewelry evening auction at Christie’s Dec. 8, 1999

See The City Review article on the Dec. 9, 1999 antiquities evening auction at Sotheby's of the Christos G. Bastis Collection

See The City Review article on the Dec. 10, 1999 Antiquities auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the June 5, 1999 Antiquities Auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Fall 1998 Antiquities auctions at Sotheby's and Christie's

See The City Review article on the Spring 1998 Antiquities auctions at Sotheby's and Christie's

See The City Review article on the Fall 1997 Antiquities auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Spring 1997 Antiquities auction at Sotheby's

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