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Antiquities

Christie's

Friday, 10 AM, June 8, 2001

Sale 9666


Etruscan bronze reclining banqueter

Lot 197, Etruscan bronze reclining banqueter, circa 500-480 B.C., 6 inches long

By Carter B. Horsley

This is the best antiquities art auction in several years and it is highlighted by many museum-quality works including some magnificent Etruscan works, several fine Roman marble sculptures and bronzes, a "monumental" Egyptian falcon, and an adorable Mesopatomian green stone dog.

Etruscan bronzes generally are quite stylized and many that appear on the market are quite simple, but this auction has several works that are museum-quality and were once in the collection of Donati in Lugano.

Lot 197, for example, shown above, is an Etruscan bronze reclining banqueter, circa 500-480 B.C., that is 6 inches long and has a conservative estimate of $25,000 to $35,000. It sold for $58,750 including the buyer's premium as do all results mentioned in this article. The work has a pine at the knees and a hole within the square pillow on which he rests for attachment to the rim of a vessel. This is a marvelous work with a sinuous pose and highly stylized treatment of the hands and fine detailing of the banqueter's beard, mustache, eyes, and hair. This charming chap seems to invite the viewer to partake in the romance and mystery of the Mediterranean cultures and has a fine patina.

Etruscan bronze statue of a dancer
Lot 49, Etruscan bronze statue of a dancer, circa 5th Century B.C., 5 1/8 inches high

He is perhaps contemplating watching the dancer that is Lot 49, shown above, another Etruscan piece, circa 5th Century, B.C, that is 5 1/8 inches high and has a conservative estimate of $30,000 to $40,000. It sold for $28,200. This fine statuette has a wonderful treatment of the dancer's garments and, again, a great pose and superb treatment of the face.

Lot 48 is a smaller, less detailed but also charming Etruscan bronze figure of a maiden, circa early 5th Century B.C., that is 4 3/8 inches high and has an estimate of $8,000 to $10,000. It failed to sell.


Etruscan bronze warrior

Lot 45, Etruscan bronze warrior, circa 450-400 B.C., 6 1/8 inches high

Lot 45, shown above, has a quite extraordinary pose for a small bronze. It shows an Etruscan warrior doffing his high-crested, crenellated Corinthian helmet and holding out in his left arm a large shield. This lot, circa 450-400 B.C., was exhibited at the "Master Bronzes of the Classical World Exhibition in 1967 and 1968 that traveled from the Fogg Art Museum in Cambridge, Mass., to the City Art Museum of St. Louis and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. It has a conservative estimate of $40,000 to $50,000. It sold for $58,750.

Lot 32 is a fine, but more conventional Etruscan bronze warrior statue, Umbria, circa mid-5th Century, B.C., that is 7 ¼ inches high and has an estimate of $15,000 to $20,000. It sold for $22,325.


Etruscan bronze lion

Lot 61, Etruscan bronze lion, circa 6th Century B.C., 4 3/8 inches long

He must be a brave warrior indeed if he ever faced Lot 61, a fabulous Etruscan bronze lion, circa 6th Century, B.C., shown above, that is 4 3/8 inches long and has a conservative estimate of $20,000 to $25,000. It sold for $22,325.

The auction also has three small Etruscan lions with Donati provenance and the same dating as Lot 61: Lots 58, 59 and 60. Lot 58 is a 3 ¾-inch-high head of a quite fearsome lion and has an estimate of $6,000 to $8,000. It sold for $5,640. Lot 59 is a charming recumbent lion with raised tail that is 3 inches long and has an estimate of $6,000 to $8,000. It failed to sell. Lot 60 is the most highly finished of these three lots and the 2 1/8-inch-long appliqué has a somewhat ambitious estimate of $10,000 to $15,000. It sold for $9,400.

Roman bronze of Mercury

Lot 62, Roman bronze figure of Mercury, circa third quarter of the 1st Century A.D., 8 ¼ inches high

As fine as these Etruscan bronzes are, they pale a bit in comparison with Lot 62, a Roman bronze figure of Mercury, circa third quarter of the 1st Century A.D. because of its exquisite modeling, fine patina condition and impressive height of 8 ¼ inches. It too has a Donati provenance. It has a conservative estimate of $80,000 to $100,000 and is about as fine a Classical bronze of this size as imaginable. It is the catalogue's cover illustration. It sold for $138,000 to a European institution.

Lot 22, in contrast to the great quality of Lot 62, is a Greek bronze figure of Alexander the Great, Hellenistic Period, circa 3rd-2nd Century B.C., that is a robust 7 7/8 inches high but less finely sculpted and with a lesser quality patina. The statue is missing its raised right hand. It also has a Donati provenance and a somewhat ambitious estimate of $30,000 to $50,000. It sold for $64,625.

Lot 145, however, is a more pleasing Greek bronze sculpture. This 7 /8-inch high bronze figure of Athena Promachos, circa Early 5th Century BC., is also missing her raised right hand, but is notable for the spread of her very nicely detailed garments and the pleasant expression on her face. It has an estimate of $50,000 to $80,000 and was once in the collection of Dr. Jacob Hirsch. It sold for $58,750.

While both of these two Greek statues have a somewhat static presence, Lot 187 is a very fine rearing horse of great dynamism and detail despite its length of only 2 inches. It is a Greek silver statuette from the Hellenistic Period, circa 3rd-2nd Century B.C., and has an estimate of $20,000 to $30,000. It sold for $32,900.

For collectors with a mania for marble, the auction has some fine Roman statues.

Roman gray marble figure of a woman

Lot 274, Roman gray marble figure of a woman, circa 2nd Century A. D., 27 ½ inches high

Lot 274, shown above, is a very lovely and superb Roman gray marble figure of a woman, circa 2nd Century A.D., that is 27 ½ inches high and has a conservative estimate of $50,000 to $80,000. It sold for $41,125. With her short dress that bares her left shoulder and her twisted pose and finely detailed face, she offers quite a romantic and stunning contrast to more familiar works that are nudes or great studies in drapery. This woman has a lyricism and grace that seems almost more appropriate to the Pre-Rafaelites some 17 centuries or so later. The catalogue notes, however, that "the pose is loosely based on a sculpture of the poetess Praxilla of Sicyon by Lysippos, known from several Roman copies."

Roman marble group of Eros on a Dolphin

Lot 284, Roman marble group of Eros on a Dolphin, circa 1st-2nd Century A.D., 29 ½ inches high

Another fine, non-heroic example of the art of Roman sculpture is Lot 284, shown above, which shows Eros on a dolphin, circa 1st-2nd Century A.D. The 29 ½-inch-high sculpture shows "the pudgy boy," as the catalogue humorously describes this important god, seated on the back of a pudgy dolphin, whose mouth is toothy and has been drilled to function as a spout for a fountain. The work was formerly in the collection of Robin Symes of London and Albrecht Neuhaus of Wurzburg. Eros is missing his right arm and shoulder and his left arm shows signs of repair, but otherwise the work is in great condition. It has a conservative estimate of $50,000 to $80,000. It failed to sell.

For those who are awed by Roman sculptors' way with the drape of garments, there are two fine sculptures in the auction, Lots 264 and 272. The former is a Roman marble figure of the Muse Ourania, circa 1st Century B.C.-1st Century A.D., that is 30 inches high and has an estimate of $100,000 to $150,000. It sold for $116,000 to a European collector. Its provenance mentions the Merrin Gallery of New York. While the figure is missing her head, her arms and her right foot, she presents a most elegant pose seated on a pile of rocks and leaning forward. Ourania was the muse of astronomy and this pose, the catalogue states, "is known from several copies, including fine examples in Liebighaus, Frankfurt, and at the Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore."

Roman marble figure of infant Bacchus

Lot 281, Roman marble figure of infant Bacchus, 14 1/2 inches high

For those allergic to fish or tired with Eros, Lot 281 offers a great Roman marble figure of infant Bacchus that is 14 ½ inches high and has a very conservative estimate of $25,000 to $35,000. It sold for $37,600.

Lot 272 is an elegant Roman marble figure of a woman, circa late 1st Century B.C.-early 1st Century A.D., which is 61 inches tall and has a conservative estimate of $40,000 to $60,000. It sold for $64,625. While the figure's cascading garments are quite as superbly sculpted as in Lot 264, the statue is very impressive and erect and only missing her head and her left hand.

Less charming but impressive is Lot 285, a Roman marble figure of a young man, circa 1st-2nd Century A.D., that is 56 ½ inches. The statue of a nude male is missing its head and the catalogue notes that "the muscular torso, the undeveloped pubic hair, the hip thrust to the right and the position of the legs all recall the pose of the `Westmacott Ephebe' in the British Museumrecognized as being a Roman copy of an original by Polykleitos of the late 5th Century B.C." "Our sculpture," the catalogue continued, "differs only in the position of the right arm, here lowered, but raised on the Ephebe The re-working of Greek models is a typical feature of Roman workshops." The sculpture has an estimate of $80,000 to $120,000. It sold for $88,125 to a European dealer.

Another headless Roman sculpture is Lot 290, a Roman marble figure of Dionysus, circa 2nd Century A.D., that is 75 ½ inches high. The god, who is also missing both his arms, his genitals and most of his right leg, is standing by a kneeling panther who look up wistfully at the finely sculpted goat's hide and head worn by the god. Despite the "damage," this is an impressive work and has a conservative estimate of $70,000 to $90,000. It sold for $82,250.

If male figures are of little interest, then perhaps a very classic statue of Aphrodite will do. It is Lot 275, a Roman marble torso of Aphrodite, circa 1st Century B.C.-1st Century A.D. The 33-inch statue was once in the collection of Andre Emmerich an is based on a Greek original of the 4th Century B.C., likely the work of a follower of Praxiteles and the catalogue notes that "the type is known from several Roman copies, including a fairly complete example in the Glyptothek" in Munich. This headless, armless lot has a conservative estimate of $150,000 to $200,000. It sold for $160,000 to a private American collector.

Lot 280 is an excellent Roman marble figure of a Dioskouros, circa 1st-2nd Century A.D. It is 32 ½ inches high and has a very fine head but no legs and arms and a conservative estimate of $30,000 to $50,000. It sold for $28,200.

For those without sufficient display space for such Roman works the auction offers several other interesting pieces.

Lot 294 is a very impressive Roman bronze multi-nozzled oil lamp, circa 2nd Century A.D., that is 15 ¼ inches in diameter and has a very conservative estimate of $12,000 to $18,000. It sold for $47,000. "Egyptianizing in style, with six naturalistic bull's heads alternating with six tubular nozzles with rounded sprouts, the inner ring with six busts of pharaohs, each wearing a nemes-headdress," is art of the catalogue's description.

Roman bronze oil lamp

Lot 267, Roman bronze oil lamp, circa 1st Century B.C.-1st Century A.D., 6 7/8 inches long

Lot 267 is an imposing and very dramatic Roman bronze oil lamp, shown above, circa 1st Century B.C.-1st Century A.D., hat is 6 7/8 inches long and has a conservative estimate of $6,000 to $8,000. It sold for $14,100. The two-spouted lamp is in the form of a reclining bull whose front feet are resting upon the spouts.

Lot 287 is a fine Roman bronze knife handle in the form of a winged horse emerging from acanthus petals. It is only 2 7/16 inches long and has a conservative estimate of $1,000 to $1,500. It sold for $2,232.

Egyptian bronze falcon

Lot 101, a monumental Egyptian bronze falcon, Third Intermediate Period, Dynasty XXI-XXV, 1070-712 B.C., 17 1/8 inches high

Collectors of Egyptian art will no doubt focus intensely on Lot 101, a "monumental" bronze falcon, 17 1/8 inches high, Third Intermediate Period, Dynasty XXI-XXV, 1070-712 B.C. Presumably Sydney Greenstreet's spirit will be in the auction room for this one even though it is not a "black bird." It has a good green patina and a very conservative estimate, since such objects usually rank at the top most antiquities collectors' lists, of $30,000 to $50,000. It sold for $149,000 to a European collector.

Almost as beloved as falcons are hippopatomi and Lot 76 is a very imposing black stone hippopotamus, Middle Kingdom, Dynasty XIII, 1991-1783 B.C. Since his length, however, is only 5 7/8 inches long, he is not quite as "monumental" as Lot 101 and his back has, the catalogue notes, "been hollowed out forming a neartly finished rectangular recessed trough, perhaps for cosmetics." The lot has a somewhat ambitious estimate of $50,000 to $80,000. It failed to sell.

Lot 96 is a very good Egyptian alabaster and bronze ibis from the same period as Lot 101. The 5 5/8-inch-high work has a somewhat ambitious estimate of $20,000 to $30,000. It sold for $30,550.

For collectors of Egyptian art who do not fancy animals this season, Lot 77 is a very impressive Egyptian granite bust of a man, Middle Kingdom, Late Dynasty XII, 1878-1783 B.C. The 10 1/2 inch-high statue has a conservative estimate of $40,000 to $60,000. It sold for $37,600.

Villanovan bronze horse-bit

Lot 23, Villanovan bronze horse bit, circa 8th-7th Century B.C., 10 3/4 inches wide

Lot 23 is an excellent Villanovan bronze horse bit, circa 8th-7th Century B.C., that is 10 ¾ inches wide and has a conservative estimate of $10,000 to $15,000. It sold for $17,625.

Near Eastern art has become increasingly popular over the last decade or so and it should be interesting to see how two spectacular small sculptures, Lots 339 and 356, fare.

Sumerian worshipper
Lot 339, Sumerian limestone statue of standing worshipper, Early Dynastic III, circa 2500 BC, 8 3/8 inches high

Lot 339, shown above, is a Sumerian limestone standing worshipper, Early Dynastic III, circa 2500 B.C. The 8 3/8-inch-high statue is in pretty good and complete condition and has a modest estimate of $90,00 to $120,000. It sold for $149,000 to a European institution.


Mesopotamian dog
Lot 356, a Mespotamian green stone figure of a dog, Dynasty of Isin, Reign of Bur-Sin, 1895-1874 B.C., 6 ½ inches high


The auction's most stunning, or least most adorable, piece, however, is probably Lot 356, a Mesopotamian green stone figure of a dog, Dynasty of Isin, Reign of Bur-Sin, 1895-1874 B.C. This statue, shown above, is 6 ½ inches high and has a conservative estimate of $100,000 to $150,000. It failed to sell. The eyes are inlaid with white stone or shell and one of them still has a lapis lazuli pupil. The back of the work is inscribed in cuneiform, and the catalogue observes that the dog was the symbol of a healing goddess and that the sculpture at one time presumably was surmounted by a shepherd's crook based on some cylinder seals.

G. Max Bernheimer, senior vice president and International Specialist Head for Antiquities at Christie's, described the sale as "tremendously successful with bids coming ast and furious from a balanced mixture of private collectors, institutions and dealers." While there were strong prices in all major collector sectors, only 68 percent of the 385 offered lots sold.

See The City Review article on the Spring 2001 Antiquities auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Fall 2000 Antiquities auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the Antiquities auction at Sotheby's Dec. 8, 2000

See The City Review article on the Dec. 6, 2000 auction of Ancient Jewelry and Seals at Christie's

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

See The City Review article on the Spring 2000 Ancient Greek Vases auction at Christie's

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