Antiquities auction at Christie's June 12, 2002 is very strong
in Greek and Roman works with many unusual and very fine works
highlighted by a magnificent Greek bronze of a centaur and a marvelous
small Roman bronze pantheistic deity.
Lot 81, shown at the top of this article, is a fabulous Greek
bronze figure of a centaur that is 14 1/2 inches long and dates
from the Hellenistic Period, circa 1st Century B.C. It has a very,
very, conservative estimate of $100,000 to $150,000 as this would
qualify as the centerpiece of any major museum collection of
because of its great charm, interesting patina, and its wonderful
expressiveness. It sold for $218,500 including the buyer's
premium as do all results mentioned in this article.
The top of a centaur is a man and the bottom is a horse. Centaurs
appeared by the late Mycenaen Period and were generally depicted
as lustful, fond of wine and often in battle. By the Hellenistic
Period, they came to be associated with Dionysus and music. The
catalogue provides the following commentary on this lot:
"Our centaur, a late Hellenistic confection, seems based
on earlier Hellenistic prototypes. The fine modeling, the torsion,
the expressive face and unruly hair all find parallels in Pergamene
art of the late 3rd and early 2nd century B.C. Indeed, three
centaurs and the rump of a horse, possibly also a centaur, were
excavated in the Pergamene Asklepeion. They continued to be very
popular with the Romans, as can be seen by the two pair from the
Villa of Poppea at Oplontis.The equine portion of our centaur
also finds parallels in the famous bronzes from Herculaneium,
one depicting Alexander the Great on horseback, one depicting
an Amazon, and the third probably missing its rider.All share
the same rearing pose and the naturalistic modeling, in particular
the observation of the folds of skin along the bent legs. And,
like the Heraculaneum bronzes, our centaur must also have had
an angled support joined to the underside just behind the forelegs,
where there is a rectangular mortise."
companion piece to the centaur is Lot 154, a Roman bronze pantheistic
deity, circa late 1st-early 2nd Century A.D. The 10 7/8-inch-high
bronze depicts a young man with upraised wings holding Zeus'
and a now-missing attribute in his left hand with Apollo's quiver
on his right shoulder and wearing a high-crested helmet surmounted
by an Egyptianizing solar crown with plumes flanked on either
side by a tall plume and two rays. This sensational piece was
at one time in the Cook Collection in England and has a very
estimate of $30,000 to $50,000. It sold for $71,700.
A 1941 letter by Dr. Lodovico Pollak stated that the figure was
found in the lagoon of Venice and the catalogue notes that the
"presence of marine incrustations supports this claim,"
adding that there is a related pantheistic deity in the Birmingham
Museum and Art Gallery.
the most impressive statues of Classical antiquity are superb
studies of drapery. Lot 161 is an excellent Roman draped female
figure, marble that is circa 1st Century A.D. The very fine headless
and armless marble statue is 45 inches tall and has an estimate
of $60,000 to $80,000. It failed to sell.
Lot 50 is a smaller, limestone, Greek sculpture of a draped female,
Tarantine, Classical Period, circa 4th Century B.C. The 9 1/2-inch
high sculpture is headless, armless and without shoulders but
has a great dynamism that recalls the exoticism of some Indian
art. Her right hip is thrust outwards and the lot has a very modest
estimate of $5,000 to $7,000. It sold for $4,780.
notes that this work may have been part of a frieze.
those who prefer their females undraped, the auction has a couple
of very good examples. Lot 151 is a Roman marble figure of Venus,
circa 1st-2nd Century A.D. The 47 1/2-inch-high, headless and
armless statue has her mantle pulled tight and knotted around
her hips, "exposing her torso, revealing the form of her
legs beneath." The catalogue notes that "this is a fine
Roman version of a Hellenistic creation today mistakenly called
'Aphrodite Anadyomene,' known from numerous Roman copies.The goddess
is not 'rising from the sea' as the epithet implies, but rather,
she is arranging her hair. Both hands are needed, which is why
her mantle is knotted in place." The statue comes from the
estate of the Honorable Robert McKinney and has a modest estimate
of $80,000 to $120,000. It sold for $77,675.
An even lovelier albeit smaller Roman statue of Venus is Lot 219.
This 23 1/2-inch high marble statue is completely naked but headless,
armless and missing her legs below the thighs. It has an estimate
of $200,000 to $300,000. It sold for $229,500.
"The pose and complete nudity of this figure finds its closest
parallels with the 'Capitoline Venus' in Rome.The Capitoline Venus
and others like her have been interpreted as depicting the goddess
surprised at her bath, hence her attempt to cover her breasts
and pubes. However, this interpretation is now recognized as a
19th Century conceit, since there is no mythological basis to
The statue originally had the goddess resting her left hand on
her right upper thigh and her right hand at her left breast. It
has long tendrils of wavy hair falling on her shoulders and there
is the remains of a support along her left side.
is a 9 3/4-inch high Roman bronze figure of Venus from the same
period that shows the goddess removing a sandal while supporting
herself by leaning on an amphora and holding pomegranites in his
left hand. The lot, which has a very dark patina and comes from
the Odesalchi Collection and shows evidence of repair to her right
leg, has an estimate of $30,000 to $50,000. It sold for
Another very good work is Lot 224, a Roman bigio morato figure
of a god, circa 2nd Century A.D., that is 65 inches tall. Bigio
morato is a fine-grained gray marble that was in favor during
the reign of the Emperor Hadrian. According to the catalogue this
type of sculpture is based on the figure of Ares usually attributed
to the sculptor Alkamenes, which originally stood in his temple
in the Athenian Agora and is only known from Roman copies, the
best of which is the "Ares Borghese" now in the Louvre.
The headless and armless god is missing most of his right left
and his left foot and has his mantle draped over a stump. It has
an estimate of $90,000 to $120,000. It sold for $48,800.
Eros is depicted in Lot 143, a Roman marble torso circa 1st Century
A.D. The 32-inch statue is headess and missing its right arm,
its left forearm and most of the lower legs. It depicts the god
as an adolescent boy unstringing his bow, which is missing, and
his wings are broken off on his back. The original version of
this work is traditionally attributed to Lysippos and, the catalogue
observed, once stood in a major sanctuary of Eros in Thespiai.
The lot has an estimate of $90,000 to $120,000. It sold for
is an excellent bronze portrait bust of a man, Roman, circa late
1st Century B.C.-early 1st Century A.D. The striking, 14 1/2-inch
high sculpture has an "estimate on request," and is
the catalogue's cover illustration. It sold for $724,500.
is a very charming and fine Roman bronze attachment in the form
of a sea-lion. The work is dated circa 2nd Century A.D., and is
13 3/4 inches long. It has an estimate of $60,000 to $80,000.
It failed to sell.
Lot 54 is
an utterly charming Greek terracotta of Cupid and Pscyhe standing
arm-in-arm. Cupid is nude with spread wings and Pscyhe wears a
chiton. This 6-inch-high work has extensive original polychromy
and a very, very modest estimate of $2,000 to $3,000. It sold
for $1,912. It was formerly in the Petzholtz Collection is
being sold as property of Professor and Mrs. Sid Port, the consignors
of many of the auction's nicest works.
Lot 91 is a very charming Etrusco-Campanian bronze horseman, 3
3/4 inches high. Dated to circa early 5th-Century B.C., this work
was once in the Simonetti Collection and has a modest estimate
of $3,000 to $5,000. It sold for $2,868.
Lot 110 is an impressive sapphire portrait of King Alaric II.
The Visigothic piece is 1 1/16 inches long and is dated circa
484-507 A.D. The stone has approximately 43 carats. King Alaric
II was known for the Breviary of Alaric, issued in 506 at Toulouse,
which was the Visigothic code of Roman law issued for his Roman
subjects, according to the catalogue. "Alaric's adherence
to Arianism, a sect of Christianity, lead to his defeat at Vouilli
in 507 by Clovis I, king of the Franks, who waged war in the name
of orthodoxy," the catalogue continued, adding that "a
second seal, also in sapphire, with a similar portrait and identical
inscription is in the Kunsthirorisches Museum in Vienna. The lot
has an estimate of $80,000 to $120,000. It failed to sell.
canopic jars contained an individual's innards and Lot 272, shown
above, is a particularly fine lid from such a jar with a very
beautiful depicting of the head of Hapy. The alabaster lid is
5 1/4 inches high and is dated to the Late Period, Dynasty XXVI-XXX,
664-343 B.C. It has a very conservative estimate of $3,000 to
$5,000. It sold for $6,572.
is a large and impressive Egyptian bronze and gilt wood ibis,
Late Period to Ptolemaic Period, 664-30 B.C. The piece is 17 1/4
inches high, and according to the catalogue the current owner's
grandmother, Betty Rowe Bowdoin, received it as a gift from Jihan
Sadat, the wife of Anwar Sadat. The top of the bird's body has
a removable lid. The lot has an estimate of $40,000 to $60,000.
It sold for $77,675.
is a nice bronze statue of Bastet, 5 inches high, that dates from
the Late Period to Ptolemaic Period, 664-30 B.C., and has an estimate
of $5,000 to $7,000. It sold for $8,365.
a very good Egyptian wood duck-form cosmetic vessel, 4 1/2 inches
long, New Kingdom, Dynasty XVIII, 1550-1307 B.C., had a high estimate
of $15,000 and sold for $26,290.
an Egyptian peridotite torso of an official, Late Period, Dynasty
XXX, 380-343 B.C., had a high estimate of $35,000 and sold for
$59,750. The 8-inch-high, headless figure, which was also missing
its lower legs, was finely sculpted and its stone had a lovely
soft green color.
Egyptian faience figure of a lion-headed goddess, Late Period
to Ptolemaic Period, 664-30 B.C., had a high estimate of $1,800
and sold for $2,868. The 4 3/4-inch-high figure had a nice pale-green
color and was very finely sculpted.
a very stunning Egyptian gilt cartonnage mummy mask, Roman Imperial
Period, circa Early 1st Century A.D., had a high estimate of $90,000
and sold for $119,500. It was 17 3/4 inches high.
is a wonderful and very fine group of nine Achaemenid animal amulets,
circa 6th-4th Century, B.C. The longest measures 15/16 of an inch.
The lot has a very conservative estimate of $5,000 to $7,000.
This lot failed to sell.
shown above, is a very impressive Roman glass dolphin beaker,
cira late 4th Century A.D. The 6 1/2-inch-high beaker has an estimate
of $175,000 to $225,000. This lot was withdrawn.
a fine headless marble Cycladic figure of a woman, early Spedos
Variety, circa 2600-2500 B.C., had an estimate of $40,000 to $60,000
and sold for $89,625. The figure is 13 inches tall.
a late Hellenistic or early Roman bronze figure of Isis, circa
1st Century B.C., had a high estimate of $30,000 and sold for
$38,240. The 13-inch-high figure was very nicely sculpted and
an impressive Roman marble portrait head of the Emperor Augustus,
circa Late 1st Century B.C.-Early 1st Century A.D., fell in the
middle of its estimate and sold for $152,500.
large, the auction was relatively successful and the casualties
were mostly works whose condition left a lot to be desired. Lot
309, for example, was a 14 7/8-inch high Sumerian gypsum figure
of a worshipper, Syria, Early Dynastic Period, circa 2700-2500
B.C. The lot had an estimate of $100,000 to $150,000 and Sumerian
figures, especially of this size, are very highly prized by most
collectors of antiquities, but this lot had a fair bit of damage,
a Bactrian silver figure of an ibex, 8 1/8 inches high, dating
to about the 1st Century A.D., had an estimate of $50,000 to $70,000
and sold for $229,500.