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Antiquities

Christie's

10AM, June 11, 2003

Sale 1244

Roman silver gilt rhyton

Lot 191, Roman gilt silver rhyton, 9 3/4 inches high, circa 1st Century A.D.

By Carter B. Horsley

While most of this Spring 2003 season has witnessed a paucity of superb offerings in most of the major categories, this Antiquities auction at Christie's is full of interesting and fine works.

It is highlighted by an impressive Syrian limestone votive relief, a stunning Roman gilt silver rhyton, and an intriguing Caucasian nomadic gilt bronze finial. In addition, there are numerous excellent Egyptian works of art, fine Greek vases and Roman sculptures.

Given recent concerns about the looting of antiquities in Iraq, Lot 71, a Syrian limestone votive relief, should draw considerable attention. The 16-inch-high relief is dated by Christie's as Early Dynastic Period, circa 2600-2300 B.C. It is sculpted in two registers around a central square perforation for attachment to a wall and the center shows a bearded man, possibly the donor of the relief, standing before an enthroned bearded deity, the votary in profile to the right with his arms projecting forward, perhaps once proffering a libation, wearing a belted kilt of long pointed tufts, similar to those on many Sumerian statues. The deity holds a palm leaf.

Although it is not finely detailed, the lot is impressive for its size and has an estimate of $80,000 to $120,000. It failed to sell.

Much more recent and much more spectacular is Lot 191, a Roman gilt silver rhyton, circa 1st Century A.D., shown at the top of this article. The 9 3/4-inch-high drinking vessel was made from a single sheet of silver excluding the hollow tube at the base and the separately cast disk rim and its conical body has four registers in high relief. The top two reliefs depict various animals while the lowest register has herms with wild hair and long beards and the second lowest register has three winged Erotes supporting a garland.

The beautiful rhyton has a modest estimate of $100,000 to $150,000. It sold for $141,900 including the buyer's premium as do all the results mentioned in this article.

Caucasian nomadic gilt bronze finial

Lot 239, Caucasian nomadic gilt bronze finial, 4 inches high,, circa 10th Century A.D.

While not as magnificent as the Roman gilt silver rhyton, Lot 239, a Caucasian nomadic gilt bronze finial, is one of those small but very fascinating antiquities that crudely conjure fantasies. The 4-inch-high finial depicts a stylized woman holding a bowl and wearing a pendant cross between her very small breasts. The figure has a very pointed chin, a very thin mouth and large eyes, one of which is still inlaid with turquoise glass. The ears are pierced for now missing earrings. There is a fringe of striated hair at the top of the head, the back open, according to the catalogue and the finial is riveted to a domed sheet ornamented with an interlocking pattern with four glass disks and rivets which attach leather to the underside. The lot also has a small gilt bronze bell and, more importantly, a bearded man with outstretched arms in a gilt bronze openwork fitting.

The lot has a conservative estimate of $12,000 to $18,000. It sold for $21,510.

The more conventional "items" include many impressive works.


Egyptian graywacke torso

Lot 12, torso inscribed for Pharaoh Tuthmosis III, graywacke, Egyptian, 19 1/4 inches high, New Kingdom, Dynasty XVIII, Reign of Tuthmosis III, 1479-1425 B.C.

The Egyptian section of the auction is highlighted by a fine graywacke torso inscribed for Pharaoh Tuthmosis III, a Middle Kingdom pair statue, and a small limestone head of Amenhotep III.

The torso, Lot 12, is dated to the New Kingdon, Dynasty XVIII, reign of Tuthmosis III, 1479-1425 B.C. The 19 1/4-inch--high black stone torse is very finely sculpted with what the catalogue describes as a "silky matte finish" and the now-headless figure once wore an unadorned false beard and a nemes-headclotyh, the lappets of which are preserved on the shoulders. Tuthmosis III's stepmother was Hatshepsut who served as regent until her death in 1458 B.C. Tuthmosis squashed revolts in Egypt's western Asian territories and, according to the catalogue, "established Egypt as the reigning superpower of the region[and] chose to eradicate the memory of Hatshepsut replacing her name and image with his own." He was succeeded in 1425 B.C., by his son, Amenhotep II.

The imposing lot has a conservative estimate of $100,000 to $150,000. It sold for $141,900.

Egyptian diorite pair statue

Lot 8, pair statue, diorite, Egyptian, Middle Kingdom, Dynasty XI-XIV- 2040-1640 B.C.

An earlier statue that is smaller and less formidable but complete with heads and legs is Lot 8, a pair statue of diorite that is dated to the Middle Kingdom, Dynasty XI-XIV, 2040-1640 B.C. The 8 1/2-inch-high stature depicts a man and a woman on a high plinth. The catalogue notes that the fingers and toes of both figures manneristically elongated, both with distinctive non-idealizing facial features, including hieroglyphic eyes, prominent ears, triangular nose and straight mouth. The figures are identified with hieroglyphic text on the top of the plinth. This is a very handsome work, which fortunately has not been terribly marred by what appears to have been an attempt in the past to split the statues and base apart.

The lot has an estimate of $250,000 to $350,000. It failed to sell.

Limestone head of Amenhotep III

Lot 13, head of Amenhotep III, limestone, Egyptian, 4 inches high, New Kingdom, Dynasty XVIII, reign of Amenhotep III, 1391-1353 B.C.

Lot 13 is a nice small limestone head of Amenhotep III. The four-inch-high head is dated New Kingdom, Dynasty XVIII, reign of Amenhotep III, 1391-1353 B.C. It has a somewhat ambitious estimate of $30,000 to $50,000. It sold for $50,190.

Egyptian limestone relief

Lot 29, relief, limestone, Egyptian, 13 3/4 inches high, Saite Period, Dynasty XXVI, 664-525 B.C.

Lot 29 is a very fine Egyptian limestone relief from the Saite Period, Dynasty XXVI, 664-525 B.C. The 13 3/4-inch-high relief is related to similar reliefs from the tomb of Mentuemhat, a mayor of Thebes and one of his era's most powerful administrators, according to the catalogue. It has an estimate of $40,000 to $60,000. It sold for $89,625.

For many collectors of antiquities, Cycladic statues are among the most abstract objects available. Anatolian Kilia type statues are, in fact, more abstract and do not appear as often. Lot 61 is a 4 1/8-inch-high marble female idol, Kilia type, that is dated circa 2700-2100 B.C. The stylized figure has a broad triangular head with small protruding ears and slender nose, and a flat body with rounded shoulders. It has a modest estimate of $15,000 to $20,000. It sold for $17,925. Lot 60 is just the head of a similar piece as Lot 61. The 1 13/16-inch-high head has a modest estimate of $2,000 to $3,000. It sold for $5,019.

The Greek Art section of the auction is highlighted by a very, very beautiful marble head of a female and many excellent vases.

Female marble Greek head

Lot 118, Female Head, marble, Greek, 13 1/4 inches high, Classical Period, circa mid-4th Century B.C.

An over-life-sized head of a woman, Lot 118 is a 13 1/4-inch-high marble Greek sculpture that dates to the Classical Period, circa mid 4th Century B.C. The catalogue maintains that although the piece is sculpted in the round it "was likely from a large-scale sculptural group, perhaps a pediment or a funerary monument. "The treatment of the hair and neck along the proper left side, ever so slightly less refined then on the right, indicates that the head was positioned facing to her left, and that the sculptor either could not or needed not to access that area," the catalogue entry continued, adding that the woman's earlobes are perforated for attaching of now-missing earrings.

The lot has a somewhat ambitious estimate of $250,000 to $350,000. It sold for $287,500.

There are many fine Greek vases in this auction.

Amphora attributed to the Lysippides Painter

Lot 102, Attic black-figured belly amphora (type A), attributed to the Lysippides Painter, circa 530-510 B.C.

Lot 102, for example, is a stunning Attic black-figured belly amphora (type A) that is attributed to the Lysippides Painter. Dated circa 530-510 B.C., the 24 1/4-inch-high amphora has an estimate of $150,000 to $200,000. It sold for $298,700.

Lot 102 comes from the Russell B. Aitkin Collections as does Lot 104, an Attic black-figured trefoil oinochoe. The very handsome oinochoe is 8 5/8 inches high and is dated circa 530-520 B.C. It once was in the collection of William Randolph Hearst of San Simeon and has a modest estimate of $6,000 to $8,000. It sold for $7,170.

Krater attributed to the Leagros Group

Lot 105 is an Attic black-figured column-krater, attributed to the Leagros Group, 17 5/8 inches high, circa 510-500 B.C.

Another Attic black-figured work is Lot 105, a column-krater that is attributed to the Leagros Group. The 17 5/8-inch-high vessel is dated 510-500 B.C., and has an estimate of $60,000 to $80,000 and was once in the collection of Dr. Elie Borowski. It sold for $71,700.

Amphora attributed to the Three Line Group

Lot 106, Attic black-figured amphora, attributed to the Three Line Group, 16 1/2 inches high, circa 520 B.C.

Another very handsome Attic black-figured amphora is Lot 106. It is attributed to the Three Line Group, circa 520 B.C. The 16 1/2-inch-high amphora has an estimate of $20,000 to $30,000. It sold for $38,240.

Lekythos attributed to the Marathon Painter

Lot 101, Attic Black-Figured White-Ground Lekythos, Attributed to the Marathon Painter, circa 520-510 B.C., 8 1/8 inches, high $10,000 to $15,000

Lot 101 is a handsome white ground lekythos attributed to the Marathon Painter, circa 520-510 B.C. The 8 1/8-inch-high Greek Attic Black-figured work has an estimate of $10,000 to $15,000. It sold for $26,290.

Roman marble copy of Doryhorous of Polykleitos

Lot 175, Roman marble copy of the bronze Doryphorous of Polykleitos, 27 1/2 inches high, circa 1st Century A.D.

The Roman Art section of this auction is highlighted by a very fine marble torso of the Doryphoros of Polykleitos. Lot 175, this sculpture dates circa 1st Century A.D., and is modeled after the original Greek sculpture of circa 440 B.C. It was once in the collection of the Walters Art Gallery in Baltimore and was consigned by Herbert C. Lust III. Polykleitos was the very famous Greek sculptor and the Doryphoros, or spearbearer, was one of his most famous works. The now-lost original was in bronze. This, which is 27 1/2 inches high, lot has an estimate of $60,000 to $90,000. It sold for $164,300.

Roman bronze figures

Lot 192, Roman bronze figures of Minerva, left, and a votary figure, right, circa 1st-2nd Century A.D.

Lot 192 consists of two nicely modelled and detailed Roman bronze figures circa 1st-2nd Century A.D. The larger of the two depicts Minerva and is 3 5/8 inches high. The other figure depicts a votary. The lot has a conservative estimate of $2,000 to $3,000. It sold for $5,019.

Bronze head of a wolf, Roman

Lot 139, head of a wolf, bronze, Roman, 8 7/8 inches long, circa 1st Century A. D.

The cover illustration of the catalogue is Lot 139, a Roman bronze head of a wolf, circa 1st Century A. D. The sculpture was once in the collection of Mathias Komor of New York. It has an estimate of $100,000 to $150,000. It sold for $321,100, the highest price in the auction in which slightly more than 80 percent of the offered lots sold. The catalogue observes that it is "superbly cast with meticulous attention to details"

Roman marble sacrophagus

Lot 216, Roman marble sacrophagus, 48 inches long, circa Late 2nd-Early 3rd Century, A.D.

Lot 216 is a spectacular Roman marble sacrophagus circa Late 2nd-Early 3rd Century A.D. The 48-inch-long sacrophagus is in great condition and has a modest estimate of $140,000 to $180,000. It failed to sell.

Roman marble torso of Venus

Lot 199, Roman marble torso of Venus, circa 2nd Century A.D., 23 1/2 inches high

Lot 199 is an excellent Roman marble torso of Venus, circa 2nd Century A.D. The 23 1/2-inch high statue has an estimate of $150,000 to $250,000. It sold for $209,100.

Bactrian stone ritual object

Lot 66, Bactrian stone ritual object, circa late 3rd-Early 2nd Millennium B.C., 12 3/4 inches high

Lot 66 is a magnificent and very abstract sculpture that Isamu Noguchi would have certainly admired. According to the catalogue, it is a Bactrian stone ritual object that dates circa late 3rd-Early 2nd Millennium B.C. The 12 3/4-inch-high sculpture has a very conservative estimate of $3,000 to $5,000. It sold for $2,390.

Elamite copper macehead

Lot 76, Elamite copper macehead, circa Early 2nd Millennium B.C., 6 3/8 inches long

Lot 76 is a worn but impressive Elamite copper macehead. Dated Early 2nd Millennium B.C., it is 6 3/8 inches long. It has a modest estimate of $4,000 to $6,000. It sold for $5,377.

Lot 51, Egyptian mummy portrait of a woman, Roman Imperial Period, circa 2nd Century A.D., 21 inches long

Lot 21 is a stunning Egyptian mummy portrait of a woman from the Roman Imperial Period, circa 2nd Century A.D. The 21-inch-long work is in fine condition except for missing some paint about the figure's left hand. It has an estimate of $25,000 to $35,000. It failed to sell.

 

See The City Review article on the Spring 2003 Antiquities auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Fall 2002 Antiquities auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Antiquities and Antique Jewelry auctions Dec. 12-3, 2002 at Christie's

See The City Review article on the June 12, 2002 Antiquities auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the Fall 2001 Antiquities auction at Christie's

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

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

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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