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Antiquities

The Morven Collection of Ancient Art

Christie's

2PM, Tuesday, June 9, 2004

Sale 1466
Roman bronze young god or athlete

Lot 470, "Important" Roman bronze young god or athlete, 44 inches high, circa 50 B.C.-50 A.D.

By Carter B. Horsley

This afternoon antiquities auction of the Morven Collection of Ancient Art June 9, 2004, offers some of the finest Roman bronzes to come to auction in many years and is one of the world's best such collections.

Christie's has not identified the consignor, stating only that "This important assemblage of ancient art, a landmark of taste and connoisseurship, was formed by an impassioned collector who began acquiring in 1977," adding that "Over a twenty-year period he formed, without question, one of the finest private collections of its kind."

The auction includes more than 200 bronzes and almost 100 Greek vases. "Many," G. Max Bernheimer, Christie's International Specialist Head, Antiquities, wrote in the catalogue's foreword, "have renowned provenance, with pieces coming from the Bolla, Bomford, Cook, de Behague, de Sanctis Mangelli, and Moretti collections.A large number of these pieces will be well known to specialists, as many have previously been published by scholars. Some of the vases were part of "The Art of South Italy, Vases from Magna Graecia" exhibition organized by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, Virginia in 1982, which traveled to several other venues. A selection of the bronzes was exhibited in 1996 in "From Olympus to the Underworld, Ancient Bronzes from the John W. Kluge Collection" at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Also in 1996 he loaned to "The Fire of Hephaistos: Large Classical Bronzes from North American Collections" which opened at the Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Harvard University and traveled to Toledo and Tampa through 1997. An extensive scholarly catalogue of the classical bronzes was prepared by Dr. Cornelius C. Vermeule, former curator at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, together with Dr. Jerome Eisenberg, who served as the primary advisor, and a catalogue of the Egyptian and Near Eastern Bronzes was prepared by Dr. Eisenberg together with Dr. Robert S. Bianchi. The authors of these unpublished works have graciously shared their research for the present catalogue.This collection has been prominently displayed in the collector's several homes. Although nearly all of the bronzes in the collection are small in scale, there is one extraordinary figure of a young god or athlete, inspired by the work of Polykleitos, which stands an impressive 44 inches high. This important figure was placed in the entrance foyer of his New York apartment"

Given the fact that many of the pieces have been written up in the above-mentioned Vermeule-Eisenberg catalogue of the Kluge collection and since Morven is the name of an historic property in Virginia that Mr. Kluge donated recently to the University of Virginia, it is more than likely that the Morven Collection of antiquities comes from Mr. Kluge.

The figure of a young god or athlete is Lot 470, a Roman bronze that the catalogue dates circa 50 B.C.-50 A.D. Robin Symes of London and the Royal-Athena Galleries of New York are listed as the work's provenance.

The bronze is spectacular and in excellent condition. It has a modest estimate of $1,300,000 to $1,800,000. It sold for $1,351,500 including the buyer's premium as do all the results mentioned in this article.

The catalogue provides the following commentary:

"The Morven youth is a Roman creation based on Greek ideals established during the 5th and 4th Centuries B.C., and in particular recalls the work of Polykeitos. The age of the figure represented, like the 4th Century B.C. youth netted from the sea in the Bay of Marathon and now in the National Museum, Athens, due to the absence of pubic hair in combination with 'a well-defined bone structure, the absence of baby fat, and the muscular development, all seem characteristic of an adolescent boy.' For other bronze figures in a similar style see the so-called 'idolino,' found in Pesaro and now in the Museo Archaeologico Etrusco in Florence, and the bronze youth in the Toledo Museum of Art.The identity of the Morven youth can not be established in the absence of the attribute once held in the right hand. If divine, the possibilities include Hercules, who might have held his club, or Bacchus, who would have held his kantharos.If an athlete, he could have held a palm branch or a wreath."

Late Hellenistic or Roman fulcrum terminal

Lot 455, Fulcrum terminal, bronze, late Hellenistic or Roman, circa 1st Century B.C., 7 inches high

Lot 455 is a very beautiful depiction of Venus that is a bronze fulcrum terminal, either late Hellenistic or Roman. Dated circa 1st Century B.C., it is 7 inches high and has a modest estimate of $25,000 to $35,000. It sold for $38,240. The catalogue maintains it is "said to be from Asti in Piedmont, Italy" and was formerly in the de Santis Mangelli Collection in Rome and was acquired from the Royal-Athena Galleries in New York in 1988. "With Venus in high relief but for her torso which is rendered in the round, the goddess depicted seated, presumably on a rock, her toes projecting over the edge of the terminal," the catalogue's description noted, adding that the folds of her dress are "beautifully delineated" and that her torso is "subtly twisting" and that her right hand once held an attribute. The figure of the goddess is missing much of her left arm, but otherwise is complete and very very graceful and lovely.

Roman bronze of Venus Genetrix

Lot 484, "Venus Genetrix," Roman, bronze, 6 5/8 inches high, circa 1st Century A.D.

Another version of Venus is Lot 484, "Venus Genetrix," a Roman bronze that is 6 5/8 inches high and is dated circa 1st Century A.D. Julius Caesar's family claimed direct descent from Venus Genetrix and Aeneas and a temple to her was built in Caesar's forum, the catalogue entry noted. This finely modeled figure is missing her right arm and left hand, but is still formidable. With her left leg crossed over her thigh, she has an extremely sensuous pose that accents her curves and her facial expression is challenging. This impressive work was sold by the Thetis Foundation at Sotheby's in London May 23, 1991 and was with the Royal-Athena Galleries in New York in 1992. It has a conservative estimate of $10,000 to $15,000. It sold for $41,825.

Roman bronze of Venus and Cupid

Lot 486, "Venus and Cupid," Roman, bronze, 9 5/8 inches high, circa 1st Century A.D.

Where would Venus be without Cupid. In Lot 486, Cupid can be seen hold a torch to illuminate her mirror. This sculpture group stands on a semicircular plinth that has four steps in front. Venus is depicted here as rather stately and huge, especially in comparison with the animated and winged, but diminutive, Cupid, who stands on a pedestal atop the plinth. This lot has an estimate of $30,000 to $50,000. It sold for $41,825.

Roman bronze of Cupid

Lot 480, Cupid, bronze, Roman, 5 1/8 inches high, circa 1st Century A.D.

A more graceful Cupid is Lot 480, a Roman bronze that is 5 1/8 inches high and dated circa 1st Century A.D. The figure is missing part of one of its wings. It has an estimate of $10,000 to $15,000. It sold for $13,145.

Roman bronze of Venus

Lot 505, Venus, Roman, bronze, 6 5/8 inches, circa 1st-2nd Century A.D.

A very graceful Venus is Lot 505, a 6 5/8-inch-high bronze, Roman, circa 1st-2nd Century A.D. Although she is missing part of her left arm and her right foot, she is exceedingly graceful as the ends of her drapery flutter to her side. She is nude except for a crescentic diadem in her hair . The catalogue notes that the "flowing drapery once [formed] an arching canopy over her head," similar to an example from Rome that is in the British Museum. This lot has a modest estimate of $12,000 to $18,000. It sold for $31,070.


A dancing Lar is one of the more delightful statuettes for many collectors of Roman bronzes and Lot 485 is a particularly fine example even though it is missing the traditional attributes of a situla in his right hand and a cornucopia in his left. This figure is very finely modeled and has an excellent patina and an elegant pose. It has a modest estimate of $10,000 to $15,000. It sold for $38,240.


Roman bronze attachment in the form of Aion

Lot 532, Roman bronze attachment in the form of Aion, circa mid-2nd Century A.D., 9 1/2 inches long

One of the more spectacular Roman bronzes is Lot 532, an attachment in the form of Aion. Dated circa mid-2nd Century A.D., it measures 9 1/2 inches long. The catalogue notes it was "said to have been found in the ruins of the Imperial Palace in Thessaloniki, Greece, in1927. It has an estate of $30,000 to $50,000. It sold for $28,680.

Roman bronze of Minerva

Lot 482, "Minerva," Roman, bronze, circa 1st Century A.D., 8 1/2 inches high

Lot 482 is a quite lovely Roman bronze of Minerva holding high part of her skirt. The piece is 8 1/2 inches high and is dated circa 1st Century A.D. It has an estimate of $15,000 to $20,000. It sold for $14,340.

Late Hellenistic or Roman bronze of a child

Lot 452, Late Hellenistic or Roman child, bronze, 5 1/4 inches high, circa 1st Century A.D.

Lot 452 is a charming small Late Hellenistic or Roman bronze of a child holding a rooster in his left arm. The statue was once in the collection of Mrs. Albert D. Lasker of New York. It has a modest estimate of $6,000 to $8,000. It sold for $8,365.

"Dioskouros"

Lot 447, "Dioskouros," Etruscan, bronze, circa 3rd-2nd Century B.C., 12 1/8 inches high

Lot 447 is a very nice Etruscan bronze "Dioskouros." Dated circa 3rd-2nd Century B.C., it is 12 1/8 inches high. It has an estimate of $50,000 to $70,000. It sold for $71,700.

"Asklepius" Roman bronze

Lot 511, "Asklepius," Roman, bronze, Antonine Period, circa mid-2nd Century A.D., 7 1/4 inches high

Lot 511 is a very fine Roman bronze of Asklepius, Antonine Period, circa mid-2nd Century A.D. The 7 14-inch-high figure has a lovely patina and excellent detail. It has an estimate of $30,000 to $50,000. It sold for $95,600.

Silvanus

Lot 533, "Silvanus," Roman, bronze, circa 150-200 A.D., 11 5/8 inches high

Lot 533 is an impressive Roman bronze of "Silvanus." Dated circa 150-200 A.D., it is 11 5/8 inches high. It was once in the collection of William Herbert Hunt. It has an estimate of $100,000 to $150,000. It sold for $95,600.

"Civic God or Genius"

Lot 540, "Civic God or Genius," Roman, bronze, 9 1/2 inches high, circa 2nd Century A.D.

Lot 540 is a very stately Roman bronze of a civic god or genius. Dated circa 2nd Century A.D., it is 9 1/2 inches high. It has an estimate of $80,000 to $120,000. It sold for $83,650.

See The City Review article on the Spring 2004 Antiquities morning auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the Spring 2004 Antiquities auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Fall 2003 Antiquities auction at Christie's

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

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

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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