By Carter B.
season Christie's main
antiquities auction has a broad and interesting selection of
especially smaller scale items like rings and amulets.
auction house divided
its offerings into two separate sales. The first sale, held the
evening of June 3, 1999, was Ancient Glass formerly in the G.
Sangiori Collection and it was extremely successful with 237 of
251 lots selling, many at multiples of the high estimates. (See
contrast, this day auction
was not very successful with only about 40 percent of the 331
lots selling. Nevertheless, the two-day total of $3,664,527 was
the highest sold total for Christie's New York Antiquities Department.
resulted in some outstanding prices today," declared G. Max
Bernheimer, the head of the department.
exotic work of art
in this sale is probably Lot 225, shown above, a New Kingdom wood
cosmetic spoon, Dynasty XVIII, 1353-1335 B.C., 9 3/4 inches long.
This lot, which has a very nice patina and is in excellent condition
except for aging cracks and missing eyes on the bird, is estimated
at only $30,000 to $50,000. It has immense charm, but sold
for only $27,600 (including the buyer's premium as do all sales
prices in this article).
the catalogue notes, "the theory was advanced that rather
than having a strictly ornamental purpose, the spoons should be
seen in a ritual funerary context, and that the charming motif
of a nude swimming girl wiht a goose can be interpreted as a rebus
pertaining to the afterlife. The hieroglyph of a goose can be
literally read as Geb, the earth god, also known by
nickname "the great honker." Seen in this context, the
maiden with the goose becomes his wife Nut, the night goddess
swimming with her husband across the eternal waters of heaven."
New Kingdom work of
art is Lot 224, shown below, a wood cosmetic dish whose dating
is a little broader, 1550-1307 B.C. The 4 1/4 inch long dish has
an estimate of $20,000 to $30,000, reflecting its high degree
of craftsmanship and gracefulness. The top of the dish, which
was once in the Ernest Brummer Collection, is scooped out and
the bottom is sculpted in the form of a duck. The lot sold
contrast to those lots is Pan, a late Hellenistic or early Roman
Period, circa 1st Century, B.C., Greek bronze statue, 5 1/4 inches
high, shown below, that is the back cover illustration of the
auction catalogue. With his horns and goat-like ears, this small
figure, Lot 33, has an enticing arrogrance and stature that together
with the relative rarity of Greek bronzes helps explain its rather
aggressive estimate of $40,000 to $60,000. He carries a basket
on his back. It failed to sell.
a very fine Roman bronze figure of Zeus fom the Ian Woodner Family
Collection, circa 2nd Century A.D., Lot 142, is estimated at only
$4,000 to $6,000. It is 6 3/4 inches tall and also is missing
parts of some limbs like the Greek statue. It sold for
A larger Roman bronze statue of Mercury from the same
Lot 144, is estimated at $12,000 to $18,000, reflecting its nice
size of 9 1/4 inches, which includes a circular pedestal base
that is part of the sculpture. It failed to sell.
Roman bronze statues of gods are popular with many collectors
as are Greek terracotta figures because both embody so much of
the grace and elegance we associate with the Classical Ages. Lot
29, for example, is a lovely Greek terracotta figure of Eros,
Hellenistic period, late 3rd to early 2nd Century, B.C. Depicted
with outstretched wings and wearing a helmut, this graceful figure
is reminiscent of many tanagra pieces in its wonderfully sculpted
drapery . The 4 1/2 inch high figure has an estimate of only $2,000
to $3,000. It sold for $3,680. Even more
Lot 27, shown below, an Attic "Plastic" vase, Classical
Period, circa 4th Century B.C., 5 1/4 inches high. The work depicts
a winged Nike seated upon a lion and has an appropriate estimate
of $10,000 to $15,000, reflecting its provenance and the fact
that it was exhibited at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, England,
in 1967. Unfortunately, it was withdrawn from the auction.
auction has an excellent selection of rings, many superior to
anything that might be found in Fifth Avenue jewelry stores. Lot
89, for example, shown below, is a Roman gold and nicolo finger
ring, circa 1st Century, A.D., with a delicately engraved
of the Apollo Sauroktonos shown by a tree while aiming a dart
at a tiny lizard clambering up the tree truck. The Apollo Sauroktonos,
the catalogue notes, "was one of the masterpieces by the
4th Century B.C. sculptor Praxiteles, known from the famous Roman
marble copy now in the Louvre." This lot is estimated at
$15,000 to $20,000. It sold for $13,800.
fine rings include Lot 82, a Greek gold ring showing two Erotes
harvesting grapes, one of whom is climbing a ladder; Lot 105,
a Roman onyx cameo ring depicted a winged Cupid and Psyche; and
Lot 109, a Sassanian haematite stamp seal, circa 6th Century A.
D., fluted with an engraved portrait bust. Lot 82 is estimated
at $10,000 to $15,000. It failed to sell. Lot 105
at $3,000 to $5,000. It sold for $2,760. Lot 109 is
at $1,000 to $1,500. It failed to sell.
are many attractive Greek
vases including Lot 11, a Attic Black-figure neck amphora, circle
of the Antimes painter, circa 550-510 B.C., from the collection
of William R. and Linda C. Houston, which is conseratively estimated
at $30,000 to $50,000 and sold for $28,750; Lot 16,
Attic Red-Figure kylix, circa 510-500 B.C., that is a bit ambitiously
estimated at $300,000 to $400,000 and failed to sell;
very pleasant Apulian Red-Figure pelike, circa 350-350 B.C., that
is conservatively estimated at $6,000 to $8,000; and two very
decorative Apulian Red-Figure pieces attributed to the Baltimore
painter, Lots 41 and 42, a patera and a amphora, estimated at
$6,000 to $8,000 and $20,000 to $25,000, respectively. Lot
41 sold for $8,625 and Lot 42 sold for $20,700.
highlights included the
is a finely engraved
Etruscan bronze mirror, circa 350 B.C., that is estimated at $10,000
to $15,000. It sold for $8,970.
Trajan, is a very impressive and large Roman sculpture of the
emperor, circa 98-117 A.D., that is conservatively estimated at
$100,000 to $150,000. It sold for $112,500.
is a fine marble figure
of a member of the imperial family in Rome, circa mid-late 2nd
Century, A.D., which is estimated conservatively at $120,000 to
$150,000. It failed to sell.
223, an Amarna sandstone
relief, Dynasty XVIII, reign of Akhenaten, 1353-1335 B.C., sold
for $74,000, more than double its low estimate.
is a stunning Egyptian
gilt wood ibis head, Late Period to Ptolemaic Period, 664-630
B.C., that is 18 3/4 inches long and originally surmounted the
wrappings of a mummified ibis,. It is estimated at $5,000 to $7,000
and is strikingly modern. It sold for $5,175.
is a very nice and
impressive bronze and alabaster ibis with an inlaid gold collar,
mounted on its original wood base inscribed for its owner, Sa-Amun,
Late Period to Ptolemaic Period, 664-630 B.C. It is estimated
at $40,000 to $60,000. It sold for $40,250.
are several fine amulets
including the following: Lot 288, a rock crystal amulet of Theoris,
the pregnant hippopatamus-headed deity, Late Period, Dynasty XXVI-XXX,
664-343 B.C., which is estimated at $7,000 to $9,000, which
sold for $5,750; Lot 322, a carnelian amulet of a sphinx,
1 inch long, same period as Lot 288, which is estimated at $1,500
to $2,000 and sold for $1,725; and Lot 325, a lapis
of Theoris, 1 3/8 inches high, estimated at only $2,000 to $3,000
and which did not sell.