Carter B. Horsley
to Christie's, this
evening sale of "this near encyclopedia collection of ancient
Greek vases is without question the largest - and arguably the
finest - assembly of its kind ever offered at auction."
many of the lots
are museum-caliber and the sale was very successful with 93
percent of the offered lots selling for a total of $7,053,906.
The next day's regular Antiquities auction at Christie's was also
successful with 87
percent of the
offered lots selling for a total of $7,888,083. The combined,
two-day total of $14.9 million was the "most successful season
total for antiquities in Christie's history," the auction
collection of Greek vases
was assembled by Dr. Elie Borowski, who sold it about 10 years
ago to raise funds for his establishment of the Bible Lands Museum
in Jersusalem to house his equally impressive collection of Near
Eastern Art. A large and fine collection of cylinder seals formerly
in his collection is being sold at Christie's Spring 2000 Antiquities
auction (see The
City Review article on that auction).
Borowski is formerly a
curator at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Canada, a post
he left in the early 1950s to begin collecting "in earnest,"
according to the catalogue. He also became a dealer in the field.
Highlights of this collection of 157 vases were shown in an exhibition
"Glimpses of Excellence" in 1984-5 at the Royal Ontario
auction, which was held
in one of the smaller rooms at Christie's, was extremely lively
with bidding from all parts of the room as well as considerable
"action" on the phones. Barbara Strongin, the auctioneer,
was a model of alertness and conducted the auction at a good pace.
There were relatively few "passes," but quite a few
lots sold well below their low estimates, an indication that reserves
were set quite low.
the very well-dressed
attendees at the major evening auctions of Impressionist and Modern
Art and Latin American Art, the standing room only crowd at this
auction ran the gamut of sartorial styles from pin-stripes to
short sleeve shirts, shorts, levis and a lot of men with black
shirts and dark ties. One very elegant woman who was the underbidder
on several major lots wore a stunning brown coat with a pleated
blue collar. She sat next to Dietrich von Bothmer of the Metropolitan
Museum who was the underbidder on Lot 60, an Attic black-figured
white-ground alabastron that sold for its high estimate of $5,000,
not including the buyer's premium.
highlight of the sale is
Lot 81, shown above, an Attic red-figured kylix attributed to
Douris the painter and Python the potter, circa 480 B.C., 11 1/2
inches in diameter. The kylix is in near-perfect condition and
its top features a maenad striding to the right but looking left,
holding an up-ended thyrsos in her left hand and the tail of a
cheetah in her right. The underside of the kylix depicts the story
of the "Death of Pentheus" with one side showing the
Theban women tearing to pieces their young king, who refused them
permission to worship Dionysos, and the other side shows women
with parts of his body on either side of Dionysios who sits calmly
looking back at a piping satyr. The kylix has an "estimate
on request" and is expected to fetch more than $1 million.
It sold to an anonymous bidder for $1,766,000, including the
buyer's premium and the bidding in the auction room was done by
one of the owners of the Berry-Hill Galleries at 11 East 70th
Street, which specializes in American paintings.
major work is Lot 111,
shown above, an Attic red-figured calyx-krater, attributed to
the Dinos painter, circa 430-420 B.C., 19 3/8 inches high. The
calyx-krater depicts the death of Artemis who was eaten by his
hounds when they failed to recognize him after he had been transformed
into a stag. Artemis allegedly had boasted he was a better hunter
than Aktation and also had angered Zeus by desiring the mortalwoman
Semele, who would later become the god's consort. The lot has
an "estimate on request" and is also expected to fetch
more than $1 million. It sold for $1,051,000, including the
buyer's premium, to an American institution.
are many fine lots that
are considerably less expensive.
an Attic black-figured
neck-amphora and lid, attributed to the Leagros Group, circa 510-500
B.C., 14 15/16 inches high excluding the lid, shown above, has
an estimate of $40,000 to $60,000. It sold for a hammer price
of $70,000. One side of the vase shows a four-horse chariot
with driver and warrior and the other side shows Dionysos accompanied
by two dancing maenads and a satyr. The Leagros group of painters
were supposedly contemporary with the red-figure "Pioneer"
painters such as Euphronius, Phintias, and Euthymides.
an Attic red-figured
kylix attributed to the Oedipus painter, circa 470 B.C., 8 15/16
inches in diameter, is a very elegant work that has an estimate
of $80,000 to $120,000. It sold for a hammer price of $95,000
to an American private collector. The Oedipus painter
learned his craft from Douris, the painter to whom the first
lot in this article is attributed. The top of this kylix depics
a satyr bending forward holding an ornamental box with both hands.
The bottom of the kylix shows three women spinning wool and the
other side shows two men attending a youth who arms himself. Both
sides of the bottom have Ionic columns.
a Sicilian polychrome
Lekanis with lid, Centuripe, circa 275-225 B.C., 23 1/2 inches
high is a large and dramatically and ornately decorated Lekanis
with a very tall lid, shown above. The front of the vessel is
painted in tempera and the lid depicts "The Judgment of Paris."
The lot has an estimate of $50,000 to $70,000. It sold for
a hammer price of $40,000.
highlights include Lot
8, a geometric loutherion, Attic, circa 750-725 B.C., 12 1/2 inches
high with delightful depictions of animals and has an estimate
of $20,000 to $30,000; Lot 12, a Corinthian black-figured alabastron,
circa 620-590 BC., 9 5/8 inches high, that is particularly stylish
and strong and has a modest estimate of $7,000 to $9,000 and
which sold for a hammer price of $18,000; Lot 13, a
black-figured head-pxyis, attributed to the Severeanu painter,
circa 570-560 B.C., 5 5/8 inches high, with projecting female
protomai from the shoulder that has an estimate of only $12,000
to $18,000 and which sold for a hammer price of $9,000;
Lot 26, a Euboean black-figured neck amphora, circa 560-550 B.C.,
15 11/16 inches high with very lively painting and an estimate
of $20,000 to $30,000, and which sold for a hammer price of
$35,000; Lot 41, an Attic black-figured neck amphora,
to the Swing painter, circa 540-530 B.C., 14 13/16 inches high,
that has some paint loss but considerable nobility and an estimate
of $40,000 to $60,000, and which sold for a hammer price of
$30,000; Lot 44, an Attic black-figured hydria, manner of
the Lysippides painter, circa 530-520 B.C., 21 3/4 inches high,
that has a chariot scene on its side and an extremely nice frieze
of warriors along its rather flat shoulder and an estimate of
$80,000 to $120,000, and which sold for a hammer price of
and Lot 48, an Attic black-figured pelike, attributed to the Plousious
painter, circa 520-510 B.C., 14 1/4 inches high, that is lovely
although one side is missing much of the head of a man playing
at a gaming table with another man and has an estimate of $70,000
to $90,000, and which sold for a hammer price of $55,000.