June 12, 2003 Antiquities auction at Sotheby's is highlighted
by some fine Roman and Egyptian sculptures, a good Cycladic marble
figure, and an interesting figure of a goddess or priestess from
Bactria or Margiana.
illustration of the auction catalogue is Lot 54, a marble portrait
head of the Emperor Antoninius Pius, Roman Imperial, A.D. 138-161.
The 13 1/2-inch high head is, according to the catalogue, "probably
from a statue showing him as a general in full armor." "Like
his father Hadrian," the entry continued, "he is wearing
the philosopher's beard, a sign that he wanted to show himself
not only as a man of action, but also as a thinker steeped in
Greek philosophy and cultureHis portraiture changed several times
during his twenty-three year reign. These changes, however, did
not reflect the increasing age of the rule.On the contrary every
new portrait type showed him at the same age he was when taking
power, around fifty years old, with slight changes only in the
arrangment of his hair over the forehead.The present head conforms,
with slight variations, to a style probably created by his court
sculptors on the tenth anniversary of his accession, when games
and festivals called the decennalia were celebrated throughout
the empire. The style is called Sala a Croce Greca 595, after
the room in which a foremost example of the type was displayed
in the Vatican Museums."
The sculpture, which is finely carved and conveys a noble bearing
and is in very good condition except for a bashed nose, has an
estimate of $200,000 to $300,000. It sold for $478,400 including
the buyer's premium as do all the results mentioned in this article.
About 82 percent of the offered lots sold, a good percentage and
just a little more than recorded by Christie's the night before.
This sale, however, recorded numerous extraordinarily high prices.
A fitting companion to the Emperor's head is Lot 29, a marble
head of a Maenad or Nioble, shown at the top of this article.
The late Hellenistic/Early Roman Imperial head is dated circa
1st Century B.C.-1st Century A.D. It is 12 1/4 inches high and
has an estimate of $100,000 to $150,000. With her turned and raised
head and plentiful tresses, the head possesses considerable grace
and beauty. It sold for $176,000.
Another fine head is Lot 28, head of a warrior, marble, 12 inches
high, Roman, 1st Century B.C./1st Century A.D. The catalogue entry
notes that this head was "inspired by a mid 4th Century Greek
original by Skopas" and wears an Attic helmut decorated with
volutes above the ears. It offers a quotation from "The Sculpture
and Sculptors of the Greeks," by A. Stewart, that heads by
Skopas "tend to be cubic and craggy, with a strong bone structure
and compressed features: mouths are open, nostrils dilated, eyes
deep-sunk beneath bulging lids, and chins and foreheads jut. This
selection of expressive devices so suitable for both victor and
vanquished alike bridged the two hitherto conflicting demands
that battle involve strong emotions, and that heroes should be
impassioned and constant. In short, this is no mere momentary
pathos but an all-pervading intensity of feeling that defines
the true hero's whole ethos and arete, his enduring 'strength
relative to his world.'"
has a modest estimate of $40,000 to $60,000. It failed to sell.
has some less expensive but nonetheless nice works from the same
general period. Lot 23 is a Hellenistic marble head of a woman,
circa 3rd Century B.C., that is 6 inches high and has a modest
estimate of $5,000 to $8,000. It sold for $10,800.
Lot 25 is
a marble figure of Cybele, Roman Imperial, circa 1st Century A.D.
The 10 3/4-inch high sculpture is worn but particularly nice in
its composition of the goddess seated on a throne flanked by two
lions. According to the catalogue, this work was "ultimately
derived from the Pheidian prototype of the 5th Century B.C., the
Mother of the Gods seated on a throne flanked by two lions, her
feet resting on a low footstool and her left hand steadying a
tympanon on the throne's arm-rest, her fragmentary right hand
once holding a phiale, and wearing a short-sleeved chiton and
a long himation draped over her head, shoulders and lap. her wavy
hair parted in the center and surmounted by a stephane and polos,
a Greek inscription on the front of the base." The lot has
a conservative estimate of $10,000 to $15,000. It sold for
Lot 42 is a lovely and vigorous Greek gilt terracotta applique
of a lion attaching a horse. From Tarentum circa 350-325 B.C.,
the applique is 5 5/16 inches long and was once in the collection
of the Erlenmeyer Foundation of Basel. The catalogue notes that
"terracotta appliques of this type were used to decorate
wooden sarcophagi." It has a very conservative estimate of
$2,000 to $3,000. It sold for $5,100.
The back-cover illustration of the catalogue has another work
from Tarentum, a Greek terracotta antefix, Lot 43, circa mid-6th
Century B.C., that is molded in relief with a gorgon's face with
a grinning mouth with long curved fangs. It also was formerly
in the collection of the Erlenmeyer Foundation. It measures 7
1/2 by 10 1/8 inches and has an estimate of $10,000 to $15,000.
It sold for $22,800.
Lot 52 is
an extremely handsome pottery vessel that depicts a bust of Silenus.
A lead-glazed pottery vessel with a fine glaze, it is late Hellenistic/early
Roman Imperial, circa 1st Century B.C./1st Century A.D. The 9
1/4-inch work is missing its handle, but the face and robe are
so charmingly done that the loss does not impair its impressiveness.
It had an estimate of $30,000 to $40,000. It failed to sell.
Lot 61 is a very handsome Greek bronze figure of a winged boar
standing on the top of an Ionic capital. The 2 5/8-inch high sculpture
has a green patina and is particularly striking despite its small
size. It has an estimate of $12,000 to $18,000. It sold for
Lot 70 is
a very, very charming bronze applique of Leda and the Swan. The
piece is Roman Imperial, circa 1st Century A.D., and is 5 13/16
inches high. It has an estimate of $25,000 to $35,000. It sold
Among the Egyptian works in the auction is Lot 80, a limestone
canopic jar cover depicting the head of a man with a short striated
beard and wig. The catalogue dates the work to 12th Dynasty, probably
reign of Amenemhat III, 1818-1772 B.C. The work has been consigned
by the Milwaukee Art Museum to benefit its acquisition funds and
had formerly been deaccessioned by the Drexel Institute of Art,
Science and Industry in Philadelphia in 1916 and from the Minneapolis
Institute of Arts in 1958. It is 4 3/4 inches high and has a conservative
estimate of $6,000 to $9,000. It sold for $45,000.
One of the
auction's most spectacular and impressive works is Lot 115, an
Egyptian polychrome wood sacrophagus inner cover that is 74 3/4
inches high. The work is dated Late 19th/Early 20th Dynasty, circa
1203-1156 B.C. It has a conservative estimate of $70,000 to $90,000.
It sold for $84,000.
One of the
major Egyptian works is Lot 82, an impressive granite head of
the Goddess Mut that is dated 18th Dynasty, 1332-1319. The 14
3/4-inch-high head has an estimate of $100,000 to $150,000. It
sold for $344,000.
is a very fine blue-green Egyptian faience amulet of a lion that
is 2 15/18-inches long and is dated 30th Dynasty/Early Ptolemaic
Period, circa 380-200 B.C. It has an estimate of $10,000 to $15,000.
It sold for $16,800. Lot 98 is an excellent Egyptian limestone
relief fragment from the 26th Dynasty, reign of Psamtik I, 664-610
B.C. The relief is 7 1/8 inches high and has a modest estimate
of $15,000 to $20,000. It sold for $176,000. The catalogue
notes that the relief is carved with the head of a foreigner,
"probably a Libyan."
is a beautifully modeled Egyptian basalt head of a man that is
4 1/4 inches high. The head is dated 27-30th Dynasty, 625-342
B.C. It has an estimate of $30,000 to $50,000. It sold for
is a marvelous remnant of a magical block statue of Padihornedjitef
that is covered with very hieroglyphics. The green schist statue
is 13 5/16 inches high and is missing the top half of Padihornedjitef,
who was priest of Memphis. It has a modest estimate of $50,000
to $70,000. It sold for $164,800.
is a red-granite sphinx in very nice condition from Nubia and
the Meriotic Period, 300 B.C.-300 A.D. The 19-inch-long statue
has a modest estimate of $20,000 to $30,000. It sold for $36,000.
fine Egyptian statue is a serpentine or steatite ushabti of Kasa,
Lot 84. The 7 5/8-inch high statue is finely detailed and dates
to the 19th Dynasty, reign of Sety (Ramesses II), 1290-1213 B.C.
It has an estimate of $100,000 to $150,000. It sold for $164,800.
is a figure of a goddess made of green chlorite, marble and lapis
lazuli from Bactria or Margiana, circa 2300-2000 B.C. The 3 3/4-inch-high
sculpture consists of four parts. It has an estimate of $60,000
to $80,000. It sold for $72,000.
is a very fine warrior figure made of either bronze or copper.
The Syrian or Canaanite work is circa mid-2nd Millenium B.C. The
5 3/4-inch-high figure has an estimate of $4,000 to $6,000. It
sold for $6,000.
has several Cycladic marble figures. One of the nicest is a small
figure of a goddess from the Early Bronze Age I, circa 3200-2700
B.C. The 3 11/16-inch-high figure has an estimte of $20,000 to
$30,000. It sold for $51,000.