Carter B. Horsley
major auction of the
Spring 2006 season, this antiquities auction at Christie's June
16 is larger and stronger than the antiquities auction at Sotheby's
that, unusually, was held much earlier in the month.
auction has several notable
works including an Egpyptian blue faience hippopotamus, a wonderful
gilded bronze Roman statue of a warrior, a marvelous two-headed
Anatolian marble idol and an interesting group of Bactrian objects.
shown above, is the
Egyptian blue faience hippopotamus, Middle Kingdom, Dynasty XIII,
1783-1640 B.C., 4 1/2 inches long. It is similar to Willy, a similar
piece, albeit in finer condition, that is the "mascot"
of the Metropolitan Museum of art. This hippopotamus was once
broken at the head and is missing an ear. It has an estimate of
$150,000 to $250,000. It was passed at $140,000, one of many
major works in the auction that failed to sell.
is an Egyptian limestone
relief fragment depicted a seated official wearing an array of
adornments including a double strand of the "gold of honor."
It is dated to the New Kingdom, Dynasty XVIII, late reign of Amenhotep
III, 1361-1353. B.C. It is 17 1/8 inches high. It has a modest
estimate of $15,000 to $18,000. It sold for $50,400 including
the buyer's premium as do all results mentioned in this article.
is a superb Egyptian
bronze statue of Osiris that is dated Late Period, Dynasty XXVI-XXX,
664-343 B.C. It is 18 3/16 inches high and is finely modeled with
a nice patina. It has a conservative estimate of $50,000 to $70,000.
It sold for $78,000.
the finest works in
the auction is Lot 43, a two-headed Anatolian marble idol that
is 4 3/4 inches high. It is dated circa late 3rd Millennium B.C.
The lot has an estimate of $30,000 to $40,000. It sold for
is an impressive Late
Vinca terracotta figure from the Neolithic Period, circa 5th Millennium
B.C. It is 5 inches high and has a modest estimate of $2,000 to
$3,000. It sold for $4,560.
the most interesting
early works is Lot 20, a Bactrian stone ritual object that is
55 1/2 inches high. Dark gray in color and cylindrical in form
it is tapered to flat ends. It is slightly curved and extremely
impressive. It is dated circa late 3rd to early 2nd Millennium
B.C., the same period as the more common, and equally beautiful,
Bactrian waisted cylindrical objects topped with grooves. It has
a very modest estimate of $3,000 to $4,000. It sold for
work from the same
period is Lot 24, a West Central Asian gold spouted bowl with
a zoomorphic handle in the form of a camel protome. The work is
13 1/16 nches long and has an estimate of $150,000 to $250,000.
It is listed as Bactria-Margiana. It was passed at $110,000.
Another good work from this
period is Lot 25,
a Western Asiatic female votive. The copper or bronze figure is
6 3/4 inches high and has an estimate of $50,000 to $80,000.
It was passed at $38,000.
is a 22 3/8-inch-wide
Neo-Assyrian glazed brick merlon that is 22 3/8 inches wide. It
is dated circa 8th-7th Century B.C., and has an estimate of $200,000
to $300,000. It was passed at $150,000.
is a highly stylized
and impressive Etruscan thymiaterion depicting a dancing castanet
player that was once in the Christos G. Bastis Collection and
sold at Sotheby's in the fall of 1999 for $222,500. On the head
of the player is the stem of an incense bowl. A similar work is
in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris. It has an estimate
of $300,000 to $500,000. It was passed at $260,000.
is a Roman bronze Hekateion,
circa 2nd Century A.D. Kekate was, according to the catalogue,
"a chthonic goddess who was asssociated with the ghost world.
as sich, she came to offer protection at the crossroads, from
the known path to the unknown. Her visages were apotropaic and
were placed at city gates and domestic doorways. Her aspects were
synchretistic, often incorporating the roles of Diana and Luna.
The triple-bodied composition of the goddess Hekate is recorded
as an innovation by the Greek sculpture Alkamenese in 430 B.C.
for the bastion of the Temple of Athena Nike on the Athenian
the Roman Period, the three figures came to embody the cycles
of nature: here shown as three distinct stages of human life ....The
present example closely resembles a Hekateion now in Trieste...on
which one aspect of the goddess is shown crowned with a crescent
moon." The lot has an estimate of $200,000 to $300,000. It
failed to sell.
bronzes that are finely
modelled are prized by many collectors and those that gilt bronze
even more so. Lot 262 is a very fine "Mars Ultor" Roman
gilt bronze, circa late 1st-2nd Century A.D. It is 7 inches high
and has an estimate of $70,000 to $90,000. It sold for
The cult-statue of Mars Ultor is best known from a restored colossal
marble statue from the Forum of Nerva now in the Capitoline Museum
of the finest lots
at Christie's December 18, 1998 Antiquities auction did not sell,
including lot 129, shown above, the superbly cast Hellenistic
or Roman bronze lion protome, circa 1st Century B.C.-1st Century
A.D, 17 1/2 inches long. At that auction, it had an estimate of
$150,000 to $200,000. The catalogue for that auction noted that
its origin is not clear: "The sharp left turn of the lion's
head suggests that it was once paired with a symmetrical counterpart.
Such a pair of heavy bronze lions may have been attached to the
cat-head of a ship, which is a curved timber projecting from each
bow for securing an anchor. Although it is possible that this
piece could have ornamented a chariot or piece of furniture, the
great size and weight advocates more strongly in favor of use
on a ship." In this auction, it has a modest estimate of
$100,000 to $150,000. It sold for $98,000.
is a nice Roman marble
relief of Mithras Tauroctonus that is 34 3/4 inches wide. It is
dated circa late 2nd Century A.D, and has an estimte of $200,000
to $300,000. It failed to sell. It was once in the
Collection in New York. According to the catalogue, "among
the corpus of surviving Mithraic tauroctonies, the present relief
is extraordinary for the state of preservation, quality and scale."
The scene represents the struggle between good and evil and life
and death and "the players have been interpreted as constellations."
is a very good Roman
bronze handle with a lion and lioness eating a doe. The handle
is 5 3/16 inches long and is circa 2nd Century A.D. It has a modest
estimate of $4,000 to $6,000. It sold for $2,400.
dramatic and unusual
Roman bronze handle is Lot 254, which depicts a reclining nymph,
perhaps Ariadne, as she awakens from a dream of Dionysus on the
island of Naxos, supporting herself atop a grape leaf. She is
nude except for a mantle rolled over her hips. The handle terminates
in a bust of Dionysis with a weath in his wavy hair. The lot has
a conservative estimate of $10,000 to $15,000. It sold for
conventional Roman bronze
is Lot 258, a very nice representation of Minerva that is 4 1/8
inches high. It is dated circa 1st-2nd Century A.D. and has a
modest estimate of $5,000 to $7,000. It had a hammer price
is the De Clerq Venus,
a Roman marble statue of Venus that is 47 inches high and dated
circa 2nd Century A.D. It has an estimate of $300,000 to $500,000.
It was passed at $280,000.
is the De Clerq Cupid,
a 59 1/2-inch high Roman marble statue that is also dated circa
2nd Century A. D. It has an estimate of $80,000 to $100,000. It
was passed at $75,000.
is the Lansdowne Hermaphroditus,
a Roman marble statue that is 43 3/16 inches long. It has an estimate
of $300,000 to $500,000. It was passed at $260,000.
is a very impressive
head of Mars Ultor. The Roman marble is dated circa late 2nd Century
A.D., and is 12 1/4 inches high. It was formerly with Robin Symes
in London and The Merrin Gallery in New York. It has an estimate
of $50,000 to $70,000. It sold for $90,000.
auction has a good selection
of Greek vases.
is an impressive Apulian
pottery figural vase in the form of a hippocamp and the catalogue
notes that this hippocamp "differs from standard Greek depictions
of the mystical creature in that it has fins instead of equine
forelegs." It is 7 1/2 inches long and has an estimate of
$50,000 to $70,000. It sold for $144,000.
is a good Attic black-figured
neck-amphora that is attributed to the Princeton Group and is
dated circa 540 B.C. It is 13 inches high and depicts Herakles
wresting the Nemean lion. It is one of many works in the auction
that was once in the collection of Alfred E. Mirsky. It has an
estimate of $50,000 to $70,000. It sold for $48,000. The
catalogue notes that "as punishment for killing his wife
and children in a fit of insanity, Herakles was sentenced by the
oracle of Apollo to serve Eurystheus, the king of Tiryns and Mycenae,
for twelve years. As part of his sentence, Eurystheus required
that Herakles complete twelve seemingly impossible labors - the
first of which was to bring back the skin of the lion terrorizing
the hills around Nemea."
and 40 are South Arabian
alabaster heads that are dated circa 1st Century B.C.-1st Century
A.D., and both are 10 1/2 inches high. The catalogue notes that
they are unfinished on top and back and were once fitted with
gypsum and set in a niche on an inscribed limestone stela. Lot
39 was acquired in South Arabia in 1972 and has a modest estimate
of $8,000 to $12,000. It sold for $14,400. Lot 40
in South Arabia 1958-9 and was exhibited at the Birmingham City
Art Gallery and Museum from 1960 to 1970. It has an estimate of
$100,000 to $150,000. It sold for $192,000.
the many disappointments
in this auction, there were some surprises. Lot 28 consisted of
a Mesopotamian terracotta cunieform envelope and tablet, 1 15/16
inches and 1 3/8 inches long, respectively. They were dated Ur
III, Reign of Amar-Suen, Year 5, circa 2043. The lot, which was
once in the collection of Lord Amherst of Hackney, had an estimate
of $1,200 to $1,800. It sold for $10,800.
36 was an Achaemenid
limestone relief fragment depicted the head of a bearded nobleman
in profile, circa 522-465 B.C. It was one of many objects in the
auction that was property from the collection of Alfred E. Mirsky
that was being sold for the benefit of the Graduate Student Program
of the Rockefeller University. The object is 8 1/4 inches high
and had an estimate of $150,000 to $250,000. It sold for $329,000.
178 is an handsome Egyptian
red granite male head, Third Intermediate Period, Dynasty XXI-XXII,
1070-712 B.C. The lot had an estimate of $8,000 to $12,000. It
sold for $28,800.
175 is an Egyptian glass
heart amulet, New Kingdom, Dynasty XIX, 1307-1196 B.C. It had
an estimate of $4,000 to $6,000 and sold for $12,000. It is 2
1/4 inches high.