3 Haziran 2011 Cuma

Antiquities Christie's

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Lot 191, Roman gilt silver rhyton, 9 3/4 inches high, circa 1st Century A.D.By Carter B. Horsley
While most of this Spring 2003 season has witnessed a paucity of superb offerings in most of the major categories, this Antiquities auction at Christie's is full of interesting and fine works.

It is highlighted by an impressive Syrian limestone votive relief, a stunning Roman gilt silver rhyton, and an intriguing Caucasian nomadic gilt bronze finial. In addition, there are numerous excellent Egyptian works of art, fine Greek vases and Roman sculptures.

Given recent concerns about the looting of antiquities in Iraq, Lot 71, a Syrian limestone votive relief, should draw considerable attention. The 16-inch-high relief is dated by Christie's as Early Dynastic Period, circa 2600-2300 B.C. It is sculpted in two registers around a central square perforation for attachment to a wall and the center shows a bearded man, possibly the donor of the relief, standing before an enthroned bearded deity, the votary in profile to the right with his arms projecting forward, perhaps once proffering a libation, wearing a belted kilt of long pointed tufts, similar to those on many Sumerian statues. The deity holds a palm leaf.

Although it is not finely detailed, the lot is impressive for its size and has an estimate of $80,000 to $120,000. It failed to sell.
Much more recent and much more spectacular is Lot 191, a Roman gilt silver rhyton, circa 1st Century A.D., shown at the top of this article. The 9 3/4-inch-high drinking vessel was made from a single sheet of silver excluding the hollow tube at the base and the separately cast disk rim and its conical body has four registers in high relief. The top two reliefs depict various animals while the lowest register has herms with wild hair and long beards and the second lowest register has three winged Erotes supporting a garland.

The beautiful rhyton has a modest estimate of $100,000 to $150,000. It sold for $141,900 including the buyer's premium as do all the results mentioned in this article.

Lot 239, Caucasian nomadic gilt bronze finial, 4 inches high,, circa 10th Century A.D.
While not as magnificent as the Roman gilt silver rhyton, Lot 239, a Caucasian nomadic gilt bronze finial, is one of those small but very fascinating antiquities that crudely conjure fantasies. The 4-inch-high finial depicts a stylized woman holding a bowl and wearing a pendant cross between her very small breasts. The figure has a very pointed chin, a very thin mouth and large eyes, one of which is still inlaid with turquoise glass. The ears are pierced for now missing earrings. There is a fringe of striated hair at the top of the head, the back open, according to the catalogue and the finial is riveted to a domed sheet ornamented with an interlocking pattern with four glass disks and rivets which attach leather to the underside. The lot also has a small gilt bronze bell and, more importantly, a bearded man with outstretched arms in a gilt bronze openwork fitting.

The lot has a conservative estimate of $12,000 to $18,000. It sold for $21,510.
The more conventional "items" include many impressive works.

Lot 12, torso inscribed for Pharaoh Tuthmosis III, graywacke, Egyptian, 19 1/4 inches high, New Kingdom, Dynasty XVIII, Reign of Tuthmosis III, 1479-1425 B.C.The Egyptian section of the auction is highlighted by a fine graywacke torso inscribed for Pharaoh Tuthmosis III, a Middle Kingdom pair statue, and a small limestone head of Amenhotep III.

The torso, Lot 12, is dated to the New Kingdon, Dynasty XVIII, reign of Tuthmosis III, 1479-1425 B.C. The 19 1/4-inch--high black stone torse is very finely sculpted with what the catalogue describes as a "silky matte finish" and the now-headless figure once wore an unadorned false beard and a nemes-headclotyh, the lappets of which are preserved on the shoulders. Tuthmosis III's stepmother was Hatshepsut who served as regent until her death in 1458 B.C. Tuthmosis squashed revolts in Egypt's western Asian territories and, according to the catalogue, "established Egypt as the reigning superpower of the region[and] chose to eradicate the memory of Hatshepsut replacing her name and image with his own." He was succeeded in 1425 B.C., by his son, Amenhotep II.

The imposing lot has a conservative estimate of $100,000 to $150,000. It sold for $141,900.

Lot 8, pair statue, diorite, Egyptian, Middle Kingdom, Dynasty XI-XIV- 2040-1640 B.C.
An earlier statue that is smaller and less formidable but complete with heads and legs is Lot 8, a pair statue of diorite that is dated to the Middle Kingdom, Dynasty XI-XIV, 2040-1640 B.C. The 8 1/2-inch-high stature depicts a man and a woman on a high plinth. The catalogue notes that the fingers and toes of both figures manneristically elongated, both with distinctive non-idealizing facial features, including hieroglyphic eyes, prominent ears, triangular nose and straight mouth. The figures are identified with hieroglyphic text on the top of the plinth. This is a very handsome work, which fortunately has not been terribly marred by what appears to have been an attempt in the past to split the statues and base apart.

The lot has an estimate of $250,000 to $350,000. It failed to sell.

Lot 13, head of Amenhotep III, limestone, Egyptian, 4 inches high, New Kingdom, Dynasty XVIII, reign of Amenhotep III, 1391-1353 B.C.
Lot 13 is a nice small limestone head of Amenhotep III. The four-inch-high head is dated New Kingdom, Dynasty XVIII, reign of Amenhotep III, 1391-1353 B.C. It has a somewhat ambitious estimate of $30,000 to $50,000. It sold for $50,190.

Lot 29, relief, limestone, Egyptian, 13 3/4 inches high, Saite Period, Dynasty XXVI, 664-525 B.C.
Lot 29 is a very fine Egyptian limestone relief from the Saite Period, Dynasty XXVI, 664-525 B.C. The 13 3/4-inch-high relief is related to similar reliefs from the tomb of Mentuemhat, a mayor of Thebes and one of his era's most powerful administrators, according to the catalogue. It has an estimate of $40,000 to $60,000. It sold for $89,625.
For many collectors of antiquities, Cycladic statues are among the most abstract objects available. Anatolian Kilia type statues are, in fact, more abstract and do not appear as often. Lot 61 is a 4 1/8-inch-high marble female idol, Kilia type, that is dated circa 2700-2100 B.C. The stylized figure has a broad triangular head with small protruding ears and slender nose, and a flat body with rounded shoulders. It has a modest estimate of $15,000 to $20,000. It sold for $17,925. Lot 60 is just the head of a similar piece as Lot 61. The 1 13/16-inch-high head has a modest estimate of $2,000 to $3,000. It sold for $5,019.
The Greek Art section of the auction is highlighted by a very, very beautiful marble head of a female and many excellent vases.