Apollo Art Auctions celebrates luxe new venue with Nov. 5 gallery sale of premier Ancient Art and Antiquities
First live auction at new West End saleroom features Cycladic marble figure; Roman bust of Homer; important Gandhara Bodhisattva; medieval, Knights Templar, Greek Corinthian armor
LONDON – Apollo Art Auctions, led by Dr Ivan Bonchev (PhD, University of Oxford), has enjoyed tremendous success as the auction branch of Apollo Galleries, London’s renowned source for authentic ancient art and antiquities. Since its inception, Apollo Art Auctions has conducted its flourishing online-auction business from its parent company’s premises at 25 Bury Place in fashionable Bloomsbury. Now the auction division has its own upscale address. While Apollo Galleries will continue to trade from its prime location near the British Museum, Apollo Art Auctions will operate from a separate but equally stylish West End property. Located at prestigious 63-64 Margaret Street, close to Oxford Street and Bond Street stations, the new venue includes rooms that have been purpose-designed and outfitted for live auctions and previewing, paving the way for Apollo’s expansion into exciting new categories: Asian and Contemporary Art.
On Sunday, November 5, the Apollo family of companies will christen its newest location with a 501-lot, no-reserve Fine Ancient Art & Antiques Auction which Dr Bonchev describes as, “unquestionably our best sale to date.” All remote forms of bidding, including live online, will also be available for this and all future Apollo Art Auctions events.
Overseeing the ancient art selection is a rare and fascinating marble Cycladic II female idol of the Chalandriani Type. It is a product of the Aegean Keros-Syros culture and dates to circa 2800-2300 BC. The figure’s head is rendered in the shape of an inverted triangle, and its body, with skillfully incised accent lines, follows a tapered shape. This curious survivor is similar to examples at Musee du Louvre, Paris; and the Archaeological Museum in Athens. Its line of provenance most recently includes a London ancient art gallery, a Paris private collection and Paris gallery JM Serres. The opening bid is set at £30,000/$36,510.
An Attic black-figure neck-amphora of exceptional quality is attributed to the Antimenes Painter (active circa 530-510 BC). It is associated with the famed “Leagros Group” of large-format Attic vase painters. Side A of the auction example depicts Dionysos, the god of wine, with a satyr, maenad and other dancing companions. Side B shows two centaurs facing opposite directions. The 385mm/15.16in vase has been TL-tested and authenticated by CIRAM laboratory in France and will open at £30,000/$36,510.
A rare Roman marble bust of Homer, adapted from an earlier Hellenistic original, is from the Flavian to Antonine period, circa 70-200 AD. Its carved details include a thick curling beard and hair, sunken cheeks, heavy-lidded eyes, and an aquiline nose. It is similar to an example in The British Museum’s collection. With provenance from London and Paris private and gallery collections, the 470mm/18.5in sculpture will open for bidding at £20,000/$24,340.
Asian art highlights are plentiful and include a rare and important circa 200-300 AD Gandhara life-size grey schist torso of Bodhisattva. The figure is surrounded by a halo, has an urna on its forehead, and “wears” a graceful pleated dhoti and shawl, necklaces and amulets. A similar work is seen in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s collection. Measuring 1060mm/41.7in, its provenance includes a West London gentleman’s collection and another collection formed on the UK and international art market in the 1990s. Opening bid: £20,000-$24,340
The selection of ancient arms and armor is, in a word, sensational. A circa-600 BC Greek Corinthian bronze combat helmet was hammered from a single sheet of bronze and displays finely contoured almond-shape eyes, curvilinear eyebrows, a wide noseguard, arched enveloping cheek pieces. The design incorporates attachments for plumes, which would indicate the helmet may have been owned by a wealthy, socially prominent person. “It is completely intact and shows no repair or restoration, which is rare on the global art market,” Dr Bonchev noted. The helmet’s style is extensively documented in books, exhibition catalogs and other literature. Most recently part of an important London private collection, its former ownership also includes an old Spanish Cervera collection. Opening bid: £20,000/$24,340
The notorious Australian bushranger Ned Kelly might well have taken inspiration from a rare and extraordinary iron “Great Helm,” a name that refers to the first helmet of the Middle Ages that completely enclosed the wearer’s head. Made circa 1300-1400 AD, the auction example’s barrel-shape design was created from large, riveted iron sheets with small rectangular eyeholes and rows of ventilation holes. It can be compared to a helmet in the collection of the Deutsches Historisches Museum in Berlin. Its long and illustrious line of provenance includes the Ing Peter Till collection formed in Vienna in the 1980s. Opening bid: £20,000/$24,340
Dr Bonchev predicts there will be strong interest in an extremely rare Knights Templar iron two-handed sword. Described as an Oakeshott type XVa, its tapered blade culminates in a heavy circular type H pommel with a raised center and upraised Templars Cross. The tang is inlaid with a copper coat of arms featuring a family crest and stylized eagle with outstretched wings. Its provenance includes a central London gallery, a private German collection, and acquisition on the German art market in the 1990s. It will open for bidding at £15,000/$18,255.
A huge Pre-Viking (circa 600-800 AD) silver-gilt strap distributor is an impressive production. Its central round plate was crafted with a wonderful decorative center stone, and additionally, there are four amazing eagle-head fittings. Intricate notch decorations and gilding further enhance its eye appeal. With provenance that goes back to a southern Germany private collection, this very unusual piece in excellent condition comes to auction with an opening bid of £10,000/$12,170.
Several lots of distinctive Viking jewelry will be ready to impress on auction day, including a heavy gold bracelet dating to circa 900-1100 AD. Expertly hand-worked with intertwined strands of gold, its terminals are stamped with an attractive pattern of opposing triangles. Rare and valuable, its prior ownership can be traced back to its acquisition in Europe in the late 1940s. The bracelet weighs 105 grams and will convey to its new owner with a 2015 Oxford Labs X-ray fluorescence authentication report. Opening bid: £20,000/$24,340
Every Apollo Art Auctions event includes breathtaking pieces of Ancient Greek and Roman jewelry, and the November 5 auction is no exception. Among the many noteworthy pieces on offer is a scarce circa-400 BC Greek Hellenistic gold ring with a large bezel elaborately engraved with the image of a lion attacking a bull. The ring was formerly the property of a North London gentleman who acquired it in the 1980s on the UK/European art market. Bidding will open at £3,000/$3,650.
Apollo Art Auctions’ Sunday, Nov. 5, 2023 no-reserve sale will be held live at the company’s new gallery located at 63/64 Margaret St., London W1W. The auction will start at 8 a.m. US Eastern Time/1 p.m. GMT. All remote forms of bidding will be available, including absentee or live via the Internet through LiveAuctioneers. The company accepts payments in GBP, USD and EUR; and ships worldwide. All packing is handled by white-glove specialists in-house. Questions: Please call +44 7424 994167 or email [email protected]. Visit Apollo Art Auctions online at www.apolloauctions.com