Apollo Art Auctions presents aspects of The Prince Collection in Jan. 28 sale of antiquities with provenance from legendary 19th-century Egyptophiles

Published on

Highlights of featured collection can be traced to such visionaries as Rev. William MacGregor, Joseph Althounian and Daniel Marie Fouquet, who all collected long before the discovery of King Tut’s tomb

Two Large Egyptian Faience Foundation Tiles
Two Large Egyptian Faience Foundation Tiles

LONDON – Dr Ivan Bonchev, Director of Apollo Art Auctions, takes utmost pride in announcing a Sunday, January 28, 2024 live and online auction of 560 lots featuring aspects of The Prince Collection, one of the finest and most advanced assemblages of antiquities in the world. The London auction house also plans a separate Monday, January 29 online-only sale focusing specifically on fine Chinese and Islamic art.

Formed from the 1990s through 2014, The Prince Collection traverses the entire scope of cultural evolution, with items of peerless provenance and great rarity from the Neolithic, Egyptian, Hittite, Greco-Roman, and Near Eastern civilizations. Many of the items previously passed through the hands of legendary antiquities collectors of the 19th/20th centuries. A selection of Egyptian faience and engraved fragments was once the property of Reverend William MacGregor (1848–1937), a famous Egyptophile who traveled to Egypt in the mid-1880s. While there, he avidly acquired Egyptian art and cultural objects, and upon his return to Britain, loaned his collection to an 1895 exhibition at the Burlington Fine Arts Club in London. It was England’s first non-permanent exhibition to characterize Egyptian antiquities as artworks, captivating London’s elite. In 1921, MacGregor sold his collection to Spink & Son, who later auctioned the items at Sotheby, Wilkinson & Hodge (Sotheby’s).

Those same antiquities were then purchased by Joseph Altounian (1890-1954), a renowned 20th century dealer and grandee of the art world who counted amongst his friends Modigliani, Picasso and the writer Guillaume Apollinaire. Born in Armenia, Altounian moved to Paris and opened a gallery in 1906 which was subsequently known as Altounian-Lorbet. The firm specialized in Egyptian and Greek art as well as decorative and medieval works, and sold to many major American and European museums. 

The Prince Collection’s remarkable array of Egyptian faience includes two large foundation tiles believed to have come from the Pi-Ramesses palace of King Ramesses II (New Kingdom, 19th Dynasty, circa 1279-1212 BC). Each is decorated in black with an inscribed cartouche, the first carrying the prenomen of Ramesses II and the second having the king’s nomen “Ra’-masesu meri Amon.” Similar to an example at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the tiles were part of a Belgian private collection prior to joining The Prince Collection. The starting bid is £8,000 ($10,160). Also featured are two 19th Dynasty rosette inlays once owned by Daniel Marie Fouquet (1850-1921), a French doctor who lived in Cairo and whose extensive collection of antiquities was dispersed after his death at a 1922 auction at Hotel Drouot in Paris. Eighteen items from that collection can now be found at The British Museum. 

An abundance of Ancient Roman art will be offered. A Roman marble head of Harpocrates with molded hair styled in a relaxed topknot with cascading tresses dates to circa 2nd century AD. The facial features are youthful and expressive, including a subtle, enigmatic smile. The artwork’s successive gallery and private ownership pre-dates the 1960s, and it most recently appeared at auction in 2018 at Bonhams. Apollo Art Auctions has assigned a starting bid of £20,000 ($25,471).

A huge, possibly Roman, marble head of Greco-Egyptian god Zeus Ammon, was created circa 200 AD or later. Its UK provenance is preceded by a 2003 purchase in Paris. Prior to that, the marble resided in an old French collection, starting in the 1970s. The opening bid is £8,000 ($10,160).

One of the finest examples of ancient armor ever to be auctioned by Apollo, a Roman bronze Weisenau (or Imperial) helmet is a compelling study in details. Its round skull is topped by small mushroom-shape peak, and its massive visor is uniquely designed with a serrated edge. It has a widely-flaring, contoured neck guard with embossed stabilizing ribs and reinforcement bands. The helmet’s provenance includes successive European private collections, including the Charles Delaporte collection in the 1960s. Accompanied by a historical report from Ancient Report Specialists and X-ray photos, it will open at £30,000 ($38,165).

A 2.85kg/6lbs 5oz Greek Hellenistic silver salver is accented by separately-cast winged sirens, incised palmettes, and a lion-paw foot feature at each corner. It measures 560mm x 310mm (22in x 12.2in). The rare ornamental tray has a line of provenance that can be traced back to a North London collection formed before 1980. Starting bid: £15,000 ($19,100)

More than 100 expertly curated pieces are sure to delight not only Apollo’s regular coterie of ancient jewelry buyers but also those who are just becoming aware of the exquisite designs of centuries ago. A monumental and important circa 3rd century BC Greek Hellenistic gold finger ring engraved with a portrait of Zeus is a stunning work of art. The ring was most recently in a Central London private collection, and prior to that, was in a collection formed on UK/European art market pre-2000. Starting bid: £10,000 ($12,725). Of similar provenance, a Ptolemaic gold finger ring, Henig Type I, dates to circa 300-100 BC. It features an elongated bezel setting that encloses a carnelian intaglio engraved with a fastidiously detailed crocodile. Starting bid: £3,000 ($3,815). Each of the rings is accompanied by an authentication report prepared by ancient jewelry specialist Sami Fortune. 

An outstanding selection of classical pottery includes a late 4th-3rd century BC Attic red-figure bell krater with decoration attributed to the Telos Painter. On one side it displays a Dionysiac scene (Dionysus, Ariadne and satyrs); and on the other side, three male figures wrapped in ritual himatia, one of them brandishing a ritual implement. The krater has been held in a succession of distinguished British and Continental collections since 1998 and is accompanied by a TL report from QED. Starting bid: £8,000 ($10,160)

A circa 200-300 AD Gandharan carved schist panel portraying the Parinirvana, or death of Buddha, is a portrayal of the enlightened teacher lying on his side, surrounded by monks and disciples. It is similar to an example at The British Museum and is accompanied by a historical report from Ancient Report Specialists. With provenance from a West London gentleman and previously in a collection that was formed on the UK/international art market in the 1990s, it carries an opening bid of £3,000 ($3,815). 

Leading the perennially popular category of Chinese terracotta figures is an extremely well-detailed Tang Dynasty camel, circa 618-907 AD. The double-humped (Bactrian) desert beast is shown in a recumbent pose with its head thrown back and its mouth open as though braying. The figure has been precisely dated via TL analysis carried out by Ralf Kotalla laboratories. It is also accompanied by a historical report from Ancient Report Specialists. The camel previously graced a UK private collection and, prior to that, was acquired in Hong Kong in the 1990s. Starting bid: £3,000 ($3,815)

On Monday, January 29, Apollo Art Auctions will host a 194-lot online-only auction of fine Chinese and Islamic art. Of particular note is the selection of exquisite Chinese and Japanese porcelain and art ranging from Qing Empire productions to those of the 20th century. A diverse range of intricately painted porcelain captures the essence of central genres of Asian art that have been celebrated worldwide for centuries. The auction’s Islamic section includes early works in pottery, glass and bronze, e.g., Nishapur, Saljuk, Safavid, and many others.

January 29 highlights include a monumental pair of Japanese Satsuma vases; a large Chinese famille rose “Phoenix” jar; and a superb Seljuk silver-inlaid bronze mortar and pestle. A pair of Chinese Jiaqing Period (circa 1796-1799 AD) cloisonne enamel moonflasks will open at £3,000 ($3,815). Each vessel stands 380mm (15in) high, has dragon-form handles and is decorated with colorful peonies.

Apollo Art Auctions’ Sunday, Jan. 28, 2024 auction featuring The Prince Collection will be held live at the company’s new gallery located at 63/64 Margaret St., London W1W. Start time: 7am US Eastern time/12pm (midday) GMT. All remote forms of bidding will be available, including absentee or live via the Internet through LiveAuctioneers. The Monday, Jan. 29, 2024 Fine Chinese & Islamic Art auction, an online-only event with bidding through LiveAuctioneers, will start at 8am US Eastern time/1pm GMT. Apollo Art Auctions accepts payments in GBP, USD and EUR; and ships worldwide. All packing is handled in-house by white-glove professionals. Questions: call +44 7424 994167 or email [email protected]. Visit Apollo Art Auctions online at www.apolloauctions.com 

Media Source

More in the auction industry