Apollo Art Auctions presents fresh-to-market ancient art and antiquities of extraordinary quality and beauty in Oct. 9 sale
Featured: Viking silver horse’s head armor with stunning hand-decoration, Egyptian painted and gilded mummy mask cartonnage, Chinese Tang Dynasty set of 12 zodiac figures
LONDON – With each successive sale, London’s Apollo Art Auctions delights collectors of ancient art and antiquities with a fresh selection of fully authenticated treasures from bygone civilizations. Each rare object – whether valued for its great beauty, historical significance, or both – is offered with the assurance that it has been vetted by top experts working under the direction of Apollo’s founder, Dr. Ivan Bonchev (Ph.D., University of Oxford). On October 9th, the London-based firm will conduct yet another outstanding gallery auction of ancient art and antiquities, with worldwide bidding available online through LiveAuctioneers.
The beautifully illustrated catalogue features 499 lots divided into three sections: Classical and Egyptian, Masterpieces of Ancient Asia, and Medieval Antiquities and Ancient Weaponry. The well-provenanced artifacts represent cultures of many significant eras and geographic regions, including Classical Europe, Egypt, the Near East, India and China.
Ancient Egypt is endlessly fascinating, with its gods, its rituals and its reverence to those who had passed to the afterlife. A prime example of the latter is seen in the auction’s opening lot: an Egyptian mummy mask cartonnage from the Ptolemaic Period, circa 332-30 BC. Made from layers of plaster-covered linen, it presents an idealized portrait of the deceased, with pleasing facial features and voluminous tripartite wig. It is polychrome painted in peacock blue, red and white with generous gilding that has weathered many centuries to emerge in fine condition. Most recently it was held in the collection of an Oxfordshire (England) medical doctor. Estimate: £20,000-£40,000 ($22,938-$45,876)
A number of highlights grace the Ancient Roman section, including a life-size marble head of youthful female from the Antonine Period, circa 200 AD. With a height of 380mm (15in) and a weight of 18.6kg (41lb), this substantial and masterfully sculpted artwork has a long line of provenance that includes a London art gallery, Brummer Gallery (New York), and a reference to having been purchased from “Pascal” in the 1920s. Estimate: £30,000-£60,000 ($34,407-$68,814)
A stunning Roman gold plaque, circa 100-300 AD, is decorated in bas-relief with images of an actor’s mask surrounded by the naos of a temple and surmounted by two floral garlands. While its exact purpose is not known, it might well have been affixed to another object, possibly even a casket of some type. Its size is 69.9mm by 63.3mm (2.75in x 2.49in) and it weighs 38g (1.22ozt). The plaque was formerly the property of a London ancient art gallery and, previous to that, was part of the Welbank collection since the 1980s. It will convey to its new owner with a full report. Estimate: £20,000-£40,000 ($22,938-$45,876)
Relics and implements of war are a mainstay of Apollo’s sales and enjoy a faithful following within the international community of arms, armament and militaria collectors. One of the category’s featured lots is a circa 100-50 BC Roman bronze Montefortino helmet with a rounded bowl, folded brim and projection at the top for the attachment of a plume. Similar to an example in The British Museum’s collection, the helmet has resided in both US and English private collections and comes with a professional historical report from Ancient Report Specialists. It is estimated at £7,500-£15,000 ($8,601-$17,202).
In their day, Viking silversmiths were second to none. While best known for their jewelry designs and monetary coins, their talents can be seen in other hand-crafted valuables, such as Lot 15A, a rare and impressive silver horse’s chamfron. Designed to protect a horse’s head while charging in battle, the chamfron (from the French words for “field” or “battlefield,” and “bit,” as in the bit placed in a horse’s mouth) has decorative embossed dots around its exterior and extensive incised geometric motifs on its central area. The chamfron dates to circa 900-1100 AD and weighs 1.4kg (2lb 1oz). It has extensive provenance going back to 1967 and is accompanied by a professional historical report from Ancient Report Specialists. Estimate: £40,000-£80,000 ($45,876-$91,752)
The interest in ancient, wearable jewellery seems to grow with each successive sale conducted by Apollo Art Auctions, simply because the firm is becoming known as a premier source for the most desired examples of jeweled rings, necklaces, pendants, earrings and brooches. Many pieces in the October 6 auction have a high gold content and exhibit styling whose influence clearly inspired some of the finest contemporary fine jewellery designs. Among the many noteworthy pieces to be auctioned are a rare and elaborately decorated circa 900-1100 AD Viking gold ring with images of two owls’ faces, £20,000-£30,000 ($22,938-$34,406); and a sensational circa 3rd-1st century BC Greek Hellenistic gold hinged ring with a cabochon amethyst, £20,000-£40,000 ($22,938-$45,876).
The Asian section is brimming with rare and important art and artifacts. An unusual buying opportunity presents itself in the enchanting set of 12 Chinese Tang Dynasty (circa 618-907 AD) terracotta zodiac figures. Each of the 450mm (17.7in) figures is modeled with a head to represent a particular animal of the Chinese zodiac and is set on a human body in court dress. The set is larger than, but comparable to, a set in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collection. Another similar set, from the Shaanxi History Museum, was exhibited at the Guggenheim Museum in 1998. Highly sought after by collectors, such figures were once placed in coffin chambers to entreat the gods for tomb protection. Set estimate: £15,000-£30,000 ($17,203-$34,406)
Apollo Art Auctions is located in a newly expanded gallery at 25 Bury Place in the heart of London’s Bloomsbury district, opposite The British Museum. Their Oct. 9, 2022 auction will commence at 7 a.m. US Eastern Time/12 noon BST. View the fully illustrated auction catalogue and sign up to bid absentee or live online 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: call Apollo Art Auctions, London, on +44 7424 994167 or email [email protected]. Online: www.apolloauctions.com
Apollo Art Auctions is a member of the British Numismatic Trading Association (BNTA) and the Art Loss Register (AR).