Apollo Art Auctions to host April 22-23 sale of expertly curated ancient art, antiquities & coins
Featured: Roman legionary bronze helmet with ‘Jupiter’s Thunderbolt’ wings; Egyptian dagger with elaborate handle, Byzantine marble reliquary, wearable ancient jewelry, fine pottery
LONDON – Apollo Art Auctions, Europe’s most trusted source for expertly authenticated ancient artifacts, takes pleasure in announcing highlights of their April 22-23 sale of ancient art, antiquities and coins. More than 800 museum-worthy lots will be offered, representing the finest relics, wearable jewelry and weaponry available for private ownership. The selection traverses many historical periods, embracing the unique cultures of Classical Europe, Egypt, the Near East, India and China. As always, an abundance of Islamic treasures has been included, as well as medieval and Viking jewelry, swords and knives. Each and every artwork or object has been personally curated by Apollo Art Auctions’ experts under the supervision of gallery director Dr Ivan Bonchev, PhD, University of Oxford.
The diverse array of highlights begins with an extremely rare weapon from Egypt’s New Kingdom and 18th Dynasty, a fearsome circa 1550-1292 BC bronze dagger. Measuring 16.5 inches long, its distinctive design features a tapering pointed blade and a separately cast, riveted hilt. The hilt itself has an arched guard that tapers along the sides of the blade, while the openwork pommel flares to secure the oval openwork bone terminal. This incredible weapon is similar to an example in the collection of The Brooklyn Museum and comes to auction with an estimate of £12,000-£24,000 ($15,032-$30,064).
Apollo Art Auctions has had the privilege of handling many magnificent helmets in the past, and this month’s auction adds yet another extraordinary example to the list. Lot 417, a circa 100 BC-100 AD Roman legionary bronze helmet must be seen to be fully appreciated. It easily qualifies as a work of art, with its rich verdigris finish and unusual design that includes wings of “Jupiter’s thunderbolt,” a flared neck guard and hinged C-shape cutouts for the warrior’s ears. Previously in a European private collection and, before that, the 1970s F Breydel collection in Belgium, it will cross the auction block with a £12,000-£24,000 ($15,032-$30,064) estimate.
From a later period, a medieval (circa 900-1100 AD) Viking forged iron sword with a broad, tapering blade is as attractive as it is intimidating – a testament to the fact that Viking swords were more than just battle gear; they were viewed as symbols of power and status. Sometimes they were symbolically presented to warriors by chieftains. The auction example, which is nearly 32 inches long, will be offered with a £4,000-£8,000 ($5,010-$10,020) estimate.
A hand-crafted metal masterpiece dating to circa 500-800 AD, a rare Byzantine (Eastern Mediterranean to Middle East) bronze processional cross exhibits the highest degree of skill and artistry in its construction. Ornate and strikingly beautiful, it is of a type that would have been used in ritualistic, military or imperial processions. With a line of provenance that includes both a New York collection and Fortuna Fine Arts, its pre-auction estimate is £4,000-£8,000 ($5,010-$10,020).
The sale is graced by several important Byzantine artworks, including a circa 300-900 AD marble reliquary with eight pillars and elegant openwork foliate tracery. It was recently the property of a London gentleman, and prior to that, was part of the Trimbacher collection and acquired in 1980 in Germany. It is accompanied by a professional historical report from Ancient Report Specialists and carries an estimate of £8,000-£16,000 ($10,020-$20,040).
Also of Byzantine origin, a visually appealing gold ring with a central emerald is designed with beaded borders that flank an openwork design of scrolled decoration. The ring’s XRF analysis of metallurgical content supports its ancient origin and indicates no modern trace elements are present in the piece. Previously part of a London private collection, it will be offered with a £3,000-£6,000 ($3,760-$7,520) estimate.
A virtual jewelry box brimming with an irresistible bounty of rings, pendants, earrings, necklaces and bracelets awaits collectors of ancient jewelry. A Greek Hellenistic gold ring with a skillfully engraved depiction of a bull dates to circa 500-400 BC. It has survived the tests of time with flying colors. The lines creating the bull’s anatomy are crisp and precise, with every tuft of hair depicted in fine detail. An XRF analysis of the ring’s metallurgical content suggests ancient origin and detects no sign of modern trace elements. From a London private collection and acquired on the British art market in the 1990s, it is estimated at £6,000-£12,000 ($7,520-$15,032).
A serene Asian highlight, a Gandharan carved-schist figure of a seated Bodhisattva Maitreya dates to circa 200 AD. The graceful figure conveys grace, spiritual enlightenment and divinity, with a gaze that is fixed in the distance – a reflection of inner peace. “Dressed” in an elegant sanghati, with a complex headdress and jewelry, it is a substantial artwork weighing 48.94kg (108lbs). Its provenance includes the collection of a London gentleman and a 1970s Japanese collection. Estimate: £4,000-£8,000 ($5,010-$10,020)
A plentiful array of ancient earthenware will be available, led by a magnificent twin-handled Etruscan amphora attributed to the Micali painter, circa 525-500 BC. It is paint-decorated in red and black, with images of sirens and looming pairs of eyes in ivy. TL tested by the independent German laboratory Ralf Kotalla, it was found to be of the period reflected in its style, with no modern trace elements. The vessel has a long, illustrious line of provenance and is offered with a £6,000-£12,000 ($7,520-$15,032) estimate.
Another attractive piece of pottery is a Southern Italian (possibly from Campania) red-figure fish plate decorated with a wave pattern and three fish swimming around the garum (recess for sauce). Similar to an example in the collection of The British Museum, it was most recently part of a private collection in the South of France. Estimate: £3,000-£6,000 ($3,760-$7,520)
Apollo Art Auctions’ spacious gallery is located at 25 Bury Place in the heart of London’s Bloomsbury district, opposite The British Museum. Both sessions of their April 22-23, 2023 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. Apollo Art Auctions accepts payments in GBP, USD and EUR; and ships worldwide. All packing is handled by white-glove specialists in-house. No import charges apply to most antiquities entering the USA. For questions about any item in the sale or to discuss consigning to a future Apollo auction, please call the London gallery on +44 7424 994167 or email [email protected]. Online: www.apolloauctions.com
Today’s approximate rate of exchange: £1 = US$1.25