Apollo Art Auctions unveils magnificent trove of curated, fully authenticated ancient art and antiquities for November 13 sale

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Featured: Roman Imperial marble bust of Empress Julia Domna, very rare Apulian and Lucanian painted vessels, Chinese terracotta camel, Gandharan Buddha, and inlaid Viking sword

LONDON – Apollo Art Auctions, the connoisseur’s choice for authentic, expertly vetted ancient art and antiquities, takes pleasure in announcing highlights of its November 13 gallery auction, with all forms of remote bidding available, including live via the Internet. 

Roman Imperial marble bust likely depicting Empress Julia Domna, wife of Septimus Severus late 2nd century AD. Size: 320mm (12.6in) high; 2.45kg (5lbs. 6oz). Provenance: property of a London doctor; New York private collection; Gorny & Mocsch, Munich; an old Bavarian collection. Estimate: £15,000-£30,000 ($17,415-$34,830)
Roman Imperial marble bust likely depicting Empress Julia Domna, wife of Septimus Severus late 2nd century AD. Size: 320mm (12.6in) high; 2.45kg (5lbs. 6oz). Provenance: property of a London doctor; New York private collection; Gorny & Mocsch, Munich; an old Bavarian collection. Estimate: £15,000-£30,000 ($17,415-$34,830)

The sale is divided into three sections encompassing a diverse range of premium-quality artifacts from Classical Europe, Egypt and the Near East, as well as many select items from India and China. The 455-lot auction includes such coveted rarities as a Roman Imperial marble bust of Empress Julia Domna, a Rodin painter Apulian krater, a Lucanian red-figure hydria and Attic black-figure oinochoe; as well as a Chinese terracotta camel, seated Gandharan Buddha, and inlaid Viking sword.

From the Roman Imperial period, late 2nd century AD, a beautifully carved marble bust is likely a representation of Empress Julia Domna, wife of Septimus Severus and mother of Caracalla and Geta. She is depicted with a serene expression, wearing a draped peplos (tunic), her hair arranged in the distinctive plaited and twisted hairstyle that was favored by the empress. It stands 320mm (12.6in) high and has extensive provenance including collections in London, New York and Munich. The pre-sale estimate is £15,000-£30,000 ($17,415-$34,830).

Several exceptional examples of painted pottery lead the impressive array of ceramics. A very rare Apulian red-figure column krater, executed by a Rodin painter, dates to circa 380-360 BC and is richly illustrated with a scene that includes warriors, an elegantly adorned woman holding a phiale and a wreath; and on the other side, three draped youths. The 460mm (18.1in) vessel is similar to an example held in The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collection. It has been precisely TL-dated by Ralf Kotalla, an independent German laboratory. A weighty 6.2kg (13lbs 11oz), it comes to auction with a £10,000-£20,000 ($11,610-$23,220) estimate.

Another top-tier entry is an attractive Attic blackware oinochoe (wine pitcher), after the Lysippides Painter, that dates to circa 510-500 BC. The art on the body is a representation of the episode of the Dioscuri returning home, with Kastor holding two javelins and his horse’s bridle. On both side, two couples watch the scene – probably Leda with Tyndareus; and Helen, or Clytemnestra with Pollux. Independently TL-tested by Ralf Kotalla, the 140mm (5.5in) high by 290mm (11.4in) wide jug has a line of provenance that includes multiple British private collections. It is accompanied by a 1970s black & white photo of the oinochoe beside a gallery or auction number. Estimate: £7,500-£15,000 ($8,707-$17,414)

The market’s insatiable desire for fine, wearable ancient jewelry will be well met with dozens of gorgeous rings, pendants, bracelets, necklaces, amulets, buckles and other adornments. The artistry, originality and integrity of hand-workmanship seen in the pieces to be auctioned on November 13th equals or surpasses anything created by modern artisans. A look inside Apollo Art Auctions’ jewel box reveals such treasures as a sizable circa 480-630 AC Merovingian (Frankish dynasty) gold ring set with table garnets in and around the form of a cross. Similar to an example in The Louvre’s collection, the 12.4g (0.399ozt) ring is estimated at £4,500-£9,000 ($5,227-$10,454). 

A marvelous circa 100-300 AD Roman gold ring with an oval-shape stone intaglio is engraved with a depiction of the first of Hercules’ 12 Labors: killing the Nemean Lion. It is similar to an example in The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, and has a line of provenance that traces back to a private Swiss family collection of the 1980s. Estimate: £3,000-£5,000 ($3,485-$5,808)

Superior Viking metalwork is on display in more than three dozen lots incorporating helmets, swords, battle axes, and distinctive jewelry. A circa 700-1100 AD silver Thor’s Hammer pendant, its horizontal head created in a chevron shape and decorated with a series of three stamped triangles with raised dots, is estimated at £750-£1,500 ($871-$1,742).

A very special Viking forged-iron long sword, circa 900-1000 AD, has a broad blade tapering to a sharp point and a circular pommel with a raised boss on its hilt. The sword’s handle is elaborately inlaid, possibly once in silver. It is 942mm (37.09in) long and weighs 1.02kg (2lbs. 4oz). Estimate: £8,000-£15,000 ($9,294-$17,414)

Dating to circa 100 AD, an ancient Roman iron pugio – a squat, triangular dagger of a type used both by soldiers, senators or other prominent citizens – has a lobed pommel and a scabbard decorated with tassel-like ornaments. A formidable 425mm (16.7in) high, its ownership goes back to an old Austrian collection. Estimate: £3,000-£6,000 ($3,485-$6,970)

Asian art is always a featured category in Apollo Art Auctions’ sales. A highlight of the November 13 lineup is a circa 1300-1200 BC Chinese Shang Dynasty bronze tripod vessel (ding) comparable to example in the 1998 reference Shang Ritual Bronzes in the National Palace Museum Collection, Taipei. The 290mm (11.4in) vessel has undergone XRF analysis at an independent Belgian laboratory, and a copy of the report will convey with the lot. Estimate: £4,500-£9,000 ($5,227-$10,454). Also, a stunning circa 100-300 AD carved Gandharan grey schist head of Bodhisattva exemplifies the best of Kushan artistry, which combines the naturalism of classical Greek style with the serenity of Buddhist art. The head stands 310mm (12.2in) high and weighs 9.75kg (21lbs 8oz). Estimate: £3,000-£6,000 ($3,485-$6,970).

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 Nov. 13, 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

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