Apollo Galleries’ March 27 Ancient, Chinese and Islamic Art Auction features magnificent cultural artifacts from world-famous collections

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All 488 lots vetted by stellar team of experts, including renowned Egyptologist Laetitia Delaloye

LONDON – Apollo Galleries and Auctions, Britain’s premier source for expertly appraised cultural art and antiquities, takes pleasure in announcing highlights of their March 27, 2022 sale. The 488-lot Ancient, Chinese and Islamic Art Auction is divided into four sections that encompass a broad range of deeply provenanced artifacts spanning the Classical European era and important civilizations of the Near East, Egypt, India and China. 

Greek Apulian red-figure wheel-thrown ritual krater (vase with ‘volute’ handles), image of ‘Lady of Fashion’ on verso, 680mm high. TL-tested by independent German laboratory Ralf Kotalla. Provenance: central London gallery; English estate collection; acquired in 1990s from Andre de Munter, Brussels; old European collection. Estimate $26,225-$52,450
Greek Apulian red-figure wheel-thrown ritual krater (vase with ‘volute’ handles), image of ‘Lady of Fashion’ on verso, 680mm high. TL-tested by independent German laboratory Ralf Kotalla. Provenance: central London gallery; English estate collection; acquired in 1990s from Andre de Munter, Brussels; old European collection. Estimate $26,225-$52,450

Most of the items entered in the sale boast an illustrious pedigree and were previously owned by legendary collectors such as the late London barrister Alison Barker, John Lee, and other noted connoisseurs. In addition, many pieces have a history that includes prior sale at either Christie’s or Bonhams.

“No small detail was spared in preparing this exceptional sale, which I consider to be our best to date,” said Apollo Galleries director Dr Ivan Bonchev (PhD, University of Oxford). “In early February, we brought together most of our team of consultants to personally examine the entire auction selection. The team includes our consulting Egyptologist, Laetitia Delaloye, who began her career at Christie’s in 2007 and was appointed head of their London Antiquities department in 2016. She now shares her passion as an independent advisor to museums, collectors, dealers and other specialty businesses, including Apollo Galleries.” 

The March 27 sale includes Apollo Galleries’ first-ever dedicated section of Islamic art, starting at Lot 359. The collection of artifacts ranges from gilded Qurans and photographic prints to copper flasks and door fittings. With a timeline that spans the early Middle Ages through 19th century, its highlights include Lot 360, a Mamluk carved wooden panel, estimate $31,470-$62,945; Lot 373, a rare Ottoman Quran signed in inscribed by Ahmed Nazifi, estimate $52,450-$78,680; and Lot 391, a circa-1900 prayer mat with provenance from an old European collection, estimate $31,470-$39,339.

Apollo’s four signature categories – Classical, Jewellery, Weaponry, and Asian Art – are beautifully represented in this auction. The Classical selection includes seven extraordinary marble sculptures, including Lot 4, a circa early 1st century BC marble relief stele depicting the gallery’s namesake, Apollo, on horseback and holding a double-headed axe known as a labrys. With provenance that includes the famed Morkramer collection (1960s, USA), it is estimated at $13,110-$26,225.

Following the sculptures is a collection of fine Greek pottery. Standouts include Lot 18, a profusely decorated Athenian stemmed kylix with horse and rider (ex-Royal Athena Gallery); and Lot 20, a circa 432-300 BC Apulian red-figure bell krater that comes with a TL testing report from the independent German testing laboratory Ralf Kotalla. Each has an estimate of $13,110-$26,225. 

Wonderful Egyptian antiquities include Lot 94, a circa 712-32 BC linen-wrapped mummified cat, formerly in Bill Jamieson’s collection in Canada. An X-ray can be seen alongside the cat, which was created to evoke Bastet, the feline goddess representing fertility and motherhood. Similar to an example auctioned by Bonhams on May 1, 2013, it comes to Apollo Galleries’ auction with a $19,670-$32,780 estimate. 

A special highlight of the sale is an assemblage of 16 lots of cylinder stamp seals (Sumerian, Neo-Assyrian, Old Babylonian, Anatolian, et al.), most of them accompanied by a signed scholarly note from Professor Wilfrid George Lambert. “Our last collection of this type, which was featured in our January sale, was extremely popular with bidders, so we are especially pleased to have secured a second consignment of these unusual and decorative items,” Dr. Bonchev said. Each lot is estimated at $525-$1,050.  

Apollo Galleries will also present a large selection of gold jewellery lots, many of them XRF tested to confirm the metallurgical content and suggesting they are, indeed, of ancient origin. Among the top lots are: Lot 181, a circa 700-500 BC Western Asiatic Holy Land hollow-cast gold priest statuette, $13,110-$26,225; and Lots 182 through 184, each of which contains an especially fine Greek Hellenistic gold agate-eye brooch. The highest-estimated design, a circa 300-100 BC brooch of hammered gold with an inset cabochon garnet, is expected to reach $13,110-$26,225.

The array of ancient weaponry includes bronze helmets with XRF reports from Apollo Galleries’ lab, and iron swords with full reports written by Apollo Galleries’ resident consultant Russel Scott. “We are particularly excited about Lot 258, a Greek Illyrian bronze hoplite helmet with a rich blue-green bronze patina,” Dr. Bonchev said. Similar to examples held by Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Louvre, its provenance can be traced back to 1968-69 and the German collection of Hans Hagmann. Estimate: $52,450-$104,900. Lot 274, a Medieval Crusader’s iron sword with a Celtic face stamp, most likely a maker’s mark, could brandish a winning bid of $7,870-$11,800. 

Asian art begins with funerary mingqi of the Tang and Han dynasties. These collector favorites are seen in the form of camels (Lot 429), horses and riders (see Lot 439-441); attendants, warriors, and dancers (Lots 449-454). Each of the lots comes with a TL certificate from Ralf Kotalla.

The auction concludes with Gandharan (the oldest Buddhist art) sculptures, whose Kushan aesthetic reflects both the naturalism of classical Greek style and the serenity of Asian Buddhist art. An exquisite example of this hybrid influence is Lot 482, a circa 200-300 AD carved grey schist head of the goddess Hariti. It is similar to an example that was sold by Christie’s on March 20, 2008 and can be traced back to a European private collection of the 1970s. Its estimate is $26,225-$52,450.

Apollo Galleries and Auctions’ newly expanded venue is located at 25 Bury Place in the heart of London’s Bloomsbury district, opposite The British Museum. Their March 27, 2022 auction will commence at 8 a.m. US Eastern Time/1 p.m. GMT. View the fully illustrated auction catalogue and sign up to bid absentee or live online via LiveAuctioneers. The company accepts payments in GBP, USD, EUR and cryptocurrencies; and ships worldwide, with all packing handled by white-glove specialists in-house. Questions: call Apollo Galleries, London, on +44 7424 994167 or email [email protected]. Online: www.apollogalleries.com 

Apollo Galleries and Auctions is a member of the British Numismatic Trading Association (BNTA) and the Art Loss Register (AR).

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