Apollo Galleries to auction breathtaking array of classical and Asian antiquities, ancient jewellery and weaponry, May 14-15

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Featured: Early 1st millennium BC bronze shield, life-size Roman marble statues of children, Chinese Ming Dynasty foo lion altar, unparalleled selection of Greek, Roman & Viking jewellery

LONDON – Dr. Ivan Bonchev of Apollo Galleries and Auctions, Britain’s premier source for authentic, expertly appraised cultural art and antiquities, takes pleasure in announcing highlights of the company’s May 14-15, 2022 sale. The elegant 599-lot auction event is divided into two sessions, each devoted to its own distinct specialties. Classical and Asian antiquities will be presented on Saturday the 14th, while ancient jewellery and weaponry are reserved for Sunday the 15th. Deeply provenanced, all auction items have been vetted by world-renowned consultants, and if applicable, scientifically analyzed and tested.

Rare Urartu (Iron Age kingdom in the historic Armenian highlands) convex bronze shield tondo with carinated, conical center. Decorated in repousse and ornamented with bosses, zigzags, vertical bars, arches. Circa early 1st millennium BC. Provenance: property of a London gentleman. Believed to have been previously part of Axel Guttman collection. Estimate £10,000-£15,000 ($12,545-$18,820)
Rare Urartu (Iron Age kingdom in the historic Armenian highlands) convex bronze shield tondo with carinated, conical center. Decorated in repousse and ornamented with bosses, zigzags, vertical bars, arches. Circa early 1st millennium BC. Provenance: property of a London gentleman. Believed to have been previously part of Axel Guttman collection. Estimate £10,000-£15,000 ($12,545-$18,820)

Wondrous treasures from many of the world’s greatest civilizations are featured in the selection prepared for this exciting weekend event. Discerning collectors will have the chance to acquire superb Greek and Roman pottery, Egyptian masks, Roman glass and lamps, as well as stunning wearable gold jewellery. Fascinating ancient weaponry includes Chalcidian helmets, Medieval period swords with inlaid handles, Viking battle axes, and much more. A diverse array of Asian offerings is led by porcelains, Gandharan sculptures, Chinese bronze and terracotta figures of mounted horses and their attendants; and other coveted animal forms, including rabbits, rams, dogs, pigs and fowl. 

The Saturday session opens on a high note with a pair of beautiful life-size Roman marble statues of cherubic nude children representing Harpocrates, the god of silence and secrecy. Each of the figures is posed gracefully on a plinth, with one hand resting on a vessel and the other arm holding a cornucopia. Held in a West Sussex estate after being acquired in the 1960s/’70s, the statues are accompanied by written archaeological expertise by Dr Raffaele D’Amato and a geological scholarly report by Dr Ronald Bonewitz. The auction estimate for the pair is £40,000-£60,000 ($50,185-$75,280).

An extremely fine example of Greek Attic black-figure pottery, a circa-500 BC amphora features painted iconography that includes a satyr flanked by two maenads and, on the opposite side, Hermes with a female figure and male figure, possibly Eros. Standing 222mm high, it is additionally adorned by palmette leaves and other intricate motifs, as well as a band of rays that encircle the base. Its long line of documented UK provenance goes as far back as 1951, and its former owners include the famed collector and London barrister Alison Barker (1951-2021). Estimate £10,000-£20,000 ($12,545-$25,090)

In league with the capacious selection of Greek Attic, Greek Gnathian and Etruscan wares are several Daunian (Greek Southeast Italy) vessels. A striking 4th century BC Daunian trozella with a round-bellied body, olive-leaf decoration and characteristic discs on high strap handles measures 260mm by 190mm. The trozella form was the precursor to the nestoris, a two-handled jar produced by later Lucanian and Apulian workshops. This lovely, early example in warm earth tones was most recently in the collection of a London gallery and now comes to auction with a £6,000-£9,000 ($7,525-$11,290) estimate.

The Asian art category is graced by a very large and exquisitely ornamental three-piece glazed-pottery foo lion altar. This glamorous showpiece dating to circa 1368-1644 AD [Ming Dynasty] is executed in rich mustard and green shades, with “harness and bell” adornments and openwork star elements. An immensely impressive artwork, it measures 925mm high by 600mm wide. Its provenance includes the collection of Dr E Bourke, of Yonkers, New York. Estimate £20,000-£30,000 ($25,090-$37,635)

Formerly part of a private Dutch collection, a Chinese 19th/early 20th century blue and white hu-shape porcelain vase is decorated overall in a “fish roe” pattern with butterflies. Its two cartouche scenes include a full-length image of Lu Zhishen “The Flower Monk,” and a depiction of a man who is probably the Song Dynasty general Yue Fei. Standing 335mm high with “beast” handles and a Daoguang seal mark, it is estimated at £2,000-£3,000 ($2,510-$3,760).

A sumptuous selection of precious ancient jewellery is waiting to dazzle bidders on Day 2 of the sale. A Greek gold pendant with image of Gorgon head with snake coiffure in low relief, circa 400 BC, is a book example and was exhibited by The Arts Council of Great Britain. Its provenance includes the collection of Sir J. Epstein (1880-1959), and C. Monzino (1931-1996), Castagnola. Like all other gold jewellery to be presented at Apollo Galleries on May 15, the pendant has been XRF-tested to confirm metallurgical content suggesting its ancient origin and lack of modern trace elements. Estimate: £20,000-£30,000 ($25,090-$37,635)

A gorgeous Roman gold and sardonyx cameo pendant depicting Julia Domna, who was a Roman empress from 193 to 211 AD as the wife of Emperor Septimius Severus, was formerly in the Alison Barker collection. Estimate £10,000-£15,000 ($12,545-$18,820). Rare and mesmerizing, a circa-3500 BC Sumerian gold pendant depicts Pasuzu, the ancient Sumerian king of demons and bearer of storms. Its long line of international provenance includes a private UK collection, an old Oxford (England) collection formed in 1990s, and before that, a private Japanese collection. Estimate: £10,000-£15,000 ($12,545-$18,820)

According to Apollo Galleries’ founder/director Dr Ivan Bonchev (PhD, University of Oxford), interest in ancient weaponry “never wanes, although accessibility to fine, genuine examples of battle armor and implements decreases every time an important piece goes into a private collection.” It is not unusual, Dr Bonchev added, for historically significant relics to “remain in a single collection for a lifetime.” And that is why there is such a high level of excitement anytime Apollo Galleries is able to offer something as extraordinary as the circa-300BC Greek Attic hammered bronze helmet entered as Lot 322. Its craftsmanship and artistry are of an exceedingly high standard, with an unusual molded spiral motif at each temple. Similar examples appeared in Christie’s 2002 and 2004 auctions of the venerable Axel Guttman collection. The helmet in Apollo Galleries’ auction has a trail of provenance that includes, most recently, a London private collection and, before that, a European collection; Peter Ing; and an old Austrian collection. Estimate £60,000-£90,000 ($74,695-$112,040).

A rare, circa early 1st millennium BC Urartu (Iron Age kingdom in the historic Armenian highlands) convex bronze shield tondo is believed to have once been part of the Axel Guttman collection. It has a carinated, conical center and is decorated in repousse and ornamented with bosses, zigzags, vertical bars, and arches. This eye-catching Near Eastern artifact is estimated at £10,000-£15,000 ($12,545-$18,820).

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 May 14-15, 2022 auction will commence at 8 a.m. US Eastern Time/1 p.m. BST. 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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