Artemis Gallery auction presents antiquities, Asian & ethnographic art
BOULDER, COLO.- While every auction event conducted by Artemis Gallery is a trip back in time with exciting artifacts from scores of important cultures waiting to be discovered, the company’s Exceptional Series is a particular favorite with collectors. The finest consignments of investment-grade art and artifacts from Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Near Eastern and Far Eastern, and Pre-Columbian cultures are reserved exclusively for sales produced under the Exceptional Series banner. The next Exceptional Antiquities, Asian & Ethnographic Auction, slated for June 4, includes 391 museum-worthy lots, with absentee and live-online bidding available through LiveAuctioneers.
Dominating the auction’s many intriguing artworks and relics of Ancient Egypt is a 74-inch-long polychrome gesso coffin lid from the 26th to 31st Dynasty, circa 664-332 BCE. Elaborately decorated overall, it depicts a serene countenance with a red-orange face, almond-shape eyes and a black chinstrap with a net-patterned false beard. “Anthropoid coffins like this one first appeared by the Middle Kingdom. They were skillfully carved so as to outline the mummy’s body, and decorated with the visage and wig of the deceased individual,” said Artemis Gallery Executive Director Teresa Dodge. The auction example was imported from Egypt in 1948 and has remained in private hands ever since. Estimate $100,000-$150,000
Aesthetically superior, an Ancient Greek Attic black-figure krater by the “Painter of Louvre F6,” workshop of Lydos, circa 560-550 BCE, measures 14 inches wide and displays an iconographic program that features a swan between two confronting panthers. “The animals chosen by the artist for this piece carry great symbolism and appear at critical points throughout Greek mythology,” said Dodge. Estimate $25,000-$40,000
In every Exceptional Antiquities auction hosted by Artemis Gallery, collectors can expect to see an array of scarce and very beautiful Roman glass exhibiting techniques that have influenced centuries of decorative glass production, including to the present day. Many tempting examples await bidders in the June 4 sale, including a spectacular “splashed” red/aubergine glass aryballos. From the 1st century CE Imperial Period, the 3.5-inch free-blown vessel is of a type rarely seen because its “splashed” pattern would have been quite difficult to achieve. In fact, this type of decoration had vanished by the end of the first century,” Dodge noted. The auction estimate is set at $30,000-$50,000.
The unparalleled metal artistry of the Vikings speaks for itself in several lots chosen for inclusion in this auction, the most unusual being an important 9th/10th century CE silver eye guard. Once riveted to a “Spandelhelm” iron helmet with silver rivets, the 98% silver fragment is attractively decorated with vertical stripes. Only the wealthiest and most important Viking warriors would have had access to the type of helmet that would have included an eye guard of this type. It comes to auction with a $30,000-$50,000 estimate.
Many of the Near Eastern antiquities cataloged in the June 4 auction have provenance from previous Christie’s sales, including a TL-tested, inscribed 10th-13th century CE Nishapur turquoise glazed pottery pitcher, $18,000-$27,000; a profusely detailed 9th-century CE Nishapur polychrome bowl with the image of a horse and rider, $10,000-$15,000; and a 12th-century CE Raqqa pottery bowl, $7,000-$10,000. An important and skillfully carved 12th-century CE Late Byzantine lapis lazuli plaque depicts Jesus Christ as Pantocrator (Almighty) holding an open Gospel book in one hand and making a gesture of benediction with the other hand. Estimate: $15,000-$20,000
An extraordinarily well-detailed buff gray sandstone statue of the Hindu god Shiva originated in the Khmer Empire (Cambodia, Angkor culture), circa 8th-12th century CE. “It is one of the finest Khmer sculptures we have ever seen. The artistry is simply remarkable,” Dodge observed. The 30-inch-high by 24.5-inch-wide deity is sculpted in a crouch, with four extended arms and an exquisitely carved flaming aureole behind his head and body. Presented on an included custom stand, it is expected to make $16,000-$24,000 at auction.
A 32-inch-tall Pre-Columbian (central Mexico, northern Veracruz) pottery figure of a priest is almost lifelike with its stern expression and applied decorative ornaments and clothing. His eyeballs, as well as those of the jaguar on his headdress, are made of bitumen. The figure was created circa 600-900 CE. Its importance is enhanced by the fact that it was inventoried in 1970 by the renowned archaeologist, anthropologist and widely published scholar Hasso von Winning (1914-2001). Estimate: $20,000-$30,000
Certainly one of the most fascinating and uncommon items to be offered in the auction is an example of 19th-century CE tribal currency known as “tevavu.” Made of tightly coiled scarlet feathers taken from approximately 300 honey-eater birds, this particular example would have required great skill and taken considerable time to create. Tevavu of this type was used by the peoples of Oceania, Melanesia, the Solomon Islands, Temotu Province and Santa Cruz Islands to pay for root crops, canoes or animals. Traditionally, tevavu have also been offered as gifts during marriage ceremonies. Extremely rare and with provenance that includes a Hawaiian private collection and Sotheby’s (‘Art of Africa, Oceania, and The Americas’ May 15, 2017), the lot is estimated at $40,000-$60,000
The Fine Art & Historical section is led by a very special consignment: William Franklin Draper’s (American, 1912-2003) oil-on-canvas portrait of John F. Kennedy in a charcoal gray suit, seated in a rocking chair. It was painted in 1962, one year before the much-admired president’s assassination. Known as the “Dean of American Portraiture,” Draper is the only artist who ever painted John F. Kennedy’s portrait from life. The signed and dated artwork bears the Draper Estate stamp on verso and is presented in a handsome gilt frame. Estimate: $150,000-$250,000
Also of great historical importance is a very rare set of two circa-1900 blueprints for the ill-fated British luxury liner ‘Lusitania,’ which was sunk in 1916 by a World War I German torpedo. The blueprints measure 102 by 28 inches and show fore and aft views of the main deck. The prints were stamped and dated for release by Cunard in July 1960. The auction estimate for the pair is $4,000-$6,000.