London’s Apollo Art Auctions presents exceptional ancient art, antiquities and militaria, Sept. 24
Featured: Roman and Gandharan sculptures; Viking swords, Montefortino Roman helmet (ex Guttmann); Egyptian, Classical & Chinese ceramics; spectacular ancient Roman jewelry
LONDON – Discerning collectors of antiquities, ancient art and material culture know the Apollo Art Auctions name stands for uncompromising quality and authenticity. Their next fully curated event, an Ancient Art, Antiquities and Militaria Auction, will take place on Sunday, September 24 and features a wealth of exquisite and well-provenanced works spanning most of recorded history and chronicling many of the world’s most fascinating civilizations.
The London firm, headed by Dr Ivan Bonchev (PhD, University of Oxford), conducts its business from a tastefully appointed showroom and gallery in Central London and presents its premier auction selections to an international clientele through LiveAuctioneers’ online-bidding platform.
Throughout the ages, artists have been drawn to forms, whether of humans, animals, deities or mythological figures. The September 24 auction offers an outstanding selection of sculpted forms as seen through the eyes of ancient creators of visual art.
A top prize is the circa 200AD Roman marble figure of Cupid (Eros) holding a large bunch of harvested grapes. Finely carved in the round and in extremely high relief, it showcases the artist’s great skill at translating human anatomy to stone. On its stand, the figure’s height is 700mm (28in), with a weight of 37.35kg (82lbs 5oz). Provenance includes several British and Continental galleries and collections, including that of R. Sorge (1980s, Germany). The pre-sale estimate is £10,000 -£15,000 ($12,490-$18,735).
The long-admired Chinese Tang Dynasty aesthetic is captured with exceptional elegance and vitality in a circa 618-907 AD terracotta rider on horse. Standing 440mm by 380mm (17.3in by 15in), the earthenware mingqi has been precisely dated via TL analysis at the independent German laboratory Ralf Kotalla. A certificate and full lab report will convey to the winning bidder. Estimate: £4,000-£6,000 ($4,995-$7,490).
The Gandharan school, which produced the first sculptural representations of the Buddha in human form, is hailed for its artists’ realistic and natural depiction of features “in perfection.” The Kushan period is regarded as the apex of Ganharan creativity, and from that timeframe, circa 200-300 AD, Apollo Art Auctions presents two especially fine artworks. The first is a carved schist standing Buddha figure with a halo, dressed in monastic robe. Its height is 790mm (31.1in) and its weight is 33.40kg (73lbs 10oz). Well provenanced and similar to example in collection of Metropolitan Museum of Art., it is expected to make £12,000-£20,000 ($14,980-$24,975).
The second Gandharan Kushan highlight is a schist relief triad portraying Buddha Shakyamuni, the historical Buddha who attained enlightenment, attended by Brahma, Indra, and two Bodhisattvas. With provenance that includes a Japanese collection of the 1970s, the tableau measuring 580mm by 540mm (22.8in by 21.3in) and weighing 78.35kg (173lbs) will cross the auction block with a £10,000-£15,000 ($12,490-$18,735) estimate.
Form and function unite sympathetically in a foot-tall (305mm) 4th century BC Apulian (Magna Graecia) red-figure amphora. Its decorative program includes with images of a young lady of fashion leaning on a pedestal fountain, and a nude, winged Eros holding a phiale and tambourine. The vessel’s line of provenance indicates prior ownership by two ancient art galleries and the estate collection of Tony Gilyard (NYC), in addition to inclusion in a 2020 sale at Skinner. The pre-sale estimate is £6,000- £9,000 ($7,490-$11,340).
Armaments of ancient warriors and battles, including many swords, helmets, daggers and spearheads, await collectors in this auction. A circa 1st century BC to 1st century AD Roman bronze Montefortino helmet of distinctive domed, bulbous form has been depicted in numerous reference books, as well as Christie’s London 2002 catalog for the legendary Axel Guttmann Collection of Ancient Arms and Armour, Part I. Impeccably provenanced, it is guided by a £10,000 -£15,000 ($12,490-$18,735) estimate.
The array of formidable swords includes several Viking and medieval productions. A mighty circa 900-1000 AD Viking forged iron sword with a broad blade with parallel sides, tapering to a sharp point, is of a type that would have been used to pierce armor or deliver devastating blows in battle. Its length is 740mm (29.1in). With European provenance that includes the F Haushau collection (Germany, 1970s-1980s), its assigned estimate is £2,500-£3,000 ($3,120-$3,745).
Certainly a popular category in every Apollo Art Auctions sale, ancient Roman jewelry once again takes the spotlight on September 24, with a virtual “jewelry box” brimming with magnificent rings, bracelets, pendants, earrings and necklaces. Each handmade piece might be considered an archetype that helped to launch Italy’s centuries-old fine-jewelry tradition.
A circa 500-400 BC gold ring with a lozenge-shape bezel engraved with a detailed image of a bull has been XRF-analyzed and its metallurgical content confirmed to be of ancient origin, with no presence of modern trace elements. With British provenance dating to the 1990s, it is estimated at £6,000-£12,000 ($7,490-$14,980).
A stunning circa 1st century BC Romano-Egyptian hollow-form gold bracelet is designed with a “Hercules Knot” set with a garnet cabochon within a bezel and with each terminal also accented by an inset garnet cabochon. Dr Bonchev observed: “Egypto-Roman gold jewelry serves as a testament to the cultural exchange and artistic fusion that occurred during the historical period when Egypt was under Roman rule. Combining Egyptian and Roman elements, unique pieces such as this bracelet encapsulate the artistic sensibilities and symbolic motifs of both civilizations.” Estimate: £3,000-£6,000 ($3,745-$7,490)
Dolphins were sacred animals to the ancient Greeks, who associated the marine mammals with the sun god Apollo. One of the earliest jewelry designs in the sale pays homage to the playful cetaceans: a pair of circa 4th century BC Greek Hellenistic gold filigree and lapis lazuli earrings whose focal point is two graceful dolphins with S-shape bodies. Below them, suspension loops hold pairs of short chains with pearl beads. With provenance dating to the 1980s and including a Central London gallery and successive English and European private collections, the luxury earrings are caraloged with a £3,000-£6,000 ($3,745-$7,490) estimate.
The auction will conclude with 30 lots of ancient gold and silver coins, primarily Greek and Roman. Additionally, there is a collection of more than 50 Sassanian silver drachms.
Apollo Art Auctions’ Sept. 24, 2023 sale will start at 7 a.m. US Eastern Time/12 noon GMT. 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: Tel. +44 7424 994167 or email [email protected]. Online: www.apolloauctions.com