London’s Apollo Art Auctions presents Timeless Treasures: Ancient Art and Coins, Aug. 27
Featured: Circa 500-300 BC Greek Chalcidian helmet, jeweled Merovingian sword, ancient statuary, pottery, jewelry & gold coins; Bronze Age Chinese ritual vessel, Tang Dynasty camel
LONDON – Apollo Art Auctions, internationally recognized for its sales of authentic, expertly vetted ancient art and antiquities, takes pleasure in announcing highlights of its August 27 Timeless Treasures: Ancient Art and Coins Auction. All forms of remote bidding are available, including live via the Internet through LiveAuctioneers.
“At this expertly curated auction we invite collectors to experience an exquisite array of artifacts from diverse cultures and epochs, ranging from ancient China through the Medieval period. Additionally, we are very pleased to offer wearable ancient jewelry and a fine collection of early Roman and Greek coins,” said Apollo Art Auctions’ director, Dr. Ivan Bonchev.
Many forms of historical heavy metal will weigh in, starting with an incredible Greek Chalcidian bronze helmet dating to circa 500-300 BC. Its distinctive design incorporates such features as a domed crown, prominent front medial ridge, contoured double-curve above the brow, a teardrop nose guard, and hinged crescentic cheek guards. By the time of the Peloponnesian War (434-402 BC), the Chalcidian helmet was the most widely distributed head protection seen in Greek military ranks. The auction example is of a form also seen in the collections of several premier institutions, including The British Museum, and in several scholarly books and publications. Its line of provenance includes a Central London gallery, a European collection, and the F. Breydel collection (Belgium, 1970s). The pre-sale estimate is £12,000-£20,000 ($15,275-$25,460).
Pre-dating the Chalcidian helmet by several centuries, a circa 800-700 BC Western Asiatic (Mesopotamia, Assyria) conical hammered sheet bronze helmet and torc draws comparison to armor seen in a chariot relief at The Louvre. The Paris museum’s artwork depicts Assyrian warriors from the North-Palace of Ashurbanipal wearing just such a helmet. The auction lot is accompanied by an expert academic report written by the noted lecturer Russel Scott, and its line of provenance includes a London private collector and successive old European collections. The rare helmet comes to auction with a £6,000-£12,000 ($7,640-$15,275) estimate.
At the time of the fall of the Roman Empire, other cultures began to evolve and eventually prosper. The Merovingians (476-750 AD) were one such group and they are traditionally regarded as the “first race” of the kings of France. A Merovingian iron sword featured in the sale was formed by the forge-welding process and displays a long hilt at the midsection decorated with a gold circular plaque set with garnets. This showy edged weapon comes from a European collection and, from the 1970s to 1990s, was held in the collection of R. Bogaert of Belgium. Bidders are guided by an auction estimate of £12,000-£18,000 ($15,275-$22,915).
The auction’s opening lot is a circa 1st-2nd century AD Roman bronze statuette of the goddess Iphigenia in a dramatic pose on one knee, with a bare torso and her hand raised to the brow. In Greek mythology, Iphigenia was the daughter of King Agamemnon, who sacrificed her during the Trojan War. The statuette stands 145mm/5.71 inches high and has a long history of provenance, with its most recent ownership attributed to a Central London gallery. Estimate: £12,000-£20,000 ($15,275-$25,460)
Another especially beautiful lot is a circa 350-300 BC Greek Apulian red-figure footed plate created from high-quality clay with a lustrous black glaze. It depicts a winged Eros kneeling with a phiale in his right hand and a situla in his left hand. Measuring 215mm/8.46in diameter, the plate compares to an example sold at Bonhams London in 2005. Formerly the property of a Central London art gallery and acquired on the Dutch market prior to that, it is entered in the auction with a £6,000-£8,000 ($7,640-$10,185) estimate.
Collectors will be spoiled for choice with the many wearable ancient jewelry options that include rings, bracelets, necklaces, earrings and pendants. Certainly one of the stars of the group is an elegant circa 4th century BC Hellenistic openwork gold bracelet of D-shape form. Its decorative program includes masterful filigree work adorned by a fiery central cabochon garnet and additional teardrop-shape garnets. The bracelet weighs 40g/1.3ozt, and can be worn with the assurance that its design includes a secure closure. Estimate £4,500-£6,500 ($5,730-$8,275).
Important Roman symbolism is captured in the circa 3rd-4th century AD gold and carnelian intaglio ring, whose stone is incised with the image of a hand delicately holding ears of grain and poppy seed heads. It serves as a visual ode to the abundance of nature and the vital role of agriculture in sustaining human life. Similar to an example in the Michael C. Carlos Museum (Emory University, Atlanta, Ga.), it is estimated t £2,000-£3,000 ($2,545-$3,820).
More than seven dozen lots of ancient Roman and Greek coins will cross the auction block, with outstanding opportunities for all collectors, whether advanced or at the intermediate or novice levels. Naturally, every numismatist aspires to own the fine gold coins produced with the images of emperors such as Justinian, Heraclius or Constantine the Great. The August 27 auction is the place to look for exceptional coins of this type. Just one example is the Valentinianus solidus, Antioch, 364-367 AD, with the bust of Valentinian I wearing a pearl diadem on the obverse and the standing emperor with Victory on the reverse. In near-extremely fine/very fine condition, it is expected to sell for £1,200-£2,000 ($1,530-$2,545).
An abundance of Asian antiquities will be presented, some dating to the Bronze Age. A circa 11th century BC Chinese (Late Shang Dynasty) bronze jue, or ritual wine vessel, with its splayed tripod legs, guttered spout and taotie masks with bulging eyes, is similar to an example held in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It is estimated at £6,000-£9,000 ($7,640-$11,4550).
A piece not to be missed by the many collectors of Chinese Tang Dynasty pottery tomb animals is the circa 618-907 AD terracotta camel entered as Lot 285. Painted in buff pigment with red and greyish-black details, the feisty ungulate is wonderfully sculpted with its head raised and its mouth open as though braying. An example of similar style and period is held in the collection of the University of Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum. Standing 675mm/26.57 inches high, the auction camel could trot to a £6,000-£9,000 ($7,640-$11,455) finish.
Apollo Art Auctions’ August 27, 2023 sale 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 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