London’s Apollo Art Auctions to host March 12 and 15 sales of expertly curated ancient and cultural art, antiquities, coins and Islamic art
Highlights: Large Roman bronze Cupid, gold-handled Greek iron sword, Ancient Qurans, 18th C. book compilation featuring the works of 12th C. poet Jamal Al-Din Abu Muhammad Nizami
LONDON – As any collector of fine objects would attest, you can never have too much of a good thing. London’s premier source for exquisite ancient and cultural art, Apollo Art Auctions, agrees with that sentiment, which is why they’ve organized two separate and distinct sales in mid-March to accommodate an abundance of recently consigned treasures.
The first sale, on March 12, is a 553-lot offering titled Ancient Art, Antiquities & Coins. Following closely on March 15 is a magnificent 339-lot selection of Islamic Art. Both sessions feature authentic antiquities, relics and artworks that have been personally curated by Apollo Art Auctions’ experts under the supervision of gallery director Dr Ivan Bonchev, PhD, University of Oxford.
The opening session encompasses a broad range of art and artifacts from Classical Europe, Egypt and the Near East, India and China. The catalogue is divided into sections specifically devoted to Classical and Egyptian antiquities; coins, medieval works of art, and Asian works of art.
Auction highlights will step into the spotlight with the introduction of the very first lot, a rare Greek Lucanian red-figure bell-shape krater dating to circa 500-400 BC. Its pictorial program includes a robed man and a youth holding a staff on the obverse; and on the reverse, two youths standing and conversing, one of them holding a staff. Standing 285mm/11.22 inches high, this handsome vessel has been TL-tested by the independent German laboratory Ralf Kotalla and found to be consistent with the period reflected in its style. The TL report will convey to the new owner. Estimate: £3,000-£6,000 ($3,605-$7,210)
Several Greek and Roman bronze statuettes and figures are worthy of special note. Dominating the group is a sizable 235mm/9.25-inch Roman Cupid statuette dating to circa 100 AD. The plump nude figure is posed as though striding forward, his right arm stretched upward, holding a horn. His visage is expressive, and his curly hair is crowned by a topknot. Similar to an example in the Walter Art Museum’s collection, this statuette comes to auction with a £10,000-£20,000 ($12,010-$24,024) estimate.
From the mysterious world of Ancient Egypt, a limestone false door of lintel fragment from the Fifth Dynasty, circa 2645-2323 BC, is profusely inscribed with hieroglyphs. Translated, its message says: “Foremost Great God, who is in his hill, lord of the two lands, a holy voice offering.” This remarkable survivor is similar to an example held in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collection and can be traced back to a collection formed in the 1960s/’70s by the late Dr Bruce L Ralston of Tuxedo Park, New York. Its auction estimate is £8,000-£12,000 ($9,610-$14,415)
The timeline for world history is marked by the rise and fall of great civilizations and the wars and conflicts that caused each rise or fall. Ancient armor and weapons of war, which fascinate collectors with their distinctive, sometimes primitive, construction, enjoy their own faithful following at Apollo Art Auctions. Literally every sale contains important battle relics, and the March 12 event is no exception. Top lots in this category include a circa 400-300 BC Greek Hellenistic iron sword with a gold handle, estimate £8,000-£16,000 ($9,610-$19,220); and a wonderfully preserved circa 500-300 BC Greek Chalcidian tin-bronze helmet estimated at £7,500-£15,000 ($9,010-$18,020). The helmet’s intelligent design consists of a bowl forged in one piece with high-arched eyebrows, horizontal neck protection and a short, teardrop-shape nose guard. Almost 100% of the tin plating remains, which is most unusual. Its line of provenance goes back to a 1960s acquisition from E Muller of Leipzig, Germany.
Apollo Art Auctions takes great pleasure in presenting its March 15 Fine Islamic Art sale. The selection includes early works in pottery, glass and bronze from the people and empires of Nishapur, Seljuk, Mamluk, Safavid and many others. The manuscript portion of the sale is especially noteworthy, with its very rare and precious museum-quality Qurans and pages.
Leading the group is a colorful late-18th-century work suited to a connoisseur’s collection. It is a combination of different works of fiction originally composed by the famous poet Jamal Al-Din Abu Muhammad Nizami (d. 1217 AD). Profusely decorated with many detailed illustrations and illuminations throughout, it shows people in Uzbek and Persian attire as well as others whose clothing reflects elements of the Ottoman Empire. The line of provenance includes private UK ownership and a prior sale at Christie’s. Estimate: £60,000-£120,000 ($72,170-$144,240)
More than two dozen Qurans and a similar number of individual pages and Islamic prayer books are entered in the auction. A large and especially beautiful circa-1800 North Indian Quran is decorated throughout all its pages, which are framed with gold leaf and bordered in blue and red ink. It is illuminated with sumptuous carpet pages displaying detailed, multicolored floral decoration and gold roundels. Estimate: £30,000-£60,000 ($36,090-$72,180)
A stunning Middle Eastern Islamic gold ring, circa 11-1500 AD, is finely engraved with an overall vine pattern and set with an orange carnelian intaglio and turquoise inlays. On the underside of the box bezel, it is engraved with the image of a rearing animal. This impressive, 14.38-gram ring’s metallurgical content has been XRF-analyzed, with the results suggesting ancient origin and no modern trace elements. The auction estimate is £2,000-£4,000 ($2,405-$4,810).
Apollo Art Auctions is located in a newly expanded gallery at 25 Bury Place in the heart of London’s Bloomsbury district, opposite The British Museum. Both their March 12 and March 15, 2023 auctions will commence at 7 a.m. US Eastern Time/12 noon BST. View the fully illustrated auction catalogue and sign up to bid absentee or live online through LiveAuctioneers. Apollo Art Auctions accepts payments in GBP, USD and EUR; and ships worldwide. All packing is handled by white-glove specialists in-house. No import charges apply to most antiquities entering the USA. For questions about any item in the sale or to discuss consigning to a future Apollo auction, please call the London gallery on +44 7424 994167 or email [email protected]. Online: www.apolloauctions.com
Today’s approximate rate of exchange: £1 = US$1.20