Pax Romana’s no-reserve November auctions explore great cultures of the past with museum-quality antiquities, ancient art and war relics
Nov. 8 session focuses on Asian masterpieces, while Nov. 15 sale features ancient jewellery, weaponry and classical art
LONDON – Pax Romana Auctions will host a no-reserve two-part online sale of antiquities, jewellery, ancient weaponry, Asian and classic art on successive Sundays, November 8 and 15. The first of the two auction sessions celebrates “Masterpieces of Ancient Asia,” while the second is titled “Ancient Jewellery, Weaponry and Classical Art.” Bidders are invited to participate absentee or live online through LiveAuctioneers.
Curated by the auction house’s director Ivan Bonchev (PhD, University of Oxford), the sale spans over 5,000 years of history, with virtual journeys to the Indus Valley Civilization and Ancient Egypt, as well as the lands of Medieval Crusaders and Ming Dynasty China. Many of the pieces – especially the breathtaking jewellery – would make unique gifts worth considering in the run-up to Christmas.
The Masterpieces of Ancient Asia sale on November 8 includes 196 lots. Some of the largest pieces are those of Chinese stone and terracotta. For example, Lot 13 is an incredible standing Buddha that dates from the Northern Qi Dynasty and measures nearly a meter tall. Elegantly carved, it would make an impressive addition to any room. Similarly imposing, Lot 14 is a magnificent Tang Dynasty gilded head of a Buddha with red painted accents and a peaceful facial expression. Each of these lots is estimated at £20,000-£40,000.
In crafted terracotta, one can experience a great appreciation of Chinese artifacts through their detail and the “personality” rendered by the artist. For example, Lot 3, a one-of-a-kind Tang Dynasty Camel and Rider reflects a level of craftsmanship that imbues extraordinary charm in both the rider and his mount. Estimate: £6,000-£12,000. Lot 26 is a striking Han Dynasty figure of a court lady, garbed in a beautiful robe and delivering a direct stare to the observer. The figure is estimated at £2,000-£4,000.
Among the rarest pieces in the Asian selection are four Ancient Chinese bronzes, which have been tested and authenticated by an independent Belgian Laboratory. Including a ceremonial gui and you, the pieces once held great ritual importance and are a revered part of Chinese history. These four bronzes are extremely rare. Similar examples have commanded auction prices in excess of $100,000. Pax Romana’s estimates range from £6,000-£12,000 and, at the upper end, £20,000-£40,000.
Moving on geographically, the auction also includes some incredible items from southwestern Asia. From ancient Gandhara, there are a number of stunning schist statues. Intricately carved in a Greco-Buddhist style, the figures are representations of the many cultures that passed through this important trading center. Lot 39 is a schist head of a Bodhisattva, someone who has reached enlightenment, with a thin moustache and strong presence. This piece has an estimate of £6,000-£12,000. Lot 33, a majestic standing Bodhisattva, is expected to make £4,000-£8,000.
Proceeding farther west, the auction present artifacts left by powerful Islamic empires, including the Seljuks. Lot 73, a Seljuk mortar and pestle, would have been used either for food preparation or the creation of medieval medicine. An excellently decorated and well preserved example of an important instrument of everyday Seljuk life, it has an estimate of £2,000-£3,000.
The second of the two auctions, on November 15, will showcase weaponry and classical art, as well as a superb and extremely rare collection of wearable ancient jewellery pieces. For the animal lovers amongst us, two pieces that immediately catch the eye. Lot 2 is a fully authenticated Celtic gold ring featuring three small ducks that often symbolized grace and resourcefulness in Celtic culture. Lot 193 similarly shows three animals: a mother cat with her two kittens. Carved from carnelian and dating to Ancient Egypt the felines are representative of the goddess Bastet, who was endowed with protective powers. The former has an estimate of £4,000-£8,000 and the latter, £4,000-£6,000.
Shifting the focus to Ancient Greece, Pax Romana presents a fully authenticated gold ring from the Hellenistic period that depicts the myth of Leda and the Swan. Demonstrating the advanced technology of Greek jewellery-making in this period, and illustrating characters from an important Greek myth, the piece has an estimate of £3,000-£6,000. Also dating from the Hellenistic period, lot 209, a pair of beautiful and complex gold filigree earrings, has an estimate of £4,000-£6,000.
From the early medieval period in the Byzantine empire comes Lot 11, a gold cross with a central cabochon garnet and an unusual feature: large, well-cut garnets serving as the limbs of the crucifix. This piece is one of a kind and could only have been owned by one of the wealthiest of Byzantine noblemen. Estimate: £2,000-£3,000.
Weaponry is always a highlight of Pax Romana events, and this auction does not disappoint. The November 15 opener is a very rare and fully authenticated Roman Bronze Montefortino helmet with an estimate of £20,000-£30,000. Also, a remarkable Greek Chalcidian helmet embossed with images of deer is entered as Lot 13, also with an estimate of £20,000-£30,000.
The Classical Art section is distinguished by masterfully painted kraters shown as Lots 487 and 489. Both are from Southern Italy and reflect the importance of wine and the social, cultural and political events that centred around the mixing, pouring and drinking of it. No two kraters are ever the same and therefore are prized for their original designs. Each of the kraters carries an estimate of £6,000-£12,000.
Classical artworks of Ancient Rome complete the auction highlights. Lot 485 is a marble head possibly depicting a Roman philosopher. With an inquisitive expression, this piece would make a stunning focal point for any collection and is estimated at £4,000-£6,000. Lot 502, a Roman ritual patera used during religious events, has a wonderful patina and is estimated at £2,000-£3,000.
Bid absentee or live online in both sessions, November 8 and November 15, via LiveAuctioneers.com. There are no reserves in either sale. All items will be carefully packed and shipped by Pax Romana’s expert in-house team. For additional information on any auction item call Dr. Ivan Bonchev, Director, Pax Romana, on +44 758 5515618 or email [email protected]. Online: www.paxromana.auction.
Note: Rate of exchange today is £1=US$1.30