Christie’s Exquisite Antiquities and Ancient Jewelry Auction

. November 21, 2009

Christie’s will present two sales of ancient art, Antiquities and Ancient Jewelry in New York, on December 11 featuring over 350 lots showcasing the broad range of works from Predynastic Egypt through to the Roman period.

Highlights of the Antiquities sale include a stunning Roman marble torso of Venus, a Roman marble portrait head of the emperor Hadrian, and a wonderfully sophisticated Cycladic marble female figure.

Roman sardonyx cameoAncient Jewelry is led by an extraordinary ensemble of 57 lots of gem stones from a private collection, an exquisite late Roman sardonyx cameo portrait of the Emperor Constantine, and a very unique and impressive pair of antique bracelets made of sixteen Roman ringstones.

Antiquities
The sale features the extensive selection from the collection of Mr. & Mrs. Charles W. Newhall, III and is led by a Roman marble torso of Venus, circa 2nd century A.D. (estimate: $300,000-500,000). This is a Roman version of the famous Aphrodite of Knidos. According to later Roman writers, the statue was originally commissioned by the citizens of Kos. Praxiteles, the Greek master sculptor, created two versions for them, one draped, the other nude. The prudish citizens of Kos rejected the nude version, which was then acquired by the citizens of Knidos. The statue’s fame became so great that numerous copies and variations were made during the Hellenistic and Roman periods. The Knidia, as she is called today, is considered one of the most famous works of art from antiquity, and exemplifies feminine beauty.

The Colmar Painter was a talented Athenian late archaic cup-painter whose career began towards the end of the 6th century B.C. and continued into the 480s. The sale includes a stunning example of his work, a red-figured Kylix, circa 490 B.C. (estimate: $250,000-350,000). Each side of the exterior shows a beautifully balanced pursuit scene: on one the winged North Wind Boreas is in pursuit of Oreithyia, the daughter of King Erectheus of Athens; on the other, Zeus gives chase to the nymph Aegina. Additional highlights from the Collection of Mr. & Mrs. Charles W. Newhall, III include an Egyptian bronze lion-headed goddess, Wadjet, Late Period to Ptolemaic Period, circa 4th-3rd century B.C. (estimate: $150,000-250,000); a finely sculpted Greek marble head of Aphrodite, Hellenistic Period, circa 1st century B.C. (estimate: $150,000-250,000); and a riveting Greek bronze winged helmet of Phrygian-Chalcidian type, late Classical Period, circa 4th century B.C. (estimate: $150,000-250,000).

In addition to his impressive ancient art collection, Newhall also collected books to reflect and complement his growing interest of antiquities. Leading the collection is a very rare hand-colored first edition of Dubois Maisononneuve’s Introduction à l’étude des Vases Antiques…, Paris, 1817 (estimate: $25,000-35,000) and masterful etchings by Giovanni Battista Piranesi’s Le Antichità Romane, Rome, 1756 (estimate; $20,000-30,000).

The sale also features a Roman marble portrait head of the emperor Hadrian, reign circa 117-138 A.D. (estimate: $300,000-500,000), a lifesized depiction of the powerful ruler sculpted with his characteristic thick, wavy hair and a closely-cropped beard; a Greek marble girl, circa late 4th century B.C. (estimate: $400,000-600,000), representing Persephone, the Goddess of the Dead; and a Cycladic marble female figure of the Kapsala variety, circa 2700-2600 B.C. (estimate: $70,000-90,000).

Ancient Jewelry
Christie’s sale of Ancient Jewelry will offer over 150 lots of exquisite craftsmanship including ancient ring stones, beaded necklaces, earrings, buckles, and bracelets. The sale’s top lot is a late Roman sardonyx cameo portrait of the Emperor Constantine, circa early 4th century A.D. (estimate: $150,000-250,000). Finely carved in three layers, Constantine is represented with relatively realistic facial features and without a beard, becoming the first emperor since Trajan not to wear one. It was once in the Guilhou Collection in the 19th century.

The sale commences with an excellent selection of Minoan, Greek, Etruscan and Roman stamp seals and ring stones from a Swiss Private Collection. Dating from as far back as the 1700 BC, these delicate and pristine stones feature intricate designs and display a refined attention to detail. Portraits of men, insects, animals, and marine life decorate this exquisite selection of stones; estimates range from $1,000 to $5,000.

With the vivid turquoise and inventive design, a superbly-talented 19th century jeweler amassed a group of sixteen fine Roman intaglio ringstones, circa 1st century B.C.-4th century A.D., and set them into a pair of bracelets (estimate: $20,000-30,000). The gems are joined together by gold chains into a unique and versatile ensemble that can either be worn as a two separate bracelets or combined into a single choker. The ringstones include the gods Apollo, Minerva, Selene, Mercury, Venus and Bonus Eventus.

Image: A late Roman sardonyx cameo portrait of the Emperor Constantine. Circa early 4th-Century A.D. Estimate: $150,000-250,000. Photo: Christie’s Images Ltd. 2009.

Category: Auction News

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