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Greek and Roman Sculpture Perform Strongly at Bonhams Antiquities Auction

Greek and Roman sculpture performed strongly at Bonhams sale of Antiquities on October 5th in New Bond Street, London. Sculpture was one of the most powerful presences in the cities of both Greek and Roman cultures and was found in parks and squares, in temples and cemeteries and within many of the homes of the affluent too. This love affair with classical sculpture continues today as the Bonhams sale this week made clear in an auction that topped £1.4m.

Top item in the sale at £118,850, was Lot 96, a Greek marble bust of a goddess of the Hellenistic Period, circa 3rd Century B.C, possibly Aphrodite but more likely to be Artemis. She is depicted with her head inclined to the left, her oval face with sensitively carved features has her deep-set lidded eyes with the original inlaid marble eyes remaining.

An image of a household god, Lot 107, representing the Roman deity, Lar sold for £109,250. The bronze figure of the god shown dancing, dates to the 1st Century B.C./A.D.

The Lares were family gods, protectors of the house, and images of them were placed in household shrines or lararia. They are usually depicted with attributes of cornucopia or a rhyton in the raised hand, and a libation bowl such as a patera or phiale in the lowered hand. Drawing on Greek art and the traditions of Rome’s past, Augustus linked the cults of the Lares to that of the Genius of the Emperor between 12 and 7 B.C. and it is likely that this bronze dates to that period.

Lot 128, an attractive Roman portrait of an African youth in dark grey marble, sold for £106,850.

Another very strong Greek sculpture was that of a young girl holding a bird, which would have stood in a cemetery. Lot 283, dating from Circa 4th-3rd Century B.C. would have commemorated the buried child and stood on a grave. It sold for £54,050. Such poignant depictions of young girls shown holding a bird were popular in funerary and votive sculpture from Classical Greece.

Finally, Lot 95, a Roman marble head of a youth, Greek, circa 1st Century B.C./A.D sold for £30,000. It is a later copy of a type by one of the greatest of Greek sculptors, Polykleitos of Argos. The boy’s head is downcast and tilted to the left, his short hair clustered in curls over his head, with lidded eyes and slightly parted lips.

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