LONDON – An extraordinary selection of ancient and oriental art, including early Islamic treasures, will be offered by Apollo Art Auctions on Sunday, August 28, starting at 12 noon BST (7 a.m. US Eastern Time). The 417-lot sale, with beautiful and interesting objects to please even the most sophisticated collector, will be conducted live at Apollo’s elegant central London gallery, with international participation cordially welcomed absentee or live online through LiveAuctioneers.
Featured: Stellar circa 500-300 BC Chalcidian tin bronze helmet with nearly 100% of original tin plating intact
The generously illustrated catalogue is divided in two parts. The Islamic section, which opens the sale, includes early pottery, glass and bronze works, as well as textiles, manuscripts and paintings that reflect Nishapur, Seljuk, Mamluk, Safavid and other Middle Eastern origins. The Ancient Art section features an enviable array of rare Greek, Etruscan, Roman and Medieval art and weaponry, as well as Chinese and Indus Valley ceramics. To the delight of those who collect wearable ancient jewellery, there is a trove of 50 tempting pieces from which to choose, including earrings, pendants, necklaces, and rings set with precious and semiprecious stones.
Shown above, a top highlight of the Islamic art category is a Mamluk or earlier (possibly Ayyubid or Fatimid) wooden panel carved in high relief. Traces of multicolor floral decoration in original pigments mare seen on its frame. The 390mm by 134mm (15.4in by 5.28in) piece, whose provenance includes a pre-2000 purchase from Oliver Hoare, will convey to its new owner with its Art Loss Register Certificate and a radiocarbon dating report. Estimate: £10,000-£15,000 ($12,050-$18,070)
Adorned with Nasta’liq script in cartouches and face-in-sun symbols that link to the mythical shah Jamshid, a circa 17th-century AD tin basin also mentions the name Jafr Kadim, who was the 7th Imam. Kadim was born in 745 AM in Medina and lived at the time of Abbasid Caliph Al-Mansur. The vessel measures 240mm (9.4in) by 124mm (4.88in) and comes from a London private collection of early Islamic art. It was previously acquired in the 1980s on the UK art market. Its estimate is £1,500-£3,000 ($1,805-$3,615).
A monumental circa 9th to 11th century AD Fatimid stone panel originated in Egypt or Levant and is inscribed in elongated Kufic script. Its size is 440mm wide by 210mm long (17.3in x 8.3in). Like the aforementioned tin basin, it has been part of a London private collection of early Islamic art and was previously acquired several decades ago on the UK art market. Estimate: £1,200-£2,400 ($1,445-$2,890)
An appealing 10th century AD Nishapur (ancient/medieval Iran) Samanid Period pottery bowl displays white tin-glaze slip decoration and black painted Kufic script. Nishapur was famous for its rich ceramic, glass and metalwork traditions until it was destroyed by the Mongols in 1221. This handsome survivor measuring 210mm (8.3in) wide by 70mm (2.8in) high is expected to sell for £450-£900 ($540-$1,080).
Traversing more than three centuries and emerging in spectacular condition, a large-handled Mycenaean decorated vessel is from the Late Helladic IIIB period of the Bronze Age, late 14th-13th century BC. This very scarce banded vessel stands 260mm (10.2in) high has been precisely dated via TL analysis by the independent German laboratory Ralf Kotalla. Its long line of distinguished provenance includes a London art gallery, a New York City collection, and Fortuna Fine Arts, NYC. The pre-sale estimate is £1,000-£2,000 ($1,205-$2,410).
A truly magnificent circa 525-500 BC twin-handled Etruscan black-figure amphora is attributed to the Micali Painter, named in the modern era for the Italian scholar who first published some of the artist’s ancient vases. Decorated with images of sirens accented in ivy, it is described in Apollo Art Auctions’ catalogue as “a splendid example of the Micali Painter’s work.” The amphora was purchased in Frankfurt Germany in the early 1960s and later resided in a London art gallery’s collection. It is one of several pieces of pottery that have been positively dated via TL analysis at the Ralf Kotalla laboratory. It stands 430mm (16.9in) high and is estimatedat £6,000-£9,000 ($7,250-$10,844).
Dating to circa 400 BC, a stunning 240mm (9.4in) Greek Apulian terracotta krater displays painted scenes of a seated female with fan and wreath, and a standing winged figure of goddess Nike sacrificing over an altar. The vessel was TL-tested by Ralf Kotalla and confirmed to have no modern trace elements and to be of the period reflected in its style. Most recently held in a Kent, England collection, and previously in an old British collection formed in the 1990s on the UK/European art markets, it comes to auction with a £3,000-£6,000 ($3,625-$7,250) estimate.
Casting its mysterious gaze over the auction is a large 430mm (16.9in) by 190mm (7.5in) Egyptian mummy mask from the Early Ptolemaic Period, circa 300-250BC. An upper part of a mummy cardboard cover, with a voluminous green wig and nine-stripe pectoral, its elongated face is painted in ochre and it has a short beard under the chin. Most recently it was the property of a London gallery. It previously had resided in Germany since before 1960 and included ownership in a Rhineland private collection. Estimate: £3,000-£6,000 ($3,625-$7,250)
Some of the finest known examples of ancient weaponry and war relics have been offered by Apollo Art Auctions in their past auctions. Several coveted swords and an incomparable circa 500-300 BC Greek Chalcidian tin bronze helmet lead the small but select cache of weapons to be sold on August 28. Truly exemplary, the helmet’s bowl is forged in one piece with high-arched eyebrows, a teardrop-shape nose guard, and articulated crescentic cheek-pieces formed to fit closely to the face. Similar helmets are depicted on pottery vases from the Euboean city of Chalcis, hence the name “Chalcidian.” Remarkably, almost 100% of this helmet’s original tin plating remains, making it a showpiece worthy of even the finest ancient armor collection. Its line of provenance includes an important London collection of ancient art; and acquisition in the 1960s from E. Muller in Leipzig, Germany. Estimate: £10,000-£20,000 ($12,050-$24,100)
Apollo Art Auctions, under the direction of Dr. Ivan Bonchev (PhD, University of Oxford), is located in a newly expanded gallery at 25 Bury Place in the heart of London’s Bloomsbury district, opposite The British Museum. The company’s August 28, 2022 auction 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. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Apollo Art Auctions is a member of the British Numismatic Trading Association (BNTA) and the Art Loss Register (AR).
Click to read an interview with Dr. Ivan Bonchev, director of Apollo Art Auctions.
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