BOULDER, Colo. – World history is a subject of endless fascination to collectors of antiquities and ethnographic art. Volumes have been written about how and why ancient cultures lived as they did, but no words can present the story of an early civilization quite as vividly as the art and relics they left behind. At the pinnacle of auction houses known for their expertise in antiquities is Artemis Gallery, owned and operated by internationally respected authorities Bob and Teresa Dodge. On many occasions in the past, the Dodges have been enlisted by eminent members of the antiques trade to authenticate important pieces.
Artemis Gallery’s sales are followed by every level of collector, from curious beginners to prestigious institutions with major collections. The next Artemis event, which will take place on Thursday, May 10, is a fully curated auction with fine-quality pieces available at all price points. As is the case with every Artemis Gallery auction, all items convey with a certificate of authenticity (COA) serving as an unconditional guarantee that they have been legally acquired, are legal to sell, and are exactly as described in the catalog.
Many of the 400+ lots come with provenance from Sotheby’s, Christie’s, and distinguished institutional and private collections worldwide
The categories featured in the sale range from Ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman to Near Eastern, Asian, Pre-Columbian, tribal/Oceanic and many more. With rare exception, the beautifully detailed catalog descriptions include notes about former provenance, often indicating prior sale at Christie’s or Sotheby’s, or ownership by a museum or pioneering collector.
The May 10 offering opens with Pre-Columbian art from various cultures of the Americas. A deep mint-green jade maskette, circa 1000-400 BCE, was hand-carved by an obviously talented member of the Olmec, one of the oldest major civilizations in Mexico. Presented on a custom stand, this striking figural piece is expected to make $6,000-$9,000 at auction.
Whimsical Colima (West Mexico) redware dogs are considered staples of any Pre-Columbian collection. Each handmade example is unique, but one particular Colima vessel in the Artemis sale is especially desirable because it depicts two dogs with bodies conjoined as one, their faces caught in a playful expression. An obscure example, its estimate is $6,500-$9,750. Another great rarity is a Mayan (Guatemala Highlands) carved volcanic-stone owl with clearly identifiable features. The sculpture comes with 1977 authentication paperwork from Hasso von Winning, PhD, Consultant in Mesoamerican Archaeology, Southwest Museum, Los Angeles. Estimate: $6,000-$8,000
African/tribal relics are next and include such highlights as an early 20th-century Katana (Nigeria) wood figure of a female, $3,000-$4,000; a circa-19th-century Yoruba Epa (Nigeria) wood helmet mask (ex Pace Primitive, Yale Archive), $4,000-$6,000; and a fascinating 19th-century Gilbert Islands spear with four vertical rows of tightly spaced, sewn-in shark’s teeth, $1,500-$2,000.
The mysteries of Ancient Egypt come into focus with a connoisseur’s selection of art and objects from the region known as the “cradle of civilization.” A mesmerizing mummy mask of painted gesso over wood, circa 305-30 BCE, features the oversize face of the deceased wearing a mummiform wig and a large, multi-stranded pectoral known as a “weswkh” collar. Such masks were highly important to the Egyptians, Teresa Dodge explained. “Masking the dead was a millennia-old tradition in Egypt. By providing the departed with a mask, family members gave them the power to become an idealized form, like a god who had triumphed over death.” From the Ptolemaic period, the mask being auctioned is estimated at $15,000-$20,000.
One of the unquestionable stars of the sale is a sensational Greek Illyrian hammered-bronze hoplite (citizen soldier) war helmet. Dating from the late 6th-5th centuries BCE, it exhibits a handsome regional style with long, pointed cheek pieces and an attractive riveted border around all edges. Overall, it boasts a rich, blue-green patina. On its included custom stand, it measures 17.5 inches high. Estimate: $25,000-$30,000
Among the many exceptional pieces from the Roman Imperial Period are the high-relief carved figure of Eros from a marble sarcophagus, $20,000-$30,000; and a mosaic (shown at top of page) depicting a priestess holding an offering toward a flaming altar, $15,000-$20,000.
Continuing its tradition of including extraordinary Ancient Roman glass in each of its sales, Artemis Gallery will present an extensive offering on May 10th that encompasses many types of utilitarian vessels. “Italians are known for incorporating beauty and design into even the most mundane objects, and when we observe their early glass productions, we can see where that emphasis on aesthetics came from. Roman glass has become a very popular collector category,” Teresa Dodge said.
Near Eastern treasures reflect the great diversity of cultures that emerged in the region. Highlights include an extremely rare Luristan bronze and iron mace (ex Axel Guttmann collection, Berlin), $6,000-$9,000; a pair of Luristan cast-bronze equine “bit” cheekpieces, book examples with Christie’s and Sotheby’s provenance, $7,000-$11,000; and a large, rare 2nd-3rd century CE Palmyran limestone bust with an Aramaic inscription, $18,000-$25,000.
Many tempting, high-quality artworks are available in the sale’s Asian section. From the Indian Pala Period, 12th century CE, a black basalt stele depicts the deity Parvati, goddess of love and family, with eight arms extended. The work stands 24.5 inches high and was formerly in the esteemed collection of Medill Sarkisian, Sarkisian Gallery, Denver, Colorado. It is entered with a $15,000-$20,000 estimate.
A small but select grouping of fine art has been included, as well. An artist-signed George Rodrigue (American, 1944-2013) silkscreen printer’s proof, 2/10, titled Blue Dogs on Blue Cow, was executed in 1999 and carries a pre-sale estimate of $4,000-$6,000. Additionally, there is a 1987 Andy Warhol (American, 1930-1987) screenprint titled Bighorn Ram from the pop-art legend’s “Endangered Species” portfolio. One of six color variations created by Warhol, the auction example displays an appealing palette of azure blue, grass green and vibrant yellow. From an edition of 1,000, it is estimated at $1,000-$1,500. Other noteworthy fine art lots include three signed Salvador Dali lithographs, each estimated at $1,500-$2,500; and two Eadweard Muybridge (American, born in England, 1830-1904) collotypes. Both feature horses in freeze-frame sequences and appeared as plates in the landmark 1887 book Animal Locomotion. Estimates are $1,400-$2,100 and $1,400-$2,000, respectively.
Absentee and Internet live bidding for Artemis Gallery’s Thursday, May 10 auction will be available through LiveAuctioneers.com. An Artemis Gallery COA will accompany each auction lot. For additional information, call Teresa Dodge at 720-890-7700 or email email@example.com. Visit Artemis Gallery online at www.artemisgallery.com.