BOULDER, Colo. – Authenticity and provenance form the bedrock of Artemis Gallery’s auction business. In their beautifully illustrated catalogs, the company provides bidders with a virtual history lesson in each of its expertly written catalog descriptions. Scrupulously researched, each item is described in depth and tagged with a record of former ownership and previous appearances at auction, whenever such information is available. Provenance of this type is especially important to bidders who participate in Artemis Gallery’s premium-level “Exceptional Antiquities, Asian & Ethnographic” auctions, the next of which is slated for Thursday, October 8. In this series of upscale auctions, Artemis Gallery presents its finest selections from private and institutional collections, with absentee and Internet live bidding through LiveAuctioneers.
Featured: Persian gold bracelets fit for a queen, extraordinary Polynesian coronet, superior Khmer and Pre-Columbian sculptures, hand-hewn Morse stick (precursor to hockey stick)
The October 8 lineup shines a spotlight on many of the world’s great cultures by means of the art and objects that have survived to form a material history for the ages to come. The chronological journey begins in Ancient Egypt, with auction highlights including the sale’s opener: a huge, TL-tested pre-dynastic blacktop jar, circa 3500-3400 BCE, similar to examples in the Metropolitan Museum of Art collection. Standing 13.875 inches high and formerly held in private collections in Beverly Hills, California, and London, it is estimated at $12,000-$15,000. Also worthy of note are an Egyptian bronze statue of a falcon-head god Horus, $8,000-$10,000; and a circa 1st-2nd century CE Roman-Egyptian leaded-bronze statue of a pantheistic Harpokrates, $12,000-$18,000.
Amongst the Ancient Greek entries, there are none finer than a Greek Hellenistic carved marble bust of a youth, 3rd to 1st century BCE. This 11-inch (inclusive of stand) portrait head with sensitively rendered features and expression likely came from a stele or relief. It was formerly part of a private Paris collection and appears in the 2010 book Art of the Ancient World by J. Eisenberg. Estimate: $22,000-$30,000.
Ancient Roman highlights include a lost wax bronze relief depiction of Bacchus and Ariadne, which has been extensively exhibited and also appears in the aforementioned Eisenberg reference, $12,000-$18,000; and an exquisite 24K gold bracelet from the Roman Imperial Period, circa 1st century CE, composed of 20 joined hemispherical gold bosses attractively arranged in two rows. Provenance includes a 1999 sale at Sotheby’s. Estimate: $18,000-$25,000.
The endless fascination with Viking, Norse and Medieval cultures, fueled by films and TV series that have captured imaginations worldwide, is also reflected in each successive Artemis Gallery Auction. Viking battle implements and masterfully crafted jewelry are in particularly great demand. The October 8 offering includes several enticing options, including an 8th-10th century Viking/Norse braided gold ring. Such rings are very rare and would have been the property of only those individuals of the highest status. Estimate: $4,000-$6,000.
Another jewelry lot of great importance is a pair of magnificent Achaemenid (Persian Empire, circa 5500-330 BCE) gold bracelets (shown at top of page), approximately 22K, artfully inlaid with turquoise and garnet cabochons. The terminals are fashioned as zoomorphic heads with intricate modeling of the eyes, ears, snouts and bodies, which form the bracelet’s spherical bangle. Truly an astounding work of art, the bracelets have a total weight of 91.7 grams and are offered with a $40,000-$60,000 estimate. Another Near East/Middle East treasure is a 9th-10th century CE Abbasid Dynasty lusterware ceramic bowl made in ancient Iraq and inspired by Tang China. The 7.95-inch-diameter bowl is decorated with a floral motif in blue and white and laurel band around its rim. With Christie’s (London) provenance, it comes to auction with an $80,000-$120,000 estimate.
The auction’s Asian section features one of the finest Khmer sculptures Artemis Gallery’s experts have ever seen. Created in the 8th-12th century by the Angkor culture of Cambodia, the 30-inch buff grey sandstone statue is a youthful depiction of the Hindu god Shiva with a flaming aureole and four arms extended, each holding a different implement. A truly outstanding example of Khmer artistry, it is expected to make $16,000-$24,000 at auction.
An extensive selection of Pre-Columbian art showcases the art of numerous Central and South American cultures. A monumental circa 400-700 CE Veracruz (Mexico) terracotta figure of a dignitary is impressively sized at 28.125 inches tall. Finely hand-built and modeled, the hollow-form statue has mesmerizing almond-shape eyes with applied black pupils; a protruding nose, and an open mouth with two front teeth. He wears huge earspools with seashell danglers that fall to his shoulders, as well as anklets adorned with jingle bells. The sculpture now comes to auction with a $22,000-$33,000 estimate.
Within the ethnographic art category, the unrivaled leading lots is a rare 18th-19th century CE Marquesas Islands (French Polynesia) pa’e kaha, or coronet. Made of shell, tortoiseshell and sennit (coconut fiber) and carved with relief and openwork motifs of tiki figures, this amazing headdress is of a type that would have been passed down through families as precious heirlooms. A similar example sold at Christie’s Paris in 2011. The entry in Artemis Gallery’s October 8 auction comes from a private Hawaii collection and was previously held in the collection of Mark Blackburn (Hawaii), and prior to that, the collection of Abraham Rosman (NYC). Auction estimate: $70,000-$90,000. Another interesting ethnographic lot is a 19th-century Azande (Democratic Republic of Congo) hand-carved wooden face mask of a type that would have been used by the secret Mani society during funeral ceremonies. It comes with a long trail of distinguished provenance and will be offered with a $5,000-$7,000 estimate.
The highest-estimated item in the sale is a 19th-century North American Morse stick – perhaps the oldest surviving precursor to the modern-day hockey stick – carved from a single branch or root of an extinct American hornbeam tree. With extensive provenance, it dates to the mid/late 19th century CE and is accompanied by a notarized Radiocarbon Analysis Report and archive of other supportive documentation. Estimate: $300,000-$500,000.
Artemis Gallery’s Thursday, October 8, 2020 Exceptional Auction will start at 10 a.m. Eastern Time. All items come with Artemis Gallery’s guarantee that they are authentic and legal to purchase, own, and if desired, resell. An Artemis Gallery COA will accompany each purchase. The company ships worldwide and has its own in-house white-glove packing and shipping department to ensure quality control. For additional information about any item in the auction, call Teresa Dodge at 720-890-7700 or email email@example.com. Bid absentee or live via the Internet through LiveAuctioneers.