BOULDER, Colo. – Every auction event conducted by Artemis Gallery is a trip back in time, with intriguing artifacts from scores of important cultures waiting to be discovered. However, the company’s Exceptional Series is a particular favorite with collectors. The finest consignments of investment-grade art and artifacts from Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Viking, Near Eastern, Far East/Asian, and Pre-Columbian and tribal cultures are reserved exclusively for sales produced under the Exceptional Series banner. The next Exceptional Antiquities, Asian, & Ethnographic Auction, slated for June 10, includes more than 400 museum-worthy lots, with absentee and live-online bidding available through LiveAuctioneers.
The auction will open with one of the session’s special highlights: an Ancient Egyptian late-18th-Dynasty Amarna faience lotus bottle with glyphs. This incredible, mold-formed vessel dates to circa 1353-1336 BCE and is covered in softened layers of turquoise-hued glaze. Overall, it is embellished with ample iconography, including the Eye of Horus, heart-and-windpipes, and images of semicircular bowls or baskets. It comes to auction this month with a $15,000-$20,000.
An outstanding Ancient Egyptian limestone statue of a bare-chested striding pharaoh, 26th (Late Dynastic) Saite Period, circa 664-525 BCE, was skillfully carved with details that emphasize the subject’s almond-shaped eyes, strong pectorals, and broad shoulders. He is “dressed” in a pleated skirt and wears a headdress topped with a uraeus. This striking artwork is estimated at $50,000-$75,000.
When some think of Ancient Greek art, painted pottery with mythological scenes immediately spring to mind, and for good reason. The advanced Mediterranean culture combined imagination with technical skill to create masterpieces such as a 6th-century BCE amphora with painted images of Herakles, Athena, and the Nemean Lion on one side and a pair of warriors carrying shields on the other. The decorative program is richly accented with stylized palmettes, bands of tongue motifs, and botanical accents. The 11-in vessel is published in the Beazley Archive Pottery Database at the University of Oxford. It carries an estimate of $30,000-$45,000.
The Ancient Roman section, which is replete with marbles, bronzes, jewelry, and stunning glass, is led by a spectacular 3rd-5th century stone mosaic depicting a hunter whose arrow has just struck his quarry, a stag. The elaborately detailed image is composed of square stone tesserae in hues of sage green, olive green, ochre, russet, black, and white against a cream ground. “The inclusion of a stag in this scene was likely a deliberate choice to honor Diana, the goddess of the hunt. She was described in mythology as being fond of the woods and its wild animals, especially stags,” said Teresa Dodge, managing director of Artemis Gallery. The mosaic is cataloged with a $24,000-$36,000 estimate.
Ever-popular Viking art and relics will once again step into the Artemis Gallery spotlight with a selection that includes a fine variety of jewelry and earthenware. Undoubtedly from an important workshop of its day, a 10th century Viking necklace with 38 hollow nearly-pure (98.98%) silver fishtail pendants is an impressive production, with each adornment hand-finished with stippled dots. The necklace is offered with a $50,000-$75,000 estimate.
Among the many Asian treasures to be auctioned are: a Gandharan polychrome stucco bust of a lady, $8,000-$12,000; a 15th-century Tibetan gilt-copper Avalokiteshvara with 11 faces, $13,000-$19,500; a large Japanese Jomon pottery vessel (with T/L test), $4,500-$6,500; and a Chinese Tang dynasty sandstone Buddha in a lotus pose, $8,000-$12,000. Warranting special mention is a 4th century Indian Gupta dynasty red sandstone panel with high-relief figures of a sensuous celestial or deity with a mythical gajasimha, or elephant and lion hybrid. A beautifully sculpted work standing 23 inches high, it is expected to reach $25,000-$35,000.
Pre-Columbian highlights include: an exceptional Maya limestone ball court market, estimated at $50,000-$70,000; an important Olmec pottery head effigy, estimated at $6,000-$9,000; an Aztec terracotta plaque of a warrior (with T/L test), estimated at $9,000-$14,000; and a superb 10th-century Sican (northern coastal Peru) 13-14K gold ceremonial mask of a type that would have been made only to adorn the face of a deceased lord or king. Its estimate is $20,000-$30,000.
Fossils of extinct and prehistoric animals continue to mesmerize collectors, especially those representing unusual species. A prime example is the fossilized skull of an eastern Kazakhstan cave hyena, also known as the Ice Age spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta spelaea). Dating to the Pleistocene epoch, circa two million to 10,000 years ago, the skull displays formidable teeth and incredibly powerful jaws which would have been essential, given the hyena’s diet of reindeer, equines, and even woolly rhinos. “Being a cave dweller, its habitat surely contributed to the near-perfect condition this skull has retained,” said Dodge. The auction estimate on this lot is $32,000-$48,000.
The auction also features Native American art – including Mimbres, Acoma, and prehistoric Anasazi pottery – and 19th century through contemporary American and European art. Among the accomplished artists represented in the selection are John James Audubon, Eduard Hildebrandt, William Franklin Draper, and Wallace Mitchell.
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