CHICAGO – In its Thursday, May 26 Antiquities & Ancient Art: A Study auction, Hindman examines what it means to be an antiquarian in every sense of the word. Consisting of more than 200 lots, the sale highlights the civilizations that formed the foundation of our modern world, offering objects for novice and experienced collectors alike. From an Egyptian female figure made of the civilization’s most cherished magical material, faience; to a Roman portrait head of Antisthenes, who laid the foundation of Cynic philosophy; to a Roman marble Capitoline type statue of Venus, the goddess of Love, the oldest god according to Plato’s Symposium; this sale explores just what it means to be a scholar and aficionado of the ancient world. Absentee and Internet live bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers.
The top lot of the auction is expected to be a Roman marble statue of the goddess Venus, estimated at $200,000-$300,000. During the 4th century BCE, the ancient Greek sculptor Praxiteles created a legendary statue of the goddess of love in modest pose known today as the Aphrodite of Knidos (or Cnidus). It was one of the first life-sized representations of the nude female form in Greek history. Prior to its creation, Greek sculpture had been dominated by nude figures of heroic men. Even in antiquity, the sculpture was considered a masterpiece, with famed Roman historian Pliny the Elder saying it was “superior to all statues.” To the Greeks, she was Aphrodite; to the Romans, she was Venus. To all, she is the Goddess of Love, whose iconic image remains compelling to this day.
Though the original Greek sculpture is no longer in existence, a myriad of nude Aphrodites were created during the Hellenistic and Roman period, which the wealthy Romans of the Imperial Period acquired to decorate their villas and gardens. Among these versions, two principal types repeat her modest pose: the Capitoline Venus and the Medici Venus, which differ from each other in their formal details. The statue offered in this auction belongs to this series, and even combines traits of one (the hairstyle and the position of the feet of the Capitoline Venus) with the other (the elongated proportions and the presence of the dolphin on the Medici statue).
The auction also boasts 49 lots from one of humanity’s earliest and most influential civilizations: the ancient Egyptians. Among these lots is a female figure molded and glazed in blue faience, a substance that the Egyptians believed bestowed a magical property to the objects crafted in it. This figure is identified as a Khener-dancer, meant to convey sexuality and vitality, and was likely a part of a larger set originally. This particular piece is considered one of the best-known examples in private hands and was exhibited at the Cincinnati Art Museum and also the Brooklyn Museum of Art in the 1990s. It is estimated at $70,000-$90,000.
Other Egyptian highlights include an Egyptian bronze cat, estimated at $50,000-$70,000; an Egyptian gilt cartonnage mummy mask, estimated at $50,000-$60,000; and an alabaster head of a jackal, estimated at $30,000-$50,000.
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