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Artemis Gallery plans auction to conclude most successful year ever
Egyptian painted cedar sarcophagus bust from a mummy’s coffin, projecting facial features, artistically applied pigment, circa 664-332 BCE, est. $9,000-$13,000. All images provided by Artemis Gallery.

BOULDER, COLO.- Internationally recognized as being among the foremost authorities in their field, Artemis Gallery’s co-founders Bob and Teresa Dodge have reserved some of their consignors’ finest antiquities and other cultural rarities for their last regular auction of 2017. The 414-lot selection, which will be presented on Wednesday, December 20, wraps the most successful year ever for the Colorado-based boutique auction house and showcases art and relics from the world’s greatest ancient civilizations as well as other influential but lesser-known societies. Many come with prestigious provenance that includes prior sale at Sotheby’s or Christie’s.

As is the custom with all Artemis Gallery auctions, the upcoming sale will follow a chronological timeline that begins with Ancient Egypt and progresses through Greek, Roman and other Old World cultures, with special sections for Viking, Asian and African/tribal objects. The focus then shifts to the New World and its Pre-Columbian and Native-American treasures. Every item is backed by the company’s unconditional guarantee that it is authentic, as described in the auction catalog, and 100% legal to purchase, own and/or resell.

Among the Egyptian highlights is a Romano-Egyptian plaster mummy mask of a young man, circa 30 BCE to 2nd century CE. Its hauntingly lifelike facial features, curly beard and straight hair are skillfully painted, with a palette of harmonious tones adding a natural look to the “skin.” Presented on a custom stand, it is estimated at $8,000-$12,000.

Along the same lines, a huge (32.75in high by 17.6in wide) Egyptian painted sarcophagus bust from a mummy’s coffin has a carved face with projecting eyes, nose and mouth. It is composed of three carved cedar panels with attractive red pigment coloring applied to the face and central portion of the artwork. Dating to the 26th-31st Dynasty, circa 664-332 BCE, it is expected to attract a winning bid of $9,000-$13,000.

A strong selection of Ancient Greek pottery includes a variety of beautifully decorated forms. “Breathtaking” is the only way to describe the condition of a circa 540-530 BCE Attic black-figure kylix (drinking cup) of classic form with a pedestal base and upturned loop handles. Its paint and natural patina are superb, and its exterior walls are finely decorated with images of nude athletes running amid two pairs of draped figures, probably officials of the sporting event. With consecutive provenance from two old European collections, it could reach $10,000-$15,000. Representing premier metalwork of the early Hellenistic period (circa late 4th-century BCE), an elegant double-handled gilded bronze situla – or wine cooler/server – is decorated with a lion’s head applique on one side. Previously sold at Sotheby’s (June 12, 1993), it is offered in Artemis Gallery’s Dec. 20 auction with a $6,000-$8,000 estimate.

From Ancient Rome, the auction features a broad selection that ranges from a circa-1st-century carved and intriguingly inscribed marble bust of a nude male (partial figure), est. $20,000-$25,000; to a cast-bronze, shell-shape dish of a type known to have come from Pompeii, with first-class provenance and prior sale at Sotheby’s London, est. $4,000-$6,000. A bronze of a boy holding grapes – possibly a youthful Bacchus – was sold at Christie’s in 2007 and subsequently held in a private New York collection. Estimate: $4,000-$6,000.

The sale includes one of the most extensive and lavish selections of ancient and Viking jewelry ever to be offered by Artemis Gallery. Within the Roman grouping are a 24K gold ring ($1,000-$1,500), a solid 14K gold ring with a charming bas-relief depiction of a cherub blowing a trumpet ($1,200-$1,800), 16K gold earrings, and multiple necklaces, including a stunning Roman Imperial-Period example containing 31 colorful glass beads of several shapes and types, e.g., millefiori mosaic, frazzle, etc., Its pre-sale estimate is $2,000-$3,000.

There are several Byzantine and medieval silver crosses and rings, and 30 lots of jewelry crafted by Viking/Norse metalsmiths. The Viking pieces include spiral, twisted and braided silver bracelets and torc necklaces; rings, belt buckles, buttons, earrings, brooches, beads and hair adornments; as well as an 18K gold snake ring and gold/crystal pendant. Two silver Thor’s Hammer amulets are sure to attract strong bidding, as the form is in great demand with collectors. One of the pendants is designed in silver with bronze accents and is suspended on a 28-inch-long knitted-silver chain. Estimate: $12,000-$15,000

Asian art and antiquities are always a focal point of Artemis Galleries’ sales. This time, collectors will find a number of outstanding examples of important Chinese pieces from the Han, Ming, Yuan and Qing Dynasties, as well as a highly significant circa-1500 B.C. Bronze Age tripodal greyware vessel created by the Xiajiadian people, est. $2,000-$3,000. A circa 12th- to 13th-century CE Jin to Yuan Dynasty Jun-Ware ceramic bowl with gorgeous sky blue glaze and purple splashes is conservatively estimated at $9,000-$15,000, but historically, this particular type of glazed ware has been known to sell for in excess of $100,000.

A larger-than-lifesize 1st century CE Gandharan grey schist head of the Buddha, wonderfully carved and exhibiting an urna on the forehead and sizable textured topknot, is a wonder to behold. It will likely reach $15,000-$20,000 on auction day.

Art of the Americas will once again take the spotlight at the gallery with several unusual Pre-Columbian lots of Central American origin. Colima (Mexico) designs of note include a 300 BCE to 300 CE redware dolphin, $2,000-$3,000; and a fascinating arachnid or insect-form vessel, $3,000-$4,500. A circa 600-1000 CE Nicoya (Costa Rica) tripodal, polychrome-painted jaguar jar has a magical quality, not only because of the fantasy creatures emerging from the tops of its paws, but also because of its intricate zigzag pattern reminiscent of a tribal tattoo. This remarkable 13-inch vessel is estimated at $6,000-$9,000.

Native-American highlights include an Eastern Woodlands carved-stone skull-form effigy pipe, $1,200-$1,800; a prehistoric Anasazi Kana’s black-on-white seed bowl, $1,200-$1,600; a large Mimbres (New Mexico) pottery bowl, $1,500-$2,500; and a Pacific Northwest chief’s ceremonial raven rattle, $2,500-$3,500.

Collectors of African tribal art and relics will have many exceptional items from which to choose, including an ancient Nok (Nigeria/West Africa) terracotta figure of a mythical animal, $1,000-$1,500; a Dan (Ivory Coast/Liberia) wooden feast spoon in the form of a human figure, $1,500-$2,000; a massive (162.5in high) Dogon wood plank mask carved from a single tree and known as a “sirige,” $6,000-$9,000; and a striking Pende Ngombe two-tone wooden mask, $5,000-$7,000.

There are many other discoveries to be made in additional categories, e.g., three 19th-century Eadweard Muybridge collotypes, a 19th-century Austrian bronze musician with Christie’s provenance; and fine Russian icons, including a 19th-century framed depiction of St. Seraphim of Sarov.

Bidders may participate in the Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017 auction either absentee, by phone (please reserve line in advance), or live via the Internet. The sale begins at 10 a.m. Eastern Time and will be conducted simultaneously through LiveAuctioneers and Invaluable.

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