Museum-worthy examples of classical antiquities and ethnographic art from scores of cultures came together at Artemis Gallery
on October 22nd to form a selection whose quality is rarely encountered in a single auction. All of the items offered came with distinguished provenance and an ironclad guarantee that they were legal to purchase. Bidders responded confidently to those assurances, said Bob Dodge, the gallerys co-owner.
By auction day, absentee bids had reached almost $200,000, and there were multiple left bids on many of the lots, Dodge said. However, many other bidders seemed to want to hold their cards close to their vests and did not bid till auction day, either online or over the phone. We cant remember another sale that was as busy as this one.
The top lot, 26B, was an important, larger-than-lifesize, circa-2nd century CE Roman marble head of Apollo. Carved in elegant classical style with ringlets framing the youthful gods face, the 13 by 8½-inch head displayed on a custom plinth could be traced back to a private UK collection where it had resided since the 1960s. Against an estimate of $25,000-$35,000, it sold online to a prominent dealer for $50,400. All prices quoted in this report include 20% buyers premium.
Another Roman highlight was Lot 26, a circa-300 CE legionary stele with the image of a bas-relief eagle holding a wreath. Its Greek inscription translated to: Julius the Virtuous, Be Well. Ex Sarkisian Estate, Denver, it had been acquired prior to 1960. The 18- by 26-inch military tombstone realized $11,400.
The demand for Roman glass a pattern that Artemis Gallery had observed in its past several sales continued its upward momentum. Lot 18, a 3rd-4th century CE free-blown trefoil oinochoe of translucent blue-green glass was previously part of the Denenberg Fine Arts (Los Angeles) collection. The 10 1/8-inch vessel settled at the upper end of its buyers premium, at $8,400.
The strongest trend noted was the interest in Asian art and antiquities. Asian was hot and accounted for nearly 30 percent of the sale total, said Dodge. Most of the Asian pieces had come from Patrick and Nancy Kipper, who had traveled throughout Asia India, Thailand, Burma, Japan making many savvy purchases over a 25-year period. Most of their items met expectations and many exceeded their pre-sale estimates.
Lot 31E, a breathtaking 18th-century southern Indian solid-cast bronze figure of Uma (Parvati), consort of Shiva, was purportedly gifted to a previous owner by Mahatma Gandhi, in 1946. Standing 19½ inches tall, the statue of the elegant deity came with a long line of provenance and realized a within-estimate price of $14,400.
Handily exceeding its estimate with a winning bid of $14,400 was Lot 38D, an 18th-century Burmese jeweled bronze Lotus Buddha. Standing 2 feet tall, the impressive figure displayed a smooth, exceptionally beautiful natural patina.
The pieces drawing the highest number of pre-sale enquiries were both of Nepalese origin. Lot 39B, an incredibly well-detailed, circa-1875 CE gilt bronze Buddhist statue of Yab-Yum commanded $12,600, more than four times its high estimate. Its provenance also included prior sale at Sothebys. Following closely behind the Yab-Yum was Lot 37C, a 35-inch 17th-century carved-wood statue of the bodhisattva Vajravarahi. With the tantalizing bonus of an apparently never-before-opened relic chamber on its back contents unknown the statue of the powerful female deity more than doubled its high estimate at $12,000.
One of the finest pieces in the sale was Lot 3, a 23- by 21-inch high-relief limestone sculpture of the Egyptian goddess Hathor. Dating to the 18th to 20th Dynasties (circa 1570-1069 BCE) and formerly in the prestigious Simonian collection (Switzerland), the mysterious sculpture displayed the ears of a cow and a solar disc on its head. It sold for $22,200.
The flourishing market for Pre-Columbian art saw an influx of new bidders in the Oct. 22 sale, pursuing such treasures as Lot 58D, circa 600-800 CE male and female sonriente (smiling) pottery figures from the Veracruz Remojadas culture of Mexico. Wonderfully detailed and wearing headdresses and necklaces, the pair satisfied auction expectations at $8,100.
Offered consecutively as Lots 55 and 56, two Mayan polychrome cylinders one of them painted with a scene of companion spirits; the other depicting a black jaguar concluded their bidding runs at $5,400 each. An eerie 500-200 BCE Mezcala stone figure with inlaid shell eyes, ex Sothebys and collection of Denenberg Fine Arts, will convey to its next owner after attracting a top bid of $4,020.
A special feature of the sale was a collection of original, as-found fossils, each in a remarkable state of natural preservation. Leading this group was Lot 86, a Cretaceous (112 to 99.6 million years ago) heteromorphous open-coil ammonite discovered in Morocco. Rarely found in such a large size, the 17¾- by 14½-inch fossil settled at $3,300.
Visit Artemis Gallery online at www.artemisgallery.com for information about upcoming auctions. To discuss consigning ancient, cultural or ethnographic art, call Teresa Dodge at 720-890-7700 or email Teresa@ArtemisGallery.com.