Ernest and Ella Brummer Collection quadruples estimate selling prices in Hindman's auction

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Ernest and Ella Brummer Collection quadruples estimate selling prices in Hindman's auction
Selections from the Collection of Ernest and Ella Brummer.

CHICAGO, IL.- Objects from the collection of Ernest and Ella Brummer more than quadrupled its presale estimate selling for a combined total of over $2 million at Hindman on December 5. All 38 lots from the legendary collection sold on the day with lots fetching as much as 25 times their presale estimates. The Brummer collection was offered as a single-owner session to begin Hindman’s Antiquities & Ancient Art auction, which achieved a sales total of $2.95 million.

“The results today show just how impactful the Brummer legacy remains even decades after their legendary gallery closed its doors,” said Jacob Coley, Hindman’s Director and Senior Specialist of Antiquities & Ancient Art. “The carefully curated collection, spanning various artistic periods and styles, embodied the Brummers' discerning taste and passion for art. We are thrilled to have played a part in continuing the legacy of appreciation and scholarship that the Brummer Galleries so ardently championed.”

Early 20th Century’s Preeminent Tastemaker

Ernest Brummer was a renowned art dealer who, along with his brother Joseph, founded the historically significant Brummer Galleries, which held paramount importance in both New York and Paris during the early to mid-20th century. The galleries played a pivotal role in shaping the tastes and collections of art enthusiasts and museums alike. With locations in two of the world's artistic hubs, the Brummer Galleries became vital conduits for introducing European art to American audiences and vice versa. Their carefully curated exhibitions and extensive collection of artworks, ranging from ancient artifacts to modern masterpieces, not only enriched the cultural landscape of both cities but also fostered a deeper understanding of art history among the public. Moreover, the Brummer Galleries acted as influential intermediaries, connecting prominent artists and collectors, thereby contributing significantly to the global art market, and paving the way for artistic exchange and appreciation across continents.

A Rare Glimpse into the Ancient World

The property offered in the Hindman auction presented a unique opportunity for connoisseurs and scholars alike to add pieces with a lineage traceable through some of the most esteemed collections and notable exhibits in history to their collections. Bidders were all too eager to seize the moment.

The top lot of the day was a Roman marble head of a youth wearing a laurel wreath (lot 18), which sold for a staggering $504,000 against an estimate of $40,000 to $60,000. The head depicted a youth with uniformly idealized features and classicizing proportions which suggest that in all probability this piece was inspired by the work of the famed fifth-century B.C. works of Polykleitos. Variants of well-known Greek originals became fashionable with the Roman elite during the Republican period who utilized these loose "copies" to create mythological ensembles to decorate their gardens and villas.

Another Roman marble head that drew significant attention was a second century A.D. head of a triton (lot 19) that sold for $226,800, easily surpassing its $80,000 to $120,000 estimate. Much like with the marble head of the youth, the features of the figure are far too perfect to be a representation of a real person. Unlike the youth, however, the depiction of the face suggests that in all likelihood the subject is mythological rather than human. Indeed, the head very closely resembles the pair of tritons at the Musei Capitolini that originally flanked the famed Commodus portrait of Horti Lamiani, leading to the logical conclusion that the head is also meant to belong to a mythological creature with the torso of a man and an elaborate fishtail.

Leading the Egyptian category was a 19-inch wood sculpture depicting the head of Osiris (lot 22) selling for $315,000, more than 10 times its presale estimate of $30,000 to $50,000. For having survived more than two millennia, the wood sculpture from the 26th Dynasty was in remarkable condition with the fine details and craftsmanship of the piece still on full display.

Other highlights from the Brummer Collection include:

•Lot 11 | An Unfinished Greek Marble Head of a Woman
Hellenistic, Circa 4th-2nd Century B.C.
Sold for $176,400

•Lot 15 | A Hellenistic Bronze Hypnos
Circa 1st Century B.C.-1st Century A.D.
Sold for $138,600

•Lot 9 | A Romano-Egyptian Black Basalt Male Portrait Bust
Circa Late 1st Century B.C.-Early 1st Century A.D.
Sold for $138,600

•Lot 17 | A Roman Green Schist Bust of Jupiter
Circa 1st-2nd Century A.D.
Sold for $126,000

•Lot 16 | A Gallo-Roman Bronze Apollo
Circa 2nd-3rd Century A.D.
Sold for $100,800

Other Notable Lots from the Sale

In addition to the Brummer Collection, the Antiquities & Ancient Art auction featured more than 200 lots from various owners sourced throughout Hindman’s national network of regional offices. Other notable collections included property from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, which was sold to benefit future acquisitions and saw all 27 of its lots sell. Among the highlights from various owners were:

•Lot 203 | A Roman Mosaic Panel Depicting Summer
Circa 2nd-3rd Century A.D.
Sold for $37,800

•Lot 112 | A South Arabian Stone Idol
Bronze Age, Early 3rd - Early 2nd Millennium B.C.
Sold for $34,650

•Lot 88 | An Egyptian Serpentine Ushabti for May
New Kingdom, 19th Dynasty, 1307-1196 B.C.
Sold for $31,500

•Lot 180 | A Roman Bronze Figure of Isis-Aphrodite
Circa 1st-2nd Century A.D.
Sold for $28,350

More Property from the Brummer Collection

Additional property from the Brummer Collection will be offered in various Hindman auctions for the remainder of 2023 and early 2024 including a mid-15th century French limestone figure of the Foolish Virgin in the February 2024 European Furniture & Decorative Arts auction and a dazzling array of wearable art and engraved gems in the March 2024 Jewelry Through the Ages auction.

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