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Dozens of Antiquities lack dated pre-1970 provenance at Christie’s and Sotheby’s June 2013 sales-UPDATED with sale results

June 4, 2013
Lot 18. A MARBLE HEAD OF HERAKLES, ROMAN IMPERIAL, 2ND CENTURY A.D. perhaps a portrait of Emperor Commodus, turned to his right, with thick unruly hair and beard, long moustache, large eyes with indented pupils, and prominent brow, his head surmounted by the head of his lion skin. Height 9 1/2 in. 24.1 cm. Estimate: $60,000 - 90,000. Provenance Galerie Simone de Monbrison, rue Bonaparte, Paris French private collection, acquired from the above circa 1980 (Sotheby's, New York, June 7th, 2007, no. 67, illus.)

Sotheby’s Lot 18. A MARBLE HEAD OF HERAKLES, ROMAN IMPERIAL, 2ND CENTURY A.D.
perhaps a portrait of Emperor Commodus, turned to his right, with thick unruly hair and beard, long moustache, large eyes with indented pupils, and prominent brow, his head surmounted by the head of his lion skin.
Height 9 1/2 in. 24.1 cm.
Estimate: $60,000 – 90,000. This lot sold for a hammer price of $80,000 ($100,000 with the buyer’s premium).
Provenance
Galerie Simone de Monbrison, rue Bonaparte, Paris
French private collection, acquired from the above circa 1980 (Sotheby’s, New York, June 7th, 2007, no. 67, illus.)

This week, several hundred Greek, Roman, Egyptian and other antiquities will come up for sale at Christie’s and Sotheby’s in New York with many lacking a dated pre-1970 provenance – at Christies’s, that applies to the vast majority of lots on offer.

More than thirty lots in the June 5, 2013 sale of antiquities at Sotheby’s in New York – approximately one-third of the 93 lots in the sale – either lack a pre-1970 provenance, such as Lot 18 (above), one of the top five by estimate; have a provenance that consists of a previous owner’s birth and death dates (e.g. Lot 8, Provenance: Nicolas Landau (1887-1979), Paris, Galerie J. Kugel, Paris, and Axel Vervoordt, Belgium); have a provenance that is speculative (e.g. Lot 9, Provenance: probably Azeez Khayat (1875-1943), Haifa and New York Sotheby Parke Bernet, New York, May 8th, 1976, no. 41, illus.); or other issues that make a dated provenance difficult to establish.

Meanwhile, over at Christie’s, more than 145 of 194 lots in the June 6, 2013 antiquities sale have similar issues, including three of the five top lots,by estimate (below):

Lot 616. A ROMAN GILT SILVER SKYPHOS  CIRCA 1ST CENTURY B.C.-1ST CENTURY A.D.  The body decorated with a Nilotic scene, mostly in raised relief, with some background chased, one side centered by a grotesque man teasing a hippopotamus, depicted nude with a protruding spine and enlarged genitalia, his head in profile, wearing only a pointed soft cap ridged at the side, reminiscent of the Pharaonic Khepresh or Blue Crown, the flaps falling onto his shoulders, a mantle in his obscured left hand, a staff in his hand, facing right with his weight on his left leg, his right leg pulled back and bent at the knee, the heel lifted, reaching forward with his right arm, his left hand in the animal's mouth, palm up, perhaps feeding, the hippopotamus' mouth agape, depicted in profile, stepping forward with its right foreleg, an ibis standing on its back, with reeds, a flowering plant, a peristyle and palm trees enriching the background; the other side centered by a similar grotesque man facing left, stepping onto the back of a crocodile, depicted nude, with exaggerated genitalia exposed between his spread legs, his left foot placed along the crocodile's neck, his right foot between its left legs, an askos in his extended right hand, a basket in his left hand held behind, the crocodile in profile to the left, its head raised, the rocky landscape similarly rendered, with trees and flowering plants; the separately-cast handles each with a rosette and dots on the interior below a bifurcating leaf at the join to the rim, and an inverted palmette below at the join to the body, lathe-turned ridges below the flaring rim, the turned foot also separately made, with a chased foliate pattern in relief radiating out from the stem, concentric ridges centered by a dot on the underside; some gilding preserved, especially on the hippopotamus, the man's mantle, and the crocodile 4 1/8 in. (10.5 cm.) high; 323.5 g. (10.44 oz.)  Estimate: $500,000-700,000. Provenance with Antiquarium, New York, 1992 (Myth and Majesty: Deities and Dignitaries of the Ancient World, no. 9).

Christie’s Lot 616. A ROMAN GILT SILVER SKYPHOS
CIRCA 1ST CENTURY B.C.-1ST CENTURY A.D.
The body decorated with a Nilotic scene, mostly in raised relief, with some background chased, one side centered by a grotesque man teasing a hippopotamus, depicted nude with a protruding spine and enlarged genitalia, his head in profile, wearing only a pointed soft cap ridged at the side, reminiscent of the Pharaonic Khepresh or Blue Crown, the flaps falling onto his shoulders, a mantle in his obscured left hand, a staff in his hand, facing right with his weight on his left leg, his right leg pulled back and bent at the knee, the heel lifted, reaching forward with his right arm, his left hand in the animal’s mouth, palm up, perhaps feeding, the hippopotamus’ mouth agape, depicted in profile, stepping forward with its right foreleg, an ibis standing on its back, with reeds, a flowering plant, a peristyle and palm trees enriching the background; the other side centered by a similar grotesque man facing left, stepping onto the back of a crocodile, depicted nude, with exaggerated genitalia exposed between his spread legs, his left foot placed along the crocodile’s neck, his right foot between its left legs, an askos in his extended right hand, a basket in his left hand held behind, the crocodile in profile to the left, its head raised, the rocky landscape similarly rendered, with trees and flowering plants; the separately-cast handles each with a rosette and dots on the interior below a bifurcating leaf at the join to the rim, and an inverted palmette below at the join to the body, lathe-turned ridges below the flaring rim, the turned foot also separately made, with a chased foliate pattern in relief radiating out from the stem, concentric ridges centered by a dot on the underside; some gilding preserved, especially on the hippopotamus, the man’s mantle, and the crocodile
4 1/8 in. (10.5 cm.) high; 323.5 g. (10.44 oz.)
Estimate: $500,000-700,000. Bidding on this lot stopped at $380,000 and it failed to sell.
Provenance
with Antiquarium, New York, 1992 (Myth and Majesty: Deities and Dignitaries of the Ancient World, no. 9).

Lot 636. A ROMAN MARBLE DRAPED FEMALE  CIRCA 2ND CENTURY A.D.  Lifesized, depicted standing with her weight on her left leg, her right bent at the knee with the sandalled foot splayed, wearing a long-sleeved stola, buttoned along the right sleeve, the garment clinging to her body, revealing her voluptuous form beneath, her right arm extending out to the side, her left arm lowered and bent forward, with a heavy palla draped over her left shoulder, pulled in a diagonal across her right hip, up and over her left arm, and wrapped around her legs, falling in thick zigzags along her left side, its deep vertical folds defining her legs and contrasting with the pleats of the stola emerging below, on an integral plinth 57 in. (146 cm.) high  Estimate: $400,000-600,000. Provenance Private Collection, California. Anonymous sale; Butterfield & Butterfield, Los Angeles, 24-25 March 1998, lot 4387. Private Collection, Los Angeles. Anonymous sale; Bonhams, Los Angeles, 28 April 2008, lot 436w. with Phoenix Ancient Art, Geneva and New York, 2009 (Catalog no. 1, no. 12).

Christie’s Lot 636. A ROMAN MARBLE DRAPED FEMALE
CIRCA 2ND CENTURY A.D.
Lifesized, depicted standing with her weight on her left leg, her right bent at the knee with the sandalled foot splayed, wearing a long-sleeved stola, buttoned along the right sleeve, the garment clinging to her body, revealing her voluptuous form beneath, her right arm extending out to the side, her left arm lowered and bent forward, with a heavy palla draped over her left shoulder, pulled in a diagonal across her right hip, up and over her left arm, and wrapped around her legs, falling in thick zigzags along her left side, its deep vertical folds defining her legs and contrasting with the pleats of the stola emerging below, on an integral plinth
57 in. (146 cm.) high
Estimate: $400,000-600,000. Bidding on this lot stopped at $300,000 and it failed to sell.
Provenance
Private Collection, California.
Anonymous sale; Butterfield & Butterfield, Los Angeles, 24-25 March 1998, lot 4387.
Private Collection, Los Angeles.
Anonymous sale; Bonhams, Los Angeles, 28 April 2008, lot 436w.
with Phoenix Ancient Art, Geneva and New York, 2009 (Catalog no. 1, no. 12).

Lot 610. A ROMAN MARBLE TORSO OF APOLLO  CIRCA 1ST CENTURY B.C.-1ST CENTURY A.D.  Depicted lifesized, standing in contrapposto with his weight on his right leg, the left slightly advanced, with both arms lowered, the left pulled slightly back, the lithe figure with softly-modelled musculature, his long serpentine tendrils falling onto each shoulder, preserving a tree trunk support along the right thigh, and a smaller rectangular strut at the back of the left thigh 34½ in. (87.6 cm.) high  Estimate: $200,000-300,000. Provenance with Hosur Corporation, Kusnacht, Switzerland, 1989.

Christie’s Lot 610. A ROMAN MARBLE TORSO OF APOLLO
CIRCA 1ST CENTURY B.C.-1ST CENTURY A.D.
Depicted lifesized, standing in contrapposto with his weight on his right leg, the left slightly advanced, with both arms lowered, the left pulled slightly back, the lithe figure with softly-modelled musculature, his long serpentine tendrils falling onto each shoulder, preserving a tree trunk support along the right thigh, and a smaller rectangular strut at the back of the left thigh
34½ in. (87.6 cm.) high
Estimate: $200,000-300,000. This lot sold for a hammer price of $160,000 ($195,750 with the buyer’s premium).
Provenance
with Hosur Corporation, Kusnacht, Switzerland, 1989.

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