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$2.2 Million Roman Imperial Portrait Head of a Girl leads Sotheby’s June 2014 Antiquities Auction in New York

June 3, 2014
Lot 14. A MONUMENTAL MARBLE FIGURE OF A RAM, ROMAN IMPERIAL, CIRCA EARLY 1ST CENTURY A.D., THE RESTORATIONS PROBABLY BY FRANCESCO FRANZONI standing with his right legs slightly advanced, with large ribbed horns spiraling around the long horizontal ears, tail falling down between the hind legs, and thick coat of wool finely carved, the support in the form of the trunk of a palm tree. Height of figure 41 in. 104 cm. Estimate: $2-3 million. Click on image to enlarge.

Lot 14. A MONUMENTAL MARBLE FIGURE OF A RAM, ROMAN IMPERIAL, CIRCA EARLY 1ST CENTURY A.D., THE RESTORATIONS PROBABLY BY FRANCESCO FRANZONI
standing with his right legs slightly advanced, with large ribbed horns spiraling around the long horizontal ears, tail falling down between the hind legs, and thick coat of wool finely carved, the support in the form of the trunk of a palm tree.
Height of figure 41 in. 104 cm.
Estimate: $2-3 million. This lot sold for a hammer price of $1.5 million ($1,805,000 with the buyer’s premium).
Click on image to enlarge.

UPDATE: The sale, from which only one lot was withdrawn, proceeded in a deliberate if not terribly dramatic pace, selling all but three of the lots offered.  The first break out work, lot 9, a marble figure of Apollo (below) being deaccessioned by the Toldeo Museum of Art, blew past its $300,000 high estimate to hammer at $800,000 ($965,000 with the buyer’s premium). The same buyer purchased lot 5, the torso of Aphrodite (below), spending above the high estimate to secure the work, a hammer price of $160,000 ($197,000 with the buyer’s premium).  The same telephone buyer came back minutes later to pick up two more works, lot 13, the figure of Pan (below) for a hammer price of $230,000 ($281,000 with fees) and the top estimated work, lot 14, the Roman Imperial monumental figure of a ram.  Bidding on that work, another Toldeo Museum deaccession and estimated at $2-3 million, opened at $1 million, proceeded at $50,poo increments, and hammered for $1.5 million ($1,805,000 with fees), the one seemingly legitimate bid.  The same buyer resurfaced later in the sale to purchase lot 45, an Egyptian bronze figure, going well past the $50,000 high estimate to nab the 26th Dynasty work of a hammer price of $125,000 ($155,000 with fees), and lot 53, another Egyptian figure.

Lot 34, a Roman Imperial portrait head of a girl, estimated at $800,000-1,200,000, was the subject of determined bidding by two telephone bidders, finally hammering at $1.85 million ($2,225,000 with the buyer’s premium), the sale’s highest price.

ORIGINAL POST: The top ten works (by estimate) at Sotheby’s June 4, 2014 antiquities auction in New York all have one thing in common – a pre-1970 provenance.  In some cases, the provenance goes back centuries.  That should make them very desirable, especially to any museums looking to make acquisitions.  The same can’t be said of Christie’s June 5, 2014 antiquities auction in New York, where six of the top ten lots (by estimate) lack a pre-1970 provenance.  And, while some 11 of the 58 lots at Sotheby’s can’t be sourced before 1970, at Christie’s at least 80 of the 129 lots offered have no pre-1970 provenance.

Lot 34. A MARBLE PORTRAIT HEAD OF A GIRL, ROMAN IMPERIAL, AUGUSTAN, 27 B.C.-A.D. 14 the neck carved for insertion into a statue, turned to her left, her face with delicate bow-shaped lips and large wide-set eyes under slightly arched eyebrows, her finely-carved hair parted in the center, bound in an invisible fillet, brushed in wavy locks over the sides, arranged in a nodus with central braid behind, tied in a broad braided chignon in back, and falling in long locks over the sides of the neck, finely engraved curls escaping over the forehead. Height 11 3/4 in. 29.8 cm. Estimate: $800,000-1,200,000. Click on image to enlarge.

Lot 34. A MARBLE PORTRAIT HEAD OF A GIRL, ROMAN IMPERIAL, AUGUSTAN, 27 B.C.-A.D. 14
the neck carved for insertion into a statue, turned to her left, her face with delicate bow-shaped lips and large wide-set eyes under slightly arched eyebrows, her finely-carved hair parted in the center, bound in an invisible fillet, brushed in wavy locks over the sides, arranged in a nodus with central braid behind, tied in a broad braided chignon in back, and falling in long locks over the sides of the neck, finely engraved curls escaping over the forehead.
Height 11 3/4 in. 29.8 cm.
Estimate: $800,000-1,200,000. This lot sold for a hammer price of $1.85 million ($2,225,000 with the buyer’s premium).
Click on image to enlarge.

Lot 44. AN EGYPTIAN LIMESTONE RELIEF PANEL, SAKKARA, 5TH DYNASTY, REIGN OF NEFERIRKARE, CIRCA 2500-2480 B.C. probably the lintel from above a false door, finely carved in sunk and shallow relief with two depictions of the owner, Nikaure, Judge and Chief Administrator of the Palace, Judge and Inspector of the Bookkeepers, Judge Guardian of Nekhen, and Prophet of Re and Hathor in the Sun-temple of Neferirkare, seated face to face on bovine-legged chairs before a large array of offerings laid out between them, the image on the left wearing a kilt with trapezoidal overfold, ceremonial bull's tail(?), garment tied at his shoulder with two laces, one held in his left hand, broad collar, short beard, and wig with striated terminals indicated, his right hand resting on his lap, the image on the right wearing a wrap-around kilt, sash, broad collar, short beard, and wig, his right hand resting on offerings, a papyrus-umbel scepter in his left hand, the calf muscles of the left leg clearly indicated, the face of each figure with large almond-shaped eye, contoured upper lid, and long tapering eyebrow in relief, the four registers of columns of inscription in the field enumerating and counting the offerings to Nikaure, the three columns of inscription above each figure and a long line of inscription below each register repeating Nikaure's numerous titles, the offerings illustrated including bread, trussed quadrupeds, fowl, meat, and vegetables, contained in and resting on a variety of containers and supports. 26 by 75 1/4 in. 66 by 191.13 cm. Estimate: $700,000-1,000,000. Click on image to enlarge.

Lot 44. AN EGYPTIAN LIMESTONE RELIEF PANEL, SAKKARA, 5TH DYNASTY, REIGN OF NEFERIRKARE, CIRCA 2500-2480 B.C.
probably the lintel from above a false door, finely carved in sunk and shallow relief with two depictions of the owner, Nikaure, Judge and Chief Administrator of the Palace, Judge and Inspector of the Bookkeepers, Judge Guardian of Nekhen, and Prophet of Re and Hathor in the Sun-temple of Neferirkare, seated face to face on bovine-legged chairs before a large array of offerings laid out between them, the image on the left wearing a kilt with trapezoidal overfold, ceremonial bull’s tail(?), garment tied at his shoulder with two laces, one held in his left hand, broad collar, short beard, and wig with striated terminals indicated, his right hand resting on his lap, the image on the right wearing a wrap-around kilt, sash, broad collar, short beard, and wig, his right hand resting on offerings, a papyrus-umbel scepter in his left hand, the calf muscles of the left leg clearly indicated, the face of each figure with large almond-shaped eye, contoured upper lid, and long tapering eyebrow in relief, the four registers of columns of inscription in the field enumerating and counting the offerings to Nikaure, the three columns of inscription above each figure and a long line of inscription below each register repeating Nikaure’s numerous titles, the offerings illustrated including bread, trussed quadrupeds, fowl, meat, and vegetables, contained in and resting on a variety of containers and supports.
26 by 75 1/4 in. 66 by 191.13 cm.
Estimate: $700,000-1,000,000. This lot sold for a hammer price of $650,000 ($785,000 with the buyer’s premium).
Click on image to enlarge.

Lot 9. A MARBLE FIGURE OF APOLLO, ROMAN IMPERIAL, PROBABLY HADRIANIC, CIRCA 130 A.D. after a Greek original of circa 460 B.C., the god standing in a majestic attitude with his weight on the left leg, his right leg advanced and left arm raised, a strand of hair falling onto his right shoulder, his cloak draped over the support with long deeply carved folds, remains of his boot on the back of the left ankle. Height 59 in. 150 cm. Estimate: $200,000-300,000. Click on image to enlarge.

Lot 9. A MARBLE FIGURE OF APOLLO, ROMAN IMPERIAL, PROBABLY HADRIANIC, CIRCA 130 A.D.
after a Greek original of circa 460 B.C., the god standing in a majestic attitude with his weight on the left leg, his right leg advanced and left arm raised, a strand of hair falling onto his right shoulder, his cloak draped over the support with long deeply carved folds, remains of his boot on the back of the left ankle.
Height 59 in. 150 cm.
Estimate: $200,000-300,000. This lot sold for a hammer price of $800,000 ($965,000 with the buyer’s premium).
Click on image to enlarge.

Lot 11. A MARBLE FIGURE OF A SATYR CARRYING A WINE SKIN, ROMAN IMPERIAL, CIRCA 2ND THIRD OF THE 2ND CENTURY A.D. after a Hellenistic prototype of the 1st Century B.C., stepping forward in a lively attitude, turning to his left, and holding a large wineskin across his back, his thick wavy hair bound in a fillet, his goat-skin cloak, lagobolon, and pan flute resting on the support at his feet; the right arm and top of the wineskin restored in marble. Height as restored 42 1/2 in. 108 cm. Estimate: $100,000-150,000. Click on image to enlarge.

Lot 11. A MARBLE FIGURE OF A SATYR CARRYING A WINE SKIN, ROMAN IMPERIAL, CIRCA 2ND THIRD OF THE 2ND CENTURY A.D.
after a Hellenistic prototype of the 1st Century B.C., stepping forward in a lively attitude, turning to his left, and holding a large wineskin across his back, his thick wavy hair bound in a fillet, his goat-skin cloak, lagobolon, and pan flute resting on the support at his feet; the right arm and top of the wineskin restored in marble.
Height as restored 42 1/2 in. 108 cm.
Estimate: $100,000-150,000. This lot sold for a hammer price of $85,000 ($106,250 with the buyer’s premium).
Click on image to enlarge.

Lot 13. A MARBLE FOUNTAIN FIGURE OF PAN, ROMAN IMPERIAL, CIRCA 1ST CENTURY A.D., WITH 18TH CENTURY OR EARLIER RESTORATIONS based on a Hellenistic work of the 2nd Century B.C., standing against a rocky outcrop with the weight on his right leg, his head looking down and turned to his right, and holding an amphora balanced on his left shoulder over a goatskin, his grinning face with divided beard, full parted lips, and gnarled brow, the vessel pierced for use as a waterspout. Height as restored 31 3/4 in. 80.6 cm. Estimate: $100,000-150,000. Click on image to enlarge.

Lot 13. A MARBLE FOUNTAIN FIGURE OF PAN, ROMAN IMPERIAL, CIRCA 1ST CENTURY A.D., WITH 18TH CENTURY OR EARLIER RESTORATIONS
based on a Hellenistic work of the 2nd Century B.C., standing against a rocky outcrop with the weight on his right leg, his head looking down and turned to his right, and holding an amphora balanced on his left shoulder over a goatskin, his grinning face with divided beard, full parted lips, and gnarled brow, the vessel pierced for use as a waterspout.
Height as restored 31 3/4 in. 80.6 cm.
Estimate: $100,000-150,000. This lot sold for a hammer price of $230,000 ($281,000 with the buyer’s premium).
Click on image to enlarge.

Lot 5. A MARBLE TORSO OF APHRODITE, ROMAN IMPERIAL, CIRCA 1ST CENTURY A.D. inspired by the Aphrodite of Knidos by Praxiteles, circa 350 B.C., the goddess standing with her weight on the right leg and bending forward slightly at the waist, her right forearm resting on her hip, the iron dowel on the left leg for attachment to a missing support. 13 1/4 in. 33.7 cm. Estimate: $80,000-120,000. Click on image to enlarge.

Lot 5. A MARBLE TORSO OF APHRODITE, ROMAN IMPERIAL, CIRCA 1ST CENTURY A.D.
inspired by the Aphrodite of Knidos by Praxiteles, circa 350 B.C., the goddess standing with her weight on the right leg and bending forward slightly at the waist, her right forearm resting on her hip, the iron dowel on the left leg for attachment to a missing support.
13 1/4 in. 33.7 cm.
Estimate: $80,000-120,000. This lot sold for a hammer price of $160,000 ($197,000 with the buyer’s premium).
Click on image to enlarge.

Lot 12. A MARBLE FIGURE OF A SATYR PLAYING THE PIPE, ROMAN IMPERIAL, CIRCA 1ST CENTURY A.D., WITH 18TH CENTURY RESTORATIONS the ancient torso after Skopas’s statue of Pothos of the later 4th Century B.C.; the base, support, feet, arms, left shoulder, and neck restored, the head ancient but not belonging. Height 44 1/8 in. 112.1 cm. Estimate: $60,000-90,000. Click on image to enlarge.

Lot 12. A MARBLE FIGURE OF A SATYR PLAYING THE PIPE, ROMAN IMPERIAL, CIRCA 1ST CENTURY A.D., WITH 18TH CENTURY RESTORATIONS
the ancient torso after Skopas’s statue of Pothos of the later 4th Century B.C.; the base, support, feet, arms, left shoulder, and neck restored, the head ancient but not belonging.
Height 44 1/8 in. 112.1 cm.
Estimate: $60,000-90,000. Bidding on this lot stopped at $55,000 and it failed to sell.
Click on image to enlarge.

Lot 35. A MARBLE FUNERARY PORTRAIT BUST OF A DEIFIED YOUTH OR PRINCE, ROMAN IMPERIAL, CIRCA LATE 1ST CENTURY A.D. the bust carried aloft by an eagle with wings outstretched, a chlamys fastened on and falling from the left shoulder, his head turned to his left, his short hair arranged in wavy curls in front with a slight part over the forehead, and spiral curls in back; the head and top of the wings of the eagle restored; mounted on an 18th-century marble socle and plinth. Height 12 in. 30.5 cm.; with socle and plinth 15 in. 38.1 cm. Estiate: $60,000-90,000. Click on image to enlarge.

Lot 35. A MARBLE FUNERARY PORTRAIT BUST OF A DEIFIED YOUTH OR PRINCE, ROMAN IMPERIAL, CIRCA LATE 1ST CENTURY A.D.
the bust carried aloft by an eagle with wings outstretched, a chlamys fastened on and falling from the left shoulder, his head turned to his left, his short hair arranged in wavy curls in front with a slight part over the forehead, and spiral curls in back; the head and top of the wings of the eagle restored; mounted on an 18th-century marble socle and plinth.
Height 12 in. 30.5 cm.; with socle and plinth 15 in. 38.1 cm.
Estiate: $60,000-90,000. Bidding on this lot stopped at $48,000 and it failed to sell.
Click on image to enlarge.

Lot 39. A MARBLE STRIGILLATED SARCOPHAGUS WITH EROS AND PSYCHE, ROMAN IMPERIAL, SECOND QUARTER OF THE 3RD CENTURY A.D. of rectangular form, carved in front at each end with an erote holding a torch, the central panel decorated within an architectural frame with Eros and Psyche embracing, each of the short sides carved with crossed shields. 19 1/2 by 79 3/8 by 23 1/8 in. 49.5 by 201.6 by 58.7 cm. Estimate: $60,000-90,000. Click on image to enlarge.

Lot 39. A MARBLE STRIGILLATED SARCOPHAGUS WITH EROS AND PSYCHE, ROMAN IMPERIAL, SECOND QUARTER OF THE 3RD CENTURY A.D.
of rectangular form, carved in front at each end with an erote holding a torch, the central panel decorated within an architectural frame with Eros and Psyche embracing, each of the short sides carved with crossed shields.
19 1/2 by 79 3/8 by 23 1/8 in. 49.5 by 201.6 by 58.7 cm.
Estimate: $60,000-90,000. This lot sold for a hammer price of $50,000 ($62,5000 with the buyer’s premium).
Click on image to enlarge.

 

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