Property from an American Private Collection
OLMEC INCISED BOWL OF A SUPERNATURAL,
MORELOS REGION EARLY PRECLASSIC, CIRCA 1200-900 BC
Height: 4 ½ in (11.4 cm)
Broken and repaired with repaired cracks still visible along the walls and on the base. Minor infill painting along some cracks on the exterior. Finely and deeply incised.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.
NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING CONDITION OF A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE PRINTED IN THE CATALOGUE.
D. Daniel Michel, Chicago, acquired in 1962 (inventory no. 62:088)
Ancient Art of the New World, New York, acquired from the above
American Private Collection, acquired in 1991
Michael D. Coe, The Jaguar's Children: Pre-Classic Central Mexico, New York, 1965, fig. 19
Leo Rosshandler, Man-Eaters and Pretty Ladies: Early Art in Central Mexico from the Gulf to the Pacific, 1500 BC-500 AD, Montreal, 1971, p. 52, cat. no. 45
Peter David Joralemon, "A Study of Olmec Iconography", in Studies in Pre-Columbian Art and Archaeology, 7, Washington, D. C., 1971, fig. 236
Everett McNear, High Culture in the Americas Before 1500, Chicago, 1982, p. 2, cat. no. 4.
Peter David Joralemon, "Bowl with Incised Were-Jaguar Profiles," in Elizabeth P. Benson and Beatriz de la Fuente, eds., Olmec Art of Ancient Mexico, Washington, D.C., 1996, p. 203, fig. 41
Peter David Joralemon, "An Incised Olmec Bowl from Tlapacoya in the Barbier-Mueller Collection," in Arts and Cultures, Musée Barbier-Mueller, Geneva, 2001, no. 2, fig. 1b
The Museum of Primitive Art, New York, The Jaguar's Children: Pre-Classic Central Mexico, February 17-May 5, 1965
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Man-Eaters and Pretty Ladies: Early Art in Central Mexico from the Gulf to the Pacific: 1500 B.C. to 500 A.D., January 15-March 8, 1971
The Arts Club of Chicago, High Culture in the Americas Before 1500, November 15-December 31, 1982
National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., Olmec Art of Ancient Mexico, June 30-October 20, 1996
Ceramic vessels from the Olmec region provide vivid and important representations of supernatural deities. By 1200 BC in the Basin of Mexico and the nearby Puebla and Morelos region, flat-bottom ceramics were boldly engraved with powerful abstract and esoteric symbols reflecting cosmological beliefs.
This vessel depicts two images of the dramatic profile head known as the banded-eye deity, distinctive for the open mouth with flared upper lip, toothless gum accented by crosshatching, large almond-shaped eye, and the narrow band extending from the back of the cleft head to the eye, down the cheek and curving to the back. Two wavy cross motifs separate each head.
The deity is consistently shown without a body, and is found on numerous ceramics of the Early Preclassic era in the Central Mexico. It was a prime character in the formative years of Olmec religion. This deity profile is carved on the shoulder of the famous Las Limas stone figure, a 'dictionary' of the important earth and water deities. The banded-eye profile is associated with the fish monster and the realm of the underworld sea.
For a closely related vessels, see Benson and de la Fuente, eds., Olmec Art of Ancient Mexico, New York, 1996, cat. no. 40; and Stierlin, Mexique, Terre des Dieux, Geneva, 1998, cat. nos. 34 and 36; and Berrin and Fields, eds., Olmec, Colossal Masterworks from Ancient Mexico, San Francisco, 2010, p. 206, pl. 112, for the vessel in the Raymond and Laura Wielgus Collection in the Indiana University Art Museum (IUAM 81.32.3).