Master Sculpture from Four Millennia

Master Sculpture from Four Millennia

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 14. A Roman Marble Relief Figure of Athena, circa 1st/2nd Century A.D..

Property Formerly in the Collection of Jan Mitchell

A Roman Marble Relief Figure of Athena, circa 1st/2nd Century A.D.

Auction Closed

July 3, 02:32 PM GMT


4,000 - 6,000 GBP

Lot Details


A Roman Marble Relief Figure of Athena

circa 1st/2nd Century A.D.

the goddess standing with her weight on her right leg, wearing a long chiton and himation falling from her left shoulder, and holding an oval shield by her side, her head surmounted by a Corinthian helmet with fragmentary crest, the back of the statue carved flat.

Height 39 cm.

Cardinal Jules Mazarin (1602-1661), Paris and Rome

Thomas Herbert, 8th Earl of Pembroke (1656-1733), Wilton House, Wiltshire

by descent to Sidney Herbert, 16th Earl of Pembroke (1906-1969), Wilton House, Wiltshire (Christie’s, July 3rd, 1961, no. 130)

Jan Mitchell (1913-2009), New York

by descent to the present owner


Please see previous lot

Please see note to the previous lot.

The present figure, with its back carved flat, appears to have been cut out of a relief. It is very similar in style and workmanship to figures of Athena on a group of round-topped acroteria in the Vatican (e.g. and in a Genova private collection (, suggesting that it originally formed part of such an acroterion.

Jan Mitchell (1913-2009), was an avid art collector, philanthropist, and New York tastemaker. Born in Latvia, he came to New York as a young man, working from the ground up in the restaurant business. One of his greatest achievements was reviving the legendary restaurant Lüchow’s, where his passion for fine art and fine dining were realized with Old Master and 19th century paintings lining the walls as he played host to New York’s artistic and literary community.

After selling Lüchows and other Manhattan restaurants, Mitchell turned in earnest to collecting paintings and works of art. His eclectic taste and spirited buying had free reign, “It isn’t necessary for me to spend twenty-four hours wondering whether I like a work of art, I know right away”. (Cartier Ratcliff, “Jan Mitchell-The Varied Tastes of a New York Connoisseur,” Architectural Digest, p. 298, November, 1987). He focused particularly on his collection of Pre-Columbian gold (gold having a special allure after his father gave him a gold coin as a reward for learning to read) as well as sculpture from the ancient Mediterranean. A longtime trustee of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Mitchell donated important Greek and Roman antiquities to the museum. A generous portion of his collection of Pre-Columbian gold was given to the Met in 1991, adding to the Nelson Rockefeller and Alice Bache collections, and forming one of the most important permanent installations, The Jan Mitchell Treasury, which former Museum director Phillippe de Montebello referred to as “our little El Dorado.”