10 Wonders from the Ancient World

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Launch Slideshow

The first of the year's Ancient Sculpture and Works of Art sales in London on 3 July promises a wide variety of curated pieces that will appeal to both the aspiring collector and the seasoned connoisseur. Highlights amongst the Greek, Etruscan, Roman and Egyptian works include a spectacular ancient Egyptian sculture of a scribe and a carved Roman marble altar. Click ahead to see more.

Ancient Sculpture and Works of Art
3 July 2018 | London

10 Wonders from the Ancient World

  • An Egyptian Indurated Limestone Figure of the Scribe Nekht-ankh, circa 1800-1700 BC.
    Estimate £1,000,000 – 1,500,000
    The most significant example of ancient Egyptian sculpture from the Middle Kingdom to appear at auction in recent memory. It depicts a scribe, gazing into eternity, with his left hand on his chest, as the sitter would have sat in a temple while witnessing a sacred rite.

    For more than a hundred years it is been part of the furnishings and works of art adorning the celebrated Palais Stoclet in Brussels, which was designed by Joseph Hoffmann and decorated by Gustav Klimt.

    Ancient Sculpture and Works of Art
    3 July 2018 | London
  • A Marble Figure of the Capitoline Aphrodite, Roman Imperial, 1st/2nd century AD.
    Estimate £120,000 – 180,000
    The present lot is a delicate variation on the Greek prototype of the nude Aphrodite. The goddess is depicted immediately before bathing. The charming putto riding a dolphin by her left leg is a variation introduced by the Roman sculptor and alludes to her birth from the sea.

    The lot was part of the collection of Pierre and Denise Lévy, known as major art patrons in France, and in the city of Troyes in particular. Through a gift of more than 2000 works of art, they made it possible for the city to build a Museum of Modern Art, which opened in 1982.

    Ancient Sculpture and Works of Art
    3 July 2018 | London
  • An Egyptian Polychrome Limestone Round-topped Stele, circa 1514-1479.
    Estimate £120,000 – 150,000
    The stele is dedicated to various Egyptian deities, including Osiris and Anubis, to protect the passing of a woman, whose house name Nub-em-henuti it was possible to reconstruct through the inscriptions.

    This lot was part of Giovanni d’Athanasi collection in the 19th Century and it was offered for sale at Sotheby’s in 1837, as part of one of the very first Egyptian Antiquities sales ever held in the western world.

    It is significant also to note that other steles from the 1837 d’Athanasi Collection sale are now in the British Museum and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

    Ancient Sculpture and Works of Art
    3 July 2018 | London
  • A Roman Marble Archaistic Head of a Young Woman, circa 2nd century AD.
    Estimate £100,000 – 150,000
    This sculpture is recorded for the first time in two late 19th -century drawings now preserved in the collections of the German Archaeological Institute .

    The original appears to have been a creation of the late Hellenistic period inspired by Greek archaic sculpture.

    Ancient Sculpture and Works of Art
    3 July 2018 | London
  • An Egyptian Polychrome Wood Mummy Mask, 1075-716 BC.
    Estimate £100,000 – 150,000
    The intensity and power of the figure’s gaze is wonderfully heightened by the original black polychrome pupils, the cosmetic lines of the eye and the brow beautifully inlaid with vivid blue and white glass.

    This mask qualifies as one of the best examples of its kind. Among the other exceptional masks Sotheby’s sold, it can be compared to the one from the Charles Pankow Collection in December 2004, the mask that came to us from a European collector in June 2011, and the one on the cover of our December 2015 sale catalogue, which was originally in the Estée Lauder Collection.

    Ancient Sculpture and Works of Art
    3 July 2018 | London
  • Two Egyptian Polychrome Wood Panels from the Sarcophagus of Hathor-hotep, circa 1938-1850 BC.
    Estimate £100,000 – 150,000
    Also known as a Chest of Life , the first panel is decorated with ornamental inscriptions containing invocations to deities associated with death and rebirth, and the imitation of a prehistoric royal palace facade with finely painted details reproducing the appearance of Early Dynastic mud brick and stone architecture, and with Wedjat eyes.

    The second panel, fragmentary and similarly decorated, presents inscriptions in reversed orientation to allow the deceased to read them.

    Ancient Sculpture and Works of Art
    3 July 2018 | London
  • A Fragmentary Roman Marble Oscillum, circa 1st century AD.
    Estimate £60,000 – 90,000
    This object is carved in both sides, the front part is in high relief with a head of Medusa, with a frightful countenance emerging from a tangled mass of writhing serpents and deeply-drilled unruly hair. The reverse, carved in shallow relief, represents a mask of Pan, with a fiendish face, high cheekbones and gnarled brow.

    The most common interpretation of Medusa suggests she is an apotropaic symbol used to protect from and ward off negative influences, much like the modern evil eye. She represents a dangerous threat meant to deter other dangerous threats, an image of evil to repel evil.

    This relief was drilled through the centre in later times for insertion of a metal pipe and reuse as waterspout decoration.

    Ancient Sculpture and Works of Art
    3 July 2018 | London
  • An Egyptian Encaustic on Wood Mummy Portrait of a Girl, circa late 1st/early 2nd century AD.
    Estimate £60,000 – 90,000
    The present panel belongs to the first collection of mummy portraits assembled by the Viennese antiquities dealer Theodor Graf in the late 1880s. This famous collection made mummy portraits known to the Western world, when Graf exhibited it throughout Europe and America and published it prior to its dispersal in 1928.

    Ancient Sculpture and Works of Art
    3 July 2018 | London
  • A Fragmentary Etruscan Pottery Alabastron in the Form of a Hare, Second half of the 6th century BC.
    Estimate £40,000 – 60,000
    This type of vessel was used to contain perfumed oils and it shows a dead hunted hare, hanging forepaws with dangling head and an elongated neck. The slender body was finely painted with stippled fur, and the ears were decorated with pinkish red on the inside and with diagonal white lines along the edges.

    Ancient Sculpture and Works of Art
    3 July 2018 | London
  • A Roman Marble Funerary Altar inscribed for Julia Lyris, 1st century AD.
    Estimate £45,000 – 60,000
    The present altar is finely carved on four sides, the front carved in relief with a mask of Medusa beneath a Latin inscription in three lines where the commissioner dedicated this to his daughter Julia Lyris, and to his mother Faustilla.

    It was first recorded in the collection of Andrea Chigi (1466-1520), one of the wealthiest Tuscan bankers and patron of the arts in the Renaissance. The altar was in the garden of his villa in Rome, later known as the Villa Farnesina, the walls of which he commissioned Raphael to decorate.

    Ancient Sculpture and Works of Art
    3 July 2018 | London
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