The main highlight of this season's Ancient Marbles sale in London is an exceptionally well-preserved and powerful portrait bust of a Roman army officer of the mid to late 2nd Century A.D. Acquired in 1965 by the Denver Museum of Art, it is now being sold by the Museum to benefit its acquisition fund.
The second most significant highlight is a group of four Roman draped female statues. From 1968 until 2016, they adorned the swimming-pool of a palatial villa in Jamaica. They will be sold individually.
Among the other main objects in the sale are a herm of Socrates bought by William Randolph Hearst in 1928, a seated statuette of Apollo extensively restored by a northern Italian sculptor of the early 16th Century and later in the Villa Montalto in Rome, a fragment of a massive sarcophagus depicting the mythological battle between the Greeks and the Amazons (in the Cranbrook Academy of Arts in Michigan from 1938 until 1972), and a Greek grave stele acquired by Mina Merrill Prindle in New York in 1927.
Also worthy of note is a Roman altar, which, in Cornelius Vermeule’s words, “possesses one of the most distinguished epigraphic pedigrees of any Roman marble”. Its collection history goes back at least 567 years.
Five sculptures in the sale have passed through the hands of New York dealer Joseph Brummer (1883-1947).