LONDON – Apollo Art Auctions will launch its new season of gallery events with a January 29 sale generously laden with ancient fine art, antiquities and rare coins. Bidders who are unable to attend in person may bid remotely by phone, online or absentee, and everyone can enjoy the visually stunning auction catalogue online. With its exceptional photography and authoritative descriptions of rare art and artifacts, the auction book takes the reader on a virtual journey of the greatest civilizations of the world, traversing Classical Europe, Egypt and the Near East, and both southern Asia and the Far East.
By means of a collaboration between Apollo Art Auctions and Coinllectibles™ – a blockchain-technology company that supports the collectibles industry through its focus on art and rare memorabilia – an exciting new feature will be introduced at the 491-lot auction. Each of the first five lots will convey with an NFT digital ownership token (DOT), meaning the winning bidder of each of those five items will receive transferable ownership of both the physical and digital assets of their particular auction acquisition.
“Fine art NFTs are still in their earliest days. We are proud to be in the vanguard of this new asset category and believe collectors will embrace the opportunity to enter the space. The initial five lots to be auctioned with NFTs were specifically chosen because of their photogenic quality,” said Apollo Art Auctions’ director, Dr. Ivan Bonchev.
The January 29 catalogue is divided into four sections: Classical and Egyptian Antiquities, Medieval Works of Art, Asian Works of Art, and Ancient Coins. The auction will begin with a circa 490-480 BC Attic black-figure on white-ground lekythos attributed to the Athena painter. The 9.37-inch-tall vase dramatically depicts a scene from a centauromachy (mythical Parthenon battle between the Lapiths and Centaurs) showing a hoplite soldier on one knee, thrusting the point of his spear into an opponent’s midsection. Its long and distinguished line of provenance traces back to Spencer Joshua Alwyne Compton, Second Marquess of Northampton (1790-1851), Castle Ashby House. The vessel will be offered together with a Coinllectibles™ NFT digital ownership token and carries an estimate of £20,000-£40,000 ($24,430-$48,860).
A rare Apulian-Lucanian red-figure volute krater, circa 400 BC, is of painted terracotta with a victory scene and seated youth on Side A, and a nude youth and maenad on Side B. An unusual and highly attractive design with two sets of handles, the krater stands 506mm (19.92 inches) high and comes with a TL test report from the independent German laboratory Ralf Kotalla. It is expected to sell in the range of £20,000-£40,000 ($24,430-$48,860).
One of the most important artworks to be presented is a circa 3rd century AD over-lifesize marble portrait of a Severan lady, possibly the Empress Julia Domna. Gracefully sculpted, it reflects the artist’s great dedication by the way the finest of details has been attended to in creating the realistic facial features and wavy, center-parted hairstyle. The 555mm (21.85in) sculpture has resided in some of Europe’s finest collections. Its line of provenance includes: private collection of a London doctor; a London ancient art gallery; an old Suffolk, UK collection, 1980s; and formerly in a 19th century English collection (based on restoration techniques and information provided by vendor). Significantly, the marble was exhibited at London’s Olympia Antiques Fair in June 2022. Estimate: £100,000-£200,000 ($122,150-$244,300)
A well-preserved relic of the Ancient Egyptian culture, a cartonnage mask from the Ptolemaic Period (circa 332-30 BC) depicts the deceased wearing a tripartite wig with gilt-edge lappets decorated with scenes of Osiris, and a winged scarab at the top. It is accompanied by an Art Loss Register Certificate and, like so many of the other great treasures in this sale, comes with an ARS professional historical report. Its pre-sale estimate is £20,000-£40,000 ($24,300-$48,600). Immediately following the cartonnage, Apollo will present a large Egyptian limestone stele dating to circa 2050-1786 BC with hieroglyphs linking the piece to the King of Upper Egypt, Middle Kingdom. Estimate: £10,000-£20,000 ($12,215-$24,430).
Scrupulously documented armor and other weaponry from ancient battles can be found in literally every sale produced by Apollo Art Auctions. The January 29 selection is outstanding and features a rare circa-600 BC Greek Corinthian bronze combat helmet hammered from single sheet of bronze. Its intriguing design incorporates almond-shape eye openings and arched enveloping cheek pieces that allow for a vertical opening for the mouth, and it is completely intact with no repairs or restoration. Coming from an important London private collection of ancient art and previously held in the old Spanish “Cervera” collection, it will cross the auction block with a £60,000-£120,000 ($73,284-$146,568) estimate.
Equally stunning, a Greek bronze winged helmet forged from a single hammered sheet displays a finely executed central crest in high relief depicting a stylized gorgoneion with snake heads, in between two cylindrical plume holders. Its impressive line of provenance goes back to the legendary Axel Guttmann collection (Munich, pre-2000). Estimate: £60,000-£120,000 ($73,284-$146,568). Perhaps the most aesthetically pleasing of the edged weapons to be offered is a circa 600 AD Merovingian (“first race” of the kings of France) iron sword adorned with gold and garnets and exhibiting a rare patterned Damascus steel blade. With provenance that traces back to the Belgian collection of Mr. R. Bogaert (1970s-1990s), it has been assigned a £25,000-£45,000 ($30,520-$61,040) estimate.
Of a later period but no less captivating, a Teutonic knight’s colossal two-handed ceremonial sword, circa late 16th century AD, has the earmarkings to suggest possible German workmanship. It has punched armorer’s marks to each side depicting a Latin cross surmounting a sickle. Both sides of its blade bear an incised inscription in uncial letters: INRI, with reference to the titulum of The Cross of Our Lord. Of staggering size and weight – 2075mm long x 455mm wide (81.69in x 17.91in), 6.35kg (14lbs) – this fearsome weapon is entered with a £30,000-£60,000 ($36,640-$73,280) estimate.
Asian art highlights abound in Apollo’s first auction of the new year. A large Gandharan (Peshawar basin, northwest of ancient Indian subcontinent) grey schist standing Buddha, circa 200-300 AD, is shown with a halo and dressed in a flowing monk’s robe. Similar to a Buddha figure in collection of Metropolitan Museum of Art, this serene 790mm (31.1in) work of art is estimated at £15,000-£30,000 ($18,320-$36,640).
A slice of life from the Chinese Han Dynasty is portrayed in the terracotta pair of seated figures playing Liubo at a gameboard dotted with many pawns. Created circa 206 BC-220 AD, the set has been TL tested by Ralf Kotalla laboratory and determined to be of the period reflected in its style, with no modern trace elements. Its provenance goes back to a British collection formed in the 1980s, and it will be offered with a £4,500-£9,000 ($5,495-$10,990) estimate.
The market’s insatiable demand for fine, wearable ancient jewelry will be well met with dozens of gorgeous rings, pendants, bracelets, necklaces, amulets, buckles and other adornments. Many pieces are set with semiprecious or precious stones, and the artistry, originality and integrity of hand-workmanship surpasses anything created by modern artisans. Highlights include a Viking silver necklace with cruciform pendant, £30,000-£50,000 ($36,650-$61,080); a gorgeous circa 400-300 BC Ptolemaic gold seal ring, possibly from Egypt and engraved with a lion-headed gryphon £6,000-£12,000 ($7,290-$14,580); and a heavy (37g) Merovingian gold belt or shoe buckle with a large cabochon garnet, £4,500-£9,000 ($5,500-$11,000).
Apollo Art Auctions is located in a newly expanded gallery at 25 Bury Place in the heart of London’s Bloomsbury district, opposite The British Museum. Their January 29, 2023 auction will commence at 7 a.m. US Eastern Time/12 noon BST. View the fully illustrated auction catalogue and sign up to bid absentee or live online through LiveAuctioneers. Apollo Art Auctions accepts payments in GBP, USD and EUR; and ships worldwide. All packing is handled by white-glove specialists in-house. For questions about any item in the sale or to learn how to consign to a future Apollo auction, please call the London gallery on +44 7424 994167 or email email@example.com. Online: www.apolloauctions.com
Today’s approximate rate of exchange: £1 = US$1.22