BOULDER, Colo. – Every auction event conducted by Artemis Gallery is a trip back in time, with intriguing artifacts from scores of important cultures waiting to be discovered, however the company’s Exceptional Series is a particular favorite with collectors. The finest consignments of investment-grade art and artifacts from Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Viking, Near Eastern, Far East/Asian, Pre-Columbian and tribal cultures are reserved exclusively for sales produced under the Exceptional Series banner. The next Exceptional Antiquities, Asian & Ethnographic Auction, slated for June 10, includes 400+ museum-worthy lots, with absentee and live-online bidding available through LiveAuctioneers.
The auction will open with one of the session’s special highlights: an Ancient Egyptian late-18th-Dynasty Amarna faience lotus bottle with glyphs. This incredible, mold-formed vessel dates to circa 1353-1336 BCE and is covered in softened layers of turquoise-hued glaze. Overall, it is embellished with ample iconography, including the Eye of Horus, heart-and-windpipes, and images of semicircular bowls or baskets. Standing 5.626 inches (7.6 inches with included stand), the vessel spent several decades in a Texas private collection. It comes to auction this month with a $15,000-$20,000. A similar example sold at Christie’s New York in 2003 for $23,900.
A rare and outstanding Ancient Egyptian limestone statue of a bare-chested striding pharaoh, 26th (Late Dynastic) Saite Period, circa 664-525 BCE, was skillfully carved with details that emphasize the subject’s almond-shaped eyes, strong pectorals and broad shoulders. He is “dressed” in a pleated skirt and wears a headdress topped with a uraeus. This striking artwork stands 4.25 inches high (5.625 inches with included stand) and is estimated at $50,000-$75,000.
When some think of Ancient Greek art, painted pottery with mythological scenes immediately spring to mind, and for good reason. The advanced Mediterranean culture combined imagination with technical skill to create masterpieces like Lot 26A, a 6th-century BCE amphora with painted images of Herakles, Athena and the Nemean Lion on one side and a pair of warriors carrying shields on the other. The decorative program is richly accented with stylized palmettes, bands of tongue motifs, and botanical accents. The 11-inch vessel is published in the Beazley Archive Pottery Database at the University of Oxford. Its provenance includes a 1981 Important Antiquities sale at Sotheby’s New York. June 10 auction estimate: $30,000-$45,000
The Ancient Roman section, which is replete with marbles, bronzes, jewelry and stunning glass, is led by a spectacular 3rd-5th century CE stone mosaic depicting a hunter whose arrow has just struck his quarry, a stag. The elaborately detailed image is composed of square stone tesserae in hues of sage green, olive green, ochre, russet, black and white against a cream ground. “The inclusion of a stag in this scene was likely a deliberate choice to honor Diana, the goddess of the hunt. She was described in mythology as being fond of the woods and its wild animals, especially stags,” said Dodge. Measuring 45.875 inches wide by 34.5 inches high, the mosaic is cataloged with a $24,000-$36,000 estimate.
Ever-popular Viking art and relics will once again step into the Artemis Gallery spotlight with a selection that includes a fine variety of jewelry and earthenware. Undoubtedly from an important workshop of its day, a 10th-century CE Viking necklace with 38 hollow nearly-pure (98.98%) silver fishtail pendants is an impressive production, with each adornment hand-finished with stippled dots. The necklace has a total weight of 187.5 grams and is offered with a $50,000-$75,000 estimate.
Among the many Asian treasures to be auctioned are: a Gandharan polychrome stucco bust of a lady, $8,000-$12,000; a 15th-century Tibetan gilt-copper Avalokiteshvara with 11 faces, $13,000-$19,500; a large Japanese Jomon pottery vessel (with T/L test), $4,500-$6,500; and a Chinese Tang Dynasty sandstone Buddha in lotus pose, $8,000-$12,000. Warranting special mention is a 4th-century Indian Gupta Dynasty red sandstone panel with high-relief figures of a sensuous celestial or deity with a mythical gajasimha (elephant/lion hybrid). A beautifully sculpted work standing 23 inches high, it is expected to reach $25,000-$35,000 at auction.
Pre-Columbian highlights include: an exceptional Maya limestone ball court market, $50,000-$70,000; a rare and important Olmec pottery head effigy, $6,000-$9,000; an Aztec terracotta plaque of a warrior (with T/L test), $9,000-$14,000; and a superb 10th-century Sican (northern coastal Peru) 13-14K gold ceremonial mask of a type that would have been made only to adorn the face of a deceased lord or king. Its estimate is $20,000-$30,000.
Fossils of extinct and prehistoric animals continue to mesmerize collectors, especially those representing unusual species. A prime example is the rare fossilized skull of an eastern Kazakhstan cave hyena, also known as the Ice Age spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta spelaea). Dating to the Pleistocene epoch circa 2 million to 10,000 years ago, the skull displays formidable teeth and incredibly powerful jaws which would have been essential, given the hyena’s diet of reindeer, equines and even woolly rhinos. “Being a cave dweller, its habitat surely contributed to the near-perfect condition this skull has retained,” said Teresa Dodge, managing director of Artemis Gallery. The auction estimate on this lot is $32,000-$48,000.
The auction also features Native American art – including Mimbres, Acoma, and prehistoric Anasazi pottery – and 19th-century through contemporary American and European art. Among the accomplished artists represented in the selection are: John James Audubon, Eduard Hildebrandt, William Franklin Draper, and Wallace Mitchell.
Artemis Gallery’s Thursday, June 10, 2021 Exceptional Auction will start at 10 a.m. Eastern Time. All items come with Artemis Gallery’s guarantee that they are authentic and legal to purchase, own, and if desired, resell. An Artemis Gallery COA will accompany each purchase. The company ships worldwide and has its own in-house white-glove packing and shipping department to ensure quality control. For additional information about any item in the auction, call Teresa Dodge at 720-890-7700 or email [email protected] Bid absentee or live via the Internet through LiveAuctioneers.