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Phoenix Ancient Art is proud to present an array of magnificent objects of great rarity selected from among its collection of antiquities. These pieces of ancient art possess aspects of both stellar quality and art historical importance, which are attractive and suitable for the discerning private collector or public museum collection. In this publication of these works, one will find objects made of stone, glass, wood, bronze, silver, gold and rock crystal that are as diverse as they are fascinating and finely made. Once again, Phoenix Ancient Art asserts its commitment to bring the very finest pieces of ancient art to the attention of the art world. One of the most striking objects presented is the remarkable mosaic depicting a Roman symposium in the greatest detail, which includes a fascinatingly realistic view of the “unswept floor”, or asarotos oikos (No. 13). An incredible mosaic, both in size and in degree of preservation, it is truly a masterwork of ancient art and stands as one of the most important and spectacular mosaics from the ancient world. It offers the intriguing view of a scene from the daily lives of aristocratic Romans. The realism of the narrative scene endows the mosaic with a freshness and vitality that one would expect to encounter at a dinner party of aristocratic Romans, and it provides us with a unique and rare view into the luxury experienced by this class of individuals. The elaborate furniture, overall decor and a host of other objects associated with the dining experience are depicted in fine detail. The dynamism of the figures in the upper part of the mosaic is perfectly balanced by the quiet repose of the precise “still life” below. Most

remarkably, the individuality rendered through the facial features, physique and other diverse characteristics of each diner and servant suggests that these are actually portraits rather than simply images of types. This magnificent mosaic is comparable to the famous mosaic of the “unswept floor” signed by the Greek Heraclitus, which is now in the collection of the Vatican Museums. From Achaemenid Persia comes a large fragment of a limestone relief, an additional rarity of paramount importance (No. 7). Depicting a king’s bodyguard, the relief is similar to the carved architectural reliefs decorating the massive palatial complexes at Persepolis and Pasargadae. During the rule of the Achaemenid kings, craftsmen were brought from all over the world to embellish these palace walls with decorative architectural reliefs. From the Greek world comes one of the rarest of Greek vessels, indeed one of the most important from the early Classical period (No. 5). This kylix (wine-drinking vessel) painted by the master redfigure artist, Makron, depicts the departure of a warrior that until recently was unidentified. But the discovery of an inscription next to the figure names him as Antilochus, known from Homer’s Iliad and Pindar’s Pythian Odes as the youthful hero who sacrificed his life to save that of his father, Nestor, the king of Pylos. Ancient Egypt’s intimate familiarity with the human form – one that most scholars agree influenced the early Greek sculptors’ images of


nude male figures, the famous marble kouroi – is aptly demonstrated by the statuette of a male figure in painted wood (No. 1) and an equally exquisite bronze statuette of the Egyptian god Amun (No. 2). The perfectly preserved and extremely rare chalcedony statuette of a seated Cybele/Tyche remains a crowning achievement of the ancient sculptor/gem-cutter’s art (No. 8). One of the most exquisite imperial portraits known, a rock crystal intaglio depicting Septimius Severus, is also featured here (No. 11). The masterfully carved image of this Roman emperor embodies the character of the man and can be counted among the most significant ancient portraits of this influential figure that have survived to this day. A highly detailed carved cameo depicting the Roman Empress Plautilla, the wife of Emperor Caracalla and daughter-in-law of Septimius Severus, is the central decoration of a gold fibula and provides another Severan period portrait (No. 12). Marking the Egyptian contribution to portraiture, this time from its later, Roman period, is the expressive and moving funerary portrait of a handsome bearded man wearing a white toga and a golden laurel wreath (No. 4).

astounding since rock crystal is notorious for its hardness that makes it challenging to carve. From the cultures of Western Asia comes a pair of silver Sassanid rhyta (fluid containers), each in the form of a boar’s head, which confirm the ancient artist’s knowledge of the natural world (No. 14). Although animal-shaped rhyta have a long tradition in the ancient world and in the repertoire of Near Eastern vessels, very few Sassanid silver rhyta are extant. Separated by geographic location, customs, religious beliefs or social organization, the cultures represented by these masterworks – Egyptian, Greek, Achaemenid, Roman, Sassanid, Byzantine and Islamic – share a common bond drawing them together, i.e. the universal instinct and ability to create beautiful works of art. Like those individuals who commissioned, made and appreciated these works, we too continue to take part in the visual enjoyment of their creations. As mirrors of their time, these pieces of ancient art reflect the rich and varied material culture of humankind, which is indeed something precious to celebrate.

From the Late Roman or Byzantine period comes another exquisite example of work in rock crystal, a carved oinochoe (jug) for use on special occasions (No. 16). This rare vessel is beautifully designed with faceted sides and volutes at the top of the handle, all the more


1 2

Striding male statuette 12240

12 – 15

Statuette of Amun (Tutankhamun as Amun?)

6 7

Head of Dionysus 29083

38 – 45

Relief with a Persian archer 28663

11 12


48 – 51

Intaglio with the effigy of Septimius Severus


Oinochoe with decoration in relief



74 – 77

110 – 115

Large fibula with a cameo

Bottle with inscriptions in Greek and Arabic

(portrait of Plautilla, wife of Emperor Caracalla) 19946



118 – 123

16 – 19 78 – 83

3 4

Rock crystal ring with a resting Sphinx 29944


Statuette of Cybele / Tyche 28278


Mosaic with a symposium scene 11966

20 – 25

54 – 59

84 – 93

Fayum mummy portrait

Agate bowl

Pair of rhyta in the shape of boars’ protomes




60 – 65



26 – 29 96 – 103


Kylix with the departure of Antilochus (attributed to Makron as painter and inscribed by Hieron as potter)


Painted glass bottle 26729

66 – 73


Princely necklace with large pendants 16833

106 – 109


32 – 37




1 Striding male statuette Egyptian, Old Kingdom, 6th – 8th Dynasty, ca. 2345-2160 B.C. Painted wood H: 55.7 cm (approx. 61 cm with pedestal)


This statuette was carved from a dark brown, veined wood. The eyes were painted in white and black, the hair black. The pedestal is rectangular but irregular; it seems to be made of a different wood, slightly lighter than that of the statuette. It is entirely painted in black and does not show any trace of a former inscription; the name of the figure is unknown. The whole work is of a remarkable artistic quality. Such examples most often represented a high dignitary or a priest. In the Old Kingdom, they had an exclusively funerary use; they were placed in the tomb, in a room especially designed to contain the images of the deceased, called the serdab. These representations provided a sort of substitute for the owner of the tomb; they housed the ka (soul) and received funerary offerings, mostly foodstuffs. The figure, seen in a strictly frontal view, represents a nude man striding, his arms descending along his body, his clenched fists not touching his thighs, his left foot forward. This classic and conventional attitude is well documented throughout Egyptian art and has been recorded since the 4th Dynasty at least. The figure is represented as a young man with elegant, slender proportions. The anatomical details are rendered by delicate and finely nuanced shapes (see, for instance, the chest, the hips, the stomach and even the muscles of the legs and arms). The shins are indicated by ridges. The face is round, with large eyes, full cheeks and a horizontal mouth. A semispherical wig leaves the ears uncovered (unlike most similar figures, in which the ears are partially covered by the hair). The curls, separated by vertical lines, are arranged in several concentric rows, with a small disk in the center of the pate; behind, the hair partially covers the nape of the neck. The particular proportions (oversized head, large eyes, willowy, slender silhouette, clearly marked waistline and narrow hips) enable us to classify this work in the second sculptural style of the Old Kingdom, which developed around the late 5th Dynasty, in the area of Saqqara especially. At that time, wood was among the materials most frequently used by sculptors. Nudity, a distinctive feature in the representations of dignitaries, would have been a way to highlight the funereal or religious nature of the statuette. Wooden sculptures appeared very early in Egyptian art, as of the early Historical period; but they were most often produced from the Old Kingdom onward. Although wood is more perishable than stone, its use had many advantages; lighter and easier to work with, it also allowed the manufacture of statuettes composed of several elements assembled by tenons. The limbs had therefore a freer,

more natural position, detached from the torso, while the supporting pillar (essential in stone works) was no longer necessary; the figures thus became much more lively and realistic than their stone counterparts. The rare scientific analyses performed systematically (Louvre Museum, Paris) indicate that Egyptian sculptors favored acacia wood. Other woods, especially fig and jujube, or more rarely cedar and ebony, are also attested. Many low reliefs and painting scenes of everyday life, found in the mastabas (ancient Egyptian tombs) of the Old Kingdom, show Egyptian artists carving wooden male figures. The most famous were discovered in the tomb of Ti and feature wood and stone carvers working side by side. Despite the perishable nature of wood, the Egyptian climate allowed many related statuettes dated to the Old Kingdom to be preserved to this day, like the examples housed in London (including an ebony specimen), in Cairo, in Baltimore and in Copenhagen (cedar). CONDITION The statuette is complete and in excellent condition, with minor wear and superficial chips (face, back, calf, shoulders), and small restorations. Arms broken and reattached. The anterior part of the left foot and the penis were carved separately. Traces of brown pigments on the surface of the body.

PROVENANCE Formerly in a Belgian private collection, 1972; European private collection, since 1995.

PUBLISHED Art of the Two Lands: Egypt from 4000 B.C. to 1000 A.D., New York, 2006, pp. 40-41, no. 8. VERLINDEN C., Archéologie (Galerie Blondeel-Deroyan), Paris, 2001, no. 1.

BIBLIOGRAPHY EATON-KRAUSS M., The Representations of Statuary in Private Tombs of the Old Kingdom, Wiesbaden, 1984, pp. 45-60, no. 28, pl. IV. VANDIER J., Manuel d’archéologie égyptienne: Tome III, Les grandes époques: La statuaire, Paris, 1958, p. 63 (attitude), pl. 54.6 (Baltimore). ZIEGLER C. et al., L’art égyptien au temps des pyramides, Paris, 1999, pp. 100 ff. ZIEGLER C., Les statues égyptiennes de l’Ancien Empire (Musée du Louvre), Paris, 1997, pp. 180 ff., nos. 50-56. On stylistic elements, see: RUSSMANN E.R., A Second Style in Egyptian Art of the Old Kingdom, in Mitteilungen des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts, Abteilung Kairo, 51, 1995, pp. 269–79.


2 Statuette of Amun (Tutankhamun as Amun?) Egyptian, 18th Dynasty, ca. 1334 – 1325 B.C. Bronze H: 16.1 cm (1:1)


This solid bronze statuette was cast in the lost wax process, composed of several elements which were made separately and then assembled (feathers of the headdress, ears, beard, scepter, arms, body). Cold-worked incisions skillfully detail the decoration of the loincloth, of the belt and of the nails, as well as the facial features. The eyes, which were originally inlaid, are now lost; but their absence seems due rather to an intentional removal than to preservation issues. Similarly, one can notice that the cartouche placed in the center of the belt was deliberately abraded, as if someone had wanted to erase the name of the figure. The man represented stands upright, in a strictly frontal and frozen position, with his left leg forward, in a typology that recalls the effigies of the Theban god Amun. His feet are placed on a rectangular, narrow and very thin base.

In addition, the author connects the erasing of the cartouche with the damnatio memoriae to which Tutankhamun was condemned by his successors, in particular by the first kings of the 19th Dynasty, Seti I and Ramesses II. As can be observed on the Abydos Table and King List (precisely established by the first two pharaohs of the 19th Dynasty), the names of the last pharaohs of the 18th Dynasty, including that of Tutankhamun, are not mentioned. They would have been omitted because of their links with the Amarna heresy. If this appealing hypothesis were definitively confirmed, our bronze example would be of particular historical significance. Indeed, it would be one of the rare representations of the young pharaoh found outside the context of his tomb, the discovery of which dates back to about a century ago.


Aside from a finely striated loincloth, the man is naked. His right arm falls to his thigh, while his left arm is bent towards the viewer. He would have held a long scepter in his hand (the was scepter, a symbol and hieroglyphic representation of Thebes). He wears Amun’s customary headdress, the cylindrical crown originally surmounted by two ostrich feathers, which were inserted in the deep groove on top of the headdress. The belt is adorned with zigzag lines. The figure has a willowy, slender body and shows outstanding artistic qualities. There is a striking contrast between the slim waist and youthful facial features (which suggest an adolescent rather than a man in the prime of life) and the well developed and athletic shoulders. Although this statuette can first be identified with the Theban god Amun, one should highlight a recent article by G. Weill Goudchaux, who advances a very attractive interpretation that takes into account all the characteristics of this image. Accordingly, the youthful appearance, the lost eyes and the erased cartouche are not surprising if one accepts that the statuette represents a young pharaoh (in Egyptian iconography, gods, kings and queens enjoyed the privilege of having their name inscribed in a cartouche), and more specifically Tutankhamun, who died at the age of 18. The author also emphasizes the definite likeness between the face of our example and some portraits of the young pharaoh.

Statuette complete and in excellent condition: only the attribute held in the left hand (scepter), the feathers of the headdress and the inlaid eyes are lost. The surface shows a beautiful uniform brown patina and some reddish encrustations in places. The statuette might have been gilded originally.

PROVENANCE Anonymous sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, June 28, 1966, Lot 44; with Charles Ratton, Paris; ex-collection Mr. Evrard de Rouvres, Paris, 1973; ex-private collection, London.

EXHIBITED Egypte, Eender en Anders, Allard Pierson Museum, Amsterdam, 1984.

PUBLISHED LUNSINGH SCHEURLEER R.A. (ed.), Egypte, Eender en Anders, Amsterdam, 1984, p. 52, no. 70. WEILL GOUDCHAUX G., Promenade autour d’un bronze égyptien, in Art passions, Revue suisse d’art et de culture, Geneva, October 2007, pp. 47-52.

BIBLIOGRAPHY On the heads of Tutankhamun, see: FREED R.E. (ed.), Pharaohs of the Sun: Akhenaten, Nefertiti, Tutankhamen, Boston, 1999, nos. 241 and 245 (heads of Tutankhamun, New York, MMA 50.6 and MMA 07.228.34); pp. 187 ff. (sculptors’ workshops). MICHALOWSKI K., Histoire mondiale de la sculpture: Egypte, Paris, 1978, pp. 148-149 (Louvre Museum, Paris, and Egyptian Museum, Cairo).


3 Rock crystal ring with a resting Sphinx Egyptian, New Kingdom, Ramesside period, 19th – 20th Dynasty, 1295 – 1069 B.C. Rock crystal H : 4.1 cm – W : 3.2 cm (enlarged)


Simple examples of jewelry in the form of bands used as finger rings are attested in Egypt as early as the pre-dynastic period. By the time of Egypt’s New Kingdom, the stirrup-shaped design of some rings, as here, became established and was successfully repeated thereafter. The stirrup shape relies upon a circular shank, from which a shoulder rises to create a bezel in the form of a flat plate. The plate could be decorated with any number of designs. It was not until the 18th Dynasty of the New Kingdom during the reign of Tutankhamun, however, that ancient Egyptian jewelers introduced a revolutionary design for the stirrup-shaped ring. That innovation incorporated any number of three-dimensional motifs which were set on the bezel as miniature sculptures. The sphinx resting on the bezel of this ring is indebted to those anonymous jewelers in the service of the “boy king”. The design and the execution of the sphinx are masterful. It rests with its tail characteristically following the contour of its right hind leg, around which it curls. Like most Egyptian sphinxes, the head of this example is covered by a nemes (headdress), here plain, to the front of which has been affixed a uraeus (sacred cobra), its tail undulating over the top. Attention has been paid to the detailed rendering of the toes on the extended front paws. The round face of the sphinx is dominated by large, almond-shaped eyes, set into fairly deep sockets, with the eyebrows rendered by incisions. The nose exhibits flared wings, its nostrils drilled and precise. A faint philtrum, or groove, under the center of the nose separates it from

the wide, horizontally aligned mouth with its fleshy lips. The resulting physiognomy gives one the impression of strength and power, devoid as it is of the bland, idealized features which often characterize the faces of such composite beasts. That impression contributes significantly to the monumentality inherent in this miniature, jewel-like masterpiece. Most of the published discussions of finger rings with sculptural, three-dimensional representations on their bezels are limited to examples in gold and most of these feature scarabs as their principal design element. To date, there are virtually no examples of rings with three-dimensional representations of sphinxes on their bezels. The majority of these types of rings feature cats, frogs and an occasional lion, but these examples have not been published. The best corpus for such rings is provided by examples excavated at Bubastis and now housed in the local site museum at Zagazig in Egypt. Although not stirrup-shaped, these rings nevertheless suggest that threedimensional sculpted images on bezels were extremely popular during the New Kingdom. All are doubtless based on royal models and may be considered to be evocations of more baroque examples of rings created for the court, such as the ring featuring a pair of horses, from Saqqara, which is assigned to Ramesses II of the 19th Dynasty. Whereas it is difficult to compare the face on our sphinx, despite its inherent monumentality, to much larger examples in stone in order to suggest the identity of the pharaoh represented, its round


face and non-idealized features with their pronounced cheekbones resonate with the physiognomic features encountered in some representations of Ramesses II, as the example housed in the Nubian Museum in Aswan suggests. One can, therefore, suggest a date during the Ramesside period of Egypt’s New Kingdom for this ring.


Rock crystal, perhaps termed menu hedej in hieroglyphs, was a stone much coveted for amulets and miniature, deluxe vases. But, its use, because of its rarity, was very restricted.


Complete, no breaks. Excellent condition.

PROVENANCE Ex-S.A. private collection, 1960s; ex-English private collection.

Hardstones from the Ancient World, New York, 6th - 16th December 2000, Lot 3.


The ancient Egyptians were extremely fond of wearing finger rings, as is attested by a mummy mask of an elite woman found at Thebes, roughly contemporary with our ring. She is depicted wearing no fewer than fourteen rings on her preserved fingers. Nevertheless, these rings were not simply worn for personal adornment. On the contrary, finger rings in ancient Egypt were characterized by magical powers. So, for example, today’s Old World practice of wearing a wedding band on the appropriate ring finger resonates with the ancient Egyptian practice of wearing a ring on the equivalent finger as a defense against heart disease which might be brought on by the ravages of malevolent deities and nefarious forces of evil. It is likely that our ring with its sphinx was also possessed of protective qualities, given that the ancient Egyptian sphinx was quintessentially one of the most powerful, protective creatures in the ancient Egyptian pantheon.

On the innovations in finger rings under the reign of Tutankhamun, see: ANDREWS C., Ancient Egyptian Jewellery, London, 1990, p. 166; p. 165 (ring of Ramesses II with the pair of horses); p. 50 (Egyptian term menu hedej). On the examples in Zagazig, see: BAKR M.I., BRANDL H. and KALLONIATIS F. (eds.), Egyptian Antiquities from Kufur Nigm and Bubastis, Cairo-Berlin, 2010, pp. 215-216. On the sources and restricted use of rock crystal, see: ANDREWS C., Amulets of Ancient Egypt, London-Austin, 1994, pp. 103-104. On rings worn on the ring finger to protect from heart disease, see: AUFRERE S., Le cœur, l’annulaire gauche, Sekhmet et les maladies cardiaques, in Revue d’égyptologie, 36, 1985, pp. 21-34. On the guardian and protective character of Egyptian sphinxes in general, see: WARMENBOL E., Sphinx: les gardiens de l’Egypte, Brussels, 2006, pp. 13-25.


4 Fayum mummy portrait Egyptian, Roman period, early 2nd century A.D. Painted wood, gold, linen, stucco H: 46 cm


This portrait, painted in encaustic (the term refers to the medium involving hot or, as probably here, cold beeswax) on a thin wooden board, is still encased in a cartonnage that imitates the upper part of a mummy.

the bands of cloth that were used to wrap the bodies). The figure would therefore be identified not only by his name (according to Egyptian tradition), but also by his realistic portrait, as inspired by the Italic tradition.

The cartonnage, whose background is painted in bright red, is decorated with a golden usekh necklace composed of three rows of beads. Two falcon heads wearing the crown of Lower and Upper Egypt, the pschent, appear on the sides, at shoulder height. Indicating the high rank of its owner, this adornment on the neckline of a mummy or painted on a sarcophagus had both an ornamental value and a prophylactic character, like an amulet.

The first examples of such portraits were uncovered in the Faiyum Oasis (archaeologists refer to them as “Faiyum portraits”) in the late 19th century, but important discoveries have also been made at Saqqara, Thebes, Antinopolis and Arsinoe.

The portrait represents a fairly young adult male, his head slightly turning to his right to face the viewer. He is dressed in a white toga, of which only the swathes covering the neck and shoulders can be seen. Part of the fabric then descends along the neck towards the chest. Nuanced lines of beige and gray coloring translate the play of light created by the folds of the garment. The thin, elongated face is suffused with melancholy, despite the subtle reflections of light painted in the dark eyes of the man. Brush strokes of varying thickness, ranging in color from beige to pink and skillfully arranged on the surface, enable the creation of various shadows on the skin and give an impression of volume, especially on the cheeks, in the eye area and on the neck. The facial hair is neat and short. The hair, rendered by long black and gray lines, is styled forward and partially covers the forehead. The man wears a golden laurel wreath in his hair. The conquest of Egypt by Octavian in 30 B.C. (following the Battle of Actium in 31 B.C.) turned this region into a Roman province placed under Imperial authority and ruled by a prefect selected by Rome. From that moment, the Italic influences in Egyptian art are obvious, especially in the funeral sphere, in which Roman and local traditions are mixed. Individualized portraits, like our example, gradually replaced the idealized and standardized cartonnage mummy cases of the Ptolemaic period. Usually made while their owners were still living, these portraits covered the faces of the bodies that were mummified for burial (they were mounted into

Typologically and stylistically, the closest parallel for this remarkable work is in London, at the British Museum; Artemidoros (the name is known by an inscription painted on the cartonnage mummy case) is one of the finest examples of Faiyum male portraits, discovered by Flinders Petrie at Hawara (Arsinoe) in 1888. Chronologically, our portrait can be dated to the early 2nd century A.D., which is also confirmed by the treatment of the hair, reminiscent of the heads from the Trajanic period. These two representations are so similar, that one may actually wonder whether they do not come from the same place, or even whether the two young men did not belong to the same family.

CONDITION Portrait in excellent condition, despite chips and cracks (particularly on the edges of the cartonnage); the color of the paint is still bright, though partially erased. The interior is covered with the linen shroud.

PROVENANCE Formerly in the J. Behrens (1874-1947) collection, Bremen, Germany, acquired in Egypt from Habib Tawadros, in 1936; ex-collection Mr. D.S., Bremen, Germany, collected in 1986.

BIBLIOGRAPHY DOXIADIS E., Portraits du Fayoum: Visages de l’Egypte ancienne, Paris, 1995, p.70. PARLASCA K., Ritratti di mummie, in ADRIANI A., Repertorio d’arte dell’Egitto greco-romano, Vol. 1, Palermo, 1969, p. 71, no. 162. WALKER S. and BIERBRIER M., Ancient Faces: Mummy Portraits from Roman Egypt, London, 1997, pp. 56-57, no. 32.



5 Kylix with the departure of Antilochus (attributed to Makron as painter and inscribed by Hieron as potter) Greek (Attica), 490 – 480 B.C. Ceramic D (with handles): 42 cm – H: 12.5 cm


This kylix (wine-drinking vessel) is decorated in the red-figure technique. The perfectly turned shape, the elegant proportions and the remarkably thin wall demonstrate the technical skills of the potter. An incised inscription on one of the handles indicates his name: Hieron (ΗΙΕΡΟΝ), an artist already documented through scores of inscriptions. In the early 5th century B.C., Hieron headed one of the most important workshops specializing in the production of kylikes. The decoration is composed of three different scenes, one of a mythological nature in the tondo and two on the outside surface, separated by the handles, which present gallantry scenes (one scene features men and courtesans, while the other shows boys replacing the women). These red-figure scenes are attributed to Makron, the best known of many great painters of kylikes. Despite the fact that only one surviving vessel bears his signature (a skyphos wine cup now housed in Boston), archeologists currently attribute to him about 350 works. His collaboration with Hieron was very prolific, since the potter’s signature appears on at least thirty works attributed to Makron. Known for several decades, this kylix can be considered as a masterpiece of the artistic maturity of the painter and can therefore be dated to between 490 and 480 B.C. The recent discovery of two names painted next to the figures of the tondo, though barely legible, allows the scene to be put into a specific mythological context. The standing warrior, a young adult male, is Antilochus (Α[Ν]ΤΙΛΟΧ[ΟΣ]), the son of Nestor, one of the Greek heroes of the Trojan War, who is seen in written sources as a model of devotion and filial piety. He was killed by Memnon (the king of the Ethiopians, allies of the Trojans) on the battlefield, in front of the city walls, while protecting his elderly father. Antilochus is dressed and armed like a Greek hoplite (citizen soldier). He holds a spear in his raised left hand and wears, over a short chiton (tunic), leather armor fastened by shoulder protections. His Thracian helmet (a type of headgear that is rarely seen painted) is placed on a cube stool; black in color, it is richly decorated with incised volutes and a large panache. Although the inscription refers to him as Lykomedes (ΛΥΚΟΜΕΔ[ΕΣ]), the elderly man sitting in front of Antilochus can

be identified as his father Nestor, the king of Pylos, who was said to be the oldest and wisest among the Greeks who participated in the expedition against Troy. Such errors are not uncommon on ancient vases; we know that Makron himself made mistakes in the inscriptions he wrote on other vessels. Nestor is characterized as a very old man by his baldness and by his seated position. He wears a long chiton and an ample himation (long cloak) and, despite being seated, he has to lean on the walking stick he holds in his right hand. The two figures do not exchange looks; they stare at the ground at their feet, as if they already know the tragic outcome of their relationship. On the outside surface, a first scene represents the negotiations between three men and three courtesans in groups of two. The young women are wrapped in himations and long transparent chitons revealing their figures. The men (the beardless one on the right is certainly the youngest) are simply dressed in ample himations open at the chest. Each of them leans on a long stick. Their attributes, though largely faded or invisible on the black background, appear to be those usually linked to gallantry scenes: flowers (cf. hand with index finger and thumb touching), a small red branch and perhaps a wreath (cf. woman on the right). The second scene painted on the outside surface is very similar, almost symmetrical. It features three older men (two of whom have long beards) courting young males. Each casually holding a stick, the various protagonists make stereotyped gestures related to the situation, but which are, in this example, less explicit than on other paintings, as if Makron simply wanted to allude to the scene that might follow. A bag of knucklebones (phormiskos) is suspended in the background, perhaps a gift received by one of the youths. Under one of the handles, a stool (diphros), covered with a fabric decorated with a zigzag pattern, separates the two scenes. The image in the tondo is outstanding for its very unusual mythological subject, given that Antilochus, though a famous warrior, only rarely appears in Attic iconography. The two images painted on the outside surface, however, are more common, but they enable us to fully appreciate the painting talents of Makron, who has depicted here well proportioned, elegant, charming and graceful figures.


CONDITION Vessel complete, but reassembled from several fragments, with minor repairs. On the outside surface, the paintwork is slightly worn; some details of the decoration have faded.

PROVENANCE Formerly in the Charles Gillet collection, Lausanne, ca. 1950s; ex-collection CJD, Switzerland, 1970s.

PUBLISHED BEAZLEY J.D., Attic Red-Figure Vase-Painters, Oxford, 1963, p. 471, no. 185. BOARDMAN J., Athenian Red-Figure Vases: The Archaic Period, London-New York, 1975, fig. 315. CARPENTER T.H. et al., Beazley Addenda, Oxford, 1989, p. 245. DÖRIG J. (ed.), Art antique : Collections privées de Suisse romande, Geneva, 1975, no. 207. KUNISCH N., Makron, Mainz/Rhine, 1997, no. 342, pl. 115. SUTTON Jr. R.F., Interaction between Men and Women Portrayed on Attic Red-Figure Pottery, Dissertation at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1981, p. 399, no. G51. The Painter’s Eye: The Art of Greek Ceramics: Greek Vases from a Swiss Private Collection and Other European Collections, New York-Geneva, 2006, pp. 54-61, no. 13.

BIBLIOGRAPHY On Makron, see: BEAZLEY J.D., Attic Red-Figure Vase-Painters, Oxford, 1963, pp. 458-481. BEAZLEY J.D., Paralipomena: Additions to Attic Black-Figure Vase-Painters and to Attic Red-Figure Vase-Painters, Oxford, 1971, pp. 377-379. KUNISCH N., Makron, Mainz/Rhine, 1997, no. 342, pl. 115. On the interpretation of the mythological scene, see: The Painter’s Eye: The Art of Greek Ceramics: Greek Vases from a Swiss Private Collection and Other European Collections, New York-Geneva, 2006, pp. 54-57, notes 6 and 11. On Antilochus, see: HOMER, Iliad, 15, 569-570; 18, 2; 23, 755-756. HOMER, Odyssey, 3, 111-112. PINDAR, Pythian Odes, 6, 28-42.


6 Head of Dionysus Hellenistic Greek, 2nd – 1st century B.C. Bronze, copper-tin alloy, silver-plated eyes H: 23.8 cm


This head of intriguing appearance and beauty is a rare and spectacular example of Greek bronze statuary. It offers an excellent opportunity to study the iconography of classical sculpture and the technique of bronze casting. The head of almost life-size shows the face of a very young man. The face has an extremely delicate ovoid shape highlighted by the slender cheeks, narrowing down to the short but prominent chin. A subtle transition marks the area below the eyes. The eyelids are outlined by incised lines, and the distance between the upper eyelids and the eyebrows is short, indicating the proportions typical of the faces in Classical and Late Classical sculpture. The thin, sharp-ridged eyebrows follow the arc of the almond-shaped eyes. The whites have hemispherical indentations for the inset irises, and small holes in the back were utilized for pins to hold the pupils and irises in place. The long, straight nose has a marked septum; the nostrils are formed by depressions and outlined by incisions, while the labial partition (the “angel’s kiss”) is rendered by a short groove. The lips are inlaid in copper-tin alloy and also incised. Such treatment, together with the narrow shape of the lower part of the face, makes the lips look pronounced. The use of colors (red lips, composite eyes with light globes, dark irises and pupils and the inlaid ornament of the headband) produces a vivid and naturalistic appearance.

to represent intricate embroidery; silver-inlayed swastikas appear on each side of a centered circle with a four-petaled rosette.

The head undoubtedly represents the youthful god of wine, Dionysus. This iconographic interpretation is supported by the god’s traditional attribute, the ivy (or vine) wreath in his hair. The wreath consists of two thin entwined branches; although the leaves are not represented, the plant is identified by the two round clusters of flowers/berries, corymbi, now lost, but which survive in some other replicas. Holes used for placement are seen from the front above the forehead; they indicate that the clusters and probably the adjusted leaves were cast separately, using a metal of a different color (copper or silver), and were then attached to the wreath. The hair is bound tightly by a headband, mitra, with ornamentation intended

The bronze wall is fairly thick, varying from 4 mm to 7 mm. The thickness of the wall may indicate the earlier date for the piece when compared to usually thinner castings dating to Roman times (for example, the bronze figure of Dionysus, now on loan at the Art Institute of Chicago, has walls only 1.2-2.3 mm thick). The piece appears to have no casting flaws, so no patches are seen. Two circular remains, probably of the rods/tubes from the casting, can be seen on the right cheek and another on the left side of the neck (there are also traces of this on the interior surface). The low line of the join, which is at the bottom of the neck, is a characteristic indicating the earlier date of the piece. As observed by C.C. Mattusch, a

The long hair is parted in the middle and several snake-like curls adorn the sides. The waves of the hair were modeled with great mastery and with remarkable precision in their execution. Multiple locks were engraved, revealing the finest detail, while the single strands and curls were shaped to show both the deep and upper layers, creating a dramatic effect of light and shadow. At the nape of the neck, the hair is knotted in a large bun. Two large orifices on the sides of the bun served to receive the separate castings of long curls that fell on the shoulders. A hook can be detected inside the back of the bun and was most probably utilized to secure the side curls. A small crescent-shaped lock is seen in front of each ear. In Classical sculpture, such elaborate hairstyles were reserved for the deities and were typical for both female and male representations. As noted above, the silver decoration in the headband and the copper-tin alloy in the lips were made separately and hammered into a cast cavity. The bronze eyelashes and the composite eye globes were also inlaid. Some lines may have been chiseled after casting, as were probably those outlining the lips and the nostrils. Undoubtedly, much of the hair was chiseled.


specialist in large Greek bronzes, a Greek bronze tends to make the join of head to neck horizontally at mid-neck, while the Roman method is to join head to neck around the hairline on the back of the neck and beneath the chin. As is often the case for statues of considerable size, the figure was assembled from several sections, among which the present head with the neck is one made separately by indirect lost wax casting. A large round opening in the top of the head suggests that the crown of the head was separately cast and attached. This was done to facilitate coring the wax for this large section and also removing the core after casting. Already in the preparatory wax a provision was made for a mechanical joint to help insert and fix the top on the bronze head after casting; a rectangular socket is hidden behind the wreath. An additional explanation as to why the bronzemaker had to cast the top separately might be the case of a more complicated composition of a figure with a raised arm. Such a composition is attested by the marble sculpture type called the “Basel type”, where the palm of the hand is positioned on the top of the head and which refers to the mid-4th century B.C model. Additionally, the composition of the full statue can be reconstructed on the basis of the surviving bronze works which demonstrate the popularity of another type, called “Resting Dionysus”. One remarkable example is a Roman statue recovered from the bed of the river Tiber in 1885 and today in the Palazzo Massimo alle Terme, on the site of the National Roman Museum. The god is represented as a nude young man, facing full front and resting on the right leg, the left one being flexed. The left arm is holding the thyrsus-staff, his traditional attribute, and the lowered right arm most probably held a kantharos-drinking cup. The neck and the head are turned slightly to the right. Smaller representations (bronze statuettes) often show a figure of a panther at the god’s feet. A variant of the composition presents the figure with the raised right arm holding a drinking vessel (as the statue of Dionysus in the Art Institute of


Chicago suggests). Both small and large Roman marble sculptures, such as the Boy Dionysus from the Nymphaeum in Baiae and the Young Dionysus in Woburn Abbey, are versions of the same composition with the head turned to the right and lowered, originating around 360 B.C. and often associated with Praxiteles. The slim, willowy body is meant to represent the young age of the god. The style of these statues is Classicizing and can be found in many other Roman marble replicas that belong to the same type. Typically, the smaller bronzes present more details of dress (panther or deer skin, which may be cast separately in large pieces) and footwear. The fine, idealized face and the elaborate hairstyle show a youthful and effeminate image of Dionysus that appeared in Greek art in the second half of the 5th century B.C. The “Resting Dionysus” sculptural type mentioned above derives from the lost bronze statues, and scholars give a rather broad date for their creation, between the second half of the 5th and the middle of the 4th century B.C. The “Basel type” suggests a figure resting on a pillar or on the supporting figure of a satyr. The sinuous outline of the body is close to the style of Praxiteles, especially as seen in the bronze statue of Apollo in the Cleveland Museum of Art (attributed as a work by Praxiteles dating from about 350 B.C.). Pliny the Elder, in his writing on bronze sculpture (Natural History, XXXIV, 19), mentions a statue of Dionysus by Praxiteles (which was never identified with certainty among the surviving marble replicas). There are many similarities between the head of the Cleveland statue and the present head: the crescent-shaped lock in front of each ear, the graphic outline of the eyelids, and the narrow and elongated shape of the face. However, the anatomical treatment of the features in the present head is less fluid and more generalized compared to that of the Cleveland head, with a characteristically narrow, ovoid shape of face that suggests the Classicizing style and a date within the Late Hellenistic period. It is probably this head whose style and remarkable artistic quality greatly influenced the other surviving bronzes.

CONDITION The head has losses from the metal wall and fractures on both sides of the neck; two long cracks run down the neck from the sides of the hair knotted in a bun; there is an uneven break at the cast edge of the neck. The surface is affected by corrosion, with layers of green, brown and red oxides varying in thickness; cleaned areas expose a brown patina. The inlayed irises and pupils are lost, while the inlayed eye globes are preserved. The whites of the eyes are most probably silver-plated. The socket behind the wreath has fractures and losses of metal. The silver inlays in the ornament of the headband - two swastikas and a rosette - are affected by corrosion.

MATTUSCH C.C., The Fire of Hephaistos: Large Classical Bronzes from North American Collections, Cambridge (Massachusetts), 1996, pp. 194-198, nos. 5-6; pp. 122-231, nos. 22-23. On the types of statues of Dionysus, see: CAIN H.-U., Dionysos: “Die Locken lang, ein halbes Weib?”, Munich, 1998. Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae (LIMC), Vol. III, Zurich-Munich, 1986, s.v. Dionysos, Dionysos/Bacchus, pp. 434-435, nos. 119-120; p. 445, no. 202; p. 542, no.2. ZANKER P., Klassizistische Statuen, Mainz/Rhine, 1974, pp. 34-35, no. 31, p. 64.

PROVENANCE Formerly in the Elie Bustros collection, Beirut, Lebanon; ex-collection S. Aboutaam, ca. 1980, with Phoenix Ancient Art, Switzerland - USA, 1998; with Merrin Gallery, New York, 1989-1990; private collection, New York, USA, acquired in 1990.

BIBLIOGRAPHY On bronze sculpture and technique, see: BENNETT M., Praxiteles: The Cleveland Apollo, Cleveland-London, 2013. CALEY E.R., Chemical Composition of Greek and Roman Statuary Bronzes, in DOERINGER S., MITTEN D.G. and STEINBERG A. (eds.), Art and Technology: A Symposium on Classical Bronzes, Cambridge (Massachusetts), 1970, pp. 37-49. MATTUSCH C.C., The Fire of Hephaistos: Large Classical Bronzes from North American Collections, Cambridge (Massachusetts), 1996. Small Bronze Sculpture from the Ancient World, Papers delivered at a Symposium organized by the Departments of Antiquities and Antiquities Conservation and held at the J. Paul Getty Museum, March 16-19, 1989, Malibu, 1990. On bronze heads, statues and related images of Dionysus, see: A Passion for Antiquities: Ancient Art from the Collection of Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman, Malibu, 1994, pp. 279-282, no. 143. BARR-SHARRAR B., The Hellenistic and Early Imperial Decorative Bust, Mainz/Rhine, 1987, pp. 53-54, no. C 84. COMSTOCK M. and VERMEULE C.C., Greek, Etruscan and Roman Bronzes in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Boston, 1971, p. 68, no. 68. Il Marocco e Roma: I grandi bronzi dal Museo di Rabat, Rome, 1991, pp. 56-57, no. 3. Los bronces romanos en España, Madrid, 1990, p. 99, no. 172; p. 100, no. 174. MANFRINI-ARAGNO I., Bacchus dans les bronzes hellénistiques et romains: Les artisans et leur répertoire, Lausanne, 1987.



7 Relief with a Persian archer Achaemenid, late 6th – 5th century B.C. Gray limestone Dim: approx. 38 x 42 cm


This spectacular relief certainly belonged to a long horizontal frieze which featured a procession of soldiers, walking towards the right of the viewer. As attested by the presence of the vertical decoration with carved rosettes, the figure represented was the last of a group and was placed at the left end of the image.

ers (processions of people presenting tributes to the ruler) and his military powers (processions of the royal bodyguard and elite fighting force, called the Immortals, composed of noble Medes and Persians). Incised marks above several figures indicate the artists and/or workshops that were active in different areas of the Apadana Palace.

Notwithstanding some formal stylization, this relief is noteworthy for its high artistic quality. The figure, whose head and upper shoulders are preserved, along with part of his weaponry, is seen in profile. He is almost half-life-size.

Despite its artistic excellence, our fragment does not retain sufficient elements that would enable us to determine its original location in the palatial complex; no sculptor’s mark is visible. The cylindrical and fluted headdress characterizes the figure represented as a Persian dignitary and nobleman, a member of the king’s guard. According to Persepolitan iconography, this archer would have also been armed with a spear held vertically in his left hand. The best documented procession of archers is the one carved on the stairs of the eastern entrance to the Apadana Palace, leading to the audience room, in which the soldiers are typologically very close to our figure. Stylistically and chronologically, one can also observe very strong analogies with the images of lancers depicted on the stairs of another structure, known as the central building, where the soldiers wear the same circular earrings and are rendered in a slightly more stylized way compared to the archers of the Apadana Palace and present even closer similarities to the head seen here (treatment of the beard and hair, shape of the bangs that partially hide the rim of the tiara).

The figure is an adult male, whose exact age cannot be determined. He wears a cylindrical headdress decorated with thick grooves and a serrated crown, known as the Persian tiara. His beard and hair are finely detailed, with curls looking like shells, embellished with an incised volute; these small curls are beautifully rendered and arranged in a specific, precise order, although they vary in size. The face is thin, with a small nose whose wing is clearly marked. The almond-shaped eye is surrounded by a thin incision that indicates the eyelid and the caruncle. The eyebrow is arched and the cheekbone is nuanced. The fine, vertical incisions of the mustache, which terminates in a scrolled lock, frame the thin, small mouth. A flat ring hangs from the ear, the lobe of which only is carved inside the mass of the hair. Suspended from a strap on the left shoulder, the quiver has a rectangular flap that closes the top with a beautifully sculpted clasp. In the background appears the upper end of the bow, with the detail of the bowstring’s attachment system.

This fragment can most likely be dated to the period between the reigns of Xerxes and Artaxerxes I of Persia (who were responsible for erecting the two above-mentioned monuments), i.e. during the first half of the 5th century B.C.

Typologically and stylistically, the closest parallels for this relief can be found in the Achaemenid world and especially in the sculptures that decorated the Apadana Palace at Persepolis. Built by Darius I (Darius the Great) and his successors as of 521 B.C. (the works subsequently lasted until the 4th century B.C.), the Apadana Palace was one of the royal residences. As documented by the texts discovered in the archives of the palatial complex, this great architecture was occupied continuously and played a key administrative role in the functioning of the Persian Empire.


The figural schema is very elaborate. Carved on almost all areas available in the palatial complex (sides of the platforms, stairs, interiors, etc.), the reliefs were intended to celebrate the role and importance of the sovereign himself (royal ceremonies, audience scenes and mythical battles) and, at the same time, his administrative pow-

ROAF M., Sculpture and Sculptors at Persepolis, in Iran: Journal of the British Institute of Persian Studies, 21, 1983 (see especially pl. II-VII and XXIX ff).

Fragment of a relief, with the left border in good condition and the upper border partially visible. Despite many cracks and chips, this carved relief is well preserved and perfectly legible. No visible traces of paint.

PROVENANCE Ex-private collection, 1910; ex-English private collection, London, collected in 1968.

BIBLIOGRAPHY FARKAS A., Achaemenid Sculpture, Leiden, 1974.

SCHMIDT E.F., Persepolis, Vols. 1-3 (Oriental Institute Publications 68-70), Chicago, 1953-1970. WALSER G., Die Völkerschaften auf den Reliefs von Persepolis, Berlin, 1966.



8 Statuette of Cybele / Tyche Roman, 1st century A.D. Chalcedony H: 12 cm (1:1)


Sculptures in bronze and marble are among the best known artistic legacies of Greece and Rome, but ancient artists also produced works in other materials such as terracotta, glass, ivory, silver, gold, and rare or semi-precious stone. Some artists possessed the remarkable skills needed to transform hard stone into miniature sculptures worthy of comparison with the finest works in bronze and marble. This extraordinary and rare figure of Cybele/Tyche stands out as just such a masterwork, even when considered among the small number of chalcedony statuettes known to us. In spite of its size and the difficulty of sculpting such stone, the figure is finely made, the chalcedony being skillfully cut and fully carved in the round. Modeling is accentuated and varied by light passing through the stone and reflecting from the polished surface, raising some parts in relief as it lowers others in shadow. The flowing drapery is translucent, which imparts an ethereal, otherworldly aspect to the goddess. Rendered by the nature of the chalcedony, the semi-transparency of the drapery effectively conveys the impression that her clothing is made of finely woven cloth. The crowned goddess is clothed in a chiton belted at the waist, as seen from behind. Her wavy locks of hair are parted in the middle above the forehead and are gathered into a bun at the back of the head, where her himation is drawn up over it. The himation drapes her in voluminous folds, which envelop her body beneath it in a rich arrangement of swags and flowing cloth. She sits upon a heavily draped and highly ornamented backless throne embellished at the front with the foreparts of lions flanking both sides; the drapery on the right side of the throne ends in tassels. Leaning forward, the goddess lifts up her right hand, which held an attribute, likely a sheaf or sheaves of wheat. She supports her left side with her hand extending to the back corner of the throne. Her left leg, heavily draped by the himation, is bent beneath her right leg, which extends forward with the edge of the drapery drawn back to reveal her sandaled foot resting upon a footstool with lion-paw feet.

Like counterparts in gold, silver, and other precious materials, gemstone statuettes could be considered luxuria, luxury items. In a domestic setting, albeit for a very wealthy private home, this statuette could have functioned as a cult object in a lararium, a household shrine, or, in a public setting, the statuette may have been a dedication in a sanctuary to honor the cult of the goddess. As with this figure of Cybele/Tyche, the goddess Cybele is generally represented as flanked by lions and seated upon a throne while wearing the turreted mural crown that represents a walled city. This figure of Cybele/Tyche additionally takes almost the exact pose of the famous Tyche of Antioch, which shows a crowned and heavily draped Tyche seated with her left arm and hand extended back and her right arm and hand held forward, and a similar arrangement of the lower body with the bent left leg enveloped by drapery and the right leg and foot extended outward. Small scale replicas of the Tyche of Antioch approximate the famous early Hellenistic statuary group sculpted ca. 300 B.C. by Eutychides of Sikyon after the establishment of Antioch (Pausanias, 6.2.6). The sculpture of Eutychides functioned as a personification of the goddess but also as a cult statue, which protected the city of Antioch and presided over its destiny. This statuette of Cybele/Tyche is a conflation of the two goddess types. Tyches are not only synonomous with the city of Antioch, but the famous Tyche of Antioch was imitated as a Tyche of other cities. This seems to accommodate a Hellenistic invention of offering Tyche to be transformed into a city goddess for newly founded cities in the Hellenistic east, and the Tyche type is combined with many different goddesses and attributes depending on where it was created. As an essential feature of pagan cults in the Roman Imperial period, syncretism, the union of different principles, made Tyche a perfect catalyst for various kinds of divine identifications and combinations. The relative scarcity of chalcedony and other stone statuettes is owed in part to the difficulty of cutting, grinding, and polishing complete figures from hard stone, which presented challenges beyond those faced in making figures of other materials. While Pliny


remarks in his Natural History that gem-cutters used tools tipped with diamond chips for cutting the hardest stones, these would not have been needed for working chalcedony. A bow-driven cutting wheel was probably used to block out the figures, and a drill to pierce the spaces between the limbs. Fine abrasives, particularly emery or “Naxian stone”, were employed in conjunction with the cutting wheel and for subsequent grinding and polishing. The degree of detail on this figure of Cybele/Tyche is remarkable, since there is no evidence that ancient artisans used any type of magnifying lenses. A form of translucent quartz, chalcedony is found in Egypt and Asia Minor. Used from the early 3rd millennium B.C. for beads and seals, it was particularly favored by Greek seal-engravers of the 5th and 4th centuries B.C. Chalcedony includes all types of agate, cornelian, sardonyx, plasma, bloodstone and onyx. In its pure state, the stone ranges in color from white or gray to various shades of blue, while iron accounts for its brown and red tones and the presence of nickel gives it an apple-green color. In the chapter of his Natural History devoted to gems, Pliny discusses different types of blue and green chalcedony, which he called iaspis. The term “chalcedony,” derives from the name of the port city of Chalcedon, located across the straits from Constantinople. Now the Kadikoy district of Istanbul, Chalcedon produces no chalcedony, although Pliny said that a type of cloudy chalcedony came from there. The stone, however, must have been transported to Chalcedon from elsewhere in Asia Minor and shipped from that port.


CONDITION Complete and in remarkable condition; the surface of the stone still retains its original smooth appearance, despite minor limestone encrustations in places. Small cracks, minor chips (wreath, lower edge).

PROVENANCE Formerly in the Jean-Louis Durant collection, Geneva, Switzerland, collected in the 1960s; ex-Dr. Jean Lauffenburger collection, Geneva, Switzerland; ex-private collection, Geneva, Switzerland, acquired in 1980.

BIBLIOGRAPHY Generalities and technique: ODGEN J., Ancient Jewelry, Berkeley, 1992, pp. 19-20. PADGETT J., A Chalcedony Statuette of Herakles, in Record of the Art Museum 54:1, Princeton, 1995, pp. 3-22 (list of statuettes made of semi-precious stones). PLINY, Natural History 37, 11-118 (study on stones in ancient times) For Tyche, Antiochs and the iconography: BROUCKE P., Tyche and the Fortune of Cities in the Greek and Roman World, in MATHESON S. (ed.), An Obsession with Fortune: Tyche in Greek and Roman Art, New Haven, 1994, p. 40. DOHRN T., Die Tyche von Antiochia, Berlin, 1960. HEINTZ F., Tyche of Antioch, in L. BECHER and C. KONDOLEON, The Arts of Antioch: Art Historical and Scientific Approaches to Roman Mosaics and a Catalogue of the Worcester Art Museum Antioch Collection, Worcester, 2005, pp. 244-246, no. 10. KONDOLEON C., Antioch: The Lost Ancient City, Princeton, 2000, pp. 116-17, nos. 1-4, 6, 8. Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae (LIMC), vol I, Zurich-Munich, 1981, s.v. Antiocheia, pp. 840-85, pls. 668-77. Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae (LIMC), vol. VIII, Zurich-Dusseldorf, s.v. Tyche, pp. 115-25, pls. 85-89. MATHESON S. (ed.), The Goddess Tyche, in An Obsession with Fortune: Tyche in Greek and Roman Art, New Haven, 1994, pp. 19-33. VERMEULE C., The Sculptures of Roman Syria, in C. KONDOLEON, Antioch: The Lost Ancient City, Princeton, 2000, pp. 101-02. For related examples, see: H. DIEPOLDER, Die attischen Grabreliefs, Berlin, 1931, p. 55, fig. 12 (funerary relief). REEDER E., Hellenistic Art in the Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore, 1988, 100-101, no. 24 (statuette of a seated Urania).

9 Agate bowl Roman, 1st century B.C. – 1st century A.D. Agate D: 8.5 cm – H: 4.5 cm (enlarged)


The precision in both shape and design brings this bowl to the level of a masterpiece of hardstone carving. The line of the convex wall corresponds to half a sphere and narrows toward the top, where an engraved horizontal band accentuates the rim. The low circular foot provides good balance, while the bottom consists of the two concentric rings. The relatively small size allows the vessel to fit comfortably in the palm of the hand.

records of such sumptuous possessions: when the Romans took the treasury of King Mithridates VI of Pontus, in the city of Talauri in 65 B.C. (Appian, Mithridatic Wars, XII, 115), they found 2,000 drinking cups made of onyx welded with gold; Cleopatra impressed Mark Antony and his officers, arranging a royal banquet in his honor, “in which the service was entirely of gold and jeweled vessels made with exquisite art” (Athenaeus, Deipnosophists, IV, 147f).

The structural harmony of the bowl is inseparable from the beauty of the stone itself. The exotic patterns are formed by irregular layers of different colors: milky white, grey, brown and red-brown in subtle shades, whose appreciation is increased by the transparency of the wall. In some areas there are natural inclusions of moss agate, which consists of minerals of a gray-green color embedded in the stone forming patterns suggestive of moss. These moss agate inclusions enrich the coloristic effect; the unusual combination of opaque and transparent areas attracts the viewer’s eye. The hollowing out of the inside is also of great quality, while the thinness of the wall is remarkable. The entire surface is perfectly smooth as a result of polishing that demonstrates the skill of the craftsman. There is only one close parallel for this present bowl, i.e. the agate cup similar in shape and size, which is in the former Medici Collection (Museo degli Argenti, Palazzo Pitti, Florence).

The most prestigious and the most exclusive examples of such drinking vessels are those with the cameo-style relief scenes, such as the Farnese Cup (Museo Nazionale Archeologico, Naples) and the Cup of the Ptolemies (Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris). Bowls without carving were more affordable but still belonged to the category of luxury products. To make such beautiful things more common and to satisfy the demand, glass imitations of agate vessels were invented. At the time of Augustus, the stone workshops had settled in Rome, where they met the growing number of important commissions. Most of the surviving agate vessels are small containers: perfume bottles, cups and bowls. Such objects are greatly admired for their beauty and for their sophisticated modeling.

It is assumed that workshops in Antiochia and especially in Alexandria manufactured most of the agate vessels in the Hellenistic and Roman periods. Egypt did not have its own agate mines, so the raw pieces of stone were brought mainly from India. Agate vessels of various shapes were highly appreciated by the members of the ruling houses, priests and the wealthy international clientele. Specific jugs and ladles were used during religious ceremonies to make libations. Drinking vessels with or without handles, such as cups, bowls, goblets, skyphoi and kantharoi, were to be found in the most prestigious table services and often served as diplomatic gifts. Historians left


In the Mediterranean world, agate became popular in the Minoan period. Theophrastus (On Stones, V, 31) mentions that the name of the stone is derived from the river Achates in Sicily, where it was first found, and that it was sold at a high price. Pliny the Elder (Natural History, XXXVII, 54) reports on its many varieties and their markings found in different locations; at this time, moss agate was known among the agates brought from India. Pliny also states that agate was highly valued in older times but was cheap during his time. This probably should not be taken for granted, as Seneca, his contemporary, includes the gemstone cups in the “trophies of luxury” and complains about the wealthy Romans’ excessive extravagance in their use: “for luxury would be too cheap if men did not drink to one another out of hollow gems the wine to be afterwards thrown up again” (On Benefits, VII, 9).

CONDITION Bowl entirely preserved, but broken in several fragments and reassembled, with traces of adhesive material inside on the bottom. Two small chips on the outer rim of the foot.

PROVENANCE Formerly in the Martine, Comtesse de Béhague collection, Paris, France, 1869-1939.

PUBLISHED Antiquités et objets d’art: Collection de Martine, Comtesse de Béhague, provenant de la succession du Marquis de Ganay, Sotheby’s, Monaco, December 5, 1987, Lot 127.

BIBLIOGRAPHY BALL S.H., A Roman Book on Precious Stones, Los Angeles, 1950. BÜHLER H.-P., Antike Gefässe aus Edelstein, Mainz/Rhine, 1973. GASPARRI C., A proposito di un recente studio sui vasi antichi in pietra dura, in Archeologia classica, 27, 1975, pp. 350-377. GASPARRI C., Vasi antichi in pietra dura a Firenze e a Roma, in Prospettiva, 19, 1979, pp. 4-13. HABACHI L. and BIERS J.C., An Agate Bowl from Egypt, in Muse: Annual of the Museum of Art and Archaeology, University of Missouri-Columbia, 3, 1969, pp. 29-34. Luxus: Il piacere della vita nella Roma imperiale, Rome, 2009, p. 482. PARLASCA K., Neue Beobachtungen zu den hellenistischen Achatgefässen aus Ägypten, in The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal, 13, 1985, pp. 19-22. SLAVAZZI F., Vasi in pietra dura nell’età ellenistico-romana, in ZANETTIN B. (ed.), Cristalli e gemme: Realtà fisica e immaginario, simbologia, techniche e arte, Venice, 2003, pp. 437-458. VENTURELLI P., Il tesoro dei Medici al Museo degli Argenti: Oggetti preziosi in cristallo e pietre dure nelle collezioni di Palazzo Pitti, Florence, 2009, p. 242, no. 110. WALKER S. and HIGGS P. (eds.), Cleopatra of Egypt: From History to Myth, Princeton, 2001, p. 92, nos. 100-102


10 Painted glass bottle Roman, second half of the 1st – early 2nd century A.D. Painted glass H: 13 cm (1:1)


Thin, clear blown glass; series of incised lines decorating the maximum body diameter, the shoulder and the neck of the vessel. The shape is simple, of a type that was widespread between the 1st and the 4th century A.D., with many variations in the proportions, in the form and in the size. The body is globular, with a flat, though slightly concave base, which gives the vessel a good balance; the neck, slightly narrower on reaching the shoulder, is cylindrical and tall, without a lip; the top edge is cut straight. Such vessels were probably used as containers for precious liquids (essences, perfume oils). The painted decoration, which is certainly the most interesting and most beautiful element of the vessel, is composed thus: a) on the shoulder, there is a series of large, irregular yellow dots followed by a frieze adorned with a continuous garland of green stems and alternating green, yellow and red flowers, assorted with undulating polychromatic lines; b) after a series of several incised lines, the miniaturized main frieze presents an elaborate exotic area, where three animal fights or chases unfold in the midst of a lush vegetation of bushes painted between the animals; the first scene features a lion painted dark brown attacking a bull, the second one shows a tiger painted beige, white and gray with black stripes attacking a deer, while the third has an animal looking like a canid (a wolf?) pursuing another deer; disconnected from the three life-and-death struggles between the quadrupeds, several birds fill the decorative area in a somewhat irregular manner; there is a crane (or a heron), between the bull and the tiger, and there are smaller birds resembling quails, ducks and even sparrows; c) the base is decorated with a large rosette (or a star) whose alternating yellow and red petals are preceded towards the bottom by a series of yellow dots, just as on the shoulder. The style is quite unique and recalls a mural fresco. Rather than presenting an accentuated realism, the artist has emphasized the liveli-


ness of the scene by using a broad, varied and sometimes bold palette of colors (the body of the wolf is almost yellow, grayish blue for the nuanced coat of the deer, gray for that of the tiger, gray for the bird feathers) and an almost naive draughtsmanship reminiscent of Impressionism, where the silhouettes of the animals and many anatomical details are first outlined in black. The presence of birds and shrubs helps in making the image full of life. Painted glass - a class of rare objects, which still raises problems of classification and chronology - appeared in the Roman world as of the 1st century A.D. In his Natural History, Pliny the Elder mentions glass as a material particularly suitable for decoration, by adding an enamel to the surface (Nat. Hist., LXVII, 36). Indeed, after the manufacturing of the vessel (blown, molded, etc.), the decoration was made by applying polychromatic enamels with a brush directly on to the glass; the vessel was then heated in the furnace (a delicate operation, because of possible glass breakage or deformation) in order to better fix the colors and ensure a more durable decoration. The production of painted glass vases is generally linked with the innovative spirit of Eastern artistic tradition. In the early Imperial period, the spread of this class of vessels was extremely important, reaching as it did virtually the entire world as known at the time, from Western Europe (Great Britain, continental Western Europe with particular prevalence in the central Alpine region), to the Mediterranean world (Italy, North Africa, Greece), the Black Sea, the Near East, Egypt and up to ancient Bactria (goblets from the “Bagram treasure”). The forms concerned are rare: the most common (with a greater concentration between northern Italy and the central-western Alps) are the small, colored blown glass cups, usually decorated with garlands of leaves and birds depicted with varying degrees of sophistication; these are followed by the amphoriskoi (small types of amphora),

with two published examples; furthermore, there are the many tall and narrow goblets, attested by a number of pieces found in Germany (now lost) and especially in the “Bagram treasure”; among the bottles, two other examples are known, one housed in the Corning Museum of Glass, in New York, with a rich mythological scene telling the story of Marsyas and Apollo, but chronologically more recent, and the other formerly in the Gawain McKinley Collection, made of green glass, representing a scene of marine creatures, the latter being a closer parallel. Stylistically, one may note, on our bottle, the presence of two elements that can be considered as “leitmotifs” of this group of vessels: the rosette surrounded by a dotted circle under the base (cf. especially the bottoms of the cups mentioned) and the frieze of polychromatic flowers on the shoulder (cf. their regular appearance on the goblets from Bagram); both patterns also appear on the bottle with the scene of marine creatures. The very hectic subject of the main frieze does not seem to have precise parallels (except perhaps on a vessel from Bagram, on which, among other figures in a rocky landscape, a tiger is seen chasing an oryx), although wild animals were painted on many glass cups and vases.

CONDITION Complete bottle, very well preserved; cracks on the base; superficial wear on the surface. Paint slightly faded in places.

PROVENANCE Formerly in the Elie Bustros collection, Beirut, Lebanon, collected in the 1950-1960s; ex-collection S. Aboutaam, thence by descent, Aboutaam family collection.

BIBLIOGRAPHY Christie’s, London, October 7, 2010, Lot 55 (bottle from the Gawain McKinley Collection). COARELLI F., Su alcuni vetri dipinti scoperti nella Germania indipendente e sul commercio Alessandrino in Occidente nei primi due secoli dell’Impero, in Archeologia Classica, XV, Rome, 1963, pp. 61-85. HARDEN D.B. (ed.), Glass of the Caesars, Milan, 1987, pp. 259 ff. On the cups, see: BAGGIO SIMONA S., I vetri romani provenienti dalle terre dell’attuale Cantone Ticino, Locarno, 1991, pp. 62-70. RÜTTI B., Early Enamelled Glass, in NEWBY M. and PAINTER K. (eds.), Roman Glass: Two Centuries of Art and Invention, London, 1991, pp. 122-136. On the Bagram goblets: Afghanistan: Les trésors retrouvés, Paris, 2006, p. 225, no. 163; pp. 250-251, nos. 211212 (complete bibliography pp. 110-111). WHITEHOUSE D., Begram Reconsidered, in Kölner Jahrbücher, 22, 1989, pp. 151-157.

The problem of the localization of the workshop(s) has still not been definitively resolved; the latest studies favor either a Near Eastern origin (Syro-Palestinian coastal city) or an Egyptian origin (Alexandria) for this class of materials; but there is also a case for the existence of a workshop located in northern Italy (directed by an immigrant oriental master?), responsible for product distribution in Western Europe. The chronology points to somewhere between the Tiberian and the Flavian period for the cups, while the Bagram goblets (whose dating was recently reviewed) would be slightly more recent (their production lasted until the early 2nd century A.D.).


11 Intaglio with the effigy of Septimius Severus Roman, early 3rd century A.D. Rock crystal H: 4 cm – L: 2.6 cm (enlarged)


As opposed to the cameo (a gemstone carved in relief), the intaglio designates an engraved gemstone with a hollow image cut into the surface, which appears in reverse once it is made in relief. This hard, translucent rock crystal was extremely finely carved to represent the portrait of an important figure.

Such figures cannot be identified easily, particularly given their rather small size and also because of the technique itself that gives the subject a more frozen, stereotyped appearance (as is the case on coins) than would be the case for sculptures in the round, typically more nuanced and varied.

It depicts a middle-aged man seen in profile, his head turned to the left (from the viewpoint of the engraving). His hair is thick and curly, in the shape of small shells, covering even the temples. He is crowned with a laurel wreath, which passes behind his ears and terminates in three leaves at the top of the head. A lock of wavy hair is visible on the slightly rounded forehead. The arch of the eyebrow is clearly marked and forms a ridge above the nose, while the eyebrow itself is thick and takes the shape of an almost pointed arch. The eye is delineated by a thin lid above and a small bag below, while the pupil is indicated by an inclined incision, with the gaze directed upward. The nose is straight, with a rounded tip and nostril. The ear is clearly defined and terminates in the shape of a snail shell. The cheekbone is angular. The lips are well rounded and the upper lip is covered by a finely detailed mustache. The mid-length beard is divided into three “pointed” curls. The ribbons of the wreath are fastened at the nape of the neck and float at the rear (cf. start of the chip on the intaglio). The Adam’s apple is finely modeled. The folds of a toga are clearly visible around the base of the bust.

A comparison between glyptics, sculpture and numismatics encourages us to identify this man as the Roman Emperor Septimius Severus (193-211 A.D.). Indeed, the curly hair in the shape of shells, the wavy lock on the forehead, the beard ending in three “pointed” curls and the gaze directed upward are all distinctive features.

Since intaglios were generally used as seals, this example might have been first mounted on a ring or on a jewel. Rock crystal was a precious resource and the intaglio is of a good size, consequently making it a very valuable objet. The manufacturing process implies that each engraved stone is unique, so it could not be copied; only the iconographic scheme might be replicated.


Of course, this image might depict a wealthy nobleman who wished to be represented under the gaze of Emperor Septimius Severus. However, the use of such precious material, the size and the high quality of the work would rather suggest that the figure portrayed here is Severus himself. Nevertheless, one cannot deny that this type of portrait strongly recalls those of Pertinax, of Didius Julianus and of the Antonines. But this is neither surprising nor disturbing, since Emperor Septimius Severus wanted the viewer to make this connection and wished to be identified as a worthy heir to the Imperial family.

CONDITION A very beautiful intaglio, ovoid in shape, with a flat surface and a convex back. Overall excellent state of conservation, with only the left lateral edge chipped (at the nape of the neck and at the base of the bust).

PROVENANCE Formerly in the C.-A. collection, Switzerland, acquired from Galerie Sophie Podgorska, Geneva; ex-private collection, Neuchâtel, Switzerland, since 1968.

BIBLIOGRAPHY L’ORANGE H.P., Apotheosis in Ancient Portraiture, Oslo, 1947, pp. 73-86. MC CANN A.M., The Portraits of Septimius Severus (A.D. 193-211), in Memoirs of the American Academy in Rome, Vol. XXX, Rome, 1968. VOLLENWEIDER M.-L. and AVISSEAU-BROUSTET M., Camées et intailles: Tome II, Les portraits romains du Cabinet des Médailles, Paris, 2003, pp. 163 ff., no. 202. On numismatics, see: MATTINGLY H. and SYDENHAM E.A., The Roman Imperial Coinage: Vol. IV, Part 1, Pertinax to Geta, London, 1968. On the problems related to the iconographic identification between sculptural models and coins, see: BALTY J., Les premiers portraits de Septime Sévère: Problèmes de méthode, in Latomus, Tome XXIII, 1964, pp. 58-63.

In conclusion, we are in the presence of several elements that lead us to date this intaglio to the early reign of Emperor Septimius Severus - not the first few years, but rather the beginning of the 3rd century A.D. These elements are the youthful features, the connection with his predecessors, the specific details of hair and beard and, finally, the desire to be represented in an idealized way, with his eyes raised to heaven, like Serapis, the “syncretic” god born in Egypt, which recalls that Severus was a Roman from Leptis Magna (modern-day Libya).


12 Large fibula with a cameo (portrait of Plautilla, wife of Emperor Caracalla) Roman, late 2nd – early 3rd century A.D. (ca. 200 A.D.) Gold, agate, garnet, glass Dim: 8.1 x 9.2 cm (1:1)


This unusually large and impressive fibula was hammered from a gold sheet and chiseled, while the cameo was carved from a semiprecious stone (probably agate) of dark brown color (bottom) with a beige top layer (portrait). It is noteworthy for its great artistic skills and its size. The elliptical shaped ornament has a hollow and convex, but smooth bottom to which are attached: a) the closure system of the fibula, composed of two small, riveted gold squares, the lower one with the hinge for the pin and the upper one with a hook that allowed the fibula to be fastened to a garment; b) two small loop-inloop gold chains that support four identical pendants, in the shape of a leaf decorated with a garnet, and a small bead in translucent blue glass. The bottom extends in a horizontal and openwork edge (opus interrasile) consisting of a heart frieze and of stylized palmettes, typical of ancient Roman jewelry. The central cameo is surrounded by an elaborate decoration in which several concentric friezes follow one another, alternating each time with a line of small gold beads. From the exterior, there are in order: a wreath of elongated leaves with a rounded tip, a frieze of half-moons, a frieze of bent-ended “drops”, a braid made of four thin gold wires. The portrait, very finely carved in the cameo, depicts a youthful woman with idealized features and an unwrinkled face. She wears: a) a sleeveless tunic, which forms an undulating border on the décolleté and is fastened on the shoulder (the round fibula is clearly visible on the shoulder, despite the miniature size of the image);


b) a fabric draping her breast and her arm (the undulating border passes slightly above the breast); c) a thicker cloak with heavy folds covering her lower bust. Among the individual features that characterize this head, it is worth noting the round face, the somewhat soft and rounded shapes of the jaw and cheek, the break in the upper profile of the nose, the globular eyes with deeply incised eyelids, the prominent mouth and the strong chin. The ear, perfectly detailed, is entirely uncovered and a small hair curl is carved just below the temple. The “melon” hairstyle and the vertical plait-chignon (a wig?), braided behind the neck, enable us to date this portrait between the late 2nd and the early 3rd century A.D. The different locks are regularly and realistically engraved, both on the skull and in the thick posterior part of the hair. Such large fibulas are very rare, but nevertheless attested in iconography, for instance on Palmyrean steles, on which many women have their cloaks fastened and adorned with similar ornaments on the shoulder. The quality and importance of this work clearly suggest that it was not meant to be worn by a simple Roman citizen and that the figure represented on the cameo would have belonged to the high aristocracy, or even to the Imperial family. This gem can therefore be related to the famous gold medallions coined as Imperial gifts (the presence of the laurel wreath on the ornament strengthens this hypothesis) and presented to some senior officers, whose earliest examples date to the reign of Gordian III (238-244), or even to the time of Alexander Severus (222-235).

For historical and stylistic reasons, among the young women belonging to the Imperial circle then, the only ones that can be taken into account in the identification of this face are Plautilla (Caracalla’s wife), and Septimius Severus’ two daughters and first wife. The last three figures being quite secondary in Roman history (they are mentioned only in Historia Augusta, Life of Septimius Severus, VIII, 1; III, 2), the most serious candidate remains Plautilla. Although having been Augusta during a relatively short period (spring 202-February 205), her effigy appears on many monetary issues that are not completely unambiguous from a typological point of view (differences in the treatment of the hair and face). Her features on these images, however, correspond well with the face of the woman carved on our jewel (rather soft facial shapes, form of the eyes, profile of the nose, prominent chin, etc.). Lifesize stone portraits, whose identification with Caracalla’s wife is not always unanimously accepted among modern critics, show a great degree of variability and cannot confirm or refute this attribution. Fulvia Plautilla was the daughter of Gaius Fulvius Plautianus, a great landlord from Leptis Magna (modern-day Libya), friend of Septimius Severus who made him a Praetorian prefect. In the early 3rd century, to consolidate his succession, the Emperor married his eldest son Caracalla to Plautilla (202); but the relationships inside the couple deteriorated rapidly, without the young woman having succeeded in giving birth to an heir to the Empire. Following a power struggle between G. F. Plautianus and Julia Domna, wife of Septimius Severus and mother of Caracalla, the latter sided with his mother, assassinated Plautianus in 205 and repudiated immediately


Plautilla, exiled to the Lipari Islands. She was murdered there in 212 at the behest of her husband, who had become an emperor in 211 after Septimius Severus’ death.

CONDITION Virtually complete and in a remarkable state of preservation. Only the pin is lost and minor dents, indicating that the fibula was worn during ancient times, are visible under the bottom and on the edge of the jewel.

PROVENANCE Formerly in the R. Bussey collection, Switzerland, collected before 1990; private European collection, acquired in 2008.

BIBLIOGRAPHY On portraits of Plautilla, see : JUCKER I., Rätsel um Plautilla in Antike Kunst 46, 2003, pp. 72-80. MEISCHNER J., Das Frauenporträt der Severen, Danzig, 1964, pp. 78-88. NOBELMAN S., A Portrait of the Empress Plautilla, in The Paul Getty Museum Journal 10, 1982, pp. 105-120. WIGGERS H. B. - WEGNER M., Caracalla, Geta, Plautilla; Macrinus bis Balbinus, Berlin, 1971, pp. 115 ff. On cameos during the Severus period, see: MEGOW W.-R., Kameen von Augustus bis Alexander Severus, Berlin, 1987, pp. 125-129, pl. 48-51. On the type of jewelry, see for example: SADURSKA A. – BOUNNI A., Les sculptures funéraires de Palmyre in Rivista di Archeologia, Supplemento 13, Rome, 1995, nos. 71, 124, 129, 206, 219.


13 Mosaic with a symposium scene Roman, Eastern Mediterranean, ca. 3rd – 4th century A.D. Stone tesserae and glass paste Dim: 250 x 350 cm


This mosaic is impressive for its outstanding color and iconographic palette, as well as for its size and state of preservation. It features a scene from the daily life of the Roman aristocracy, a very realistic and lively symposium (banquet). This work, which certainly adorned a floor in the villa of a wealthy private citizen living in the eastern part of the Roman Empire, was placed in a room intended for symposia.

vants on the right are in charge of a large bronze vessel, a sort of samovar used to serve heated wine, mentioned by Cicero as a very prized vessel; on the left, another servant, apparently asleep, is responsible for a cylindrical object, probably a wall lantern in oiled parchment; a mouse nibbles food scraps under a table; a cat turns towards the viewer.

The scene shows nine guests, more or less dressed, lying on a large couch in the shape of a horseshoe (known as a stibadium and used especially during the last centuries of the Imperial period), around which seven servants are busy ensuring that the banquet participants are perfectly at ease. At the back of the large room, one sees a door ajar and a window with a sliding curtain that probably looked into the inner courtyard of the house.

But the most striking detail in this mosaic, which gives it its name (in Greek, asarotos oikos designates the unswept floor), clearly is the room’s floor, completely littered with the remains of the meal eaten by the guests. Fruit and vegetables, but also fish, seafood, shellfish and remains of poultry and pork reflect the extravagant eating habits of Roman aristocracy at that time.

The couch, whose shape foreshadows the Christian images of the Last Supper, occupies a large part of the room. It surrounds three circular low tables, elegantly covered with openwork and embroidered tablecloths, on which are arranged large silver dishes containing the poultry meat consumed during the meal. Although the guests appear to have already eaten and drunk a great deal, the dinner (which, for the Romans, was the main meal and took place in the late afternoon, before nightfall) here reaches the stage of the main course, consisting of three ducks or geese that one of the servants, equipped with a long knife, is about to carve. The mosaicist has indicated an impressive number of details, including the following significant examples: each figure (servant or guest) differs from the others by his attitude, by his position and especially by rich and varied somatic characteristics, so that each image becomes an individual portrait; the interactions between the figures are perfectly rendered by their gazes and/or gestures; the two ser-


The asarotos oikos (or asaroton) is a curious iconographic subject attested from the Hellenistic period. According to Pliny the Elder (Natural History, XXXVI, 184), the inventor of the theme was Sosus of Pergamon, a famous mosaicist of the 2nd century B.C., whose work is known to us only through copies. The scenes of unswept floors remained a popular subject until the Roman Imperial period, as documented by the decorated floors discovered in several provinces, not only in Italy but also in North Africa and in Anatolia. However, our mosaic is probably the only known example in which the theme of the asarotos oikos is directly associated with a symposium. Among the examples that have survived up to modern times, one should mention the following: the mosaic in the Museo Gregoriano Profano, in the Vatican, which comes from a Roman villa on the Aventine Hill and is signed by Heraclitus, a mosaicist of Greek origin; a more fragmentary specimen from Aquileia; the example in the Bardo National Museum, in Tunis, which, like our scene, is characterized by a dark rather than a light background.

CONDITION Despite minor damage (particularly along the borders) and small repairs, the mosaic is complete and remarkably well preserved, especially considering its size and the number of tesserae used (many thousands).

PROVENANCE Formerly in the Joseph Ziadé collection, Beirut, Lebanon, 1950s, thence by descent, with Farid Ziadé; ex-Lebanese private collection, acquired from Farid Ziadé in 1982; private European collection, since 2000.

EXHIBITED Château de Boudry, Neuchâtel, Switzerland, ongoing.

PUBLISHED CHAMAY J., Banquet à la romaine, in Art passions: Revue suisse d’art et de culture, Geneva, September 2013, pp. 72-75. HALM-TISSERANT M., Λεπτον, παρεργον: Du ‘menu’ au ‘hors-d’œuvre’: La notion de détail dans l’art et dans le discours sur l’esthétique, in Ktèma, 37, 2012, p. 89, notes 91-92, pl. 1.c. http://www.chateaudeboudry.ch/?a=38,58,105

BIBLIOGRAPHY ANDREAE B., Antike Bildmosaiken, Mainz/Rhine, 2003, pp. 46-51 (Vatican). BLANC N. and NERCESSIAN A., La cuisine romaine antique, Paris, 1992, p. 181 (Aquileia). BLANCHARD-LEMEE M. et al., Sols de l’Afrique romaine: Mosaïques de Tunisie, Paris, 1995, pp. 73 ff. DUNBABIN K.M.D., Mosaics of the Greek and Roman World, Cambridge, 1999, fig. 26. HAGENOW G. Der nichtausgekehrte Speisaal, in Rheinisches Landesmuseum, 121, 1978, pp. 260-275.



14 Pair of rhyta in the shape of boars’ protomes Western Asiatic (Sassanid), 4th – 5th century A.D. Gilded silver 1) H: 14.3 cm – L: 16 cm 2) H: 15 cm – L: 16.8 cm


Each of these two exceptional protomes was hammered from a single sheet of silver, probably on a wooden core, and the details were incised. While very similar, these two objects are not identical; the second (2) - which is slightly larger - is a little less rounded and less modeled. Although the joints are not visible, the rear section covering each head like a sort of circular lid would have been made separately and soldered. These objects were probably used as rhyta, but this is not certain: 1 and 2 are each provided with a circular hole pierced just below the lower lip, which would have been completed by a small cylindrical spout. The vessels were filled via a rather complicated system, which is not documented yet; each container is fitted with a long cylindrical pipe that communicates with the interior and features an opening of about two centimeters pierced in the lower jaw. It is currently impossible to determine how these two protomes (which are entirely devoid of handles or of another suspension mode) were carried or placed, but it is thought that the filling pipe would have also been used to insert a grip or a stick - possibly driven into the ground - which would have supported the vessels in a vertical position. This hypothesis gains credence when one considers that the specific shape and modeling of the “lid” precisely imitate the neck of a decapitated boar, with a realistic representation of the spine, esophagus, trachea, muscles and other anatomical details. Although it is only hypothetical, one can suggest that 1 and 2 would have played the same role as hunting trophies and, at the same time, as ritual vessels, during a ceremony or a festival, for instance.


From a stylistic point of view, these two examples are absolutely outstanding and, in spite of a certain stylization, they accurately depict the shapes and details of a boar’s head. The modeling reflects the strong presence of the cranial structure (snout, forehead, eye and nose area); many incisions indicate coat details (mane, jaws, ears, etc.); the inside of the mouth, which shows the tongue and complete dentition, is represented in a particularly precise manner. It is also worth noting the fundamental role of polychromy, which included not only the colors of gold and silver, but also that of the eyes that would have been made of semi-precious stone or glass. Rhyta are among the vessels that have the longest and most important traditions in the repertoire of Near Eastern vase shapes, especially on the Iranian plateau. Despite this, very few Sassanid silver examples are attested: a piece in the shape of a harnessed seated horse (Cleveland); a horn-shaped vessel with the protome of a young gazelle and an animal frieze in relief (Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Washington); an example depicting the head of a horse (Cincinnati); two specimens from Poland, probably forming a pair, protomes of saiga antelopes, with the rear section of each featuring a circular plaque decorated with a floral motif in relief, of a lesser quality, but typologically the closest related to our rhyta (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York). The iconography of the boar is very rich in Sassanid art, in which this animal regularly appears as a hunter’s quarry; in such scenes, the king himself is often the main protagonist, as on the reliefs on the cliffs at Taq-i-Bustan, in western Iran, and on several gilded silver plates. A wild boar, which fears no aggressor, embodied strength and courage and, in Zoroastrian religion, it was a symbol of Verethragna, a god of victory.

Each rhyton bears two dotted inscriptions, one behind the left ear and the other under the jaw (1 has shorter inscriptions on one line; 2 has three lines under the jaw): these short texts that appear on other contemporary silver pieces generally indicated the name of the owner (a man named Peroz-Gushnasp, already mentioned in other documents) and the weight of the vessel (52 ster, that being 208 drahms). This implies that the drahm was about 4.27 gr. and enables us to date these examples to the Sassanid period. The provisional translation by Mrs. Rika Gyselen (CNRS, Paris) will be explored further. The indication of the weight demonstrates that such silver objects were not simple luxury items, but that they had, even then, a considerable market and exchange value. The Sassanids ruled Iran from 224 (end of the Parthian Empire) to the Arab conquest of 651. This was a golden age for Iran artistically, but also as regards politics and religion. The Sassanid Empire virtually included the entire Near East, as it is still known today: Iran, Iraq, Armenia, southern Caucasus, southern Central Asia, western Afghanistan, part of Pakistan, eastern Turkey, territories of Syria, part of the Arabian Peninsula. Historians consider this period as one of the most significant in Iranian history; in many ways, it represents the highest achievement of ancient Persian civilization, just before the Muslim conquest and the consequent adoption of Islam. The cultural influence of the Sassanids extended far beyond the borders of their empire and reached Western Europe, Africa, the Near and Far East, playing a role not only in the culture and civilization of nascent Islam, but also in Byzantine, Asian and European art of the early Middle Ages.


CONDITION Complete protomes in remarkable condition. Minor damage in places, oxidation on the surface. Many details of the heads embellished with gilding (nostrils, corners of the lips, eyelids, tufts of hair above the forehead). Eye inlays of 1 and 2 (semi-precious stone?) now lost; ears of 1 and 2 reglued; 2 missing the right tusk and showing under the left eye an irregular surface that might have been restored.

PROVENANCE Formerly in the collection of Mr. Molayem, Rome, Italy, late 1950s; ex-private European collection, collected in 1965; on loan from a Swiss private collection.

PUBLISHED Phoenix Ancient Art 2013 - No. 1, Geneva – New York, 2013, pp. 65-69, no. 20.

BIBLIOGRAPHY On Sassanid silverware and art in general, see: GHIRSHMAN R., Iran: Parthes et Sassanides, Paris, 1962, pp. 220-221, fig. 262-263 (rhyta housed in Cincinnati, Cleveland and New York). GUNTER A.C. and JETT P., Ancient Iranian Metalwork in the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and the Freer Gallery of Art, Washington, 1992. HARPER P.O., The Royal Hunter: Art of the Sasanian Empire, New York, 1978, pp. 56-57, no. 16 (rhyton in the shape of a saiga antelope head with view of rear section). Les Perses sassanides: Fastes d’un empire oublié (224-642), Paris, 2006, pp. 40 ff. (Taq-i-Bustan reliefs); pp. 70-137 (silverware; no. 58 for the rhyton housed in Washington; no. 59 for the rhyta housed in New York).



15 Princely necklace with large pendants Byzantine, 6th – 7th century A.D. Gold, beads, sapphires, emeralds, amethysts and glass paste L: 73 cm – Pendants max. D: 6 cm


The most important ornament of the necklace is a cross-shaped pendant composed of oval sapphires. On each side are three other wheel-shaped and disk-shaped pendants. They are separated by small cylinders. The rest of the necklace includes rhomboid and cylindrical elements decorated with precious stones and connected by small gold links. The clasp consists of two other medallions, to which a hook and a loop are soldered. The entire setting is made of gold, including that of the pendants in the shape of shallow cups. The beads are combined with precious stones such as sapphires, emeralds and amethysts. This outstanding necklace, a real masterpiece, is among the finest pieces of early Byzantine jewelry still preserved today. The many precious stones and beads, as well as the splendor displayed by the very complex structure of the necklace, are absolutely unique. Only an extremely wealthy person would have been able to acquire such a treasure and only a very high-ranking woman could have worn it. It is almost incredible that such a valuable, fragile necklace escaped vandalism (breaking up to salvage prized materials)! Although the beads have suffered from dryness, they are almost all still in place. Six rhomboid cabochons (gemstones or glass paste) are lost. The four circular settings are also empty; they would have contained other precious stones, enamel or cameos (especially in the two elements placed on the décolleté). The necklace is perfectly structured (precious stones, beads, rock crystal, glass paste and enamel), with a flawless alternation of the materials and colors. The piece is very elaborate and shows highly technical skills. This trend for splendor was often criticized by the clergy, like the Christian author Tertullian, who exhorted the faithful to exercise greater modesty. Examples of cameo necklaces are documented thanks to the Egyptian necklace belonging to the treasure of Antinopolis, now in the

Antikenmuseum in Berlin (inv. 30219508b), and by a large medallion featuring an Annunciation, housed in a private collection (cf. J. Spier). The use of enamels is attested by the rich bindings of liturgical books and by gold altarpieces such as the Pala d’Oro, the retable of Saint Mark’s Basilica, in Venice, utilizing the same mounting technique.

CONDITION Necklace in a remarkable state of preservation: the necklace is virtually complete, although some inlays are lost. Beads suffering from dryness.

PROVENANCE Formerly in a British private collection, collected before 1978; European private collection, acquired in 2003.

EXHIBITED Orient-Occident: Racines spirituelles de l’Europe, Martin Bodmer Foundation, Cologny, Switzerland, November 21, 2009 - April 4, 2010.

PUBLISHED CHAMAY J., Objets d’exception (Fondation Martin Bodmer), Geneva, 2010, pp. 28-29 and 35.

BIBLIOGRAPHY BALDINI LIPPOLIS I., L’orefeceria nell’Impero di Costantinopoli tra IV e VII secolo, Bari, 1999. KALAVREZOU I., Byzantine Women and Their World, New Haven-London, 2003, pp. 254255, nos. 146-147; p. 295, no. 176. SPIER J., Late Antique and Early Christian Gems, Wiesbaden, 2007, pl. 108, no. 768; pl. 109, no. 774. WAMSER L., Die Welt von Byzanz-Europas östliches Erbe: Glanz, Krisen und Fortleben einer tausendjährigen Kultur, Munich, 2004, pp. 286-305. YEROULANOU A., Diatrita: Gold Pierced-Work Jewellery from the 3rd to the 7th Century, Athens, 1999.


16 Oinochoe with decoration in relief Late Roman or Byzantine, 3rd – 5th century A.D. Rock crystal H: 17 cm – D: 8.7 cm


This outstanding and rare small jug (oinochoe) was carved from a block of rock crystal of impressive size and has virtually no equivalent in the ancient world. The smooth surface is uniformly polished; the high-quality stone looks perfectly transparent. Artistically and technically, this vessel is to be considered a real masterpiece. Indeed, as stated by Pliny the Elder, broken crystal can in no case be repaired; according to the same author, transparent glass, which was very popular from the 1st century A.D., can probably be regarded as an attempt to imitate rock crystal and replicate it on a large scale. The shape is perfectly worked in its entirety, despite some imbalance generated by the proportions of the high, thin neck that contrasts with the lower, wider body. The linear, precise and structured execution, down to the smallest details of the oinochoe, is one of the key characteristics of this piece; even the decorative patterns, including palmettes, strips and volutes exclusively deriving from the plant world, reassert this strong formal stylization by their simplicity. The vessel features three clearly distinct elements: a) the semispherical body, terminating in an octagonal shoulder, is supported by a small, discoid, slightly concave foot; four large palmettes, separated by smooth triangles, are carved in relief and form the decora-

tion of the belly; upside down, they are attached to conical stems that directly descend from the shoulder; b) the shoulder is flat and delineated by moldings; eight lotus flowers in relief, alternately open or closed, are arranged on the eight sections; c) the slender, flared neck repeats the octagonal structure and has eight smooth sides terminating in a molded lip; there is a triangular spout at the front. The high, ribboned handle is surmounted by three volutes, while, near the lower attachment, it widens in the shape of a leaf to support an ornament in low relief consisting of a vertical stem, from which arise four pairs of volutes. The precise use of this oinochoe, which was without doubt greatly prized in ancient times, remains difficult to determine. Despite its size, remarkable for a crystal object, and the fact that the inner profile follows the outer profile, the capacity of the vessel is not particularly large. Therefore, it would probably have contained a precious liquid (an oil or a fragrance) and would have been used for special occasions only (religious ceremonies, gifts, etc.). The absence of parallel, especially as regards the shape, makes the chronological classification of this vessel difficult and hypothetical. However, this type of plant decoration appears on late Roman and Byzantine monuments (e.g. in architecture), which are generically dated between the 3rd and the 6th century A.D. This hypothesis is confirmed by the presence, on the famous “Grotto of the Virgin”


(Saint Mark’s Treasury in Venice), whose crystal portion dates to the 4th-5th century A.D., of patterns imitating stems and volutes in relief and in three dimensions, similar in type. Also known as hyaline quartz, rock crystal is a colorless, transparent mineral exploited since ancient times (artistic and precious objects carved from crystal have a very old tradition, going as far back as the Bronze Age and, probably, the Neolithic) and was used mainly in glyptic art, but also for the production of statuettes, small vessels, necklace beads, game tesserae, and so on. In the Roman period, rock crystal was seen as a luxury stone, so much so that Pliny the Elder dedicated two full paragraphs to this subject in book XXXVII of his Natural History. Later, in Fatimid Egypt, an important school of rock crystal carvers developed, leaving us many vessels (especially squat pitchers reaching about 20 cm high) richly decorated with animal scenes. Crystal existed in several parts of the ancient world, in the Alps (the crystals worked at Aquileia, near Trieste, were famous in the Roman period), as well as in Anatolia (Caria), in Lebanon (Orthosia), in Egypt, in the land of the Scythians and in Arabia; the most renowned crystal was deemed to originate from India. A stone of the light, penetrated by light and splitting it into seven colors, crystal (an excellent heat conductor that the wealthy Romans used to cool their hands in the summer, from the ancient Greek


κρυσταλλοσ, which means “ice”) symbolized the union of opposites, between solid material and immaterial transparency. In Christian beliefs, this transparency makes it a symbol of the Virgin. No doubt because of its pure appearance, one attributed to this stone a very positive, magical, curative and prophylactic value. CONDITION Vessel complete and in remarkable condition. Minor chips (particularly on the shoulder and on the foot) and a lost fragment on the shoulder; slight cracks in places (on the handle and on the shoulder). Traces of earth on the surface.

PROVENANCE Formerly in the Mr & Mrs Albert & Edith Welker collection, Neu-Isenburg, Germany, collected in 1967-1968; private European collection, acquired in the late 1980s.

BIBLIOGRAPHY BÜHLER H.-P., Antike Gefässe aus Edelstein, Mainz/Rhine, 1973, pp. 22-23, pl. 13-18 (Imperial period). Le trésor de Saint-Denis, Paris, 1991, pp. 163-171 (Islamic and Sassanid glyptic art). Le trésor de Saint-Marc de Venise, Paris, 1984, pp. 73-95 (ancient glyptic art); pp. 117 ff (“Grotto of the Virgin”); pp. 207 ff (Islamic glyptic art). PLINY THE ELDER, Naturalis historia, XXXVII, 9-11.


17 Bottle with inscriptions in Greek and Arabic Syrian, late Ayyubid period or early Mamluk period, late 13th century A.D. Glass, enamel and gilding H: 11 cm – W: 10 cm (1:1)


This important blown glass bottle is decorated with an enameled and gilded ornamentation in low relief. The body of the bottle is round in shape, but with two flat sides; the bottom has a small, slightly concave base. The very rich decoration presents a parade of animals amidst a pattern of foliage, which is a distinctive feature of the Ayyubid period and slightly less characteristic of the Mamluk period. A triple inscription is visible, two in Byzantine Greek and one in Arabic. These inscriptions are arranged in three concentric, circular bands that adorn the sides of the bottle. In the outer band, one can see Arabic script letters that are legible; nevertheless, the text remains incomprehensible. In the innermost band is the most difficult inscription to decipher; it is written in Greek letters, only a few of which are preserved, not enough to find meaning in them. The last of the three inscriptions is written in uncial Greek (capital letters only) and it is not possible to read all of it; however, the letters “IC”, which refer to the Christogram of Jesus, appear several times. The shape of the bottle recalls that of the “perfume sprinklers” (qumqum) of the Mamluk period (rounded body surmounted by a long, stretched neck); it may also recall the “pilgrim bottles” (originally, leather bottles intended for travelers and pilgrims, round in shape, but with flat sides). From a technical point of view, this shape is in principle not the most convenient for the current decoration. One should, however, note here the use of two techniques that are known separately but were rarely combined in the same piece. The body of the bottle was first made in blown glass (cf. pontil mark on the bottom); the ornamentation in low relief was then added in enameling and gilding, despite the difficulty related to the irregular shape of the bottle.

Apparently, most of the decorative foliage patterns were simply applied by “dragging” the enamels with a brush, so as to create the intended shapes. In contrast, the animals were certainly “molded” and delicately delineated first, before being applied to the body of the bottle. In addition to the gilded elements, a uniformly white background appears clearly below the lateral inscriptions and many outlines overpainted in red enamel are still visible everywhere. Traces of blue are also visible below the inscription in the innermost band. Unfortunately all the other colors used are difficult to determine, since they were damaged by the vessel’s prolonged stay in the soil. Iconographically, there is a large variety of wild animals (deer that can be identified by their long antlers, felines, monkeys and birds). They are featured at the heart of an abundant, interlacing, vegetal pattern. Eight triangles encircle the broken mouth, forming a star motif. On the flat sides, within each of the three concentric bands covered with inscriptions, three striated bulges evoke small rosettes. At the center of each side is the main motif: a small figure recalling a toddler. On one side, he raises his arms in the air (the head is missing); on the other side, he holds a scepter and is accompanied by a bird. Given the Christian context, one may identify this figure with Jesus depicted as a small child. The arms raised would denote a welcoming scene on one side, while the dove of peace is recognizable on the other side. In conclusion, this piece combines iconographic motifs specific to Islamic art with a Christian iconography and inscription.


It is more than probable that this piece was produced in Syria, where the technique was the most advanced, especially in the middle of the 13th century A.D. It therefore seems likely that our bottle was created by a Near Eastern craftsman for a client of Greek origin. In terms of iconography and technique, this bottle is truly a unique piece for medieval Syria, with no real parallel in the published corpus of enameled glass. CONDITION Bottle in very good condition; intact, except for the lost neck. The polychromy of the enamels used has partially disappeared; only a few minor elements of the decoration are missing.

PROVENANCE Formerly in the Mr R.H. collection, Nuremberg, Germany, acquired in 1975; private European collection, 2000.

PUBLISHED Christie’s London Islamic Sale, 26.04.2012, Lot 117.

BIBLIOGRAPHY WARD R. (ed.), Gilded and Enamelled Glass from the Middle East, London, 1998. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/enag/hd_enag.htm http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights/highlight_objects/me/p/pilgrim_ bottle.aspx http://www.metmuseum.org/collection/the-collection-online/search/445282



Selection of objects Ali Aboutaam and Hicham Aboutaam Project manager Hélène Yubero, Geneva Research Phoenix Ancient Art, Geneva Antiquities Research Center, New York Graphic design mostra-design.com, Geneva Photography Hughes Dubois, Paris, Brussels Atsuyuki Shimada, Osaka (No. 2) Stefan Hagen, New York (Nos. 3 and 9) André Longchamp, Geneva (No. 13) Printing CA Design, Wanchai, Hong Kong Print run 500 English 500 French ISBN: 978-0-9847808-8-4

New York Hicham Aboutaam Alexander Gherardi Electrum, Exclusive Agent for Phoenix Ancient Art S.A. 47 East 66th Street New York, NY 10065, USA T +1 212 288 7518 F +1 212 288 7121 E info@phoenixancientart.com

Geneva Ali Aboutaam Michael C. Hedqvist Phoenix Ancient Art S.A. 6, rue Verdaine - P.O. Box 3516 1211 Geneva 3, Switzerland T +41 22 318 80 10 F +41 22 310 03 88 E paa@phoenixancientart.com www.phoenixancientart.com ©2014 PHOENIX ANCIENT ART SA



PHOENIX ANCIENT ART SA New York Electrum, Exclusive Agent 47 East 66th Street New York, NY 10065 - USA T +1 212 288 7518 - F +1 212 288 7121 Geneva 6, rue Verdaine 1204 Geneva - Switzerland T +41 22 318 80 10 - F +41 22 310 03 88 www.phoenixancientart.com


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Phoenix Ancient Art 2014 - Crystal V  

Phoenix Ancient Art is proud to present an array of magnificent objects of great rarity selected from among its collection of antiquities. T...

Phoenix Ancient Art 2014 - Crystal V  

Phoenix Ancient Art is proud to present an array of magnificent objects of great rarity selected from among its collection of antiquities. T...