NIKOSTHENIC AMPHORA (ATTRIBUTED TO THE EUPHILETOS PAINTER)
HELMET OF THE CORINTHIAN TYPE P 10-11
STATUETTE OF OSIRIS
THE EMPEROR LICINIUS (308-324 A.D.)
PRIEST OF THE LATE EMPIRE
JEWELRY SET P 16-17
DIVINITY OR HERO MASK
HERM WITH HEADS OF TWO ELDERLY SATYRS
FINGER RING WITH ENGRAVED SIREN
HEAD OF A CYCLADIC «IDOL»
UNKNOWN OF THE LATE EMPIRE
PLATE DECORATED WITH A SCENE OF ROYAL HUNTING
NIKOSTHENIC AMPHORA (ATTRIBUTED TO THE EUPHILETOS PAINTER) Greek (Attic), late 6th century B.C. (ca. 525-510 B.C.) Ceramic H: 31.7 cm
sidiary ornaments composed of simple, linear palmettes and volutes, reﬂects a widespread style in Attic ceramics that appeared on amphorae dated to the second half of the 6th century B.C. The decoration takes place in three diﬀerent zones and, despite small variations, shows identical patterns on both halves of the vase: a) on the lip, two panthers facing each other, one of them lowering its neck in a somewhat unusual manner for a cat; b) on the neck, a satyr pursuing a young woman, whose ﬂesh is painted in added white, probably a nymph; c) the main scene occupies the entire body: Apollo, dressed in a long chiton and a cloak, is playing the cithara with his ﬁngers and with a plectrum he holds in his right hand; in front of him stands a woman who, because of her youthful appearance, can be identiﬁed with his sister Artemis rather than his mother (Leto).
This amphora is signed in black letters by the potter Pamphaios (ΦΑΝΦΑΙΟΣ ΜΕ ΠΟΙΕΣΕΝ, “Pamphaios made me”); a graﬃto, formed by the letters ΑΛ, is incised on the underside of the foot. There are at least sixty vases with the signature of Pamphaios, attributed to varied painters (mostly red-ﬁgure painters, while only a dozen were made in the black-ﬁgure technique). Pamphaios was an Attic potter who worked closely with the great ceramist Nikosthenes: some scholars even believe that he would have succeeded him as the head of his famous pottery workshop. His favorite shape was the cup, since only a few large vessels bearing his signature have survived up to modern times. The Nikosthenic amphora has a speciﬁc shape, whose proﬁle imitates that of an Etruscan vessel that was popular throughout the Italic world in the form of the black bucchero. It is characterized by a trumpet-shaped foot, an ovoid body, whose upper part displays a decorated frieze delineated by two modeled edges, two broad, ﬂattened handles and a tall, narrow neck terminating in a wide ﬂaring lip. Several elements of the Etruscan prototypes reveal a metallic origin (hammered feet and handles, edges of the frieze which served as attachments for the metal sheets, rounded shape of the lip). In the terracotta Attic version, which is, with the kyathos (a type of ladle used to serve wine), a good example of Etruscan inﬂuences on the Athenian repertory, along with the previous imitations that followed the Italic tradition, there is a rarer variant of the second generation (known as “sub-Nikosthenic”) that includes our example. This vessel can be assigned to the Class of Cabinet des Médailles 218, which, compared to the aforementioned scheme, omitted the frieze on the shoulder and replaced the ﬂat handles by three cylindrical clay ribbons, as often seen on terracotta vases.
The further decoration is composed of palmettes springing from volutes, of alternating purple and black tongues and of a meander that provides a ground line for the main scene; the foot is entirely black, a ray pattern adorns the bottom of the body. Many details, incised or painted in white or purple, embellish the composition (fabrics folds and embroideries, Apollo’s laurel wreath, Artemis’ polos crown, etc.) and attest to the high artistic skills of the painter.
The vessel is complete and virtually intact, but the foot, the handles and part of the rim have been reglued or very slightly repaired. PROVENANCE
Ex-M. Ebnother Collection, Schaffhausen, Switzerland, 1972. PUBLISHED
The Painter’s Eye, The Art of Greek Ceramics, Greek Vases from a Swiss Private Collection and other European Collections, Geneva-New York, 2006, pp. 8-11, no. 2 (with a complete and detailed bibliography).
The decoration of this amphora, which is the work of the Euphiletos Painter (according to Professor M. Padgett’s attribution), is particularly rich and elaborate. This artist especially painted large vessels, among which are some of the ﬁnest Panathenaic amphorae. The quality of his work may vary, displaying both quickly drawn scenes and ﬁnely detailed ﬁgures, like the ones adorning this amphora.
On this subject in general, see: BEAZLEY J., Attic Black-Figure Vase-Painters, Oxford, 1956 (see especially p. 127 and pp. 235-236 for Pamphaios; pp. 321-326 for Euphiletos). BOARDMAN J., Athenian Black-Figure Vases, London, 1991 (see especially pp. 64-65 (shape and Pamphaios), pp. 112 and 167 ff. (Euphiletos).
The structure of the decoration, with the entirely light-grounded body, the isolated ﬁgures and the sub-
STATUETTE OF OSIRIS Egyptian, Late Period (ca. 600 B.C.) Gilded Bronze H: 39 cm
This hollow cast statuette (under the crown, remains of the blackened core, made of an unknown material, are still visible) is larger than average. The gilding, which covered the whole ﬁgure, still appears on the front of the body, on the neck, and on the crown. The feathers of the crown and the god’s attributes are inlaid; the eyes were made of another material. The ﬁgure stands on a square plinth.
ion resulted in the birth of Horus, who, following in the footsteps of his father, became Pharaoh.
This image follows the canonical iconography of Osiris: the god is wrapped in a shroud that perfectly hugs the contours of his body, which proportions are slender and elegant. In his hands, he holds the ﬂagellum (the nekhekh scepter, visible in the left hand) and the hekat scepter, the shepherds’ crook. The position of the arms (wrists crossed on the chest) is a clue to the origin of the statuette, which would have been manufactured in a center of Upper Egypt.
These two closely related characteristics linking the god of fecundity and the funerary divinity were certainly the basis for the success Osiris enjoyed in the Egyptian world: from the New Kingdom on, and especially during the entire 1st millennium B.C., statuettes of Osiris were among the most important funerary oﬀerings.
And so, after having survived the ordeal of death, Osiris triumphed thanks to the magic of his wife and became the ruler of the underworld, which contained the seeds of life and, at the same time, was the protector of the deceased, to whom he would promise life after death.
Complete and in good condition: the surface of the metal is dark brown with patches of green patina in places.
On his head he wears his usual headgear, the atef crown, composed of the white crown of Upper Egypt, ﬂanked by two ostrich feathers; a snake descends down the front of the headgear, where, just above the forehead, the head of the uræus would have been attached. The chin is adorned with a long false beard with braided locks, terminating in a ringlet. He wears, as an ornament, a large circular necklace composed of diﬀerent types of beads and provided with a small trapezoidal counterweight.
Ex-English private collection, acquired in Cairo in 1938. PUBLISHED
Phoenix Ancient Art 2009 n. 1, Geneva - New York, 2009, no. 26. BIBLIOGRAPHY
BERMAN L. M., The Cleveland Museum of Art, Catalogue of Egyptian Art, Clevelend, 1999, pp. 431-433, nos. 326-328. HILL M. (ed.), Offrande aux dieux d’Egypte, Martigny, 2008, pp. 128130. PAGE-GASSER M. - WIESE A. B., Egypte, Moments d’éternité, Geneva, 1997, pp. 260-261, no. 172. SCHOSKE S. - WILDUNG D., Gott und Gö tter um alten Ägypten, Mainz on Rhine, 1992, pp. 123-124, no. 83. On Osiris, see: WILKINSON H.R., The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt, London, 2003, pp. 118-123.
Originally, the ﬁgure of Osiris was linked to the fecundity of the Egyptian soil, the renewal of vegetation and the world of shepherds, as evidenced by the hekat scepter (which reproduces the shepherds’ crook). He embodied the fertile land and the arable ﬁelds, and became therefore the guardian of the order of the universe and the cycles of nature. But the most famous myth concerning him is the one in connection with his death, known through many versions: the son of Geb (the earth) and Nut (the sky) and the husband of Isis, the god primarily was a pharaoh. With Isis, they were a pair of royal benefactors who taught mankind farming and ﬁshing (Osiris), weaving and medicine (Isis). Jealous of the sovereign, his brother Seth assassinated him, cut up his body and disposed of the pieces in the Nile. However, Isis, his wife and faithful widow, found and reassembled the body of her husband and, with the help of her sister, Nephtys, and of Anubis, she embalmed the corpse. After breathing life into him for a short instant, Isis was impregnated by Osiris: this un-
PRIEST OF THE LATE EMPIRE Circa 250 A.D. Bronze H: 33 cm
The head has a rounded neck so as to be inserted into a bust or a statue. The man has a pronounced, aquiline nose. His eyes, carved in a crescent moon shape, have a calm and intense expression. His ﬂat hairstyle, with thin feather-like locks, is parted in three sections above the forehead. On the crown, the hair is in disarray. As for the eyebrows, they are rendered by herringbone-shaped incisions.
INAN J. and ROSENBAUM E., Roman and Early Byzantine Portrait Sculpture in Asia Minor, London, 1966, no. 252, pl. 139; no. 291, pl. 165 and no. 292 (for pictures of the head, no. 292, see INAN J. and ROSENBAUM E., Römische und frühbyantische Portätplastik aus der Türkei, Neue Funde, Mainz on Rhine, 1979, pl. 189).
The ﬁgure is remarkable by the wearing of a headband, thinner at the back of the head where it is fastened in a “Heracles knot”. Thin incisions suggest that it was prepared for gilding. Two holes in the skull would serve for the attachment of another ornament. Ancient repairs can be seen on the left ear and on the neck. The style of this head, of a somewhat rough workmanship, is diﬃcult to determine. A dating to the mid-3rd century A.D. seems most likely, especially considering the treatment of the short and thin hair, the locks being indicated by small irregular incisions. As for the identity of the ﬁgure, one thinks of a priest because of the type of headband: he was committed to the service of a particular divinity, currently impossible to identify, perhaps originating from the East. In Latin, a priest is a sacerdos, “a person who makes holy”. In Rome, as in pagan societies in general, priests did not have any speciﬁc spiritual mission. They simply were the guarantors of the worship over which they oﬃciated. They did not belong to a caste and their role was not incompatible with participation in civic life: many of them also wielded judiciary or other public oﬃce. For example, the orator Cicero was an augur and Julius Caesar a great pontiﬀ.
Complete, excellent state of preservation; rectangular plaques betray ancient cold-worked finishings or repairs. Beautiful uniform green patina. PROVENANCE
Acquired on the Swiss art market in 2000; ex-European private collection. PUBLISHED
Imago, Four Centuries of Roman Portraiture, Geneva-New York, 2007, no. 12.
HELMET OF THE CORINTHIAN TYPE Greek (Magna Graecia), second half of the 6th century B.C. Bronze H: 24 cm
German), which chronologically belong to the second half of the 6th century B.C. Very few in number, they are often characterized by the presence of a ﬁgural decoration, incised above the temples (like the snakes here, sometimes replaced by two bulls).
This helmet shows the distinctive features of the Corinthian type; modeled from a single, rather thin sheet of bronze, which was cast and then hammered, it belongs to the latest of the three groups currently established for the classiﬁcation of Corinthian helmets. In proﬁle, the top copies the anatomical shape of the skull with a more rounded back, while the outline near the forehead is more linear. The front represents a stylized face with horizontal, wide almond-shaped openings for the eyes, divided in the center by the nose protector and a long slit that separates the paragnathides (riveted pieces for the protection of the cheeks) and at least partially reveals the mouth. On the back, the nape is ﬂared both to allow the soldier to move freely and to protect him from the blows of the enemy. Seen in proﬁle especially, one notices the thick ridge that was supposed to increase the degree of protection and that, typologically, constitutes the distinctive feature of the third group of Corinthian helmets. The ridge goes around the head and separates the upper skull from the lower part. Above the eyes, this ridge draws two arches imitating the eyebrows.
The structure of the decoration and the patterns represented are closely related to those of another Greek war helmet, called Chalcidian, but whose origin would rather be found in western Greek cities and in the Euboean city of Chalcis.
Complete helmet in excellent condition, aside from minor breaks (forehead, eyebrows, lower edge) and cracks; surface with ample traces of green patina and reddish brown marks in places. PROVENANCE
American private collection, acquired from the André Emmerich Gallery, New York, in 1980. EXHIBITED
Four small holes pierced at the ends of the cheek protectors and on the rim at ear level were probably used to attach a chinstrap and/or to fasten an inner lining made of leather (in this connection, it is noteworthy that such a lining could also exist as a simple cap that the warrior wore on top of his head, as indicated by Greek iconography and particularly in scenes painted on ceramics).
Museum of Art, Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute, 1980. PUBLISHED
WRIGHT D.R.E et al., The Olympics in Art, An Exhibition of Works of Art related to Olympic Sports, New York, 1980, n. 2. BIBLIOGRAPHY
On related helmets, see: Antike Helme: Sammlung Lipperheide und andere Bestände des Antikenmuseums Berlin, Mainz/Rhine, 1988, pp. 96-99; pp. 412-415. COMSTOCK M. and VERMEULE C., Greek, Etruscan and Roman Bronzes in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Boston, 1971, pp. 404-407, no. 582. PFLUG H., Schutz und Zier: Helme aus dem Antikenmuseum Berlin und Waffen anderer Sammlungen, Basel, 1989, p. 21; p. 59, no. 22. On Greek helmets in general, see: FEUGERE M., Les casques antiques: Visages de la guerre de Mycènes à l’Antiquité tardive, Paris, 1994, pp. 15 ff.
Incised decoration - drawn here with great precision and elegance, in which each line is double or triple as around the eyes - is particularly rare and remarkable on Corinthian helmets. At the center of the forehead is a palmette with seven leaves in very light relief, furnished with concentric circles at the base and surrounded by lateral volutes. Next to this central pattern stand two bearded snakes, one on either side, with mouths open and a threatening appearance, whose serpentine bodies descend and then curl, emphasizing the drawing of the eyebrows and joining in a point above the nose protector. Engraved ﬁllets highlight the outline of the eyes, of the nose protector and of the mouth slit. The line determined by the bodies of the snakes and, to a lesser extent, the presence of the palmette enable us to link this example to a subgroup of Corinthian helmets produced in Magna Graecia (“Helme mit Stirnzwickel” in
THE EMPEROR LICINIUS (308-324 A.D.) Roman, Beginning of the 4e century A.D. (ca. 300-320 A.D.) Gold leaf H: 14 cm – W: 147.78 g
motini Museum in Greece; statues of high-ranking dignitaries, nobles or citizens, were restricted to silver or gilt bronze.
A small bust in hammered gold leaf, in all likelihood originally ﬁxed to a wooden support that was in turn probably attached to a wooden support as indicated by the four small holes along the bottom edge, which would have held the nails.
A three dimensional silver image of Licinius was found on the banks of the Black Sea and is housed in Munich (Archäologische Staatssammlung): despite some diﬀerences in the contours of the beard and a fuller moustache, the typology of the two busts is similar, thus allowing for a plausible identiﬁcation. Two small silver heads in the Museum of Mayence representing two emperors from the late 3rd or early 4th century A.D. also come from this region, but even without the ﬁnd spot, one can still identify them as Tetrarchs.
It represents a young man, with shaved hair wearing a thin moustache and an unshaped beard that does not cover the cheeks. He wears the paludamentum or military cloak, fastened on the right shoulder by a round ﬁbula. Beneath, he also wears a cuirass, the leather straps (pteruges in Greek) of which can be seen passing over the same shoulder. The physiognomy of the personage is expressed by a large, creased forehead, prominent superciliar arches, elongated eyes, a slightly aquiline nose and a small mouth with full lips. The expression of his gaze is particularly intense.
Such valuable eﬃgies, in this small scale, often accompanied the troops on their campaigns and possessed symbolic and cult signiﬁcance: in the camps, it compensated for the physical absence of the emperor and helped to insure the loyalty of the soldiers. As explained by Vegetius in his treatise on the art of war ( II, 7), a legionnaire (named the imaginarius or imaginifer) was expressly charged with transporting and displaying the imago of the emperor during the military campaigns: shown carrying a standard topped by the imperial portrait are present on such important monuments as the Column of Trajan or on the pedestal reliefs on the Column of Antoninus Pius, now at the Vatican. Other reliefs, often funerary stelai, represent the imaginairii holding their military insignia.
Wearing the hair short was a vogue from the rise of the soldier-emperors (during the second quarter of the 3rd century A.D.) until the early decades of the 4th century. The carving of the pupils, which are incised in the upper part of the eye, also corresponds with the iconographic conventions of the period. It is thus within these years that this portrait has to be dated. As proposed by B. Steidl, greater precision in the identiﬁcation can be made through the treatment of the beard, represented by long, undulating incisions in low relief that ﬂow over the smooth chin and through the details of the small moustache, which is barely indicated: it would be about an eﬃgy of the Emperor Licinius - as also indicate it the general characteristics of the head - datable certainly between the end of the 3th and the beginning of the 4th century A:D. Today, his portraits are rare and sometimes questioned since after his death, his image was subjected to the damnatio memoriae due to his persecution of Christians.
Native to Illyria, this general Licinius became master of the entire Orient in 313 A.D. But conﬂict with Constantine the Great, who ruled the western part of the empire, never ceased growing: the war between the two factions broke out in 324 and after several lost battles, Licinius was exiled to Thessaloniki. Accused of conspiring with the Goths to regain power, he was assassinated the following year on Constantine’s orders.
This attribution also takes into account the fact that pure gold, the noblest and highly prized of metals, was exclusively reserved for images of gods, imperial portraits or images of the imperial family. Gold portraits have survived in very small numbers because they were melted down to recover the precious metal. Few examples exist, the formost one being the bust of Marcus Aurelius found at Avenches as well as a Septimus Severus from the Ko-
Excellent state: complete bust in spite of some cracks or holes in the gold leaf. Chipped edge. PROVENANCE
Ex-Swiss private collection, Geneva, Switzerland. EXHIBITED
Gold, Magie, Mythos, Macht. Gold der Alten, Exhibiton, Munich, Museum für Vor- und Frühgeschichte, November 30, 2001 - April 2, 2002. Gold! Natural Treasure, Curltural Obsession, Houston Museum of Natural Science, March-August 2005. PUBLISHED
Imago, Four Century of Roman Portraiture, Geneva-New York, 2007, n. 15. WAMSER L. and GEBHARD R. (ed.), Gold, Magie, Mythos, Macht. Gold der Alten, Stuttgart, 2001, p. 295, n. 198 (ill.) (Steidl B.). BIBLIOGRAPHY
On the portraits of Licinius, see: Costantino il Grande, La civiltà antica al bivio tra Oriente e Occidente, Milan, 2005, p. 208, n. 7 (with bibliography). L’ORANGE H.-P., Das Spätantike Herrscherbild von Diokletian bis zu Konstantin-Söhnen 284-361 n. Chr., Berlin, 1984, pp. 49-50, 116-118. OVERBECK B., Argentum romanum : ein Schatzfund vom spätrömischem Geschirr, Munich, 1973. On the golden and silver portraits in the Roman antiquity : HOCHULI-GYSEL A. et al., Marc Aurèle, L’incroyable découverte du buste en or à Avenches, Fribourg, 2006, pp. 97-103. KÜNZL E., Zwei silberne Tetrarchenporträts im RGZM und die römischen Kaiserbildnisse aus Gold und Silber dans Jahrbuch des römisch-germanischen Zentralmuseums Mainz, 30, 1983, pp. 381-402, pl. 64-65. On the function of these small portraits and on the imaginarii, see : AMELUNG W., Die Skulpturen des vaticanischen Museums, vol. 1, Berlin, 1903, p. 891, pl. 117 (the relief from the base of the column of Antoninus Pius). KÜNZL E., op. cit., pp. 385-393. VEGETIUS, Art de la guerre, II, 7.
JEWELRY SET Greek Hellenistic, Late 2nd -1st century B.C. Gold and Garnet L: approx 42 cm (necklace) - D: 1.8 cm (ring)
work is completely undamaged. The bezel is remarkable, for residue produced while the ring was being fabricated can still be seen on the edges of the garnet; this is proof that the stone remains in its original setting, for this residue would have dissolved had the stone ever been removed. One inlaid bead is missing from the band, but this is the only damage the piece has suﬀered.
This extremely elegant set is composed of two elements: a necklace and a ring. The former consists of a long, quadruple chain that holds up multiple hinged pendants; these are set with four large garnets inserted into beds of gold, with borders ornamented with ﬁligree and granulation. The chain, like the rest of the necklace, is made from gold and attaches to the pendants with gold terminals. There are two gold rings attached to the end of each terminal; between them is an identical gold ring that attaches to the pendant. A gold rod is threaded through these three rings, joining them together.
Given the similarities in style and technique, as well as in the use of the garnets, it is probable that both the necklace and the ring were made by the same workshop and originally designed as a set.
The necklace is comprised of four pendants, three small and one large. All four are oval-shaped, and all are set with an oval garnet on a gold disc. The settings on the three small pendants are surrounded by gold granular beads, while that on the large one is encircled by two registers of ﬁligree and one ring of very small granulations. The innermost ring of ﬁligree is composed of a coiled gold wire, while the second consists of braided gold ﬁligree. The granulations on the large pendant are signiﬁcantly smaller than those on the three others.
Jewelry from the end of the Hellenistic period is generally rare compared to the richness of the tomb ﬁnds from the beginning of the period. As such, jewelry sets, especially ones as ﬁnely fashioned and well preserved as this one, are exceedingly rare. A much plainer but similarly crafted ring, with a garnet set in a rectangular bezel, can be found in the Musée de Louvre, Paris. That ring is slightly earlier than this set here and dates to the third-to-second century B.C.
The necklace is accompanied by a very pretty ring with a rounded, rectangular bezel in the center; like the necklace, it is set with a garnet. The upper surface of the stone is curved, while the other sides are ﬂat, with the gold setting extending up around them. The rectangular bezel is ﬂat and is bordered by small, granular, gold beads along the edges. At the point of attachment between the bezel and the ring, there is ﬁligree work that consists of a twisted gold wire and two rows of minuscule granulations. The ring’s broad band is as wide as the bezel; it is decorated with small, granulated ﬂowers and bordered by gold ﬁligree. The centers of the ﬂowers are composed of beads made of garnet and green glass paste.
Complete and in good condition. PROVENANCE
Ex European private collection; acquired on the European art market in 2001. PUBLISHED
Phoenix Ancient Art, Greek and Roman Gold, Genève-New York, 2007, pl. 10. BIBLIOGRAPHY
Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin (Fall 1995), p. 15.
Both pieces of this ﬁnely crafted set are in superb condition. The necklace is completely intact: all four garnet pendants are not only present but remain in their original settings. The gold disks, in which the garnets are set, are not even bent or dented, and much of the ﬁne ﬁligree and granulations remain attached. There are however, some individual granulations that have broken oﬀ. The chain, which is composed of braided gold wire, is also in an excellent state of preservation, without any kinks or knots. The ring is in outstanding condition as well, and much of the gold detailing, granulations, and ﬁligree
DIVINITY OR HERO MASK Western Asia, 8th-7th century B.C. Gold sheet H: 10.5 cm
This mask is composed of a single, very thin gold leaf, which was cold-hammered over a wooden core or an anvil. It only includes the upper part of the face, that of a man perhaps, with the forehead, the eyebrows, the eyes and the nose. The mask would have originally belonged to a composite statuette made from several materials: this technique was largely widespread in Near Eastern art and was often used with varied materials (precious metals, stones, wood, shell, etc.). The entire ďŹ gure would have been half life-size. The eyes and the uninterrupted line of the brows were hollowed so as to hold inlays made of ivory, lapis lazuli, bitumen, semi-precious stones, etc., that embellished the composition; the nostrils are pierced. The small holes on the sides and on the upper edge served to attach the mask to its ancient original support, the nature of which still remains unknown.
Complete and in very good condition, despite minor cracks and holes. PROVENANCE
Christieâ€™s New York, December 5, 2001, Lot 714. PUBLISHED
Phoenix Ancient Art 2006, No. 2, Geneva-New York, 2006, no. 23. BIBLIOGRAPHY
On related Near Eastern composite statues, see: AMIET P., Art of the Ancient Near East, New York, 1977, no. 264 (aragonite and golden mask); nos. 663-664 (bronze and ivory). The 1st Anniversary Exhibition, Miho Museum, 1998, pp. 18-21, no. 5 (silver and gold).
FINGER RING WITH ENGRAVED SIREN Early Hellenistic, late 4th century B.C. Gold D: 2.2 cm
The hoop of this solid gold ring consists of a ﬂat band, which widens into a curve toward a ﬂat, circular bezel. The bezel features an engraved representation of a siren, who is shown in proﬁle to the right, bending her head slightly forward and blowing a double ﬂute that she holds with her raised arms. Both large-taloned feet are set ﬁrmly on a ground line. Additional engravings indicate the ﬁne details of the face and hairstyle as well as the feathers of the large wings, the lower part of the body, and the spread tail. Gold rings with engraved circular bezels date to the last decades of the fourth century B.C, the very beginning of the Hellenistic period. Mythical creatures who were partbird, part-woman, sirens were believed to lure sailors to their death through the charm of their music. Although a well-known subject in Greek visual culture, they were rarely found in minor art. A siren with pipes is engraved on a heart-shaped carnelian pendant dated to the fourth century B.C. A gold pendant in the shape of siren playing the double ﬂute, found in a late-fourth-century B.C. context in southern Russia and now in the State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, features the same large wings as the siren on this bezel. CONDITION
Complete and in good condition. PROVENANCE
Ex-collection M.M., Monaco; collected in the 1980’s. PUBLISHED
Phoenix Ancient Art, Greek and Roman Gold, Genève-New York, 2007, pl. 9. BIBLIOGRAPHY
BORDMAN J., Greek Gems and Finger Rings (1970), p. 213, type IX. HOFFMANN H. and DAVIDSON P., Greek Gold : Jewelry from the Age of Alexander (1965), pp. 80ff., 88ff., fig. 15c. RUDOLPH W., A Golden Legacy : Ancient Jewelry from the Burton Y. Berry Collection at the Indiana University Art Museum (1995), pp. 48ff.
UNKNOWN OF THE LATE EMPIRE Roman, ca. 250 A.D. Fine-grained white marble H: 28.6 cm
The neck is broken at the midpoint, so that one is not able to determine if the head was sculpted to be inserted, or if it was carved with a bust or as part of a whole statue.
Ex-American private collection, Bill and Lynda Beierwaltes, Colorado, acquired in 1994.
This head is clearly the portrait of an aged man, as evidenced by a kind of general thinness, the high and balding forehead, the hollow cheeks, the wrinkles on the forehead, the creases descending laterally along the nose to the lips and, above all, the rendering of the sparse hair consisting of long locks without any arranged pattern, combed forward to hind the incipient badness. The hair radiates from the crown, and tat the back, descend down very low onto the neck. The locks were executed using a chisel-like tool with a curved cutting edge: a gouge. As for the prominent ears, they are particularly ﬁnely carved.
On Roman portraits of the 3rd century, see: BERGMANN M. Studien zum römischen Portät des 3. Jahrhunderts n. Chr., Bonn, 1977. Some contemporary portraits: DE KERSAUSON, K., Catalogue des portraits romains (Musée du Louvre), Tome II: De l’année de guerre civile (68-69 ap. J.-C.) à la fin de l’Empire, Paris, 1996, p. 494, n. 233 (hair). GUILIANO A. and al., Museo Nazionale Romano, Le sculture, I, 9: Magazzini, I ritatti, Parte II, Rome, 1988, p.392, n. R294. JUCKER, H, Gesichter, Griechische und Römischen Bildnisse aus Schweizer Besitz, Bern, 1982, nos. 82-83, pp. 196-199.
The artistic quality of this portrait, with its smooth and slightly polished surface, is remarkable: the sculptor has worked on large surfaces but he was able to render the expression, the muscles and the wrinkles of the subject in a very realistic and detailed manner. The eyes are widely spaced and deeply set, the iris is indicated by a slightly incised circle and the pupil is in the shape of a crescent moon; small sinuous incisions indicate the eyebrows. The mouth is a horizontal groove with a small upper lip while the lower one, fuller, forms a dimple on the shin. Despite his delicate and elegant face, the man has a weary and disillusioned expression, as if he had le d a diﬃcult life: it is not an imperial portrait, but rather the image of a private citizen, probably a senior judge who exercised substantial authority in one of the Empire’s provinces. The dating is based on the modeling of the eyes, of the hair (the beginning of side whiskers, hair with little volume executed with shallow and linear gouged cuts) and on the general rendering of the face that refers back to a realistic and sober iconographical style (the details of the face are rendered by progressive but subtle changed in plane): these elements characterize numerous male portraits of the middle decades of the 3rd century A.D.
Break at the level of the neck. Nose, chin and ears partially broken. Surface covered with thick concretions, reddish brown in color.
HERM WITH HEADS OF TWO ELDERLY SATYRS Roman, 1st-2nd century A.D. Marble H: 20 cm
The two heads, soldered in their entire upper part, from the top of their heads down to the neck, were carved from a block of ﬁne-grained white marble. The break is below the beard, all of which is preserved, as is some of the neck.
Ex-Elie Borowski Collection, Basel, Switzerland; ex-Dr. C. Best Collection, Toronto, Canada, acquired in 1971. BIBLIOGRAPHY
On herms, see: Pompeji wiederentdeckt, Roma, 1994, pp. 260-261, nos. 181-182. WREDE H., Die antike Herme, Mainz on Rhine, 1985, pp. 29-30, 5254.
The subject represented by the two heads of this herm is the same: an elderly satyr (a silenus), whose face is wrinkled on the forehead, on the cheeks and on the nose and is provided with a thick, curly beard. He can be identiﬁed as a satyr thanks to his pointed, equine ears and to the wreath of leaves and ﬂowers which encircles his head. Behind this wreath, the surface of the skull is smooth and ﬂat, without any indication of hair or locks, as if both satyrs were bald. Although there are many similarities and obvious symmetries between the two faces of the herm, the sculptor diﬀerentiated the two ﬁgures in a number of details. In a frontal view, head A (with the crack) is characterized by a slightly more irregular outline, with the protruding beard and the deeply drilled locks. The eyebrows are less contracted and the expression slightly softer, but the sculptor’s work is less detailed. Head B is better modeled (wrinkled forehead, cheeks, brow bones) and the expression is more ferocious. Their proﬁles emphasize these diﬀerences: head B is overall more penetrating than its antagonist, head A. Though already widespread in the Hellenistic world, Dionysian double herms were mostly popular in the early Imperial period. Many combinations, including the god of wine himself, a young satyr or a silenus, sometimes with other ﬁgures, are well attested. Works similar to the typology and chronology of our example were found at Pompeii, in the House of the Vettii, where they were mounted on columns about 170 cm in height, which decorated the villa’s gardens.
Very good condition, despite minor cracks on one head (especially at the mouth and cheek); the surface is very well preserved.
HEAD OF A CYCLADIC «IDOL» Aegean (Cyclades Islands), early Bronze Age II (2500-2400 B.C.) Marble H: 13.9 cm
being commanding natural phenomena that were most often mysterious to the ancients: the circle of life, the astronomical phenomena, the seasonal cycle and the fertility of the land, the sea, etc.
Head of a statuette carved from a ﬁne-grained marble and larger than the average size. The ﬁgurine is broken below the neck, where the breast would have started. The elegant face features a regular, oval shape. Only the long, thin and prominent nose is plastically modeled.
Fragmentary idol, only the head and neck are preserved; worn surface showing a brownish “patina”; ancient slanted break atop the head. No apparent traces of polychromy.
The head, tilted backwards in its upper part, rests on a columnar neck, stretched on hits width. Given its structure and proportions, this head would have been part of a well-attested class of ﬁgurines known as Cycladic “idols”, the canonical “FAF (Folded-Arms Figurines)” statuettes. It belongs to the so-called “Spedos” variety, which represents the highest level of prehistoric Cycladic sculpture towards the middle of the 3rd millennium B.C.
Ex-K. Lemos collection, Switzerland, 1970s; private collection, M.S., acquired from the previous owner in 2007. BIBLIOGRAPHY
On Cycladic art in general: DOUMAS C.G., Early Cycladic Culture, The N.P. Goulandris Collection, Athens, 2000. GETZ-PREZIOSI P. (ed.), Early Cycladic Art in North American Collections, Richmond (Virginia), 1987. GETZ-GENTLE P., Personal Styles in Early Cycladic Sculpture, Madison, Wisconsin, 2001. GETZ-GENTLE P., Panorama de l’art des Cyclades, in CAUBET A. (ed.), Zervos et l’art des Cyclades, Vézelay, 2011, pp. 17-39. THIMME J. (ed.), Kunst der Kykladen, Karlsruhe, 1975.
Both simple and attractive in their design, these statuettes convey a seductive power to the modern artistic taste. Nevertheless, these idols - which come almost exclusively from necropolises, when the location of their discovery is known - still keep many secrets, since their real purpose remains unknown. They have been successively seen as concubines for the deceased, mourners, substitutes for human sacriﬁces, nurses for the deceased, representations of revered ancestors, toys to be taken to the afterlife, ﬁgures enabling or helping the transition to the afterlife, etc.; they are also thought to have been connected with the Great Mother, a goddess of procreation and fertility, worshiped from the Neolithic in the Near East, in Anatolia and in Central Europe. In the light of recent studies on their polychromatic decoration, some scholars are now suggesting new hypothesis on the meaning of these statuettes. It seems that their remarkable stylistic unity would have concealed various purposes that cannot be clearly understood today. According to P. Getz-Gentle, the use of colors would allow us to attribute to these “idols” a much more active role than previously thought: these statuettes - scientific research attests that their polychromy was regularly completed or restored - seem to have been linked to fundamental stages in the life of their owner, as if they accompanied him throughout his life. They would have embodied a protective, deﬁnitely feminine and maternal
PLATE DECORATED WITH A SCENE OF ROYAL HUNTING Sassanid, 5th-6th century A.D. Gilded silver H: 3.9 cm - D: 23.6 cm
rate way by the toreutic artist (bridles, reins, disk-shaped phalerae, decorative tufts, etc.). The same precise work characterizes the treatment of the bodies of the two wild cats and their positions (details of the coat, study of anatomy, etc.).
Circular, shallow plate provided with a small vertical edge. It is mounted on a disk-shaped foot, which was soldered to the body after the polishing of the surface. This vessel, outstanding for its solidity and weight, was hammered from a thick sheet of silver. According to a standardized technique for the Sassanid toreutic pieces, the decoration was half engraved, half in relief: it was achieved by slightly hollowing selected areas on the inner surface of the plate (here, for instance, on the back, the outline of the ﬁgures can barely be seen), and by inserting the metal pieces molded in the shape of the three ﬁgures into these preformed zones.
More than an individual portrait of a Sassanid king, this vessel most likely features a traditional image of a ruler from this dynasty during a hunt: though the monarch kills his prey here by attacking it with a spear rather than his bow or his sword (the two weapons most usually represented in Sassanid royal iconography), this ﬁgure can be reasonably identiﬁed as a symbolic image representing the Victorious King whom nothing, not even the strength of the lion, can resist.
Stylistically, the representation is typical of Sassanid art: a little naive and schematic, with abundant incised or engraved details and sometimes slightly compact proportions (horse).
From the mid-4th century, the subject of the royal hunting became dominant in this type of precious tableware. There are many examples of hunting prey: bears, ibex, lion, panther, wild boar, etc.; sometimes even several species are depicted on the same plate.
The inner surface of the plate, which has no subdivisions, no ground line, no landscape and no vegetal elements, is decorated with a royal hunt, one of the most popular scenes of Sassanid iconography. According to a popular scheme, the image is composed of three ﬁgures, a horseman and two lions. The beginning and the end of the hunt are represented, since the dead animal lying under the horse is probably the prey captured by the monarch. The king, who can be identiﬁed by his crown, is mounted on his horse at full gallop to the left. He turns back and attacks, with his spear, a lion that springs up behind the horse in an aggressive attitude. He is dressed in a long-sleeved tunic and in fringed leggings. In addition to the spear, which here replaces the bow (the weapon of choice for Sassanid kings in hunting scenes), he is armed with a long sword hanging from his left side. He is bearded and thick hair falls behind his neck; his adornment is composed of earrings, of a large pendant necklace and of bracelets. Two crossed straps encircle his chest.
Sassanids ruled Iran from 224 A.D. (end of the domination of the Parthian kings) until the Arab invasion of 651 A.D. This period was a golden age for Iran, in terms of art, politics and religion. The Sassanid Empire included almost all the Near East as it is still referred to nowadays: Iran, Iraq, Armenia, southern Caucasus, southern Central Asia, western Afghanistan, part of Pakistan, eastern parts of Turkey, Syrian territories, part of the Arabian Peninsula. Historians consider this period as one of the most important in the history of Iran: in many ways, it represents the achievement at the highest level of civilization of ancient Persia, just before the Muslim conquest and the consequent adoption of the doctrine of Muhammad. The cultural inﬂuence of the Sassanids extended far beyond the borders of their empire to reach Western Europe, Africa, the Near and Far East, and played a role in the rise of both the emerging Islamic culture and civilization, and the Byzantine, Asian and European art of the early Middle Ages.
Above a small ribbon, the crown shows a serrated edge and a crescent ornament in the center of the forehead. At the top, it is surmounted by a second crescent moon that supports a spherical, smooth globe. Such royal crowns represent a documented pattern, which can be dated between the reigns of the kings Perozes to Khosrau II, between the late 5th and the early 7th century A.D. The royal rank of the rider is also highlighted by the rich trappings of his horse, rendered in a complete and accu-
Excellent condition. Complete vessel, superficial wear; appears to have not been restored. PROVENANCE
Ex-Nicolas Koutoulakis Collection, Geneva, Switzerland, built before 1960 and then owned by descendants of the family. BIBLIOGRAPHY
GUNTER A.C. and JETT P., Ancient Iranian Metalwork in the A.M. Sackler Gallery and the Freer Gallery of Art, Washington, 1992, nos. 13-15. HARPER P.O., The Royal Hunter, Art of the Sasanian Empire, Washington, 1978, nos. 3, 6-7. LOUKONINE V. and IVANOV A., Lâ€™art persan, Saint Petersburg, 1995, pp. 90 ff.
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