Artemis Gallery presents museum-worthy antiquities, Asian and ethnographic art

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Artemis Gallery presents museum-worthy antiquities, Asian and ethnographic art
Ancient Greek Cycladic marble figure, Spedos type, circa 2500 BCE, 9.75 inches high, ex Sotheby’s. Estimate: $350,000-$450,000. Image courtesy of Artemis Gallery.

BOULDER, COLO.- Artemis Gallery’s Fall 2019 Exceptional Series contains such an extensive selection of stellar cultural art, it is being divided into two parts with a week’s intermission in between. All forms of bidding will be available, including absentee and live via the Internet through LiveAuctioneers.

On Thursday, September 26, Artemis will present more than 325 lots in a Classical Antiquities & Asian Art session featuring investment-grade art and artifacts from Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Near Eastern and Far Eastern cultures. Additionally, there are many examples of beautiful gold and silver jewelry designs – some with semiprecious stones – of early Middle Eastern and Mediterranean origin.

“We have never before had such an impressive Egyptian section to offer our bidders,” said Artemis Gallery Executive Director Teresa Dodge. “This grouping goes above and beyond, starting with the very first lot.” The auction opener is a stunning 14.4-inch block statue of utmost rarity that depicts a seated astronomer. From Egypt’s 18th Dynasty, reign of Amenthotep III (circa 1391-1353 BCE), it is expertly carved with crossed arms atop bent legs and an astronomer’s tool draped over the front of the figure’s skirt. Of the roughly 10 known astronomer statues, it is one of only two hewn from glinting brown quartzite. Boasting an illustrious history of past ownership and exhibition, it also comes with an Art Loss Register certificate and custom stand. Estimate: $350,000-$450,000

An outstanding example of Ancient Greek carving, a Cycladic marble sculpture of the Spedos variety, circa 2500 BCE, is formed as an elongated slender figure with folded arms, a U-shape head and sharply incised cleft between the legs. “Cycladic” refers to an island group southeast of mainland Greece that is home to some of the archipelago’s most important archaeological ruins. The 9.75-inch tall sculpture has prestigious provenance, including prior sale at Sotheby’s (12/4/1972), and comes with an Art Loss Register certificate. Its pre-sale estimate is set at $350,000-$400,000.

An impressive Roman, Levant, stone mosaic depicting a regal couple with the initials ‘AFR’ and ‘ABL’ dates to circa 3rd to 4th century CE and measures 61.375 by 57.625 inches. The mosaic is composed of thousands of square stone tesserae, and the artistry is of a very high standard, as evidenced by the meticulous, naturalistic details seen in the subjects’ faces and clothing. Enduring images of the Roman world, mosaics often adorned public spaces, but this special artwork may have been created for a common area within a private Roman villa as a tribute to the owners. Estimate: $40,000-$60,000

Near Eastern treasures are highlighted by a circa-1849 to 1843 BCE translated Babylonian clay cuneiform barrel cylinder, $35,000-$50,000; a TL-tested, inscribed Nishapur glazed pottery pitcher, $15,000-$25,000; and a Sabean bronze sculpture of a standing male priest. Originating in 6th-century BCE Yemen, the mesmerizing statue has a serious facial expression and arms outstretched as though making an offering. Estimate: $100,000-$200,000

The Asian art category traverses many fascinating ancient cultures, including Tibet, Cambodia, India, and China through its succession of dynasties. Top prizes include: a huge Indian Vijayanagar granite temple figure of Bhairava – a deity who vanquishes fear – with a dog in profile, $24,000-$36,000; a 63-inch-high 18th-century CE Cambodian gilt teak seated Buddha, $24,000-$36,000, and a macabre 17th/18th-century Tibetan bronze votive in the form of a human skull, $5,000-$8,000. A superb, larger-than-lifesize Gandharan polished gray schist head of Buddha, circa 200 CE, is a serene presence, measuring 19 inches tall on its included custom stand. Estimate: $35,000-$50,000

Bidders won’t be able to take their eyes off the gleaming ancient jewelry entered in this auction. There are many exquisite, high-quality pieces of a type very rarely made available for public purchase, including: Byzantine 20K gold earrings with gemstones, ex Christie’s, $10,000-$12,000; a 22K+ gold necklace with a Sumerian quartz lion pendant in high relief, $10,000-$20,000; and a breathtaking circa-3rd to 2nd-century BCE Greek 20K gold-wire bracelet with well detailed double lion-head terminals, $15,000-$22,000.

The Exceptional Auction, Part II, continues the series on Thursday, October 3, with 300 lots of Pre-Columbian, Native American, tribal, Oceanic, and ethnographic art. The session opens with an outstanding lineup of art and cultural artifacts from the ancient Americas.

An extremely rare Pre-Columbian Olmec (Mexico) molded terracotta mask with haunting almond-shape eyes and a single tooth visible in the open were-jaguar mouth is entered with a $12,000-$18,000 estimate; while an incredible Maya (Southern Mexico to Guatemala) cylinder, circa 550-900 CE, displays bright scarlet pigment and striking motifs. Probably given as a gift during a feast and used for drinking cocoa, its exterior is boldly painted with a profile head of “God A” wearing a disembodied eyeball on his head. Estimate: $20,000-$28,000. Other standouts include a circa 500-300 BCE TL-tested Proto Nazca (Peru) olla, $18,000-$36,000; and a Stoetzer-certified Tihuanaco (Bolivia) stone kero with a figural jaguar head, circa 400-900 CE, $32,000-$48,000.

The Native American category is led by a phenomenal 19th-century CE Pueblo Indian painted buffalo-hide war shield. Its decoration includes a blue sun, yellow border, curved horns, and a pair of stars flanking a crescent moon. Estimate: $70,000-$90,000. A circa-1860s CE Yanktonai Sioux fringed buffalo-hide rifle case with particularly beautiful multicolor beadwork comes from a New Mexico private collection and is expected to make $35,000-$50,000.

African tribal pieces include a pair of matching carved-bone Lobi (Burina Faso) male and female figures, $2,800-$3,500; an early 20th-century CE Mumuye (Nigeria) carved wood male ancestral figure, $4,000-$6,000; and a tall 20th-century CE Dogon (Mali) wood ceremonial mask depicting a walu (antelope), $3,250-$4,500.

A remarkable late 18th/early 19th century CE pa’e kaha, or coronet, made of shell, tortoiseshell and sennit (coconut fiber) is a testament to the innately talented artists native to the Marquesas Islands (French Polynesia). It is elaborately carved with a relief and openwork tiki motif accented by white triton-shell panels. It could command a $70,000-$90,000 bid. Other Oceanic highlights include a giant 20th-century CE polychrome fern figure from Vanuatu and formerly in the de Young Museum (San Francisco), $18,000-$25,000; and an enormous 19th-century CE Yap Islands (Micronesia) wheel-shape stone currency disc known as a “rai,” $8,000-$12,000.

An interesting selection of antique arms is featured, with several swords among the offerings. The earliest is a 16th/17th-century CE Spanish flame-bladed steel “espada ropera” estimated at $10,000-$15,000. Noteworthy firearms include a circa 1900-1913 CE Colt single-action “Peacemaker” revolver that once belonged to General Pasqual Orozco (1882-1915), a Mexican national hero and revolutionary who helped orchestrate a coup d’etat to depose dictator Porfirio Diaz. The gun’s grip is inscribed “Gral (General) Pasqual Orozco.” Estimate: $18,000-$27,000. A pair of British steel percussion dueling pistols from the first half of the 19th century CE have carved wooden handles incised “E London 51 London Wall.” They come with a fitted custom wooden carrying case whose compartments house a mold-formed brass powder flask and two carved-bone lidded jars, one holding five musket balls; the other, a smattering of percussion caps. A very complete presentation, the lot is estimated at $15,000-$25,000.

Both the September 26 and October 3 auction sessions will start at 10 a.m. Eastern time. All items come with Artemis Gallery’s guarantee that they are authentic and legal to purchase, own, and if desired, resell. An Artemis Gallery COA will accompany each purchase. The company ships worldwide and has its own in-house packing and shipping department to ensure quality control. For additional information about any item in the auction, call Teresa Dodge at 720-890-7700 or email Bid absentee or live via the Internet through LiveAuctioneers.

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