An exceptionally rare Graeco-Roman bronze statue of Alexander the Great will lead Bonhams
Antiquities sale on Thursday 28th November in London. The important and impressive bronze dates from circa 1st Century B.C.- 1st Century A.D. and has an estimate of £150,000- 200,00. It captures Alexander as the heroic ideal: youthful, powerful, and assured, with a meditative gaze.
Even during his own short lifetime, Alexander the Great was a legendary figure. He was born into a royal Macedonian dynasty that claimed descent from the sun god Helios and from the great semi-divine hero Hercules. As king of Macedonia, Alexander spent most of his reign leading unprecedented military campaigns. He was undefeated in battle, and by the age of thirty had created one of the largest empires of the ancient world. His image has reverberated down the generations, and he has become the epitome of greatness.
The bronze will be offered alongside four other marble depictions of Alexander, all from the same private collection. These include:
A Roman marble hem with the head of Alexander the Great, circa 1st- 2nd Century A.D. Estimate: £100,000- 150,000. Only one other herm topped by a portrait of Alexander is known to be in existence: the Hermes Azara at the Musée du Louvre.
A Roman marble portrait head of Alexander the Great, circa 2nd Century A.D. Estimate: £30,000- 50,000. The Roman admiration for important historical characters meant that portraits of Alexander continued to be a favoured subject well beyond the Hellenistic period. Here he is depicted gazing to the right, his oval face with lidded, articulated, almond-shaped eyes, his long wavy leonine hair, with characteristic anastole, falling to his neck.
A Greek marble head of Alexander-Helios, circa 1st Century B.C. Estimate: £20,000- 30,000. The identification made with Alexander and Helios, the god, and personification of the sun, is shown via a sun-like crown in the striking head from the late Hellenistic period.
A Greek marble head of Alexander the Great as Zeus-Ammon, probably Egypt, Hellenistic period, circa 3rd- 1st Century B.C. Estimate: £20,000- 30,000. At the Oracle of Siwa, Alexander was acknowledged as the son of Zeus-Ammon, a proclamation that had a profound and lasting effect on his sense of self and his iconographic programme. He was therefore often depicted wearing the rams horns of the god a depiction that conferred divine approval.
Head of Bonhams Antiques Department, Francesca Hickin, said Alexander the Great was, and remains, a cult figure a personification of power itself. A bronze figure of Alexander on this scale is exceedingly rare, as is a herm topped with his portrait. Alongside the marble heads, the depictions offered express the grandeur and range of his image. The works merit comparison with those in the collections of major international museums.
Other highlights of the sale include:
A set of four Egyptian limestone canopic jars, Third Intermediate Period, circa 1069-664 B.C. Estimate: £30,000- 50,000.
An Anatolian bronze and sheet silver model of a wagon with oxen, circa late 3rd-early 2nd Millennium B.C. Estimate: £30,0000- 50,000.
A Roman marble mosaic panel with a representation of the Euphrates, circa 2nd century A.D. Estimate: £30,000- 40,000.
A Greek marble funerary stele, Hellenistic period, circa 2nd-1st Century B.C. Estimate: £25,000- 35,000.
An Egyptian limestone figure of a Queen or goddess, early Ptolemaic period, circa late 4th- 3rd century B.C. Estimate: £15,000- 25,000.