Timeless appeal of ancient works

Sotheby’s sale of ancient sculpture and works of art totalled almost £10 million, with a wide range of objects from classical Greece, Rome, ancient Egypt and the Near East selling above estimate.

Roman marble headThe sale total was £3,910,125, led by a Roman marble head of Ganymede, circa 1st Century A.D., which sold for £429,000. One of the most finely carved Roman marble heads to be offered at auction in recent history, this portrayal of handsome and youthful divine hero Ganymede is the only known copy of a lost Classical Greek original sculpture.

Roman black marble headAn exceptionally preserved and extremely rare early Byzantine marble sigma-shaped table brought £429,000. Unusually depicting Aphrodite with maritime themes, it promotes magic, fertility, love and success to be pondered on during feasts and musical or theatrical performances. A South Arabian Funerary Stele representing a priestess or goddess, from the ancient kingdom of Qatabān, circa late 1st century B.C., soared to over eight times its pre-sale estimate to bring £339,000 (estimate £30,000-50,000).

Of the Ancient Egyptian offerings, a finely carved circular calcite offering table with a loaf of bread and vessels, 2360-2195 B.C. sold Greek bronze helmetfor £321,000, 32 times its pre-sale estimate of £8,000-12,000. A set of four Egyptian alabaster canopic jars depicting the four sons of the deity Horus, 664-525 B.C.,  belonging to the High Priest Psamtik ‘Great of Fire and Controller of the Two Thrones’ –sold for £200,000. Depictions of the animal kingdom also performed well, with an Egyptian bronze figure of a cat from 664-342 B.C. bringing £52,500, and an Egyptian ebony inlay head of Anubis from 1540-1190 B.C. selling for £50,000.

Further highlights included a Roman black marble head of Hermes, son of Zeus and Maia, which sold for £206,250 (estimate £35,000-45,000) and a striking Greek Corinthian helmet, hammered from a single sheet of bronze, which brought £168,750 (estimate £50,000-80,000).

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