LONDON – Apollo Galleries and Auctions, Britain’s leading source of appraised cultural art and antiquities, is pleased to announce highlights from its March 27, 2022 sale. The Ancient, Chinese and Islamic Art Auction of 488 lots is divided into four sections that encompass a wide range of artifacts deeply drawn from the classical European era and important civilizations of the Near East, Egypt, India and China.
Many of the items featured in the sale have an illustrious pedigree and previously belonged to legendary collectors such as the late London lawyer Alison Barker, John Lee and other renowned connoisseurs. Additionally, many pieces have a history that includes previous sales at Christie’s or Bonhams.
“No small detail has been spared in preparing for this outstanding sale, which I consider to be our best to date,” said Apollo Galleries director Dr Ivan Bonchev (PhD, University of Oxford). “In early February, we brought together most of our consulting team to personally review the entire auction selection. The team includes our consultant Egyptologist, Laetitia Delaloye, who began her career at Christie’s in 2007 and was appointed head of their London antiquities department in 2016. She now shares her passion as an independent consultant to museums , collectors, dealers and other specialist businesses, including Apollo Galleries.
The March 27 sale includes the very first section dedicated to Islamic art from Apollo Galleries, starting from lot 359. The collection of artifacts ranges from gilded Qurans and photographic prints to copper flasks and door fittings. With a timeline that spans the early Middle Ages through the 19th century, its highlights include lot 360, a Mamluk carved wood panel, estimated between $31,470 and $62,945; Lot 373, a rare Ottoman Quran signed and inscribed by Ahmed Nazifi, estimate $52,450-78,680; and Lot 391, a circa 1900 prayer rug from an old European collection, estimated between $31,470 and $39,339.
Apollo’s four signature categories – Classic, Jewelry, Weapons and Asian Art – are beautifully represented in this auction. The classic selection includes seven extraordinary marble sculptures, including Lot 4, a marble relief stele from the early 1st century BC depicting the gallery’s namesake, Apollo, on horseback and holding a double-headed ax known as the labrys name. With a provenance that includes the famous Morkramer collection (1960s, USA), it is estimated between $13,110 and $26,225.
After the carvings is a collection of fine Greek pottery. Highlights include lot 18, an ornately decorated Athenian rod kylix with horse and rider (ex-Royal Athena Gallery); and Lot 20, a red-figure bell-krater from Apulia dating from around 432-300 BC. AD, accompanied by a TL test report from the independent German test laboratory Ralf Kotalla. Each has an estimate of $13,110 to $26,225.
Wonderful Egyptian Antiquities include Lot 94, a linen-wrapped mummified cat dating from around 712-32 BC. AD, formerly in the collection of Bill Jamieson in Canada. An x-ray is visible next to the cat, which was created to evoke Bastet, the feline goddess representing fertility and motherhood. Similar to an example auctioned by Bonhams on May 1, 2013, it comes to auction from Apollo Galleries with an estimate of $19,670 to $32,780.
A particular highlight of the sale is an assemblage of 16 cylinder seal lots (Sumerian, Neo-Assyrian, Old Babylonian, Anatolian, etc.), most accompanied by a scholarly note signed by Professor Wilfrid George Lambert. “Our latest such collection, which was featured at our January sale, was extremely popular with bidders, so we are particularly pleased to have secured a second shipment of these unusual and decorative items,” said the Bonchev Dr. Each lot is estimated between $525 and $1,050.
Apollo Galleries will also feature a wide selection of gold jewelry lots, many of which have been tested by XRF to confirm metallurgical content and suggest they are, indeed, of ancient origin. Some of the best lots include: Lot 181, a hollow cast gold statuette of a priest from the Holy Land in Western Asia dating from around 700-500 BC. AD, $13,110 to $26,225; and lots 182 to 184, each of which contains a particularly fine gold Hellenistic Greek agate eye brooch. The most esteemed design, a brooch from around 300–100 BC. in hammered gold with an encrusted cabochon garnet, is expected to fetch $13,110-$26,225.
The range of ancient weapons includes bronze helmets with XRF reports from the Apollo Galleries lab and iron swords with full reports written by Apollo Galleries resident consultant Russel Scott. “We are particularly excited about lot 258, an Illyrian Greek bronze hoplite helmet with a rich blue-green bronze patina,” said Dr Bonchev. Similar to examples held by the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Louvre, its provenance dates back to 1968-69 and the German collection of Hans Hagmann. Estimate: $52,450 to $104,900. Lot 274, a medieval crusader’s iron sword with a Celtic face, most likely a maker’s mark, could hold a winning bid of $7,870 to $11,800.
Asian art begins with the funerary mingqi of the Tang and Han dynasties. These collector’s favorites come in the form of camels (lot 429), horses and riders (see lot 439-441); servants, warriors and dancers (lots 449-454). Each lot is accompanied by a TL certificate from Ralf Kotalla.
The auction ends with sculptures from Gandharan (the oldest Buddhist art), whose Kushan aesthetic reflects both the naturalism of the classical Greek style and the serenity of Asian Buddhist art. An exquisite example of this hybrid influence is lot 482, a gray schist head carved circa 200-300 AD of the goddess Hariti. It is similar to a copy sold by Christie’s on March 20, 2008, and dates back to a European private collection from the 1970s. Its estimate is $26,225 to $52,450.
The new and expanded Apollo Galleries and Auctions site is located at 25 Bury Place in the heart of London’s Bloomsbury district, opposite the British Museum. Their March 27, 2022 auction will begin at 8:00 a.m. EST / 1:00 p.m. GMT. View the fully illustrated auction catalog and register to bid remotely or live online via LiveAuctioneers. The company accepts payments in GBP, USD, EUR and cryptocurrencies; and ships worldwide, with all packaging handled by in-house white glove specialists. Questions: call Apollo Galleries, London, on +44 7424 994167 or email [email protected] Online: www.apologalleries.com
Apollo Galleries and Auctions is a member of the British Numismatic Trading Association (BNTA) and the Art Loss Register (AR).