Gorny & Mosch, D-Munich

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12-12-2017 – 01-01-1970

Auction 252: Ancient Art

Highly significant collection of Greek vases at Gorny & Mosch

Gorny & Mosch will conduct Auction 252 comprising ancient art in its business premises on December 13, 2017. There are almost 1,000 lots of ancient objects that are dominated by two collections. The auction kicks off with what is most likely the most important vase collection ever to be offered in Germany. Furthermore, another part of the collection of the Israeli jeweler Shlomo Moussaieff (1925-2015) will cross the auction block, including a great number of bronze statuettes and lamps. All objects from the Shlomo Moussaieff Collection come with an export license from the Israel Antiquities Authority. 

No. 44: Attic lecythus by the Oreithyia Painter. 470-460 BC. H 43.3cm. Diam 14.6cm. Red-figure. On the body, diademed Demeter stands in front of an altar, pouring a sacrifice from an oenochoe, holding a torch in her left hand. Composed of fragments in the upper quarter, foot also broken and reattached, a few small retouches at the breaking edges. Ex P.C. Collection, Southern Germany, ex Holger Termer – Kunst der Antike, Hamburg, Katalog 1 (1969), p. 40, No. 99. Estimate: 55,000, – euros.

Let’s start with the collection of Greek vases. It consists of more than 230 lots and entails a series of art-historically significant pieces made by vase painters who are well known to academic research. Estimated at 55,000 euros, a vessel decorated by the Oreithyia Painter has the highest appraisal of the entire series. This artist worked in the phase of the transition from the black-figure to the red-figure style. It is an Attic lecythus, created between 470 and 460 BC. The central motif features Demeter, who performs a sacrifice with an oenochoe in front of an altar.

No. 11: Attic neck amphora by Hermonax. 460-450 BC. H 51.4cm. Diam 22.2cm. Red-figure. Together, the two sides depict the farewell of a warrior. The armed warrior stands with a lance and a shield (symbol: dolphin) on one side, his father clad in a himation with walking stick stands on the other side. Composed of fragments, a few small missing parts outside the figures retouched. Ex P.C. Collection, Southern Germany, acquired from Galleria Serodine, Ascona, in 1988; published in: G. Güntner (ed.), Mythen und Menschen. Exhibition Würzburg (1997), p. 112ff. No. 31. BAPD 19737. Estimate: 50,000, – euros.

An Attic neck amphora by Hermonax shows the farewell of a warrior. Beazley rated this painter, who left us ten works with his signature, as a “remarkable artist”. Vases painted by him are displayed in some of the world’s most important museums. The example offered by Gorny & Mosch, estimated at 50,000 euros, was made between 460 and 450 BC.

No. 62: Attic bowl by the Hegesiboulos Painter. Around 500 BC. H 8.8cm, B with handles 30.9cm, Diam 23.8cm. Red-figure. Inside a large tondo with two comasts, the older erastes dancing, the younger eromenos drinking from a bowl. On the one, side hetaera, with crotales, dancing, a juvenile symposiast accompanying her on the barbiton; a young man with walking stick, basket and bowl to the right. On the other side, ithyphallic satyr dancing, an amphora shouldered; on the left side, maenad with crotales, on the right maenad with thyrsus. Greek inscription: Kalos Aigilos. Composed of fragments, only small retouching at the breaking edges. Ex P.C. Collection, Southern Germany, ex Sotheby’s London, December 13-14, 1982, Lot 248. Estimate: 40,000,- euros.

Dating from around 500 BC, an Attic bowl by the Hegesiboulos Painter takes us right into the vibrant afterlife of the Athenians. As a matter of fact, Hegesiboulos is the name of a potter who lent this painter his provisional name. The interior of the bowl he decorated shows two lovers, the older erastes dancing while the younger eromenos is drinking wine. The bowl’s outer decoration features the hetaera Meles with a youngster named Limes. A dancing ithyphallic satyr between two maenads, carrying an amphora on his shoulder, rounds up the representation which an admirer dedicated to beautiful Aigilos through an inscription (estimate: 40,000 euros).

No. 63: Attic bowl by the Foundry Painter. 490-480 BC. H 11.9cm, B with handles 37.3cm, Diam 28.7cm. Red-figure. In the tondo, youth with shield, a parazonium on the wall to the left, and a helmet on a pedestal on the right. On one side, four javelin throwers in different poses, between them a trainer or referee holding a rod. On the other side, four athletes cleaning themselves. Composed of fragments, a larger part missing at the rim, otherwise only minor retouching at the breaking edges. Ex P.C. Collection, Southern Germany, acquired from the Mannini Collection, Wolfsburg, in 1988. Ex Münzen und Medaillen, Basel, Liste zur Schweizerischen Kunst- und Antiquitätenmesse in Basel 9.-19.3.1972, No. 106. Estimate: 40,000, – euros.

The following lot is of the highest interest to every connoisseur of ancient vase painting: This bowl was decorated by the famous Foundry Painter, who provided us with a detailed illustration of how the bronze foundry workshops worked in ancient times. Produced between 490 and 480, it features a young man getting ready for the race of the hoplites. In addition, there are four javelin throwers with their coaches as well as four athletes who clean themselves after the fight (estimate: 40,000 euros).

No. 125: Corinthian oenochoe by the Sphinx Painter. Transitional style, 630-610 BC. H with handle 31cm, diam 18.7cm. Jug with conical body and trefoil mouth as well as rotelles at the base of the handle. Black-figure, details in red and white. On the outside, a wreath of rays below and three animal friezes above, separated by wide black bands with red and white lines. The friezes show lions, ibexes, birds as well as a panther, boars and griffins. A large fragment of the body has been restored, some parts of the painting slightly rubbed. Ex P.C. Collection, Southern Germany, acquired from Herbert A. Cahn, Basel, in 1984. Estimate: 12,000, – euros.

From Corinth comes an oenochoe by the Sphinx Painter, created between 630 and 610. The vessel with its trefoil mouth is decorated with three animal friezes, separated by wide bands. The friezes show lions, ibexes, birds, a panther, boars and griffins (estimate: 12,000 euros).
Adding to magnificent examples of Attic and Corinthian vase painting, the connoisseur also discovers vases from the workshops located in Magna Graecia. The early Lucanian bell crater by the Pisticci Painter, created around 430 BC (estimate: 10,000 euros), is likely to be one of the most important pieces. This craftsman, who had probably emigrated from Athens, was one of the first Greek vase painters in Southern Italy. He worked together with the Cyclops Painter and the Amykos Painter in a workshop in Pisticci, a small town west of Metapontum. Not only were some of the vessels he had decorated – and fragments thereof – found there, but also the kiln in which they had been hardened prior to the sale.
Anybody who thinks that such estimates only allow a few collectors to join the bidding has not yet studied the catalogue. Estimates start as low as 300 euros. To show how interesting such objects can be, let’s give an example from this lower range of estimates: Each collector would love to call the Apulian guttus his own, featuring the sculptural head of the nymph Arethusa in three-quarter view, the model for this depiction apparently originating from a Syracusan tetradrachm.

Let’s have a look at some of the special objects from the Shlomo Moussaieff Collection. Every single lot from this collection comes with an export license issued by the Israel Antiquities Authority. For instance, a magnificent bronze statuette of a juvenile hero, which might well be identified as Alexander the Great. The 16cm high figure with a beautiful dark green patina exhibits a vigorous late Hellenistic style (estimate: 25,000 euros).

No. 271: Horse-headed demon. Ca. 3rd century AD. H 14cm. Solid bronze casting. Human figure with a horse’s head slightly tilted to the side. The figure is clad in a short apron. The right hand is held freely in front of the stomach. The left hand holds what remains of a bridle. Green patina. Tail and attributes missing. Ex Shlomo Moussaieff Collection, 1948-2000. Exported from Israel with an export license issued by the Israel Antiquities Authority. Estimate: 20,000, – euros.

The 3rd century AD is represented by a nearly 14cm high horse-headed demon (estimate: 20,000 euros). The human figure carries a horse’s head, which is slightly tilted to the side, on its shoulders. The left hand holds what remains of a bridle. Originally hanging down over the buttocks, the tails is no longer visible: The point of attachment was retouched. We know such horse-headed demons from texts that have survived on so-called ‘curse tablets’. Through these, the supporters of one of the four different racing teams hoped to stop the enemy chariots. After all, it was not only about winning but also about heavy bets in which a lot of money could have been won or lost. In these curse formulae, the horse-headed demon is mentioned repeatedly. This statuette probably used to stand on a base inscribed with a curse formula; it most likely was buried in the ground in order to maximize its effect.
About 10cm in height, the magnificent late Hellenistic head of Artemis Selene with its magnificent brown patina was created between the 1st century BC and the 1st century AD (estimate: 30,000 euros). The lush curls are bound together to form a short pony tail. Even if the crescent moon is missing the hole in which it was inserted once is still visible.
An early Byzantine bronze lamp with lamp stand also comes from the Moussaieff Collection. Made in the 5th or the 6th century AD, the intact showpiece consists of two parts, which originally did not belong together (estimate: 45,000 euros). 

It hardly needs mentioning that all other categories of ancient art are also represented. From the collection of Immanuel Birnbaum, who had been deputy editor-in-chief of the ‘Süddeutsche Zeitung’, comes the marble head of a bearded god, produced at the end of the 2nd century / the beginning of the 3rd century AD (estimate: 32,000 euros). The name of this god became the subject of a heated debate. Hades, Zeus, Poseidon, a river god or Asclepius are possible candidates. The accompanying correspondence shows how difficult it is to decide on this when there is no attribute at all.
An enchanting bathing Aphrodite, created in the 1st century – either BC or AD –, was also made from white marble (estimate: 20,000 euros).

The Greco-Roman world gets company from the cultures of the eastern Mediterranean. To mention only two examples here, both from the Shlomo Moussaieff Collection: a West Asian bronze bull dating from the 2nd millennium BC (estimate: 18,000 euros) and a Phoenician bronze statuette of a warrior wearing an Egyptianizing helmet (estimate: 15,000 euros).

Let’s conclude with an inconspicuous piece from the Shlomo Moussaieff collection, which is estimated at 600 euros only. Created between the end of the 4th and the middle of the 5th century AD, a North African clay lamp from late Antiquity depicts on its disc a scene from the Old Testament. Nebuchadnezzar thrones on the left while three men approach a column with the gilded bust of Nebuchadnezzar, which they are to worship, from the right. This is a representation of the biblical story of the three youths in the furnace (Dan. 3:1-30). This lamp is a wonderful example of the fact that interesting objects from ancient times aren’t necessarily expensive. The upcoming Gorny & Mosch catalogue contains many of these and similar objects. Most of all, the meaningfully assembled multiple lots at the end of the catalogue offer numerous opportunities to collect ancient art even if means are limited.

The catalogue can be viewed on the Internet.

Gorny & Mosch will be happy to provide you with a catalogue. Request your copy from Gorny & Mosch, Giessener Münzhandlung, Maximiliansplatz 20, D-80333 Munich, phone +49 / (0)89 / 24 22 643-0, fax +49 / (0)89 / 22 85 513. The next auction “Ancient Art” is scheduled for June 2018. Consignments will be taken in up until March 2018.