$500k goddess Venus for sale

Christie's New York will present two sales of ancient art, Antiquities and Ancient Jewelry, on December 11, featuring over 350 lots showcasing the broad range of works from Predynastic Egypt through to the Roman period.

Highlights of the Antiquities sale include a stunning Roman marble torso of Venus, a Roman marble portrait head of the Emperor Hadrian, and a wonderfully sophisticated Cycladic marble female figure.

A Roman marble torso of Venus ($300k-500k)
A Roman marble Venus ($300k-500k)

Ancient Jewellery is led by an extraordinary ensemble of 57 lots of gem stones from a private collection, an exquisite late Roman sardonyx cameo portrait of the Emperor Constantine, and a very unique and impressive pair of antique bracelets made of sixteen Roman ringstones.

The sale features the extensive selection from the collection of Mr and Mrs Charles W Newhall, III and is led by a Roman marble torso of Venus, circa 2nd century AD (estimated at $300,000-500,000). This is a Roman version of the famous Aphrodite of Knidos.

According to later Roman writers, the statue was originally commissioned by the citizens of Kos. Praxiteles, the Greek master sculptor, created two versions for them, one draped, the other nude.

The prudish citizens of Kos rejected the nude version, which was then acquired by the citizens of Knidos. The statue's fame became so great that numerous copies and variations were made during the Hellenistic and Roman periods. The Knidia, as she is called today, is considered one of the most famous works of art from antiquity, and exemplifies feminine beauty.

The Colmar Painter was a talented Athenian late archaic cup-painter whose career began towards the end of the 6th century BC and continued into the 480s. The sale includes a stunning example of his work, a red-figured Kylix, circa 490 BC (estimated at $250,000-350,000).

Each side of the exterior shows a beautifully balanced pursuit scene:on one the winged North Wind Boreas is in pursuit of Oreithyia, the daughter of King Erectheus ofAthens; on the other, Zeus gives chase to the nymph Aegina.

The Colmar Painter's red-figured Kylix, circa 490 BC ($250k-350k)
The Colmar Painter's red-figured Kylix, circa 490 BC ($250k-350k)

The are several other highlights from the collection of Mr and Mrs Charles W Newhall, III.

These include an Egyptian bronze lion-headed goddess, Wadjet, Late Period to Ptolemaic Period, circa 4th-3rd century BC (estimated at $150,000-250,000); a finely sculpted Greek marble head of Aphrodite, Hellenistic Period, circa 1st century BC (estimated at $150,000-250,000); and a riveting Greek bronze winged helmet of Phrygian-Chalcidian type, late Classical Period, circa 4th century BC (estimated at $150,000-250,000).

In addition to his impressive ancient art collection, Newhall also collected books to reflect and complement his growing interest of antiquities. Leading the collection is a very rare hand-coloured first edition of Dubois Maisononneuve's Introduction à l'étude des Vases Antiques…, Paris, 1817 (estimated at $25,000-35,000) and masterful etchings by Giovanni Battista Piranesi's Le Antichità Romane, Rome, 1756 (estimated at $20,000-30,000).

The sale also features a Roman marble portrait head of the emperor Hadrian, reign circa 117-138 AD (estimated at $300,000-500,000), a life-sized depiction of the powerful ruler sculpted with his characteristic thick, wavy hair and a closely-cropped beard; a Greek marble girl, circa late 4th century BC (estimated at $400,000-600,000), representing Persephone, the Goddess of the Dead; and a Cycladic marble female figure of the Kapsala variety, circa 2700-2600 BC (estimated at $70,000-90,000).

A late Roman sardonyx portrait of the Emperor Constantine, Circa early 4th century AD ($150,000-250,
A late Roman sardonyx portrait of
the Emperor Constantine, circa early
4th century AD ($150,000-250,000)

Christie's sale of Ancient Jewellery will offer over 150 lots of exquisite craftsmanship including ancient ring stones, beaded necklaces, earrings, buckles, and bracelets. The sale's top lot is a late Roman sardonyx cameo portrait of the Emperor Constantine, circa early 4th century AD (estimated at $150,000-250,000). Finely carved in three layers, Constantine is represented with relatively realistic facial features and without a beard, becoming the first emperor since Trajan not to wear one. It was once in the Guilhou Collection in the 19th century.

The sale commences with an excellent selection of Minoan, Greek, Etruscan and Roman stamp seals and ring stones from a Swiss Private Collection. Dating from as far back as the 1700 BC, these delicate and pristine stones feature intricate designs and display a refined attention to detail. Portraits of men, insects, animals, and marine life decorate this exquisite selection of stones; estimates range from $1,000 to $5,000.

With the vivid turquoise and inventive design, a superbly-talented 19th century jeweller amassed a group of sixteen fine Roman intaglio ringstones, circa 1st century BC-4th century AD, and set them into a pair of bracelets (estimated at $20,000-30,000).

Roman Bracelets intaglio ringstones gold
Roman bracelets

The gems are joined together by gold chains into a unique and versatile ensemble that can either be worn as a two separate bracelets or combined into a single choker. The ringstones include the gods Apollo, Minerva, Selene, Mercury, Venus and Bonus Eventus.

The Antiquities auction takes place on December 11, 10 am, and the Ancient Jewellery sale is scheduled for December 11, 2pm. (Jewellery enthusiasts should not forget Christie's sale of the Evening Diamond on December 10.) Viewings take place at Christie's Rockefeller Galleries on December 5-10.

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