All Greek to me: Alexander the Great rules over Bonhams' antiquities sale

On April 13, Bonhams will be staging a sale of Antiquities, including three remarkable and ancient pieces reminding us of the power and enduring popularity of one of the most revered leaders of all time - Alexander the Great.

The Greek empire forged by Alexander was one of the largest in history, stretching Europe, Persia and Asia.  Tutored by Aristotle and blessed with brilliant military instincts, Alexander's leadership spearheaded the spread of Greek culture across much of the world.

Alexander was adored by the preceding Emperors of the Roman Empire, who frequently attempted to emulate his looks and leadership style.  Sadly, very few artefacts from his reign - 356 to 323 BC - remain in existence today; however, Bonhams will be offering three unique items dating from the Roman era and earlier.

The first of these is a sculpted bust of Alexander, originating from the Antonine dynasty, circa 138-161 AD.  The over life-size head features Alexander's distinctive "anastolé" hair style - wavy locks, falling over the forehead.

The bust is carved from marble and measures 31.7cm in height.  With its strong, idealised facial features and unmistakable hair, this piece is a classic example of Roman reverence for Alexander, and is expect to realise between £150,000 and £200,000.


Alexander the Great ring
A Hellenistic ring of Alexander the Great that could make £50,000

The second item is also a marble bust of Alexander, dating from around 1st Century BC to the 1st Century AD.  The piece belonged to John Peter Deering, and was most likely acquired from Pompeii in the early 19th Century.  Much smaller at 20cm high, it is likely to sell for £7,000-9,000.

Ancient marble busts have been popular of late - for example, we reported on this bust of Roman Emperor Nero recently.  The latter item would make an excellent investment for an entry-level collector, as well as helping to preserve an increasingly rare type of antiquity from an iconic period of history.

The final item for sale at Bonhams is probably the most striking - a Hellenistic gold and carnelian intaglio ring bearing the image of Alexander in the guise of Heracles.  Dating from the 2nd to 1st Century BC, this is much closer to the great general's reign, making it a prized and unique piece.

Bonhams have estimated it will sell for £40,000-50,000 - a considerable amount, but still likely to make a brilliant investment for the future.  With Hellenistic-era items relating to Alexander increasingly scarce, this ring could be a very wise purchase.


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