Review by Madelia Hickman Ring, Catalog Photos Courtesy Hermann Historica
GREDING, GERMANY – On September 25, Hermann Historica partnered with Ehrl Fine Art & Antiques to offer a selection of nearly 250 items on the grounds of Castle Greding, located about an hour north of Munich. The sale was titled “From Castles and Palaces: Selected Arts & Handcrafts from Antiquity to the Twentieth Century.” On offer were pieces of antique jewelry, sacral artifacts, arms and armor, Old Master paintings, historic manuscripts and fine art, as well as personal effects form the royal houses of Europe and the Middle East. Absentee and phone bidding supplemented internet bidding made available through Invaluable and Lottissimo as well as Hermann Historica’s dedicated online platform.
The top lot in the sale was a Fourteenth Century lion aquamanile made in Lower Saxony that had a starting price of $52,000. Standing 11-7/8 inches high and measuring 14½ inches in length, it was described as a rare courtly spouted vessel used for the ritual hand washing of guests before a banquet. A 2014 expert report from the Institute for Materials Science in Wiesbaden with a positive alloy analysis and x-ray images accompanied the lot, as well as a 2018 thermoluminescence report that classified the age of the casting core as approximately 620 years old. After competitive bidding, it closed at $225,360.
One of the earliest lots in the sale was a pair of early Hellenistic gold bracelets from the Fourth to Third Century BCE. Adorned with the head of Medusa, the bracelets each measured about 3 inches in length and about 1½ inches in height. Provenance for the glittering pair included a private Viennese collection and the collection of a Soviet diplomat and the lot was also accompanied by invoiced and export licenses. The pair brought $109,045 on a reserve of $87,000.
The sale featured three full suits of armor. All three sold and sold well, bringing prices that put them all into the top ten lots for the auction. Leading the trio was a late Fifteenth Century South German Gothic field suit that featured elements made in Innsbruck. The circa 1480-1500 suit had provenance to the Klingbeil Collection in Berlin and had been auctioned by Hermann Historica in October 2012, when it brought $94,000. Selling eight years later, it brought $139,578.
Rounding out the suits of armor – with each closing for more than double their opening bids – were a circa 1570-80 Milanese etched field suit with a starting price of $47,000; it closed at $108,737. A dress suit of German Maximilian armor that had been described as “knightly,” circa 1510-20, started at $41,000 and after competitive bidding achieved $94,043.
A terracotta relief of a drunken Bacchus modeled by Lucas Faydherbe (Flemish, 1617-1697) came from a private French collection and measured approximately 11½ by 13 inches. Bidding on it began at $58,000 and it sold for $73,471. A circa 1600 carved and polychromed wooden Gothic altar from South Tyrol, Italy, combined both Renaissance and Gothic design elements and included an updated report by Dr Albrecht Miller. With provenance to a private Austrian collection, it had been in private hands since the 1970s. It brought $51,430 against a $41,000 reserve.
The first German edition of The Chronicles of Schedel was published in 1493 by the German historian Hartmann Scheled in Nuremberg. Although countless illustrated accounts of world history were published in the early days of printing, Schedel’s main work, which is also known as the Nuremberg Chronicle, featured woodcuts designed by Michael Wolgemut, probably with contributions from Albrecht Durer. Bidding opened at $41,000 and it sold for $58,777.
The last lot of the sale – and attracting international attention – was a French-made gown worn at state occasions in the 1960s-70s by the Empress of Iran, Farah Diba. The starting price of $8,800 fueled competition from around the world, and bidding on the dress was sewn up at $51,430. According to a representative for the auction house, the interest in the auction was so great in Iran that the auction was broadcast by several television stations.
Prices quoted include buyer’s premium as reported by the auction house and have been converted into US dollars from Euro at press time.
Hermann Historica is at Bretonischer Ring 3 in Grasbrunn, Munich. For more information, www.hermann-historica.de.