Published: June 14, 2022
Review by Madelia Hickman Ring, Photos Courtesy Hindman
CHICAGO – “I joined Hindman in January 2021 and have had three marquee sales, each being more successful than the last,” Jacob Coley, Hindman’s director and senior specialist for Antiquities & Pre-Columbian art, said. “There were a bunch of other sales [at other auction houses], so it was a week for Antiquities. I was encouraged at how strong our marquee results were. We had a lot of competition.” Coley was speaking after Hindman’s May 26 sale, “Antiquities and Ancient Art: A Study,” in which 206 lots were offered and, with a sell-through rate of between 70 and 80 percent, achieved about $1.5 million. Coley said that while the sale attracted considerable international interest, most of the buyers are based in the United States.
Antiquities from Egypt were noticeably prominent among the sale’s top prices, including the highest price of the day, $175,000 for a gilt cartonnage mummy mask from the Ptolemaic period, 304-36 BCE. It had stylistic elements consistent with the mask of the Pharaoh Tutankhamun, including a gold face, calcite eyes and lapis lazuli colored inlays.
The mask had provenance to the Netherlandish paintings dealer Henri Smeets, who began collecting Egyptian works of art after Howard Carter’s new-making discovery of “King Tut’s” intact tomb of the Pharaoh Tutankhamun in 1922. Howard’s finding sparked a craze for all things Egyptian that swept across Europe and the United States, and extensively influenced art, architecture and popular culture. Smeets amassed a significant collection, most of which was sold in 1977 at an auction in London. It was the last time the cartonnage mask had been on the market; it was purchased by a collector in the Midwest United States.
Provenance is a critical component in this collecting category and the bronze Egyptian cat that found a new home with a European buyer for $125,000 had an established pedigree as well. Not only was it being sold from a named Pompano Beach, Fla., collection, but its history of ownership was extensively outlined in the catalog, going from a Cairo, Egypt, collection to two private collections in the United States to two auctions in Florida, the most recent one in 2018 when it hammered at $5,750. Dating to the Late period to Ptolemaic period, 664-30 BCE, the figure of Bastet stood just 7Ã¾ inches tall and relates to an example at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Rounding out the leaderboard at $107,500 was a small – just 5-1/8 inch tall – Egyptian faience female figure that dated the Middle Kingdom, Twelfth Dynasty, 1991-1780 BCE. Another buyer, also in the Midwest, prevailed against competition. Contributing to its appeal was its inclusion in a traveling museum exhibition, 1996-1997, “Mistress of the House, Mistress of Heaven: Women in Ancient Egypt,” and the accompanying catalog of the same name.
Roman antiquities found a fourth place finish at $100,000 with a marble portrait head of Antisthenes, circa Late First-Early Second Century CE. It was not fresh to the market but had several auctions and owners under its proverbial belt, including a 1968 Milan, Italy, gallery catalog that was discovered just prior to the auction. A buyer on the East Coast prevailed over competition.
Another East Coast buyer paid $81,250 for a Cycladic marble reclining female figure that dated to circa 2300-2200 BCE. It came to Hindman as a walk-in appointment and after some research, Coley discovered it had been published in Pat Getz-Gentle’s Personal Styles in Early Cycladic Sculpture (2001) and had been offered in a New York antiquities auction in 1994.
Hindman’s next Antiquities sale is scheduled for November 10.
Prices quoted include the buyer’s premium as reported by the auction house. For information, 312-280-1212 or www.hindmanauctions.com.
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