Antiquities, Coins and Islamic Art

March 9, 2023  21:12  |  News

As any collector of fine objects would attest, you can never have too much of a good thing. London’s premier source for exquisite ancient and cultural art, Apollo Art Auctions, agrees with that sentiment, which is why they’ve organized two separate and distinct gallery sales in mid-March to accommodate an abundance of recently consigned treasures.

Antiquities, Coins and Islamic Art

Islamic gold ring with orange carnelian intaglio and turquoise inlays, Middle East, circa 1100-1500 AD. Photos – courtesy of Apollo Art Auctions ©

The first sale, on March 12, is a 553-lot offering titled Ancient Art, Antiquities & Coins. Following closely on March 15 is a magnificent 339-lot selection of Islamic Art. Both sessions feature authentic antiquities, relics and artworks that have been personally curated by Apollo Art Auctions’ experts under the supervision of gallery director Dr Ivan Bonchev, PhD, University of Oxford.

The opening session encompasses a broad range of art and artifacts from Classical Europe, Egypt and the Near East, India and China. The catalogue is divided into sections specifically devoted to Classical and Egyptian antiquities; coins, medieval works of art, and Asian works of art.

Several Greek and Roman bronze statuettes and figures are worthy of special note. Dominating the group is a sizable 235mm/9.25-inch Roman Cupid statuette dating to circa 100 AD. Similar to an example in the Walter Art Museum’s collection, this statuette comes to auction with a £10,000-£20,000 ($12,010-$24,024) estimate.

From the mysterious world of Ancient Egypt, a limestone false door of lintel fragment from the Fifth Dynasty, circa 2645-2323 BC, is profusely inscribed with hieroglyphs. This remarkable survivor is similar to an example held in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collection. Estimate: £8,000-£12,000 ($9,610-$14,415).

Antiquities, Coins and Islamic Art

Exceptional Greek Chalcidian tin-bronze helmet, circa 500-300 BC, the bowl forged in one piece and featuring high-arched eyebrows, horizontal neck protection and a short, teardrop-shape nose guard.

Top lots in the Ancient Armor category include a circa 400-300 BC Greek Hellenistic iron sword with a gold handle, estimate £8,000-£16,000 ($9,610-$19,220); and a wonderfully preserved circa 500-300 BC Greek Chalcidian tin-bronze helmet estimated at £7,500-£15,000 ($9,010-$18,020).

The March 15 Fine Islamic Art sale includes early works in pottery, glass and bronze from the people and empires of Nishapur, Seljuk, Mamluk, Safavid and many others. The manuscript portion of the sale is especially noteworthy, with its very rare and precious museum-quality Qurans and pages.

Leading the group is a colorful late-18th-century work suited to a connoisseur’s collection. It is a combination of different works of fiction originally composed by the famous poet Jamal Al-Din Abu Muhammad Nizami (d. 1217 AD). Profusely decorated with many detailed illustrations and illuminations throughout, it shows people in Uzbek and Persian attire as well as others whose clothing reflects elements of the Ottoman Empire. The line of provenance includes private UK ownership and a prior sale at Christie’s. Estimate: £60,000-£120,000 ($72,170-$144,240).

More than two dozen Qurans and a similar number of individual pages and Islamic prayer books are entered in the auction. A large and especially beautiful circa-1800 North Indian Quran is decorated throughout all its pages, which are framed with gold leaf and bordered in blue and red ink. It is illuminated with sumptuous carpet pages displaying detailed, multicolored floral decoration and gold roundels. Estimate: £30,000-£60,000 ($36,090-$72,180).