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A Hellenistic gold oak wreath, Circa 4th-3rd Century B.C. Estimate: £100,000 - 120,000. photo Bonhams

A delicate wreath made of fine gold oak leaves with acorns, of the type worn by Alexander the Great's father, Philip II of Macedon, is one of the highlights of Bonhams sale of Antiquities on April 28 in New Bond Street.

This stunning artefact, estimate £100,000-120,000, may once have graced the head of a ruler or dignitary over 2,000 years ago. "The fact that this delicate collection of fine gold leaves and acorns formed into a wreath has survived the centuries is almost miraculous," says Madeleine Perridge, Antiquities Specialist at Bonhams. Previously in a private collection since the 1930s,
"it is a beautiful example of a type that is rare to the market."

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A Hellenistic gold oak wreath (details), Circa 4th-3rd Century B.C. Estimate: £100,000 - 120,000. photo Bonhams

Composed of numerous projecting sprays of sheet gold oak leaves with serrated edges and veins, miniature acorns nestling amongst them, each spray attached by twisted gold wire to a circular gold tube, the overlapping ends bound together to form a crown, 17in (43cm) diam, 5½in (14cm) deep, mounted on a perspex stand. 

Provenance: Private Swiss collection acquired between the 1930s-60s.
Acquired by the present owner at Sotheby's London, July 11th, 1988, lot 83. Accompanied by a metallurgical/condition report.

Literature: The most famous of these types of wreaths is that found at Vergina in the tomb of Alexander the Great's father Philip II of Macedon: M. Andronicos, Vergina: The Royal Tombs and the Ancient City, (Athens 1984), figs.137 & 184. However, such gold wreaths have been found in burials all over the Hellenistic world including Asia Minor, the North Pontic, and Magna Graecia. This is a very ornate and detailed example; for a similar oak leaf wreath with acorns, cf. D. Williams & J. Ogden, Greek Gold: Jewellery of the Classical World, (London 1994), pp.106-7, no.60; Also cf. Exhibition Catalogue, The Search for Alexander, (New York 1980), pl.36, p.187, no.173.

The sale also boasts a private English Collection of finely-painted Greek vases of exceptional condition. Previously exhibited at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, they are painted by leading artists from Classical Athens. They include:

An Attic red-figure stemless kylix by Douris, circa 480 B.C. showing a draped youth with defined musculature, standing in an Athenian wine-shop amongst large amphorae, (estimate £30,000-40,000). Exhibited in the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard from 1937, this drinking cup is a fascinating image of Athenian life in the Classical period.

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An Attic red-figure stemless kylix. Douris, circa 480 B.C. Estimate: £30,000 - 40,000. photo Bonhams

The tondo showing a himation-clad youth with defined musculature, wearing leather shoes, with a skull-cap over his hair, standing in a wine-shop, holding a sponge in his right hand over the mouth of a large amphora resting in a stand, a money-pouch in his left hand, a large pithos in the right foreground, an oinochoe hanging above, with two barely-visible Greek inscriptions in the field, 'ZONNTO' to the left of the figure, '..O..A..SX' to the right, the border composed of pairs of opposed meander, alternating with saltire squares, 7½in (19.2cm) wide, 5½in (13.8cm) diam, an old collection label on the underside reading '392 LOAN'.

Provenance: Ex Professor Jakob Rosenberg Collection, Cambridge Massachusetts, 1937. Property of a private English collector. Acquired from Sotheby's New York, May 30th 1986, lot 19.

Attributed by J.D. Beazley to Douris.

Exhibited: The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford from 2001 to 2009.
Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, no.501, 1937.

Published: B.M. Holland, 'A Kylix in the Fogg Art Museum', Harvard Studies in Classical Philology, vol. 52 (1941), p. 40, pl. 1,
G.H. Chase and M.Z. Pease, CVA, USA, vol.8, pp.35-36, pl.19,2.
R.J. Forbes, Studies in Ancient Technology, vol.iii, (Leyden, 1955), p.113.
H. Immerwahr, 'An Athenian Wineshop', Proceedings of the American Philological Association, vol.79, (1948), pp.184-190.
D.M. Buitron, Attic Vase Painting in New England Collections, (Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, 1972), pp.102-3, no. 54, and colour frontispiece.
J.D. Beazley, Attic Red-Figure Vase-painters, 2nd edition (Oxford, 1963), vol.1, pp.426 and 445, no.252.

An unusual intact Attic white-ground alabastron of the group of the Negro Alabastra, (circa 490-480 B.C.) showing a female figure walking to the right and turning to look back, draped in a chiton with himation and wearing a necklace and bracelet, holding a wreath in her right arm. A black lion walks behind her, with a palm tree on the far left, the word 'KALOS' (beauty) inscribed three times around the figure. Estimate £30,000-50,000. The name Melanphis Kale can be translated as 'Black Flower'. Such alabastra were given as love gifts and the frequent use of 'Kalos' supports this.

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An Attic white-ground alabastron. Group of the Negro Alabastra, circa 490-480 B.C. Estimate: £30,000 - 50,000. photo Bonhams

Depicting a female figure walking to the right and turning to look back, draped in a chiton with himation and wearing a necklace and bracelet, holding a wreath in her right arm, outstretched over a laver, a black lion walks behind her, with a palm tree on the far left, the word 'KALOS' inscribed in Greek three times around the figure, 'MELANPHIS [KA]LE' inscribed in white within a black border below the neck, 6½in (16.6cm) high.

Provenance: Property of a private English collector. Acquired at Christie's London, 28 April 1993, A Private Collection of Important Greek Vases', lot 29 where the collection is described as 'well known to J.D. Beazley'.

Exhibited: The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford from 2001 to 2009. This lot is accompanied by its Ashmolean display card.

Literature: A very unusual alabastron, the name Melanphis Kale can be translated as 'Black Flower'. Such alabastra were given as love gifts and the frequent use of 'Kalos' supports this. This alabastron is close to works by the Syriskos Painter within the Group of the Negro Alabastra mentioned in J.D. Beazley, Attic Red-Figure Vase-Painters, 2nd edition (Oxford 1963), 1314.14. Cf. J. Neils, 'The Group of the Negro Alabastra,' Antike Kunst, vol. 23, (1980), pp.13-23; H. Winnefeld, 'Alabastra mit Negerdarstellungen', Athenische Mitteilungen, vol.14, (1889), pp.4-50; Munzen und Medaillen, Auktion 40, 13 December 1969, p.67, fig.47, nos.109-110; J. H. Mertens, Attic White Ground, (New York 1977), pp.35-40, 95 and 100; J. Thimme, 'Griechische Salbgefasse mit lybischen Motiven, Jahrbuch Baden-wurttemberg, vol.7, (1970), 7 and 30.

An Attic red-figure lekythos finely painted by the Providence Painter, (circa 5th Century B.C.) depicts the god Eros as a young man, standing nude, in profile to his left, his wings behind him, holding a kithara in his left hand, a plectrum on a red ribbon in his right. Estimate £25,000-35,000.

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An Attic red-figure lekythos. By the Providence Painter, circa 5th Century B.C. Estimate: £25,000 - 35,000. photo Bonhams

Depicting the god Eros as a young man, standing naked, in profile to his left, his wings behind him, holding a kithara in his left hand, a plectrum on a red ribbon in his right, on a groundline of meander with saltire squares, a band of ovolo at the neck, 14in (35.6cm) high

Provenance: Property of a private English collector. Previously acquired at Sotheby's London, 13-14 December 1982, lot 84.

Exhibited: The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford from 2001 to 2009.

Published: Archaiologikon Deltion, vol. 36 (1981), p.1, pl.56B. For a similar work by the Providence Painter, cf. T.H. Carpenter, with T. Mannack, & M. Mendonca, Beazley Addenda, 2nd edition (Oxford, 1989)p. 274.

An Attic red-figure hydria in the manner of the Meidias Painter, (Circa 420 B.C.) depicts two Maenads draped in clinging diaphanous chitons, dancing away from each other while holding a number of ritual objects. It is estimated to sell for £25,000-35,000.

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An Attic red-figure hydria. In the manner of the Meidias Painter, circa 420 B.C. Estimate: £25,000 - 35,000. photo Bonhams

Depicting two Maenads, each draped in clinging diaphanous chitons, dancing away from each other, the one on the right holding out a ribboned tympanum with her left hand, the one on the left holding a stick in her right hand, her left arm thrown out clutching a thyrsus behind her, bands of ovolo around the neck and along the groundline, 7¾in (19.5cm) high

Provenance: Property of a private English collector. Acquired at Christie's London, 28 April 1993, A Private Collection of Important Greek Vases', lot 29 where the collection is described as 'well known to J.D. Beazley'.

Exhibited: The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford from 2001 to 2009. This lot is accompanied by its Ashmolean display card.

Published: For similar dancing figures on a lekythos by the Meidias Painter, cf. J.D. Beazley, Attic Red-Figure Vase-Painters, 2nd edition (Oxford 1963), 1314.14.

An unusual Attic stamnos painted in the rare Six technique, from the workshop of the Antimenes Painter, circa 510 B.C. showing Theseus and the Minotaur with Ariadne. Estimated to sell for £150,000-250,000, it was previously in the Ferrucio Bolla Collection in the 1950s and the Stavros S. Niarchos Collection, and it has been exhibited at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu, in 1980.

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An Attic stamnos in Six Technique. Workshop of the Antimenes Painter, circa 510 B.C. Estimate: £150,000 - 250,000. photo Bonhams

Depicting a muscular Theseus running to the right, wearing a short chiton and animal skin with incised spots, holding his sword in his right hand, his left aloft, chasing the Minotaur who with arms outstretched and tail flying, turns to look back at the Athenian hero behind him, Ariadne is shown moving to the left, wearing a long peplos decorated with stars, her arms out in front, 'THESEUS' inscribed in Greek vertically to the right of the hero, 'MINOTA' to the right of the Minotaur, and 'ARIADNE' (sic) to the right of the princess, with a dedication around the shoulder to '[ARL]EADE KALOS', 9 5/8in (24.5cm) high:

Provenance: Ex Ferruccio Bolla Collection, (1911-1984) Lugano. Sold at Ars Antiqua A.G., Lucerne, sale catalogue 13, 07 December 1957, pl.10-11, no.14; Munzen und Medaillen A.G. Basel, Aukion 70, 14 November 1986, lot 206.
Ex Stavros S. Niarchos Collection, no.A005; sold at Christie's New York, 07 December 2000, lot 441.
Property of a private English collector 2001-2009.

Exhibited: Stamnoi, J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu, 1980, no.7.

Published: B. Philippaki, The Attic Stamnos, (Oxford, 1967), pl.1
C. Isler-Kerényi, Stamnoi, (Lugano, 1976), pp.29-35.
C. Isler-Kerényi, Stamnoi, An Exhibition at the J. Paul Getty Museum, (Malibu, 1980), no.7.
L.I. Marangou, et al., Ancient Greek Art from the Collection of Stavros S. Niarchos, (Athens, 1995), pp.106-107, 109, no.16.

Literature: Six Technique is named after Jan Six, a Dutch scholar who identified the rare technique in 1888. At the end of the 6th Century B.C. Athenian vase painters such as the workshop of the Antimenes Painter to whom this stamnos is attributed, began to experiment with new techniques, including red-figure which would eventually supercede the prevalent black-figure technique. Six Technique involved 'laying on figures in white or red on an all-black surface and incising details so that the black, not the clay shows through.' J. Boardman, Athenian Black Figure Vases, (London, 1974), p. 178. It was a merging of the black-figure technique's use of incision, with a new and vibrant use of colour that would become the norm with red-figure. The rarity of Six Technique is mainly due to the short-lived fashion for it; largely dying out by the early 5th Century B.C.

Stamnoi are also a rare form of vase, and without handles, are even more unusual. Isler-Kerényi, (Stamnoi, p.29) points out that this example is particularly singular: 'the tree protagonists are placed in such a way that, on turning the vase around, only one is visible at a time: a three-fold grouping made possibly through the absence of handles and which is therefore rare, if not unique.'