Sotheby's Antiquities sale totals $30.9 million, marble group of Leda and the Swan sells for $19.1 million
The sale was led by A Marble Group of Leda and the Swan, Roman Imperial, circa 2nd Century A.D which sold for $19,122,500 (est. $2/3 million). Photo: Sotheby's
NEW YORK, N.Y.- Sotheby’s winter sale of Antiquities took place this evening bringing a total of $30,918,375, soaring past the $5/7.6 million estimate, with 84% of the lots sold.* The sale was led by A Marble Group of Leda and the Swan, Roman Imperial, circa 2nd Century A.D which sold for $19,122,500 (est. $2/3 million). The sculpture was sought by four bidders before eventually selling to an anonymous purchaer bidding over the telephone. The competition included an online bidder who participated up to $16.5 million. Leda and the Swan was recently discovered in Aske Hall, North Yorkshire and had been in the collection of the Marques of Zetland since 1789.
A Marble Group of Leda and the Swan, Roman Imperial, circa 2nd Century A.D. Photo: Sotheby's
he queen of Sparta and mother of Helen of Troy, leaning back slightly against a broad rectangular support with her left foot on a low stool, her head turned up and to her left, holding Zeus in the guise of a swan in her lap, and raising her mantle with her left hand to protect the amorous god from the attacks of an eagle, and wearing a diaphanous chiton falling from her left shoulder and leaving her right breast bare, and himation draped across her back and over her left leg, the loose garment falling in graceful bunches and folds over the support behind, her face with parted lips and almond-shaped eyes, her centrally parted wavy hair brushed back and tied over the nape of her neck into a long plait undulating over the back. Height 53 1/4 in. 135.2 cm. Estimate 2,000,000-3,000,000 USD. Lot Sold: 19,122,500 USD
PROVENANCE: the art dealer and antiquarian Colin Morison (1732-1810), Rome, 1780s
Sir Thomas Dundas, Bt. (1741-1820), later 1st Lord Dundas of Aske (1794), Aske Hall, North Yorkshire, acquired in Rome from the above through his son Lawrence in 1788/1789
Sir Lawrence Dundas, Bt. (1766-1839), 2nd Lord Dundas of Aske and 1st Earl of Zetland, Aske Hall by descent to the present owner, Aske Hall
LITERATURE: Robinson's Guide to Richmond, Richmond, 1833, p. 51
I. Bignamini and C. Hornsby, Digging and Dealing in Eighteenth-century Rome, 2010, vol. I, p. 303
NOTE: Until its rediscovery last year the present statue of Leda and the Swan had remained entirely unknown to scholars. It appears in none of the major surveys of ancient marble sculpture in English country houses (Waagen's Treasures of Art in Great Britain, 1854-1857, Michaelis' Ancient Marbles in Great Britain, 1889, Vermeule's series of articles in the, 1854-1857, Michaelis' Anci American Journal of Archaeology, 1955-1959, or the recent volume on North Yorkshire collections of ancient sculpture in the Monumenta Artis Romanae series, 2007). It is not included in Anita Rieche's extensive catalogue of all the Roman copies of Leda and the Swan known to her in the late 1970s (A. Rieche, "Die Kopien der Leda des Timotheos," Antike Plastik, vol. 17, 1978, pp. 21ff.), nor is it mentioned in her more recent update ("Zur >Leda derAntike Plastik, vol. 17, Timotheos. Nachtrag zu Antike Plastik 17, 1978, 21ff.," Antike Plastik, vol. 30, 2008, pp. 55-62, pls. 15-28).
Among the known Roman copies of Timotheos' Leda and the Swan, the present example, with the original head and right arm still attached and a good portion of the left arm and drapery remaining, stands as one of the best preserved. Only three other copies have unbroken heads, and their overall condition is not as good (Catalogue. Imperial Rome II. Statues. Ny Carlsberg Glyptothek , M. Moltesen, ed., Copenhagen, 2002, no. 80; P. C. Bol, ed., Forschungen zur Villa Albani. Katalog der antiken Bildwerke, vol. III, 1992, no. 315, pls. 110-115; P. Moreno and A. Viacava, eds., I marmi antichi della Galleria Borghese, 2003, p. 234, cat. no. 223; respectively Rieche, op. cit., cat. nos. 1, 2 and 3). Three additional copies have their original heads, but they were broken and reattached (Rieche, op. cit., 1978, cat. nos. 4, 6 and 5, the latter in the Capitoline Museum, Rome: LIMC VI, s.v. "Leda," p. 232, no. 6).
In addition to Leda and the Swan there were three other ancient marbles at Aske, two of which are still in situ. The first and most prized by its original owners was a statue of the Lysippean Eros stringing his bow, restored as Cupid lighting his torch; said to have been "found in an excavation near St. John the Lateran, in the very spot which historic evidence identifies as the site of Asinius Pollio's villa" (Richardson's guide to Richmond, p. 51), it disappeared from the gardens at Aske in the 1970s and its current whereabouts remain unknown. The second marble is an underlifesize partially draped female figure leaning on a dolphin (h. 134 cm.), of a type commonly known in the 18th Century as "Galatea" (e.g. Clarac, Musée de sculpture, pl. 746) and in the current typology as the Aphrodite Pontia-Euploia (for another example close to Aske, at Newby Hall, see D. Boschung and H. Von Hesberg, Die antiken Skulpturen in Newby Hall sowie in anderen Sammlungen in Yorkshire, 2007, Cat. N4, pl. 10). The third and least assuming marble is the figure of a young togatus fitted with the head of a youthful wreathed divinity (h. 129 cm.).
Thomas Dundas, son of Sir Lawrence Dundas of Kerse, Stirling (Scotland), undertook his Grand Tour in 1762/1763, visiting Turin, Florence, and Venice, before stopping over in Rome by February/March 1763. There he stood for a splendid full-length portrait by Pompeo Batoni showing him before a background full of Classical highlights from the Vatican, no less than the Apollo Belvedere, the Laocoon, the Antinous Belvedere, and the Sleeping Ariadne. Dundas was also actively collecting in Rome, although mostly paintings and no ancient statuary at the time, since he also bought a Holy Family from Batoni and acquired a Sleeping Cupid by Guido Reni through the English dealer and agent Robert Strange. Having completed his Grand Tour and returned to England Thomas joined the Society of the Dilettanti in 1764 (see J. Ingamells, A Dictionary of British and Irish Travellers in Italy 1701-1800, New Haven and London, 1997, p. 321).
Thomas's son Lawrence went on his own Grand Tour in 1787-1788. He traveled to Turin, Genoa, and Bologna during the fall of 1787, resided in Naples, where he met William Hamilton, from January 1788 until early October 1788, and was later spotted in Rome in December of the same year by William Danby, also from North Yorkshire (Ingamells, op. cit. p. 320). This is when Lawrence must have met Colin Morison, a painter, archaeologist, learned guide to the city, and important antiquities dealer. Originally from Aberdeen, his Scottish origins must have appealed to the young Dundas. It is possible that his father Thomas Dundas himself had already met with the art dealer on his own visit to Rome 25 years earlier, since "his [Morison's] museo was well stocked by 1765" (Bignamini and Hornsby, op. cit., p.302) and he was already dealing then on a grand scale. As his father had done before him, Thomas joined the Society of the Dilettanti shortly after his return from Italy, in 1790.
Lawrence Dundas bought the four ancient statues listed above from or through Morison, assuredly upon consulting his father who was to disburse the funds. The purchase is confirmed by the fact that on April 27th, 1789 Morison applied to the state authorities for export licenses for all four marbles destined for Aske: 'Quattro figure meno del vero antiche con molto rappezzo; Una delle quali rappresenta un Amore, che scocca il dardo simile al Capitolino, altra di Leda con il cigno inferiore alle cognite di Albani, Adobrandini [sic], e Campidoglio, altra d'un giovinetto togato, altra finalmente d'une Galatea, valutabili tute scudi Mille ("Four under-lifesize ancient sculptures with much restoration; one of them represents Eros shooting an arrow, similar to the one in the Capitoline; another Leda and the Swan, which is inferior to the Albani, Aldobrandini, and Campidoglio examples; another of a youth wearing a toga, and finally another of Galatea; worth as a group a thousand scudi") (Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Vat. Lat. 10308 [Atti del Commissario delle Antichità , 1788-1793], fol. 45r-v: see Bignamini and Hornsby, op. cit., p. 303 and note 22).
We are very grateful to Jonathan Yarker and Clare Hornsby for enabling us to identify the 18th century archival documentation for the present lot.
An Egyptian Basalt Head of a King, Early Ptolemaic Period, Reign of Ptolemy I/III, circa 304-200 B.C. from the Collection of Dodie Rosekrans, the late San Francisco philanthropist and collector, sold to an online bidder for $3,722,500 (est. $100/150,000). This is the highest price paid by an online bidder in a live auction at Sotheby’s.
An Egyptian Basalt Head of a King, Early Ptolemaic Period, Reign of Ptolemy I/III, circa 304-200 B.C.
probably Ptolemy II Philadelphos (285-246 B.C.), from an over-lifesize figure of a recumbent sphinx, the king wearing a smooth nemes headcloth with fragmentary uraeus and traces of the queue, the idealizing face with upper eye-rims in shallow relief. Height 10 1/4 in. 26 cm. Estimate 100,000-150,000 USD. Lot Sold: 392,500 USD
PROVENANCE: Rex Ingram (Dublin, 1893-Los Angeles, 1950)
Alice Terry Ingram (Vincennes, Indiana, 1900-Los Angeles, 1987) Sotheby Parke Bernet, New York, May 16th, 1980, no. 374, illus.
LITERATURE: Art at Auction. The Year at Sotheby Parke Bernet 1979-1980, p. 407, illus.
Jaromir Malek, Topographical Bibliography of Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphic Texts, Statues Reliefs and Paintings, vol.VIII: Objects of Provenance not known, Part 1: Royal Statues. Private Statues (Predynastic to Dynasty XVII), Oxford, 1999, p. 214, no. 800-942-840
For Dodie Rosekrans see page 16
Other strong prices from the Rosekrans collection included A Marble Head Of Zeus Ammon, Roman Imperial, Circa A.D. 120-160, which sold for $3,554,500 and was purchased by The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (est. $800,000/1.2 million), and An Egyptian Black Basalt Head Of Tuthmosis III, 18th Dynasty, Reign Of Tuthmosis III, 1479-1426 B.C, which sold to an online bidder for $602,500 (est. $150/250,000).
A Marble Head Of Zeus Ammon, Roman Imperial, Circa A.D. 120-160.
carved for insertion into a cult statue or bust of the Greco-Egyptian god, and inspired by an early Hellenistic sculpture derived from a Pheidian prototype, with majestic countenance, the great curling ram horns of Ammon emerging above his brow, with long beard and moustache, his deeply-drilled hair bound in a diadem and flowing in long leonine locks down to his shoulders. Height from base 19 in. 48.2 cm. Estimate 800,000-1,200,000 USD.. Lot Sold: 3,554,500 USD
PROVENANCE: Mrs. E.L. King (1877-1975), Homer, Minnesota, and Daytona Beach, Florida
the Art League of Daytona Beach, received as a gift from Mrs. E. L. King in 1954 (Sotheby's, New York, November 21st-22nd, 1985, no. 50, illus.)
The head was recorded as being on the art market in Rome in 1931. (Deutsches Archäologisches Institut, Rome, phot. nos. 31.7599-7600, renumbered as Inst. DAI neg. nos. 80.2846-2847)
EXHIBITED: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, March 2007 to April 2008
LITERATURE: Klaus Vierneisel, ed., Glyptothek München. Katalog der Skulpturen, vol. VI: Michaela Fuchs, Idealplastik, Munich, 1992, p. 214 ("eine Schöpfung hadrianisch-antoninischer Zeit").
NOTE: Cf . Alfonso de Franciscis, Il Museo Nazionale Romano, Bronzi, vol. IV, 1, Rome, 1983, no. 67 (A.B. Cook, Zeus: A Study in Ancient Religion, vol. I, Cambridge, 1940, fig. 271).
The present head is one of the most striking and sensitively-carved known representations of the tutelary deity of Alexander the Great. The cult center for the oracle of the Greco-Egyptian god Zeus-Ammon was at the Oasis of Siwa, in the Libyan desert. This is where Alexander made his pilgrimage in 331 B.C and asked the god a question which remains unknown but can be guessed through the answer he received. According to his historians the priests of Zeus-Ammon interpreted the movements of the cult statue, as it was was being danced in a gilded boat by attendants in the temple's court, and replied by confirming Alexander as the legitimate king of Egypt and a divine being in his own right.
Subsequently the profile head of Zeus Ammon began appearing on Alexander's coins. Even though the present head is known to have been on the market in Rome in the early 1930s, it might not necessarily originate from Italy. When the Art League of Daytona Beach received it as a gift from Mrs. King it came with the story that it had been found at the mouth of the Nile; it may therefore reflect an image created in Egypt shortly after Alexander's consultation of the oracle, when he came to consider himself as the son of Zeus Ammon, thus greatly increasing the god's renown.
Grace Watkins King was the daughter of J.R. Watkins, who founded the manufacturing firm J.R. Watkins Co. in 1868. In 1912 she and her husband Ernest Leroy King built an important residence on the banks of the Mississippi River in Homer, Minnesota, known as Rockledge, designed and furnished by renowned Chicago Prairie School architect George W. Maher. Despite strenuous efforts to preserve it Rockledge was torn down in 1987, but some of the furnishings were saved and dispersed, and several are in the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. The family also owned an ornate Mediterranean style ocean-front residence in Daytona Beach, where Mrs. King was a member of the Art League, to which, before moving to Hawaii after the death of her husband, she donated the head of Zeus Ammon.
An Egyptian Black Basalt Head Of Tuthmosis III, 18th Dynasty, Reign Of Tuthmosis III, 1479-1426 B.C. Photo Sotheby's
wearing a striped nemes headcloth with fragmentary uraeus, and fragmentary beard with incised beard-straps, his youthful face with finely carved almond-shaped eyes and long incised eyebrows and cosmetic lines. Height 7 3/4 in. 19.7 cm. Estimate 150,000-250,000 USD. Lot Sold: 602,500 USD
PROVENANCE: Rex Ingram (Dublin, Ireland, 1893-Los Angeles, 1950)
Alice Terry Ingram (Vincennes, Indiana, 1900-Los Angeles, 1987)
A.N. Abell Auction Co., Los Angeles, 1988
Robert Moore, Los Angeles (Sotheby's, New York, June 23rd, 1989, no. 37, illus.)
LITERATURE: ARCE Newsletter, vol. 146, Summer 1989, p. 24
Jaromir Malek, Topographical Bibliography of Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphic Texts, Reliefs and Paintings, vol. VIII: Objects of Provenance not known, Part 1: Royal Statues. Private Statues (Predynastic to Dynasty XVIII), Oxford, 1999, p. 117, no. 800-732-775
NOTE: Cf. H. Satzinger, Das Kunsthistorische Museum in Wien. Die Ägyptisch-Orientalische Sammlung, Vienna, 1994, pp. 20-21.
The present head appears to show the king early in his reign, during the co-regency with Queen Hatshepsut. Rex Ingram was among the greatest movie directors of the silent film era, alongside D.W, Griffith, Cecil B. de Mille, and Erich von Stroheim. His best known film was The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, produced in 1921, and starred Rudolph Valentino and Alice Terry. She and Rex Ingram were married in the same year.
His adventurous life story is chronicled by Liam O'Leary, Rex Ingram, Master of the Silent Cinema, Dublin, 1980. The author writes that in his later life Rex Ingram traveled widely, especially in North Africa, and had residences in Cairo and Nice (the "Villa Rex") as well as Los Angeles. Also a fine draftsman and sculptor, his many friends included George Bernard Shaw and Henri Matisse. In the later 1930s he loaned his art collection to the Cairo Museum. Ingram returned to Cairo after the war to retrieve it, including some pieces which had made their way to King Farouk's palace.
Other than to mention "Arab art", O'Leary provides no further details about the collection, but we know now that it included three superb Ottoman yataghans, sold in the same Los Angeles sale as his head of Tuthmosis III, one of which, from the Court of Suleyman the Magnificent, was later acquired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art (acc. no. 1993.14). These were reputedly a gift from his friend T.E Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia).
Although Sotheby's sold the present head in 1989, we learned only recently that it had once belonged to Rex Ingram, as did lot 35 in the present sale, the Ptolemaic royal head, sold here in 1980. It is remarkable that both Egyptian royal heads would unknowingly be reunited in the collection of the late Dodie Rosekrans.
• A Marble Group of Leda and the Swan, Roman Imperial, circa 2nd century A.D. - $19,122,500 (£12,179,161) (€14,281,287).
• An Egyptian Basalt Head of a King, Early Ptolemaic Period, Reign of Ptolemy I/III, circa 304-200 B.C.$3,722,500 (£2,370,868) (€2,780,081).
• A Marble Head of Zeus Ammon, Roman Imperial, circa A.D. 120-160 - $3,554,500 (£2,263,869) (€2,654,613)
• An Egyptian Black Basalt Head of Tuthmosis III, 18th Dynasty, Reign of Tuthmosis III, 1479-1426 B.C. - $602,500 (£383,734) (€449,966)
• A Marble Head of a Hellenistic Prince, circa 1st century B.C./1st Century A.D. - $602,500 (£383,734) (€449,966)
• A Cycladic Marble Figure of a Goddess, Early Bronze Age II, circa 2600-2500 B.C. - $362,500 (£230,877) (€270,726)
• A Greek Gold Diadem, 1st Half of the 4th Century B.C. - $218,500 (£139,163) (€163,183)
• An Egyptian Greywacke Bust of a Man, 26th Dynasty, Reign of Psamtik I, circa 664-610 B.C. - $206,500 (£131,520) (€154,221)
• A Roman Marble Strigillated Dionysiac Sarcophagus, 3rd century A.D. - $206,500 (£131,520) (€154,221)
• A Marble Head of Zeus, Roman Imperial, Eastern Mediterranean, circa A.D. 150-180 - $206,500 (£131,520) (€154,221)