Rare Roman Marble Relief Highlights Antiquities Sale

May 19, 2010 Updated: May 19, 2010

Highlight of the sale; a rare Roman marble relief from the Julio-Claudian period, circa early 1st century A.D. (Courtesy of Christie's)
Highlight of the sale; a rare Roman marble relief from the Julio-Claudian period, circa early 1st century A.D. (Courtesy of Christie's)
NEW YORK–Emperor Tiberius rules again. A marble relief of the ruler, circa 1st century A.D., is among a selection of Roman marbles, Greek helmets and vases, and Egyptian art that will be on sale and exhibit at Christie’s Antiquities auction on June 10.

For those who are interested in historic artifacts, this may be the one and only chance to see these before they are snatched up by private collectors and investors.

Tiberius

Billed as the biggest highlight of the sale is a rare Roman marble relief from the Julio-Claudian period, circa early 1st century A.D. It depicts the Emperor Tiberius standing before a seated Genius (a manifestation of his divine side) with the goddess Concordia between them as intermediary.

A Greek bronze helmet of Cretan type, circa 650-620 B.C. ($350,000-550,000), distinguished by the high crest and carefully-incised mythological scenes. (Courtesy of Christie's)
A Greek bronze helmet of Cretan type, circa 650-620 B.C. ($350,000-550,000), distinguished by the high crest and carefully-incised mythological scenes. (Courtesy of Christie's)

This Imperial commission, perhaps from an altar or other civic monument, is superbly sculpted in high relief, according to Christie’s. Carved with great technical precision the relief combines depth and perspective within the limited thickness of the marble slab. The sculptor of the relief was an artist of importance and considerable skill, one well acquainted with Classical and Hellenistic styles of drapery.

Other Highlights

Another notable work is a Roman bronze lamp stand, circa late 1st century B.C. worth an estimated $800,000-1,200,000. On the base of the lamp stand is a figure of a youth, possibly depicting Alexander Helios, son of Mark Anthony and Cleopatra VII. This piece compares to the famous bronze youths, one at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and one at the Walters Art Museum in Maryland.

The sale also presents an Egyptian Diorite Head of an Official, Late Period, Dynasty XXX, 380-343 B.C. worth $500,000-700,000. This skillfully sculpted and superbly polished idealizing head is part of a tradition that sought to imbue the individual with eternal youth and vigor. The important official represented would only be identifiable by the accompanying inscription, here lost. While a number of these portrait heads are preserved in museum collections in the United States and Europe, this example is rare to the market for its quality and condition.

Pharaoh Ramesses is portrayed offering a bolt of cloth to a deity, dated to his reign, 1290-1224 B.C. ($100,000-150,000). (Courtesy of Christie's)
Pharaoh Ramesses is portrayed offering a bolt of cloth to a deity, dated to his reign, 1290-1224 B.C. ($100,000-150,000). (Courtesy of Christie's)

An Egyptian sandstone relief depicting the Pharaoh Ramesses II is also featured in the sale, dated to his reign, 1290-1224 B.C. ($100,000-150,000). Here Ramesses is portrayed offering a bolt of cloth to a deity. The Pharaoh is wearing a tunic and a short ibes wig with echeloned curls hanging over his ears. Only the right arm and Egyptian was-scepter of the god before him remains, but the red pigment for Ramesses’ flesh is well preserved.

Additional highlights include a Roman marble relief panel from the Antonine Period, circa 160 A.D. ($400,000-600,000), a panorama of a battle scene of nude Greek warriors and centaurs (bearded half-equine beasts); a Greek bronze helmet of Cretan type, circa 650-620 B.C. ($350,000-550,000), distinguished by the high crest and carefully-incised mythological scenes; and an elegant Attic red-figured neck amphora, circa 490-480 B.C. ($200,000-300,000), attributed to the Berlin Painter.

The antiquities auction is scheduled for June 10. Public viewing will be at Christie's Rockefeller Center Galleries, June 5-9.