An Egyptian Limestone Sculptor's Model of a Pharaoh, Ptolemaic Period, ca. 332 - 30 BCE
ES1902Regular price $9,500 USD
The well carved, idealized head with an oval face, almond-shaped eyes, upturned mouth and wide nose, the nemes-headcloth tucked behind the ears, long lappets over each shoulder.
There are two schools of thought regarding the purpose of these so-called "sculptor's models." Because they are small, usually represent deities or kings, and are often unfinished, it is plausible that they were demonstration pieces for a sculptor’s apprentice to copy. Alternatively, they could have been votive offerings deposited in temples.
For a similar example, see Nadja Samir Tomoum, The Sculptors’ Models of the Late and Ptolemaic Periods: A Study of the Type and Function of a Group of Ancient Egyptian Artefacts (Cairo, 2005), pl.24/c
Ref: E.R. Russmann, Eternal Egypt: Masterworks of Ancient Art from the British Museum, (London 2001), p. 250-1, no. 139.
C.C. Edgar, Sculptors’ Studies and Unfinished Works (Catalogue général des antiquités égyptiennes du Musée du Caire, nos. 33301-33506) (Cairo, 1906), esp. pls. VIII-XIV, nos 33340, 33342, 33346, 33355;
N.S. Tomoum, The Sculptors’ Models of the Late and Ptolemaic Periods. A Study of the Type and Function of a Group of Ancient Egyptian Artefacts (Cairo, 2005);
Eric Young, "Sculptors' Models or Votives? In Defense of a Scholarly Tradition", The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, vol. 22 (New York, 1964), p. 247-256.
Dimensions: Height: 4 3/4 inches (12 cm)
Condition: Some wear to the surface, with chipping to the face and losses to the edges.
Provenance: J.L. private collection, Texas, acquired in the mid-1990s from the NY trade.
A Roman Intaglio of an Equestrian Warrior, ca 1st century CE
RJ1303Regular price $12,000 USD
This beautiful intaglio is carved in a piece of bright blue and green striped mosaic glass, formed by laminating individual pieces in separate colors under great heat which causes them to fuse together. On its surface, a horse and mounted warrior have been carved in great detail; the bearded warrior is fully armed - wearing a large crested helmet, breast plate, a great shield on his back, he holds the reigns of his horse in his left hand. This superb intaglio was set as a ring in 1989 and is itself a striking example of wearable art. Cast in rich 22K gold, the oval bezel joins a seperately made hoop inlaid with braided wire filigree of platinum and gold, of a style typical of Roman rings during the late Byzantine period. The interior of the shank is inscribed: c1989 Ariadne 22KT, Tim Koheki 1-29.
Mosaic glass objects were manufactured using a laborious and time-consuming technique. Multicolored canes of mosaic glass were created, then stretched to shrink the patterns and either cut across into small, circular pieces or lengthwise into strips. These were placed together to form a flat circle, heated until they fused, and the resulting disk was then sagged over or into a mold to give the object its shape. Almost all cast objects required polishing on their edges and interiors to smooth the imperfections caused by the manufacturing process; the exteriors usually did not require further polishing because the heat of the annealing furnace would create a shiny, "fire polished" surface.
For related examples of such intaglios see: Marshall, FH ; Catalogue of the Finger Rings Greek, Etruscan & Roman in the Department of Antiquities, British Museum (London, 1907) pl.12, no.396 and Spier, Jeffrey "Ancient Gems and Finger Rings, Catalogue of the Collections, The J. Paul Getty Museum" (California, 1992) p. 145-152.
Condition: Intact and in excellent condition overall. A very fine and rare example.
Dimensions: US ring size 5 1/2
Provenance: Acquired Ariadne Gallery, New York after 1989, thereafter in a private FL collection.
All photos copyright Kornbluth Photography, Maryland
A Boeotian Terracotta Pappades Statuette, Archaic Period, ca. 6th century BCE
GT1608Regular price $4,950 USD
A handmade terracotta "Pappades" statuette of a goddess, of flattened form standing with arms extended and wearing a long embroidered dress and high polos with central circular ornament indicating her status as a goddess.
Such Boeotian plank figurines were dubbed 'Pappades' or 'priests' (Greek Παπάδες), by the Boeotian villagers, who were the first to find them in their fields. Many examples were excavated in Tanagra and Rhitsona in the 19th century. The interpretation of this type of figurine is difficult. Their frequent presence in graves permits the hypothesis that they were linked with the worship of the chthonic deities Demeter and Kore, goddesses related to fecundity and the harvest. Another theory is they represent in clay the "daidala", - wooden effigies dressed as brides - which, according to ancient literary sources were used in rituals on Mt Kithairon in Boeotia, to honour Hera, the wife of Zeus and patron goddess of marriage.
Dimensions: Height: 25.5 cm (10 inches)
Condition: Despite a crack in the front of the headdress, intact and in good condition overall.
Provenance: Major Harold De Vahl Rubin (1899-1964), grazier, art-collector and philanthropist, was born in Melbourne, Australia beginning his education at Broome, Western Australia, where his father owned a pearling fleet. After the family moved to London, he attended University College School, Hampstead (1908-15), and Eton College (1916). Commissioned in the 5th Battalion, Coldstream Guards, in February 1917, he served with the 38th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment), and was promoted lieutenant in January 1918. He returned to civilian life in 1919. Left a fortune by his father (who had died in 1919), he set up as a pearl merchant in London in the mid-1920s. During the 1930s he expanded the family's pastoral holdings in Queensland and Western Australia, and began to collect paintings. In October 1941, he was again commissioned in the British Army and demobilized in 1945 with the honorary rank of major, working as an art dealer at 20 Brook Street, London.
Rubin returned to Australia in 1950 to run his extensive grazing interests which included Queensland Pastoral Estates and properties on the De Grey River in Western Australia. He lived at Toorak House, a mansion built by Sir James Dickson at Hamilton, Brisbane, but regularly visited his 17,000-acre (6880 ha) property Pikedale, near Stanthorpe, and kept a flat at the Astor in Macquarie Street, Sydney.
In 1959 Rubin facilitated the Queensland Art Gallery's acquisition of seven important European paintings from his private collection, comprising works by Picasso, Degas, Renoir, Toulouse-Lautrec and Vlaminck which were valued in all at £126,504. The most significant was Picasso's 'La Belle Hollandaise' (1905), painted in the years between the artist's 'blue' and 'rose' periods. Rubin was prescient in recognizing what he called its 'exquisite tenderness'. The painting is frequently requested for inclusion in major international exhibitions of Picasso's art.
Rubin was a man of eccentric habits, but he initiated many of the bizarre stories about himself, making it difficult to distinguish fact from fiction. His city residences were filled with paintings, stacked face to face, as well as with live and stuffed exotic and domestic birds—'parrots, lorikeets, budgies, canaries, finches and sparrows'. He bought entire exhibitions of work by young painters; Robert Hughes, who became an art critic, benefited from his largesse.
He died of cancer on 7 March 1964, his wife and their son survived him, as did the son of each of his first and third marriages; the son of his fourth marriage predeceased him. The bulk of his art collection, which had once numbered four hundred works, including sixty paintings by (Sir) William Dobell, was sold by auction between 1971 and 1973: The Harold de Vahl Rubin Collection Part 1, Christie's Australia, Sydney, 4 October 1972, and the Harold de Vahl Rubin Collection Part II, Christie's Australia, Sydney, 2 October 1973.
A Large Campanian red-figure hydria by the Ixion Painter, ca. 330 - 310 BCE
GP1901Regular price $35,000 USD
This beautifully decorated water vessel (Hydria) portrays fierce Greek colonists and Samnite warriors clashing in the height of battle. The Greeks, wearing greaves, shields and flying cloaks, fight Samnite warriors identified by their distinctive white tunics and iconic broad belts. All warriors wear helmets and carry weapons including swords, spears, axes, and clubs.
Water vessels such as this example were used at Greek symposiums to water down wine as it was considered uncivilized to consume undiluted wine. No doubt this battle scene would have been used to recount historical events, celebrate battle wins and/or commiserate losses.
The manufacture of South Italian vases reached its zenith between 350 and 320 B.C., then gradually tapered off in quality and quantity until just after the close of the fourth century B.C.
Published: K. Schauenburg, Studien zur unteritalischen Vasenmalerei, vol. XIIXII, Kiel, 2008, pl. 183 a-c. and Royal Athena Galleries, Art of the Ancient World, XIV, 2014.
Cf. amphora, ex-Hope Collection, in the LACMA by the Ixion Painter, with a similar scene.
Condition: Minor wear to the rim and professionally rejoined and in very good condition overall.
Dimensions: Height: 23 3/8 inches (59.4 cm)
Provenance: Ex-private collection, Munich, Germany, 1980-early 1990s.
A large Egyptian Black-topped Redware Vessel, Pre-Dynastic Period, 3600-3400 BCE
EP1803Regular price $15,000 USD
This very large and impressive vessel is a superb example of Amratian-period black-topped red pottery. The vessel stands on a small, flat base tapering outward to a rounded shoulder under a wide mouth with slightly flared rim. The exterior is beautifully coated with a thin red iron-oxide wash that was burnished to a lustrous finish, probably by using a pebble. The blacktop is carbon, produced by subjecting the top of the vessel to the actions of dense smoke. The vessel was made by hand using coil construction (the process is still visible on the inside).
Called B-ware by W.M. Flinders Petrie because of their distinctive black rims, black-topped beakers and bowls made of riverine clay are a hallmark of the Naqada Ic-IIb Period. For very similar examples refer:
1) Hayes, William "The Scepter of Egypt, A background study of the Egyptian Antiquities in The Metropolitan Museum of Art" Volume I, Figure 7 page 16;
2) Cleveland Museum "Catalogue of Egyptian Art" 1999 #48;
3) Detroit Institute of Arts, McKissick Museum and the Earth Sciences and Resources Institute of the University of South Carolina, "The First Egyptians", page 52.
Dimensions: Height: 11.8 inches (30 cm)
Condition: Aside from a small repair to the rim, the vessel is intact and of museum quality, with some areas of the blacktop showing an almost metallic sheen. The burnished red surface of the vessel exhibits a fine craquelure where preserved, with losses relating to erosion or soluble salt efflorescence. A definite highlight of any Ancient Egyptian collection.
Provenance: Private Californian collection, acquired prior 1972 and then by descent, thereafter private collection of a Florida doctor from 2003.
A Roman Marble Torso of Eros, ca. 1st century BCE - 1st century CE
RS1803Regular price $9,500 USD
Condition: The figure itself is nicely preserved, with traces of the back wings still visible, the marble is beautifully smoothed with very few minor losses. Overall in excellent condition. Mounted on black base with original Sotheby's sticker attached.
Dimensions: Height: 7 inches (17.8 cm)
Provenance: Ex. Sotheby's, June 25, 1992, lot 311, thereafter private NY collection.
An Egyptian Blue Faience Offering Cup for Ramesses the Great, 19th Dynasty ca. 1279-1213 BCE
EF1905Regular price $5,000 USD
of bright blue glazed faience, the cylindrical form tapering to a slightly flared foot and rounded rim, the exterior with royal rectangular panel inscribed in black hieroglyphic text in two columns including a cartouche containing the throne name for Ramesses II, (Ramesses the Great) that reads: "Lord of the Two Lands, User-maat-re Setep-en-re [R. II], beloved of Ptah, king of the gods."
Ramesses II, also known as Ramesses the Great, was the third pharaoh of the nineteenth dynasty. Often regarded as the greatest, most celebrated, and most powerful pharaoh of the New Kingdom, his successors, and later Egyptians referred to him as the "Great Ancestor".
He is known as Ozymandias in Greek sources (Koinē Greek: Οσυμανδύας Osymandýas), from the first part of Ramesses' regnal name, Usermaatre Setepenre, "The Maat of Ra is powerful, Chosen of Ra".
Ramesses II led several military expeditions into the Levant, reasserting Egyptian control over Canaan. He also led expeditions to the south, into Nubia, commemorated in inscriptions at Beit el-Wali and Gerf Hussein. The early part of his reign was focused on building cities, temples, and monuments. He established the city of Pi-Ramesses in the Nile Delta as his new capital and used it as the main base for his campaigns in Syria. At fourteen, he was appointed prince regent by his father, Seti I. He is believed to have taken the throne in his late teens and is known to have ruled Egypt from 1279 to 1213 BC. On his death, he was buried in a tomb in the Valley of the Kings; his body was later moved to a royal cache where it was discovered in 1881 and is now on display in the Egyptian Museum.
Offering cups of this style were made to commemorate the construction of a building, principally temples, honoring the reigning monarch. They were manufactured on the authorization of pharaoh and were considered a personal tribute to him. The cups were buried in caches within the foundations of temples.
For related examples see: Freidman, "Gifts of the Nile, Ancient Egyptian Faience" #57.
Dimensions: Height: 5.3 cm (2 inches)
Condition: Heavy surface deposits but intact and in excellent condition overall.
Provenance: Private collection of Florent Dalq (1878 - 1950), Gilly/Charleroi, Belgium (acquired from the Antiquities Service, Cairo in 1923), thereafter private NY collection.
A Near Eastern silver Goat Pin, ca. 200 BCE - 200 CE
MJ1421Regular price $4,000 USD
A fine silver pin with beautifully cast finial in the form of a goats forebody with long horns and prancing forelegs.
Dimensions: Length: 3 3/4 inches (7.62 cm)
Condition: Overall blackish surface patina with scattered light surface patina. Intact and in very good condition overall. Custom mounted on black lucite base.
Provenance: Private NYC collection, acquired from Henry Anavian, 1990s.
A rare Mittanian Cylinder Seal of Egyptian Blue, ca. 1500 - 1300 BCE
MJ1303Regular price $6,500 USD
well carved, the scene portraying a bearded hunter wearing a short kilt with sword at his waist, bow and arrow raised as he stalks a grazing animal with a small lizard on its back, a bird behind with streamer in its beak, with standard and a large star in the field, set in a pendant of 18K gold.
Background: Cylinder seals are engraved, cylindrical objects designed to be rolled into clay to leave impressions. The engraved images are carved in reverse, so that when rolled out onto clay they face the correct direction.
Throughout much of the ancient Near Eastern world, from the end of the 4th millennium B.C.E. until the 5th century B.C.E., cylinder seals were used both as administrative tools – functioning much as a signature does on an official document today, or used to mark one’s property and to prevent tampering with sealed doors or containers – and as decorative or protective amulets – often worn on a necklace or a pin.
The use of cylinder seals developed alongside that of the cuneiform writing system, invented in Mesopotamia near the end of the 4th millennium B.C.E.; prior to this, stamp seals (designed to be pressed onto clay or other media, rather than rolled) had served similar purposes. Cuneiform was written on clay tablets, and cylinder seals were better suited than stamp seals to quickly fill empty spaces. Cylinder seals remained the most popular form of sealing until the 1st millennium B.C.E., when parchment or papyrus gradually replaced clay as the predominant writing material, and stamp seals again became more popular.
Condition: The seal is intact and in excellent condition overall, with no visible chips, cracks or breaks. The roll impression reveals a full intaglio scene. Placed in a high-karat gold setting of classical style in the early 1970's. A unique and sensational piece.
Dimensions: height: 5.5 cm
Provenance: Private Palm Beach, FL collection, acquired from the NY trade in the early 1970's.
All photos copyright Kornbluth Photography, Maryland
A Greek Terracotta Figure of a Boar, ca. 5th - 4th Century BCE
GT1802Regular price $950 USD
A charmingly round figure with short legs, a pointed snout, molded ears, and a raised ridge along the back for hair.
Pigs have a long history of involvement in Greek mythology and ritual. Associated with Demeter due to "the fast-growing body of the pig [which would] have been compared to corn growing and ripening" (Marija Gimbutas, The Goddess and Gods of Old Europe), pigs were often sacrificed at annual rituals such as the Eleusinian Mysteries and the festival of Thesmophoria to celebrate the goddess and the harvest. In later mythology, the role of the boar shifted to that of the antagonist; the Calydonian Boar and the Erymanthian Boar are two such examples who were depicted as mindless rampaging beasts in need of slaying.
Representations of boars mostly took the form of small terracotta figurines, used as sacrificial or votive objects in temples dedicated to Demeter, as funerary objects, and as children's toys. Workshops in Rhodes, Attica, and Boeotia were the major centers of production for these figurines.
Dimensions: Height: 2 inches (5 cm), Length: 3 1/2 inches (8.89 cm)
Condition: Despite minor surface wear, intact and in excellent condition overall.
Provenance: From the estate of Robert Thompson of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Bob represented the extensive dedication, scholarship, and attention to detail that the antiquity collecting community requires. Bob started collecting in the 1960s and dedicated a substantial portion of his time to the acquisition, attribution, and conservation of his collection.
A rare Mesopotamian Bird Amulet, Uruk/Jemdet Nasr Period, ca 4000 - 2900 BCE
MA1311Regular price $750 USD
this large marble amulet of a stylized bird holds great charm. Well carved on an integral base, the plump wings, tail, and facial features are articulated by a series of engraved lines. On the right side, central to the lower wing, a circular impression suggests a drill hole was commenced but discarded for a second is also in evidence to the lower front and another, in the same position can be found to the left, but again unfinished.
Condition: Intact, in very good condition overall, care has been taken to provide a smooth, well-polished finish.
Dimensions: height: 4.5cm (1 3/4 inches) width: 5 cm (2 inches)
Provenance: Forming part of the James Stephan Snr. collection, assembled in the late 1960's and then by descent. Dr. Stephan was a US intelligence officer who also held a degree in archaeology. He was posted in the Anatolian region of Turkey with the US government during this time, and acquired his collection from dealers and villagers throughout the region.
A Roman bronze figurine of a bull, ca. 1st century CE
RB205Regular price $1,950 USD
Description: striding bull on a rectangular flanged pedestal. Right front leg is advanced with head turned slightly to the left, incised hatch marks appear on the partial remnants of horns atop his head and above the ears. Deep eye sockets and an expressive mouth line make for detailed facial features. Two protrusions on the backside remain where a looped tail once was. Downward oriented grooves show a textured neck and pronounced chest.
Bull figurines are perhaps one of the most popular type of animal figurine within the Roman world. Apart from the common threat of bull imagery in the ancient realm, with its fertility symbolism, bull figurines may have been considered appropriate because the animal itself was the quintessential animal of sacrifice. Another possibility is that the bulls were considered appropriate for specific cults, for instance those of Dionysus or Jupiter.
Original museum accession number (309238) written in white pigment on reverse of base.
For a related example, see The Hilprecht Collection of Greek, Italic and Roman Bronzes in the University of Pennsylvania Museum by P. Gregory Warden, plate 13, figure 118.
Condition: Some appendages missing, including both horns and a right ear, looped tail is no longer present, otherwise intact and in great condition. A few areas of greenish-brown patina.
Dimensions: Height 4.7 cm (1.8 inches)
Provenance: Forming part of the Lenman/Stohlman collection assembled by the Washington D.C. socialite Miss Isobel H. Lenman (1845 - 1931), in the early 1900’s. Loaned and accessioned by the Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C., between 1916 and 1921 where it was exhibited until her death in 1931. Thereafter, the collection was returned to her heirs and sold around 1937 to Dr. Martin Stohlman, remaining with the Stohlman family until 2011.
A Roman Bronze Patera Handle, ca. 1st - 2nd century CE
RB1702Regular price $2,950 USD
A terrific patera handle terminating in a wolf's head with an elongated muzzle and open mouth, almond-shaped eyes and incised lines above the raised brow bone, the flattened ears and around the collar, all indicating fur. The shaft is decorated with two rows of a semi-circular pattern with faint fluted lines still visible. The base of the handle is flared to attach to the bowl of the patera, with a geometric shape at the base for added decoration.
Background: The wolf was one of the most important symbols in Roman culture, stemming from the Roman foundation myth of Romulus and Remus. A she-wolf rescued and nursed the infant twins Romulus and Remus after they were abandoned in the wild by order of King Amulius of Alba Longa. The twins survived because of the she-wolf and grew up to become the founders of Rome. Thus the wolf become one of the most important and well-recognized symbols of Rome, featured on everything from flags, to coins, to patera handles.
The famous Capitoline Wolf (Lupa Capitolina) is the sculpture of the she-wolf suckling the infants cast in the 12th century AD has become the long-standing symbol of Rome, and is even used today as a symbol of Latin ancestry. Although the statue we know today was created in the Medieval Period, a similar image was known to the ancient Romans; Livy mentions such a statue set at the foot of the Palatine Hill in 295 BC, Cicero mentions a statue as a "sacred object" on the Capitoline Hill in 65 BC, and Pliny the Elder cites one in the Roman Forum during the first century AD.
Condition: Despite a crack to the base of the handle and with minor areas of patina throughout, intact and in very good condition overall. Offered on museum quality custom mount. A superb example!
Dimensions: Length: 5 7/8 inches (14.9 cm)
Provenance: Private Maine collection, acquired in the 1960's and then by descent.
An Egyptian Faience Situla Amulet, Late Period, ca. 722-332 BCE
EA1514Regular price $350 USD
of blue/green faience, a model situla with two raised handles on the rim that are pierced, the flattened bottom and angular profile copies the metal style for the period.
Background: The situla was a deluxe ritual vessel that played an important role in Egyptian religious ceremonies. Small faience models, such as this example, are quite rare
Dimensions: Height: 7/8 inch (2.3 cm)
Condition: Minor losses to one handle and surface abrasion otherwise intact and in good condition overall.
Provenance: Private NY Collection on loan to the Michael C. Carlos museum, Emory University, Atlanta GA 1998 - 2015, loan number: L1998.062.038.
An Egyptian glazed Steatite Amulet of a Fly, New Kingdom, ca. 1539-1077 BCE
EA1542Regular price $1,500 USD
The most characteristic fly amulets are those made of gold during the New Kingdom, forming part of an honorific award which originally rewarded military valor. However, the earliest examples usually made from serpentine, date back to preDynastic times. The symbolism of the fly as amulet rather than an award is obscure; perhaps the wearer hoped to emulate its renowned fecundity; perhaps it was purely apotropaic, intended to keep at bay this most persistent and prevalent of Egyptian insects. Of blue-glazed steatite, this example features finely incised detail to the head and wings and, given its diminutive size, probably formed part of a talismanic necklace.
cf: Andrews, Carol 'Amulets of Ancient Egypt', University of Texas Press (1994), pg 62-63.
Dimensions: Height: 1/4 x 1/4 inches (0.6 x 0.6 cm)
Condition: Intact and in excellent condition overall.
Provenance: Private NY collection, acquired in the 1990's
An Egyptian Headrest amulet, Late Period, Dynasty 26, 1664 - 525 BCE
EA1579Regular price $750 USD
Before the Third Intermediate Period, headrest amulets are found only in royal burials; Tutankhamen owned one of iron, as did Prince Hornakht and King Sheshonq II at Tanis. However, from the Saite Period onward, they are extremely common made almost exclusively of hematite (such as this example) or a dark-colored substitute such as basalt, serpentine, obsidian or diorite. It was essentially intended magically to raise up the head of the deceased in resurrection, just as the sun god was raised above the eastern horizon each morning. However, Chapter 166 further reveals that it would also prevent the deceased head from being cut off, a much-feared fate against which Chapter 43 was specifically directed.
Dimensions: Height: 13/16 x 1/2" (2 x 1.3 cm)
Condition: Very minor wear to extremities otherwise intact and in very good condition overall
Provenance: Private NY collection, on loan to the Michael C. Carlos Museum, Emory University, Atlanta GA 1998 - 2015, loan number: L1998.062.039
A Sumerian Alabaster Rectangular Bowl, Early Dynastic IIIa, ca. 2600–2500 BCE
MV1703Regular price $1,950 USD
A rare alabaster dish with a rectangular rim, circular bowl, square bottom, two engraved lines running around the rim, and decorative cuts along the edges of the exterior.
Background: Because clay was the most abundant material found in the Mesopotamian valley, stone had to be imported due to its rarity in the area. Alabaster (calcite), gypsum, lapis lazuli, limestone and marble were the most popular imports. Sumerians traded crops grown from their fertile soil for the stone, as well as metal and wood. The growth of powerful ruling families in urban centers led to a demand for luxury goods, particularly stone votive objects mainly used in the temples and tombs such as the famous Royal Graves at Ur (ca. 2500 BC). The durability of stone, as well as the time and effort that went into creating vessels and other votive objects increased their value over clay and their popularity throughout Sumer.
During the 3rd millennium BC, the gods were vastly important to everyday life. Gods "owned" specific cities; Innana, for example, owned Uruk. The temples where the gods were worshipped were more like complexes or estates than individual buildings. There were several buildings for worship and ritual functions, as well as more functional spaces such as breweries, kitchens, agricultural fields, grazing land for animal herds. These were all used to grow and prepare food, drink, and offerings to the gods. Artworks and votive objects were used both in rituals and dedicated to the gods by high class donors. Other votive objects and works of art were created in order to accompany the deceased to the afterlife and bring them closer to the gods.
Reference: Department of Ancient Near Eastern Art. “Early Dynastic Sculpture, 2900–2350 B.C.” In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000.
Aruz, Joan, with Ronald Wallenfels, eds. "Art of the First Cities: The Third Millennium B.C. from the Mediterranean to the Indus." New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003.
Dimensions: Height: 1 2/16inches (3 cm), Length: 3 3/4 inches (9.5 cm)
Condition: Intact and in very good condition overall.
Provenance: Private NYC collection, acquired 1970s-1980s, ex. Sotheby's New York, lot 285 (part), with original auction tag.
A Sumerian Limestone Bull Cup, Late Uruk/Jemdet Nasr Period, ca. 3100-2900 BCE
MV1401Regular price $6,500 USD
Conical in form on a flat base, the sides boldly carved in raised relief with three bulls in a procession to the right, each with its head turned out, with large oval eyes, short downturned horns, an undulating border above the base.
This fragmentary bowl is decorated with a procession of bulls moving to the right, although only one complete animal survives. Typical of the Late Uruk and Jemdet Nasr periods, the body of the animal is carved in low relief while its head, turned to face the viewer, is fully three-dimensional. Such an extraordinary sculpture was developed at the end of the fourth millennium B.C., when cities emerged across Mesopotamia. Vessels of this type have been frequently found in palaces or religious structures, which suggests that they had a special function in such settings. After cylinder seals, they are the most important source of pictorial information for the period. The pictures are drawn from the natural realm, often portraying an ordered world of domesticated animals.
Background: Uruk was dedicated to two great gods, An (or Anu) the sky god and Inanna, the goddess of love and procreation, better known under her Semitic name of Ishtar, whose vast temple complex E-Anna (the house of heaven) dominated the city. Stone vessels of this type - highly prized luxury goods made of imported stone and carved with great skill - dating to the late Uruk period were often found in temples or palaces. Bull cups are thought to have been made for ceremonial use in temples (the sacred herd motif of processing bulls is known from cups and cylinder seals of this period) and may be associated with fertility cults; Inanna's husband Dumuzi-Tammuz was closely associated with vegetation, flocks and cattle and the cult of the sacred marriage between them, with its associated rites designed to ensure productivity and fertility, originated at Uruk.
For a similar stone bowl decorated with bulls see, J. Aruz (ed.), Art of the First Cities, exhibition catalogue, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2003, p. 42, no. 12, for a stone bowl with bulls in relief in the Vorderasiatische Museum, Berlin, no. VA 10113; "The considerable work involved in creating stone vessels and the fact that the stone was imported gave them great value. While fragile ceramic vessels had to be continually replaced and therefore likely to reflect changes in taste ... stone vessels tended to be produced in a limited range of shapes and to be used for generations."
Published: Concordia University, catalogue number: FOT-46.
Condition: Heavy loss to the upper rim of the cup, but one complete bull remains. Beautifully carved, in excellent condition.
Dimensions: Height: 7.98cm (3 1/8 inches) from the top of the bull head. Width: 2.54cm (1 inch) from the base of the cup.
Provenance: The Diniacopoulos Family Collection, prior to 1951. Vincent and Olga Diniacopoulos arrived in Montreal from Alexandria in 1951, bringing with them the largest private collection of antiquities known in Canada. These objects represent an array of cultures: prehistoric Mediterranean, Greek, Roman, Etruscan, Egyptian, Babylonian, Assyrian, Luvian, Syro-Palestinian, and Hittite. The family owned an art gallery on Sherbrooke Street in Montreal, Ars Classica, and continued to buy and sell artifacts until the death of Vincent in 1967. Towards the end of her life, Olga Diniacopoulos asked Concordia University to assist with the management of the antiquities collection. Some of the artifacts were acquired by Canadian institutions: statues from Thebes and a few Greek red-figure vases were acquired by the Royal Ontario Museum, and the Art Conservation program at Queen’s University acquired fragments of painted Greek pottery intended as teaching tools. The remainder of the collection was dispersed in the late 1990s through Sotheby’s (New York) and Fragments of Time (Boston). Thereafter, private collection of S. Bono, Chicago.