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Masterworks

MASTERWORKS

Superb art for the discriminating collector . . .

 
  • East Asia, China, Neolithic Period, Liangzhu culture, ca. 3400 to 2250 BCE. A Chinese carved stone bi-disc, meticulously hand-carved from a mesmerizing verdant green stone with natural grey, sage, and spring green inclusions. This bi disc is characteristically round with a wide central aperture drilled through both sides which retains some faint cutting marks on the interior rim, and presents an overall smooth finish. The fact that the disc is undecorated confirms that it is from the Neolithic period; later examples, such as those of the Zhou Dynasties were carved with relief sculptures representing celestial deities. Custom museum-quality display stand included. Size: 15.625" Diameter (39.7 cm); 22.625" H (57.5 cm) on included custom stand.

    Bi discs were traditionally used by shamans, the spiritual leaders and transmitters of cosmological knowledge of the Liangzhu society. Their circular form has prompted scholars to link bi discs to symbolism associated with earth and heaven. This said, no written accounts were left by Neolithic civilization. We do know, however, that bi discs were buried with the deceased as a celestial symbol that would accompany him/her into the afterlife.

    Condition: Minor abrasions across most surfaces and some very minor nicks to interior and exterior rims, otherwise intact and near-choice.

    Provenance: private East Coast, USA collection

    All items legal to buy/sell under U.S. Statute covering cultural patrimony Code 2600, CHAPTER 14, and are guaranteed to be as described or your money back.

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    Chinese Neolithic Liangzhu Greenstone Bi Disc

  • European, likely Spanish or Italian, ca. 17th to 19th century. A striking oil on canvas portrait of a young lady presented as a woman of virtue, with her dark dress buttoned all the way up to a high lace collar - a pink flower placed at the V, mirroring the cluster of blossoms in her hair which is pulled away from her youthful face. She looks out toward the viewer with large blue eyes framed by arched brows, an aquiline nose, rosy cheeks upon an alabaster complexion, and heart-shaped lips. While this painting would benefit from professional cleaning and restoration, upon close inspection it is possible to see the beautiful details such as the pattern of the fabric of her dress and the lovely buttons. Size: 15" L x 12" W (38.1 cm x 30.5 cm); 19.75" L x 16.75" W (50.2 cm x 42.5 cm) with frame

    The composition of this portrait is reminiscent of Renaissance artist Sofonisba Anguissola's (Italian, 1532-1625) self portraits. In his "Lives of the Artists", 16th century artist and author Giorgio Vasari praised her work, stating that Sofonisba "has laboured at the difficulties of design with greater study and better grace than any other woman of our time, and she has not only succeeded in drawing, colouring, and copying from nature, and in making excellent copies of works by other hands, but has also executed by herself alone some very choice and beautiful works of painting."

    Follow these links for Sofonisba's self portraits - http://www.italymagazine.com/featured-story/sofonisba-anguissola-renaissance-woman - AND - https://nn.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sofonisba_Anguissola#/media/File:Sofonisba_Anguissola_002.jpg

    Condition: A few small losses to canvas to right of the sitter's face. Areas of discoloration and a few stains. Verso of the canvas has darkened with age. Note that the nails used to attach the canvas to the stretchers were hand made and are quite old.

    Provenance: ex-Tom & Christine Accatino, Los Angeles, California, USA collection

    All items legal to buy/sell under U.S. Statute covering cultural patrimony Code 2600, CHAPTER 14, and are guaranteed to be as described or your money back.

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    Framed 17th C. European Portrait of Woman

  • Central Asia, India, Rajasthan, ca. mid to late 19th century CE. A gorgeous necklace comprised of hundreds of woven seed pearls with six small and one larger 12 karat gold hanging fish decorations studded with diamond slices (known as polki) on one side and, for the six smaller ones, enamel on the other side, in the style known as kundan/meenakari. Below the fish, each is further accented with short dangles of fine drops of emeralds, lavender-colored spinels, and seed pearls. All hang from a braided gold, cream, red, and green string that ends in a tassel, with a small bauble of thread at the back to hold it close to the neck when worn. Length of strand: 29" L (73.7 cm); size of largest fish: 0.85" H (2.2 cm)

    Polki diamonds are among the oldest forms of cut diamonds, and originated in India. They are currently enjoying a comeback in fashion. Their appeal, according to London-based jewelry designer Sally Agarwal, speaking to the Gemological Institute of America in 2016, "is that they generally are cut to follow the original rough stone so no two are alike and they impart a distinctiveness that makes each piece unique... They are very flattering to the wearer because the light they give off is much softer compared to the sparkle of modern cuts." This style originated sometime in the medieval period, with Indian jewel cutters learning how to use emery and diamond powder to make rough cuts of the incredibly hard stone. Even after Indian artisans learned European jewel cutting techniques in the 19th century, they continued to cut "polki" style diamonds for wedding jewelry.

    Kundan is one of the oldest forms of jewelry made and worn in India. It is a method of gem setting, and is often paired with meenakari, a fusion of colorful minerals to create enamel, so that a piece of jewelry has two equally beautiful surfaces - one with the flashing kundan set gems, one with bright meenakari enamel. Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan and once the seat of the royal family that controlled the region, is the center of the kundan craft, with much of it coming from the famous Johari Bazaar.

    Condition: A few of the seed pearls on the sides are missing - perhaps ten or so. Braided threads show light signs of wear. Otherwise in excellent condition, with light patina on the gold surfaces.

    Provenance: ex-private Indian collection

    All items legal to buy/sell under U.S. Statute covering cultural patrimony Code 2600, CHAPTER 14, and are guaranteed to be as described or your money back.

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    19th C. Indian 12K Gold, Pearl, & Gemstone Necklace

  • Roman, Imperial Period, ca. 2nd century CE. A repousse brass roundel with a fascinating decorative motif of a woman, likely the Gallic goddess of horses, Epona, astride a horse, with two other horses in the background. In stippled letters at the horse's feet it reads "MARKOS", likely the owner's name. Three perforations have been drilled through the sides for attachment of this plaque, perhaps to a monument; a horizontal loop on the upper back of the piece served a similar purpose. The woman wears armor and a diadem and holds a cornucopia in one hand as she rides, presumably gripping the reins with her other hand. The horses' bodies are beautifully detailed, giving the impression of movement. Size: 4.15" W (10.5 cm); 4.95" H (12.6 cm) on included custom stand.

    Epona was the Gallic goddess of horses, whose cult expanded into the Roman Empire after the conquest of Gaul. Many reliefs and figurines depict her in the same way as this one, riding side saddle and holding a cornucopia. She was often worshipped by soldiers in the Roman cavalry, which we know from votive inscriptions found in modern day Bavaria, Hungary, and Scotland. This roundel was likely a military phalera, a sculpted disc worn on the breastplate of Roman soldiers during parades.

    Published in Venerable Traditions Catalogue, New York, USA 2007, Entry #70.

    Condition: Beautiful preservation of motifs with a smooth, matte green patina.

    Provenance: private East Coast, USA collection

    All items legal to buy/sell under U.S. Statute covering cultural patrimony Code 2600, CHAPTER 14, and are guaranteed to be as described or your money back.

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    Published Roman Brass Roundel - Horseback Rider

  • Roman, the Levant, late Imperial Period, ca. 3rd to 5th century CE. A veritable marvel of balance and symmetry, this stone mosaic depicts an elegant amphora in a lovely color palette of wine red, taupe, sienna, jet black, dove grey, and milky white - all against a creamy beige ground with a russet and slate grey border. Size: mosaic measures ~ 25.125" W x 25.125" H (63.8 cm x 63.8 cm); 26.625" W x 26.625" H (67.6 cm x 67.6 cm) with matrix and metal frame

    Mosaics (opus tesellatum) are some of our most enduring images from the Roman world, exciting not only for their aesthetic beauty, but also because they reveal what Romans chose to depict and see every day decorating their private and public spaces. Amphorae were used to store and transport wine, olive oil, and other foodstuffs or precious liquids. They were created in two basic forms - the belly amphora with continuous curves from neck to foot and the neck amphora with a shoulder that joins the neck at a sharp angle, as we see depicted in this example.

    In the Roman province of Syria, which encompassed most of the ancient Near East/Levant, mosaics developed as a popular art form relatively late, with most finds coming from the 3rd century CE or later. Syria was one of Rome's wealthiest provinces, but it was also far removed from Rome itself and Roman culture was overlaid on enduring cultural traditions from Hellenistic Greece and the great civilizations that came before it. Antioch-on-the-Orontes (modern day Antakya, Turkey), was the capital of northern Roman Syria, and its excavations in the 1930s revealed more than three hundred mosaic pavements - of which many embellished public baths. Popular mosaic themes from this region were often mythological or religious scenes, depicting gods and goddesses; however, sometimes mosaics were created to fit the theme of a building or room. This example may have been intended for the triclinium - an ancient dining room - or the kitchen known as a culina.

    Condition: Expected wear with chips, recessions, and abrasions to tesserae commensurate with age. Scattered earth deposits. Set in a modern plaster matrix with a metal frame.

    Provenance: private East Coast, USA collection

    All items legal to buy/sell under U.S. Statute covering cultural patrimony Code 2600, CHAPTER 14, and are guaranteed to be as described or your money back.

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    Roman Stone Mosaic - Elegant Amphora

  • Roman, the Levant, late Imperial Period, ca. 3rd to 5th century CE. A spectacular mosaic presenting a quilt-like pattern of repeated geometric star motifs - each stellar form comprised of central diamond shapes with radiating triangles from each side with elongated diamond shapes nested between the points. The composition - comprised of square, triangular, and diamond-shaped stone tesserae in a vibrant color scheme of red, beige, black, yellow ochre, grey, and white hues - makes for a dazzling optical illusion with an upper and lower black border that is truly a feast for the eyes! Size: mosaic composition measures 50" W x 21.25" H (127 cm x 54 cm); 51.875" W x 22.75" H (131.8 cm x 57.8 cm) including modern matrix and metal framing

    Mosaics (opus tesellatum) are some of our most enduring images from the Roman world, exciting not only for their aesthetic beauty, but also because they reveal what Romans chose to depict and see every day decorating their private and public spaces. This example demonstrates the ancients' fascination with design, optic, as well as geometry.

    In the Roman province of Syria, which encompassed most of the ancient Near East/Levant, mosaics developed as a common art form relatively late, with most finds coming from the 3rd century CE or later. Syria was one of Rome's wealthiest provinces, but it was also far removed from Rome itself and Roman culture was overlaid on enduring cultural traditions from Hellenistic Greece and the great civilizations that came before it. Antioch-on-the-Orontes (modern day Antakya, Turkey), was the capital of northern Roman Syria, and its excavations in the 1930s revealed more than three hundred mosaic pavements - of which many embellished public baths. Popular mosaic themes from this region were often mythological or religious scenes, depicting gods and goddesses; however, sometimes mosaics were created to fit the theme or design of a building or room.

    Condition: Expected surface wear with minor losses, nicks, fissures, recessions, and abrasions to tesserae commensurate with age. Set in a modern plaster matrix with a metal frame.

    Provenance: private East Coast, USA collection

    All items legal to buy/sell under U.S. Statute covering cultural patrimony Code 2600, CHAPTER 14, and are guaranteed to be as described or your money back.

    A Certificate of Authenticity will accompany all purchases

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    Roman Stone Mosaic - Intricate Geometric Star Pattern

  • Near East, Palmyra, Roman Imperial Period, ca. 2nd to 3rd century CE. A finely carved Palmyrene limestone head of a youthful female beauty, her quixotic visage comprised of large almond-shaped eyes with generous upper lids, incised irises, and petite depressions for pupils, framed by elegantly arched browline that merges seamlessly with an aquiline nose, a bow-shaped closed mouth below, apple cheeks, and smooth facial planes - topped by an elaborate coiffure of incised wavy tresses adorned with a 'beaded' hair ornament or crown and lovely drop earrings. Size: 7.375" W x 10.875" H (18.7 cm x 27.6 cm); 15.875" H (40.3 cm) on included custom stand.

    A distinct regional version of Roman funerary busts emerged in Palmyra. The figures and their elaborate ornamentation exemplified an attractive fusion of Western and Eastern influences. This Palmyrene lady does not show evidence of paint on the surface; however, given the polychromy of the famous "Beauty of Palmyra" (ca. 190 to 210 CE, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen) it is possible that she was once considerably less subdued than she appears today. This said, it is also possible that she was not intended to be painted.

    Palmyrene sculpture was made from a stone that is largely nonreflective - usually limestone as we see in this example; however, the ancient Palmyrene sculptors excelled at sharp, angular chisel work that resulted in strong patterns which made for dramatic silhouettes and shadows. Just imagine this piece in its dark, shadowy tomb environment - lit by candlelight so that its intricate surface patterns would come to life as it were, the smooth facial contours contrasting with the darkness surrounding it - quite a vision indeed!

    A Palmyrene limestone female head sold at Sotheby's, New York in 2015 for $37,500. Follow this link for the listing - http://www.sothebys.com/en/auctions/ecatalogue/2015/antiquities-n09362/lot.27.html

    A Palymrene limestone male head sold at Christie's New York in 2008 for $32,5000. Follow this link for the listing - http://www.christies.com/lotfinder/ancient-art-antiquities/a-palmyrene-limestone-head-of-a-man-5078832-details.aspx?from=searchresults&intObjectID=5078832&sid=b13c79c7-a0ec-4cd9-9dd2-211179252793


    Condition: Losses to chin, nose, lips, browline, neckline, headdress / hairline as shown. Verso shows a chisel pecking marks. Overall, a remarkable example.

    Provenance: private Denver, Colorado, USA collection; ex-Hisperia Gallery, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; acquired in 1964

    All items legal to buy/sell under U.S. Statute covering cultural patrimony Code 2600, CHAPTER 14, and are guaranteed to be as described or your money back.

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    Important Palmyrene Limestone Head of A Female

  • Pre-Columbian, Mayan Territory, probably Mexico, ca. 400 to 500 CE. A rare and quite exceptional limestone ballgame marker. Ancient art from the Mayan world shows that three such markers were set at the center and end of each court. Based on the size and shape, it appears that these were transported to each game, and could perhaps represent the "home or visiting" teams. Work conducted by the Center for Mayan Research seems to indicate this marker came from the lowlands of Mexico; Yucatan,Campeche or Quintana Roo. This particular marker shows a kneeling captive, bound at the wrist and wearing an emblematic device on his back. Around him are approximately 16 carved glyphs - the glyphs begins on the upper right, more or less behind the figure (if you look at the stone with the captive upright) where four small dots appear in a line. This is the number coefficient on the opening day sign (Glyph A). The text of sixteen glyphs runs counter-clockwise around the stone. The date looks like it might be 4 Imix 9 Keh. The event being commemorated is some sort of dedication, perhaps of the building or court where the stone was originally set, or of the altar itself. The word is pet, meaning to “encircle,” which is obviously suggestive of the stone’s shape. A personal name appears in block G, an animal head located just in front of the captives bound hands. This looks like it might be the name of the Tikal ruler K’an Chitam, but it’s not an obvious identification. The text goes on to repeat the pet verb and then gives what might be a place name or temple name. Custom stand. Size: 23 x 3.5" (58.4 cm x 8.9 cm)

    PLEASE NOTE: Special shipping is required. Please inquire before purchasing.

    Condition: Wear to surface as expected but glyphs generally quite clear and readable

    Provenance: ex-Alan Davis collection, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA; ex-Splendors of the World, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA, collected in the 1970s

    All items legal to buy/sell under U.S. Statute covering cultural patrimony Code 2600, CHAPTER 14, and are guaranteed to be as described or your money back.

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    Rare / Impressive Mayan Limestone Ball Court Marker

  • Southeast Asia, Cambodia, Khmer Empire (Angkor culture), ca. late 12th to early 13th century CE. An enormous grey stone Buddha, seated on a three-tiered throne, with the flaring, hooded head of a giant naga, the serpent king Muchilinda, rising behind him protectively. His hands are in the Dhyana Mudra. This is a gesture of meditation, with the hands placed in the lap, right hand on left, with fingers full stretched out and palms facing upwards. The Buddha's face is serene, with a naturalistic and warm expression; he wears a skirt and has a crown topped by a detailed ushnisha. The serpent is well-rendered and symmetrical. A closer look at the throne reveals that it is the coils of the serpent's massive body. The story told here may be that Muchilinda is protecting the Buddha from heavy rain; this iconographic depiction of the Buddha is a common one from the reign of Khmer King Jayavarman VII (reigned ca. 1181 to 1218 CE), who established a cult based around it. Scholars believe that this may be because Jayavarman was disabled and snakes were associated with healing. The king is also known for the establishment of hospitals throughout his kingdom. Comes with custom stand. Size of statue: 12.35" L x 16.5" W x 33.5" H (31.4 cm x 41.9 cm x 85.1 cm); size on stand: 12.35" L x 16.5" W x 36" H (31.4 cm x 41.9 cm x 91.4 cm)

    However, some scholars question the Buddha/Muchilinda story, saying that it is based on a misreading of the sources. Naga cults were common throughout Indian, Sri Lankan, and Southeast Asian artwork during this period, but the symbolism is somewhat unclear. Some have proposed that nagas could be symbolic vehicles for elevating the dead - equating to transcendence. That is based on interpretation of artwork from around Angkor Wat and other parts of the Khmer world. Others see the inclusion of the naga as a holdover from earlier symbolic practices. Khmer art moved away from Indian styles in the 7th century CE to encompass its own framework; one example of this seen here is that this statue is carved in the round, rather than as a relief on a stela, which was common with Indian and Javanese Hindu and Buddhist sculptures that were previously influencing Cambodian art. From this, we can infer that Khmer sculptors would have desired their artwork to be viewed from all sides, and thus placed in the center of temples rather than against a wall. While this artwork was religious - priests supervised its execution - its realism is unmistakable.

    Condition: Figure has been broken/repaired at mid-section; signs of wear with small losses to knees and one of Naga's flares. Some surface pitting and wear. OF NOTE: Statues broken in half are far more rare/desirable because most Buddhas like this were decapitated when the Buddhists were overthrown around 1300.

    Provenance: ex-private Arizona, USA collection, acquired in Bangkok, Thailand in early 2000. All appropriate legal and federally-compliant import documents will accompany item.

    All items legal to buy/sell under U.S. Statute covering cultural patrimony Code 2600, CHAPTER 14, and are guaranteed to be as described or your money back.

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    12th C. Khmer Stone Naga-Enthroned Buddha

  • Anglo-Saxon England, ca. 6th to 8th century CE. An exceedingly fine iron helmet comprised of two wide iron bands attached with rivets supporting an iron "crown." Anglo Saxons helmets, as well as Danish and Viking ones, had a conical shape in order to protect the wearer's head by deflecting direct blows. The most expensive ones, used by kings and nobles, were entirely made of steel and iron while less expensive ones had an iron 'skeleton' to which panels of animal horn, hard leather or even wood were fixed. The face, cheeks and the neck of the wearer were protected by additional elements made of iron plate or other materials. Size: 8" L x 7.6" W x 6" H (20.3 cm x 19.3 cm x 15.2 cm)

    The Saxons were fierce bearded warriors who fought with a ruthless, surprise attack style that intimidated many, even the Romans. Anglo-Saxon society revolved around warfare. Freemen were automatically warriors and were expected to fight from early adolescence. Teenage boys were often taken into a chieftain's household to be trained as warriors. Anglo-Saxon warriors were equipped with javelins and throwing axes as well as swords and shields. In particular a "scramasax" - a single-bladed dagger - was used for close-quarter fighting. Gesiths (serving-men and companions to the king) fought for their hlaford (lord/ breadgiver). Freemen were rewarded for their military service with (at first generally temporary) grants of land. The need to obtain more land for distribution encouraged policies of conquest, and the kings of Wessex were particularly successful because they were able to expand into Cornish territory. One of the most legendary was Alfred the Great, the King of Wessex from 871 to 899, who defended his kingdom against the Viking attempt at conquest and by the time of his demise had become the dominant ruler of England. For these reasons, he was the only English monarch accorded the epithet "the Great". The epithet was retained by succeeding generations of Parliamentarians and empire-builders who saw Alfred's patriotism, success against barbarism, promotion of education and establishment of the rule of law as supporting their own ideals.

    Condition: Intact save one small area, near choice.

    Provenance: Ex-private United Kingdom collection, acquired in the early 1980's.

    All items legal to buy/sell under U.S. Statute covering cultural patrimony Code 2600, CHAPTER 14, and are guaranteed to be as described or your money back.

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    Ancient Anglo-Saxon Iron Helmet