Loading..

Product was successfully added to your shopping cart.





Masterworks

MASTERWORKS

Superb art for the discriminating collector . . .

 
  • Ancient Greece, ca. 2nd to 1st century BCE. A striking core-formed glass alabastron, so named because many vessels that assumed this form were made of alabaster. The vessel presents a sophisticated ovoid body with ribbed walls that flare inward toward the top, a splayed rim, and sinous trailed lug handles. It is comprised of rich cobalt blue glass with tangerine orange, sky blue, and white trailing - the lower section being combed into a feather or herring-bone pattern to adorn the walls, elegant spirals of tangerine orange tracing the upper section as well as the flared flattened rim, and finally, a pair of sinous trails - one in sky blue and the other in tangerine below the feathered trails. The petite trailed lug handles applied to the shoulders are translucent cobalt blue. A divine work of glass art to be treasured for its impeccable form, beautiful hues, and sophisticated technique. Size: 4.125" H (10.5 cm); 4.75" H (12.1 cm) on included custom stand.

    According to the Corning Museum of Glass, core forming is "the technique of forming a vessel by winding or gathering molten glass around a core supported by a rod. After forming, the object is removed from the rod and annealed. After annealing, the core is removed by scraping." (https://www.cmog.org/glass-dictionary/core-forming). This process of glass making was begun in the late 16th century BCE by glassmakers of Mesopotamia, and then adopted by Egyptian glassmakers in the 15th century BCE. The technique almost came to an end in the so-called Dark Ages of Mediterranean civilization (1200 to 900 BCE); however, by the 9th century BCE a new generation of glassmakers took up the technique once again, and between the 6th and 4th century BCE core-forming spread throughout the Mediterranean.

    The alabastron is a long-bodied vessel with a rounded bottom, a tapered or cylindrical neck, and a flared, flattened mouth. Though usually without handles, some alabastra have eyes or lugs, like this example. Acording to the Beazley Archive of the University of Oxford, the alabastron shape's history extends back to Corinth, but was only preserved in Athenian pottery examples back to the mid-sixth century BCE. Alabastra were created in many materials, including alabaster, and the Greek term for this stone - alabastron (most likely of Egyptian origin) - was the source of inspiration for the name of this shaped vessel. Many examples were finished with a white ground, as if to imitate this stone. We know from vase painting imagery of women using alabastra following a bath, that these vessels most likely held perfumed oils.

    A Greek Hellenistic core-formed glass alabastron sold for 6,875 GBP (~$9467) at Christie's London - Antiquites 14 April 2011, Lot 153.

    Condition: Minor surface wear commensurate with age - otherwise superb. White mineral deposits on the interior surface.

    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

    We ship worldwide and handle all shipping in-house for your convenience.
    Learn More

    Superb Greek Core Form Glass Alabastron

  • Pre-Columbian, Mexico and northern Central America, Mayan Territories, Late Classic, ca. 550 to 900 CE. A fascinating and incredibly rare box made for holding a cache, featuring a prisoner of war splayed out on his stomach and tied down atop the lid. The box is long and rectangular, standing on four thin feet. The lid is roof-shaped, so that the figure atop it rests upon its crest. His arms and legs are tied down with thick, twisted straps; his head is raised, his mouth open as if he is screaming for freedom. He wears a fantastical headdress, a heavy cape with giant, phallic pectoral, and a loincloth, perhaps signifying that he is a dignitary about to meet an untimely end. Size with lid: 10" L x 7" W x 13" H (25.4 cm x 17.8 cm x 33 cm)

    Unlike many other ancient civilizations, the Mayans did not have cemeteries or necropolises; instead, they buried both human remains and ritual caches of pottery filled with offerings, jade, beads, and other precious items throughout their lived-in-landscape, especially as part of their architecture. These all seem to have been "earth offerings," and may have been dedications for newly built construction, markers for the end of use of a building, or some kind of renewal ceremony relating to the broader concept of Mayan cosmology: the cycle of planting, harvest, and rebirth. Caches have been found in floors, in the fill of buildings, or set into walls. Vessels with lids like this one seem to have been symbolic of houses or structures to the Maya, meaning that they served as symbolic offerings of the buildings in which they were buried, able to be filled with offerings of food or drink, sanctifying the construction. This is a particularly nice example, as many vessels seemingly made only to be cached are of thin construction, because they were never meant for heavy use.

    The Bonhams listing is here: http://www.bonhams.com/auctions/19988/lot/81/

    Condition: Repaired and restored from multiple pieces. The repairs expertly done and almost invisible. With nice deposits on surface.

    Provenance: private Hawaii, USA collection; ex-Bonhams, May 12, 2012, Lot 81; ex-Christie's Paris, May 2007, Lot 115; ex-private European collection, acquired prior to 1970

    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

    We ship worldwide and handle all shipping in-house for your convenience.
    Learn More

    Mayan Lidded Cache Box, ex-Bonham's, ex-Sotheby's

  • Pre-Columbian, Central America, Panama, Grand Cocle, ca. 500 to 900 CE. We have certainly handled many a trophy head vessel; however, examples created by the ancients of Panama are not very common. This vessel presents a dramatic visage on the front side of the bulbous body with beady eyes covered by a theatrical mask, nose and ears also in relief, as well as a toothy grimace. This face is surrounded by a stylized coiffure, headdress, and/or tattoos that extend all the way around the vessel and are delineated in red, black, and beige hues. Below the chin are a series of striated bands. Above the head a tall cylindrical neck rises to a flared, flat rim, and a single spout joins it to the shoulder. All rests on an integral ring base. Size: 6" in diameter (the head) x 6.5" H (15.2 cm x 16.5 cm)

    Traditionally "headhunting" has been interpreted as a somewhat incidental rather than central warfare practice; however, recent scholarship has suggested that headhunting added a significant magical and supernatural dimension to warfare. Each severed head was imbued with specific meaning and the act of taking the head was "consecrated and commemorated in some form" according to anthropologist and professor John W. Hoopes ("Sorcery and the Taking of Heads in Ancient Costa Rica" 2007). One look at this trophy head confirms Professor Hoopes theory!

    Condition: Front section of rim reattached and repainted. Nicks to rim of handle-spout. Normal surface wear with minute slip losses, scuffs, and abraded areas as shown. Nice craquelure to areas of the surface. Possible repaired probe hole at lower end of back wall.

    Provenance: private Hawaii, USA collection; ex-J. Berryman collection, Florida, USA

    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

    We ship worldwide and handle all shipping in-house for your convenience.
    Learn More

    Panamanian Cocle Polychrome Vessel - Trophy Head

  • Near East / Holy Land, Byzantine Empire, ca. 9th to 11th century CE. A tall, handsome mosaic depicting a young man holding an armful of food - possibly cuts of meat, possibly large fruit - in a white cloth stretched between his raised hands. The man is dressed like a peasant, with a colorful yellow, red, and pink tunic, white stockings, and tall, black boots. The white cloth is probably an apron, worn by both men and women. The figure has a thoughtful face, with the eyes depicted looking off to one side, as if thinking of something other than the present. He has short, thick, dark hair. What else once occupied the scene is not clear, but there are objects to left and right of the standing young man. Size of mosaic: 24.5" W x 44.5" H (62.2 cm x 113 cm); size of frame: 26.25" W x 46.25" H (66.7 cm x 117.5 cm)

    Mosaics (opus tesellatum) are some of our enduring images from the Byzantine world. They reveal everyday life, social interactions, and even things like clothing styles, personal ornament, and the interior of buildings in ways other styles of Byzantine art generally do not. This mosaic would have decorated the home of a wealthy patron of the arts, and probably formed part of a floor.

    Condition: Mounted in plaster matrix. Tesserae are generally in nice condition, with some small losses. All are original.

    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

    We ship worldwide and handle all shipping in-house for your convenience.

    SPECIAL CRATE SHIPPING REQUIRED - PLEASE INQUIRE FOR SHIPPING QUOTE


    Learn More

    9th C. Byzantine Mosaic - Young Man w/ Food

  • Ancient Egypt, Pre-Dynastic period, Naqada, ca. 3000 BCE. A beautiful coil-formed Nile silt pottery vase with a highly-burnished exterior surface covered in a deep, earthy iron-oxide slip. The conical body rests atop a gently rounded base, its walls gradually flaring outwards to a thin rim, with a deep interior cavity. The upper exterior rim as well as the vessel's basin are colored black, comprised of thick carbon deposits formed by subjecting them extensively to thick clouds of smoke in an oxygen-deprived environment. Black-top vessels originally rose to popularity during the early Naqada I, a culture which inhabited ancient Egypt during its pre-dynastic period. The Naqada were first described by famed archaeologist William Flinders Petrie, however relatively little is known about them except that they were focused around the site of El-Amra in central Egypt, west of the Nile River. Size: 5.25" W x 10" H (13.3 cm x 25.4 cm)

    Pre-Dynastic Egyptian black-top vessels were traditionally made from silt deposits taken from the Nile river due to their abundance in iron and silica. After the pot had dried but before it was fired, it would first be burnished and rubbed smooth with a small stone to create the pinstripe vertical striations still visible today. An iron-rich slip would then be applied just before firing; when placed in an oxygen-rich environment, the elevated temperatures would create the vessels’ signature red-orange hue.

    After the end of the Naqada III period around 3,000 BCE, the use of Nile silt in pottery creations fell out of favor with the Pre-Dynastic Egyptians. This was due to the increase in the popularity of marl clay, a newly-discovered material for creating terracotta objects which was easier to shape and enabled firing at greater temperatures than the highly-porous silt. A few blacktop examples have been found from later Dynastic periods, however they were likely used solely for ritualistic and/or ceremonial purposes.

    For a smaller but similar ritual example from the 13th Dynasty of the Middle Kingdom, please visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art, accession number 20.2.45: https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/545772

    This piece has been tested using thermoluminescence (TL) and has been found to be ancient and of the period stated. A full report will accompany purchase.


    Condition: Small drill hole on base. Vessel is intact, remarkably for its age, with extensive craquelure on its surface and a beautiful iridescent patina on the black.

    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

    We ship worldwide and handle all shipping in-house for your convenience.
    Learn More

    Egyptian Pre-Dynastic Naqada Blacktop Vase - TL Tested

  • 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.

    A Certificate of Authenticity will accompany all purchases

    We ship worldwide and handle all shipping in-house for your convenience.
    Learn More

    Rare / Impressive Mayan Limestone Ball Court Marker

  • Roman, Imperial Period, ca. 1st century CE. Truly breathtaking - a cast and blown mosaic flask comprised of canes of semi-transparent cobalt blue, opaque white, and semi-transparent deep blue glass. The vessel presents a spherical body with a dimpled, concave bottom, a tall cylindrical neck, and splayed lip. Note how the mosaic canes were artfully marvered into the surface to create elegant swags of milky white ribbon-like patterns throughout the body and shoulders. Then the artisan inflated the form, thus amplifying this effect to add to the drama of the decorative program. Much like gold-band glass, such vessels created by using various canes of glass are called "color-band" or "marbled glass". A stunning example of ancient Roman glass! Size: 4.25" H (10.8 cm)

    A very similar Roman blue marbled glass flask sold at Christie's London for GBP 12,500 (16,605 USD) - Sale 13850, Lot 212 - https://www.christies.com/lotfinder/Lot/a-roman-dark-blue-marbled-glass-flask-6009464-details.aspx

    You can also see a very similar example in the beautiful "Solid Liquid" catalogue (figure 72, p. 53 - Fortuna Fine Arts Ltd., New York, 1999).

    Another similar example is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art - https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/239780


    Condition: Some surface bubbles and very well done repair to section of the body wall/neck. Otherwise very nice and quite rare!

    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

    We ship worldwide and handle all shipping in-house for your convenience.
    Learn More

    Superb Roman Blue Marbled Glass Vase

  • Roman, Imperial Period, ca. 1st to 2nd century CE. A handsome, realistic marble head of a youth with a close-cropped wavy/curled coiffure framing a handsome face with attractive features such as generously lidded, almond-shaped, eyes, arched brows leading to his nose, closed full lips, a defined chin, and well-modeled naturalistic facial planes. The classicizing features and treatment of the eyes suggest that the head is from the Julio-Claudian Period. The verso is not carved in the round, suggesting that this piece is a high-relief. A wonderful piece of sculpture from ancient Rome! Size: 7.25" W x 10.625" H (18.4 cm x 27 cm); 14.75" H (37.5 cm) on included custom stand.

    Condition: Abrasion/loss to the nose, neck, ears, and high-pointed areas of the coiffure. Normal surface wear commensurate with age.

    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

    We ship worldwide and handle all shipping in-house for your convenience.
    Learn More

    Roman Marble Head of a Youth

  • George Catlin (American, 1796-1872), "Buffalo Hunt, Upper Missouri", probably London: Chatto & Windus, ca. 1875. A hand-colored lithograph from a deluxe limited edition of Catlin's "North American Indian Portfolio," among the most significant accounts of Native American life, printed by Day & Haghe, set in a custom frame under glass. Catlin's oeuvre stems from a lifelong fascination with Native Americans and a desire to preserve, in his words, "the looks and customs of the vanishing races of native man in America" with his art. This passion took root when Catlin was just a nine-year-old boy; exploring the woods of southcentral New York along the Susquehanna River in 1805, he came upon an Oneida Indian who greeted him in a warm, kind-hearted manner. This memory purportedly stayed with the artist throughout his career. Size: 16.5" W x 11.75" H (41.9 cm x 29.8 cm); 28.5" W x 23.75" H (72.4 cm x 60.3 cm) with mat and frame

    The composition of this scene features three hunters setting their sights on a herd of buffalo. The scene resonates with Catlin's reflections, "Their colour is a dark brown, but changing very much as the season varies from warm to cold; their hair or fur, from its great length in the winter and spring, and exposure to the weather, turning quite light, and almost to a jet black, when the winter coat is shed off, and a new growth is shooting out." (Catlin, Letters and Notes, vol. 1, no. 31, 1841; reprint 1973)

    Despite the fact that Catlin had no formal training as an artist, he did have an undeniable raw talent for drawing. Although his father encouraged Catlin to study law instead of art, the legal trials were far less interesting to Catlin that the imagery before him. Catlin found himself sketching judges, offenders, and jury members, and within a few years time, he decided to sell his law books and move to Philadelphia to pursue art. Lacking direction, he painted portraits but was dissatisfied with these subjects until, in approximately 1828, a delegation of Native Americans stopped in Philadelphia en route to Washington, D.C. and Catlin was reportedly drawn to what he described as "their classic beauty." Seduced by the romance of the "disappearing races", Catlin recognized that smallpox and whiskey were decimating the indigenous peoples, and vowed that "nothing short of the loss of my life, shall prevent me from visiting their country, and of becoming their historian." So in 1830, Catlin headed West where he stayed for six years (returning East most winters to his family) and painted 300 portraits and almost 175 ritual scenes and landscapes. In 1837, following his return to New York, Catlin set up an exhibition in salon style (stacked from floor to ceiling) that made quite an impression.

    As an artist, Catlin was both honored and criticized during his lifetime; however, the fact that he had created the largest of pre-photographic imagery depicting Native americans - a remarkable record - is undeniable. Bruce Watson, in his review of a 2002 Renwick Gallery exhibition of Catlin's work, wrote, "Though not the first artist to paint American Indians, Catlin was the first to picture them so extensively in their own territories and one of the few to portray them as fellow human beings rather than savages. His more realistic approach grew out of his appreciation for a people who, he wrote, 'had been invaded, their morals corrupted, their lands wrested from them, their customs changed, and therefore lost to the world.' Such empathy was uncommon in 1830, the year the federal Indian Removal Act forced Southeastern tribes to move to what is now Oklahoma along the disastrous 'Trail of Tears.'" (Bruce Watson, "George Catlin's Obsession," Smithsonian Magazine, December, 2002)

    In a famous passage from the preface of his "North American Indian Portfolio", Catlin describes how the sight of several tribal chiefs in Philadelphia inspired him to record their way of life: "the history and customs of such a people, preserved by pictorial illustrations, are themes worthy of the lifetime of one man, and nothing short of the loss of my life shall prevent me from visiting their country and becoming their historian". Understanding that the Native Americans' future was in jeopardy, Catlin he worked tirelessly, always feeling the pressure of time, to record what he saw - an artist-as-ethnographer. From 1832 to 1837 Catlin sketched the tribes during the summer months and during the winters he would paint the imagery in oils. In addition to exhibiting these, he published a selection of the finest of images from this record in the "North American Indian Portfolio" in order to expand his audience. "Buffalo Hunt" was part of this publishing venture.

    Cf. William S. Reese, The Production of Catlin's North American Indian Portfolio, 1844-1876.

    Condition: Slight wear to the frame with scuffs as shown, but otherwise very good; mat and UV protection glass are very good as well. The lithograph appears to be in generally excellent condition. It has not been examined outside the frame.

    Provenance: private Lucille Lucas collection, Crested Butte, Colorado, USA

    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

    We ship worldwide and handle all shipping in-house for your convenience.
    Learn More

    George Catlin Lithograph "Buffalo Hunt" 1875

  • Northern Europe, Viking / Norse or Anglo-Saxon, ca. 9th to 10th century CE. A tremendous circular brooch, made from silver and gilded, with its face decorated with low relief Jellinge-style animals, loops, swirls, and abstract symbols. The brooch is made from silver sheets with thirteen silver bosses riveted onto its face. The undecorated back has a large pin and latch made from a single hammered piece of silver, also riveted onto the piece, with the pin coiled into a spiral to form a hinge. Fantastical serpent-like creatures writhe around the exterior; inside of that is a six-pointed star with a round interior and another six-sided shape that looks like a flower at the center. The central boss is slightly larger than the others. Size: 4.1" W (10.4 cm); 161.3 grams

    An incredible piece of wearable artwork and displayed wealth, which in the volatile Viking period was often in the form of jewelry made from precious metals, this would have belonged to one of the highest members of society. A similar example with bosses (see below) was found in the vicinity of Canterbury Cathedral. The piece is most likely an Anglo-Saxon emulation of the Viking Jellinge style.

    The Canterbury piece at the British Museum: http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=64493&partId=1

    Condition: Slight bending to form on edges. Gilt is partially worn away, as shown.

    Provenance: private New York, New York, 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

    We ship worldwide and handle all shipping in-house for your convenience.
    Learn More

    Impressive Viking Gilt Silver Brooch - 161.3 grams