announced the forthcoming Antiquities sale and The Groppi Collection, to be held on Thursday, 26 April 2012 at Christies South Kensington saleroom. Altogether featuring 397 lots, the auction is expected to realise between £5.8 million and £8.6 million. The April sale follows a successful 2011 for Christies Antiquities department, with sales totaling £8.74 million in London, a testament to Christies leadership in the European Antiquities market. The auction is led by The Groppi Collection a family collection of ancient Egyptian artefacts originally formed by Achille Groppi between the 1920s-40s. Totaling 107 lots, the collection comprises a variety of objects, mainly rare Egyptian glass tiles, and is expected to realise £700,000 to £1,100,000.
One of the most important lots in the sale, and the largest, standing at over 4 feet high, is an Egyptian limestone cult statue of Nectanebo I - the first king of the last dynasty in Egypt and the last major native pharaoh (estimate: £600,000-900,000). Dating to circa 380-362 B.C. this statue is an important addition to the corpus of royal sculpture from the Late Period there are almost no examples that compare to this statue in terms of size, subject-matter and excellence of preservation. The Louvre has a head identified as Nectanebo I in its collections.
The auction showcases works of exceptional provenance, including property from the Hubertus Wald Charitable Foundation and the estate of Renate Wald; and the collection of photographer Bob Willoughby, famous for his iconic portraits of his muse Audrey Hepburn. Unseen on the market in over thirty years, a Roman bronze chariot fitting in the form of a pantheress, circa 1st-2nd century A.D., is offered for sale from a Private Collection, having once graced the highly-esteemed collections of Baron Eugen Miller von Aichholz (1835-1919), Camillo Castiglioni (1879-1957) and Greta S. Heckett (estimate: £100,000-150,000). A Cypriot limestone male head, circa 460-450 B.C., was previously in the collection of Hector-Martin Lefuel (1810-1880) architect under Napoléon III, whose most famous project was the completion of the Palais du Louvre, Paris (estimate: £40,000-60,000). Similar examples are in the Collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and The Louvre, Paris. And from a European Family, a Roman archaistic marble herm of Hermes Propylaios, circa 1st century B.C.-1st century A.D. (estimate: £50,000-80,000). The herm has been handed down through generations of the family since it was acquired circa 1896 by Don Fernando de Contreras and Francisca Pérez de Herrasti, Spain, from the sale of the property of Mariano Téllez Girón y Beaufort Spontin (1814-1882), 12th Duke of Osuna, Spain, Russia, and Belgium. A Knight of the Spanish Order of Toisón de Oro, The Duke attended Queen Victorias coronation and Napoléon IIIs marriage to Eugenia de Montijo and was based in St Petersburg from 1856-1862. There he was known for his extravagant parties attended by all Russian nobility which caused the ruin of his great fortune and led him to auction most of his property.
The ownership in antiquity of this important Roman parcel gilt silver fluted bowl is known from the inscription on the base in Graeco-Bactrian, which reads Property of Mawe-guzg probably the name of the individual who commissioned the piece and suggests a date of around the 3rd Century A.D. (estimate: £300,000-400,000).
The sale also includes, thirty-nine lots of ancient jewellery, ranging from affordable ancient intaglios and necklaces starting from around £1,000 to a spectacular Greek gold wreath, circa 3rd-2nd century B.C. estimated at £100,000-150,000. Formerly from Hever Castle in Kent, the wreath sold at Christies London in 1987 for £15,400. In antiquity, gold wreaths were frequently given as prizes for athletics contests, bestowed by the State as a mark of honour and glory. They were also used in religious processions, as funerary decorations and were popular dedicatory offerings made in temples. Further highlights from the jewellery section include a Greek gold snake armlet, circa 4th-2nd century B.C. (estimate: £80,000-100,000) and an Ostrogothic gold bracelet, circa late 5th-early 6th century A.D. (estimate: £80,000-120,000).