• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 5399

    Antiquities

    30 April 2008, London, South Kensington

  • Lot 90

    A ROMAN ARRETINE POTTERY BOWL

    1ST CENTURY A.D.

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    A ROMAN ARRETINE POTTERY BOWL
    1ST CENTURY A.D.
    With low disc foot, the exterior with finely moulded relief decoration consisting of scrolling vine leaf and bud frieze below band of raised dots, band of tongues between dots below, remains of gilding on frieze and lip, the interior with traces of gilded decoration
    4½ in. (11.4 cm.) diam., 2½ in. (6.4 cm.) high


    Contact Client Service
    • info@christies.com

    • New York +1 212 636 2000

    • London +44 (0)20 7839 9060

    • Hong Kong +852 2760 1766

    • Shanghai +86 21 6355 1766

    Towards the end of the 1st Century B.C., a new type of fine pottery came into production; it was first made at Arezzo in Tuscany and named Arretine after its place of manufacture and remained in production until the end of the 1st Century A.D. Inspiration for the decoration came from Classical Athens, the floral and vegetal motifs reflecting those found on contemporary architecture and vessels of precious metal. Indeed, this fine pottery was probably developed as an affordable alternative to silverware. It was made by preparing individual wooden or clay stamps (poinçons) to impress a motif into the mould in which the pot was thrown on the wheel. The decorative scheme might combine as many as thirty different stamps, and was unique to the mould. Further detail could be added with a stylus. Glossy slip was then applied to the vessel and the finish achieved by use of sophisticated controls over firing in the kiln. The centres of manufacture of Arretine pottery soon spread from Italy to Southern and Central Gaul and Germany, supplying expatriate Romans, soldiers and civilian officials all over the expanding Empire, and also the local populations who had adopted Roman customs. Some of the Arretine products from early Gaulish workshops were of such fine quality that they were exported from Gaul to Italy. The above lot was probably made in Gaul.

    For similar, cf. R. Schindler, Landesmuseum Trier, Führer durch die vorgeschichtliche und römische Abteilung, Trier, 1970, p. 30, Abb. 80; and C. Johns, Arretine and Samian Pottery, London, 1971, pls. 4-5, and 7.

    Special Notice

    No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 15% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.
    Please note that the lots of Iranian origin are subject to U.S. trade restrictions which currently prohibit the import into the United States. Similar restrictions may apply in other countries.
    This lot will be removed to an off-site warehouse at the close of business on the day of sale - 2 weeks free storage


    Provenance

    Property from the Collection of the Princely House of Liechtenstein; acquired by Prince Johann II (1840-1929) in the late 19th/early 20th Century.


    Pre-Lot Text

    PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF THE PRINCELY HOUSE OF LIECHTENSTEIN
    Lots 90-132

    For many collectors of antiquities, the provenance of a particular piece is all-important; its recent history can add to the interest of an object and, consequently, to its value. The opportunity rarely arises to acquire antiquities from historic princely collections, but in this sale there are offered antiquities belonging to the Princely House of Liechtenstein, one of Europe's oldest noble families whose line can be traced to the 12th Century.

    For over 400 years, the Princes of Liechtenstein have collected and been patrons of the arts, sharing their collections by putting them on public display. Their works of art, including some of the finest European paintings, sculpture and furniture in private hands, have been housed in various palaces, namely at Vaduz, and some are still on display in the LIECHTENSTEIN MUSEUM in Vienna. An exhibition of the Liechtenstein Collection in New York at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1985, showed antiquities alongside European masterpieces enhancing its reputation as the 'most beautiful private collection in the world'.

    The group of antiquities here offered for sale (lots 90-132) were collected by Prince Johann II ('the good') of Liechtenstein (1840-1929). He was an outstanding art connoisseur and generous patron, who donated money to numerous public museums and restored several of his family's castles including Vaduz. He generously supported scientific and cultural endeavours, including welfare initiatives and the building of churches (which earned him the epithet 'good').

    Prince Johann II reigned at a time of exciting archaeological discovery around the Mediterranean and in the Near East - ancient cultures were being brought to light and beautiful objects found by such figures as Schliemann at Troy and Mycenae, Evans at Knossos, and by Layard at Nineveh. In 1881, The Austrian Society for Archaeological Research in Asia Minor was founded, which provided funds for excavations at ancient sites. The Prince, who was an honorary member, supported the Society financially and archaeologists such as Benndorf (who held the chair of archaeology at the University of Vienna), Kalinka, Heberdey and Kubitschek were able to carry out research in Cilicia, Pamphylia, Lycia and Phrygia, which resulted in the publication of the first volume of a work recording ancient inscriptions in Asia Minor. In 1881, Benndorf re-discovered the Lycian heroon (monument) at Gjolbaschi-Trysa in Turkey; its 5th Century B.C. decorative friezes, ornamental lintel and nearby sarcophagus are now in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. Up until 1904, the Prince supported several expeditions as well as subsequent publications.

    The Liechtenstein antiquities were largely collected in the latter part of the 19th Century; some appear on inventory lists of 1881. Vases, terracottas, sculptures and inscriptions were noted in an inventory of the collection compiled by Dr Julius Banko of the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna in 1920. It recorded some 355 objects. But after the death of Prince Johann II, interest in the antiquities' collection dwindled, leading to the sale of a significant portion of it during World War II and later.

    After Austria was annexed in 1938, the entire Liechtenstein collection was placed on the 'Reichs List of Indispensable Art Objects' and forbidden to leave the country. However, many masterpieces were successfully moved to safety, and through the inventiveness and resourcefulness of the Princes, their collections largely survived the disintegration of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the turbulences of World War II; many of them can be seen today in Vienna in the newly re-opened LIECHTENSTEIN MUSEUM. However, not all the collections were spared the bombing raids - a number of antiquities, notably the Greek vases, suffered bomb damage during the war.

    Virtually all the remaining antiquities belonging to the Princely House of Liechtenstein are to be offered in this sale. Particularly noteworthy are the Greek vases, which include a finely potted and painted oinochoe by the Triptolemos Painter (lot 120), which encapsulates the art of the late Archaic vase painter working in Athens at the end of the 5th Century B.C.