• Antiquities  auction at Christies

    Sale 2232


    11 December 2009, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 137


    CIRCA 50 B.C.-25 A.D.

    Price Realised  


    CIRCA 50 B.C.-25 A.D.
    The shallow bowl lathe turned, on a slightly off-set ring foot, with two grooves on the interior below the rounded rim, the central emblema with a thick gilt border, exquisitely detailed with a vintaging scene in high relief on a raised groundline, with two satyrs at the center treading on grapes, supporting each other with clasped left hands, that to the right nude, his body arched forward, his left leg raised, his head angled down, his short tail in relief, that to the left wearing a short loin cloth, his upper torso bare, his head angled to his left, exposing his pointed ear and tousled hair, his left leg raised, his right arm reaching back behind him and gripping the upper molding of a statue base for additional support, the base surmounted by an ithyphallic herm, a tree beside it with large leafy branches extending above the scene, a tambourine hanging from the central branch, a ribbon tied to a small branch to the left, an ivy tendril in the exergue
    6 7/8 in. (17.5 cm.) diameter

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    The central decorative medallion, or emblema, on this bowl is indicative of a class of luxury goods from the Late Republican and Early Imperial Period that were made purely for display rather than functionality. Such bowls were physical and intentional symbols of status, in a period when ostentation and conspicuous consumption was, as Lightfoot describes, "both condemned and eagerly pursued (p. 56 in Milleker, ed., The Year One, Art of the Ancient World East and West)."

    According to Strong, (Greek and Roman Gold and Silver Plate, pp. 151-152), these show-plates, or dishes and bowls with figural relief medallions, "were often made in pairs with related subjects." He notes, for example, dishes from the Hildesheim Treasure with medallions of Attys and Cybele or the pair from the Boscoreale Treasure with busts of a husband and wife.


    De Chambrier collection, Switzerland, acquired in the 19th century.