• Press release
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  • New York
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  • For immediate release
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  • 24 March 2017

PRESS RELEASE : The Guennol Stargazer  



New York – Christie’s announces that The Guennol Stargazer, one of the finest and largest preserved Anatolian marble female idols of Kiliya type, is the top lot of the Exceptional Sale on April 28 (estimate on request). The Guennol Stargazer is from the Chalcolithic Period, circa 3000-2200 B.C., and it is considered to be one of the most impressive of its type known in existence. The Guennol Stargazer is further distinguished by its exhibition history, having been on loan at The Metropolitan Museum of Art at various periods from 1966 to 2007.

“The Antiquities department is thrilled to be offering the Guennol Stargazer in the Exceptional Sale, an iconic work of art and one universally recognized as the finest Kiliya idol in existence. This extremely rare work, though dating to the 3rd millennium B.C., is widely appreciated across collecting categories, and was a source of inspiration for 20th century masters for its sleek and modern appeal,” comments G. Max Bernheimer, International Head of Antiquities.

Stargazer” is the colloquial title derived from the slightly tilted-back angle at which the large head rests on the thin neck, thus creating the whimsical impression of a celestial stare. There are only about 15 nearly complete idols that survive, although fragmentary examples, particularly heads, abound. Most of the complete examples have been broken across the neck, as the present figure, suggesting that the sculptures were ritually “killed” at the time of burial. 


The Guennol Stargazer maintains an impressive provenance. It was a part of the Guennol collection, which was formed by prominent art collectors Alastair Bradly Martin and his wife, Edith. The title “Guennol” is the Welsh word for “Martin,” the last name of the first modern owners. The choice of Welsh is an allusion to the place where they spent their honeymoon. The Stargazer was then passed by descent and acquired by the current owner, a New York private collector, in August 1993 from the Merrin Gallery.

Notes to Editors:

The last marble example of Kiliya type that appeared at auction was The Schuster Stargazer, which sold at Christie’s New York on June 5, 2005 for $1,808,000

Stargazer idols have strong appeal to collectors of all types of art, from Ancient to Contemporary, predominantly due to their similarities with modern art. The sleek and abstract form of Kiliya idols resonates with 20th century masters such as Brancusi, Modigliani and Moore.  

The exceptional nature of the objects included in the Guennol Collection is legendary – in December 2007, the Guennol Lioness, a Mesopotamian limestone sculpture, fetched $57.1 million, setting a record price at auction for an ancient work of art.

The Exceptional Sale is during Christie’s Classic Week, a marquee week of sales in April, which includes Antiquities, Old Masters, European Sculpture and Japanese and Korean Art.

About Christie’s

Christie’s, the world's leading art business, had auction sales in the first half of 2019 that totalled £2.2 billion / $2.8 billion. Christie’s is a name and place that speaks of extraordinary art, unparalleled service and international expertise. Christie’s offers around 350 auctions annually in over 80 categories, including all areas of fine and decorative arts, jewellery, photographs, collectibles, wine, and more. Prices range from $200 to over $100 million. Christie's also has a long and successful history conducting private sales for its clients in all categories, with emphasis on Post-War & Contemporary, Impressionist & Modern, Old Masters and Jewellery.

Alongside regular sales online, Christie’s has a global presence in 46 countries, with 10 salerooms around the world including in London, New York, Paris, Geneva, Milan, Amsterdam, Dubai, Zürich, Hong Kong, and Shanghai.

*Please note when quoting estimates above that other fees will apply in addition to the hammer price - see Section D of the Conditions of Sale at the back of the sale catalogue.

*Estimates do not include buyer’s premium. Sales totals are hammer price plus buyer’s premium and are reported net of applicable fees.