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AN ACHAEMENID GOLD APPLIQUE OF A WINGED BULL
AN ACHAEMENID GOLD APPLIQUE OF A WINGED BULL
AN ACHAEMENID GOLD APPLIQUE OF A WINGED BULL
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AN ACHAEMENID GOLD APPLIQUE OF A WINGED BULL
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AN ACHAEMENID GOLD APPLIQUE OF A WINGED BULL

IRAN, REIGN OF ARTAXERXES II, 404-359 B.C.

Details
AN ACHAEMENID GOLD APPLIQUE OF A WINGED BULL
IRAN, REIGN OF ARTAXERXES II, 404-359 B.C.
9 5⁄8 in. (24.4 cm.) high
Provenance
Reputedly excavated in Hamedan, Iran in 1920.
Maurice Vidal collection, New York, prior to July 1948.
Literature
A. Upham Pope, Illustrated London News, 17 July 1948, pp. 57-59.
Iran: pièces du Musée de Téhéran, du Musée du Louvre et de collections particulières, Paris, Musée Cernuschi, 1948, p. 36. no. 55. (exhibition catalogue).
M. T. Mustafavi, The Historical Monuments of Hamadan and A Chapter concerning Avicenna, Teheran, 1953, pp. 140-141, figs 47, 48.
H. J. Kantor, “Achaemenid Jewelry in the Oriental Institute,” Journal of Near Eastern Studies, vol. 16, no. 1, 1957, p. 18, no. 94.
His Imperial Majesty, M. R. Pahlavi, 'A glorious past: a shining future by the Shah of Iran,' in Life International, 29 July 1963, p. 36 and magazine front cover.
Exhibited
Iran: pièces du Musée de Téhéran, du Musée du Louvre et de collections particulières, Musée Cernuschi, Paris, 23-31 July 1948.
Special notice

These lots have been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.
Post lot text
The USA prohibits the purchase by US persons of Iranian-origin “works of conventional craftsmanship” such as carpets, textiles, decorative objects, and scientific instruments. The US sanctions apply to US persons regardless of the location of the transaction or the shipping intentions of the US person. For this reason, Christie’s will not accept bids by US persons on this lot. Non-US persons wishing to import this lot into the USA are advised that they will need to apply for an OFAC licence and that this can take many months to be granted.

Brought to you by

Claudio Corsi
Claudio Corsi Specialist

Lot Essay


This magnificent winged-bull embodies the distinctive style of Achaemenid applied art. The body of the bull is composed of graceful, highly stylised segments such as the repetitive spiral curls on the body and the concentric bands of the eyelid. As with the winged deity (previous lot), the beast is posed in a typically rhythmic manner with the forelegs stretched in front and the body transfigured by an upswept wing. Animal motifs feature heavily in the repertoire of the Achaemenid artistic tradition, with bulls and lions being associated with strength and power. Similarly, backward-looking animals, as with this example, can be seen modeled in a variety of mediums, cf. a silver vessel in the Teheran Museum with handles in the form of backward-looking ibex published in P. Amiet, Art of the Ancient Near East, New York, 1980, p. 458, no. 715.

The two Vidal appliques both showcase another distinctive feature of Achaemenid art, which is the marked uniformity between the applied arts and the major arts. Some of the monumental carved processional reliefs at Persepolis bear a striking resemblance to the gold appliques both thematically and stylistically, cf. nos. 706-708 of Persian heroes combating winged bulls in P. Amiet op. cit, and A27978 in the Oriental Institute Museum, Chicago, for a relief of a winged griffin. As H. J. Kantor notes in, “Achaemenid Jewelry in the Oriental Institute,” Journal of Near Eastern Studies, vol. 16, no. 1, 1957, p. 2., "This (uniformity) is greater than in the arts of other ancient Near Eastern cultures...there is really no distinction between decorative and major art, save one of scale." Thus, these appliques not only exemplify the highest achievements of Persian goldsmiths, but also illustrate the full achievement of Achaemenid art as a whole.

The closest parallel for this applique is a roundel of a winged lion in the Oriental Institute Museum, Chicago, Inv. no. A28582, dating to the same period.

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