An astonishing survivor – a glass Achaemenid bowl from the ancient Persian Empire, circa 5th-early 4th Century B.C. made £481,250 at Bonhams sale of Antiquities in London on May 1st. The bowl's pre-sale estimate was just £30,000 to £50,000 and it strong price reflects the success of the sale generally which made a total of £2m.
The pale, shallow, greenish glass bowl was produced by the lost wax casting method then ground and polished. It has a flaring rim and is decorated with twelve projecting tear-shaped lobes, interspersed with twelve elongated petals.
The bowl comes from an English private collection that acquired it in the 1950s and passed it down through the family.
These luxury vessels, made in the finest quality colourless glass, derived their forms from Achaemenid silver and bronze pieces, and were specially made in imitation of highly prized rock crystal.
The largest collection of Persian glass known, consisting of twenty-four vessels, including a phiale was recovered between 1931 and 1934 from the palace treasury at Persepolis, the royal residence that was destroyed by Alexander the Great in 331 B.C.
A similar bowl to the one just sold by Bonhams is preserved in the Hermitage collection in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Madeleine Perridge, Head of Antiquities at Bonhams, commented: "The price achieved for this wonderful ancient glass bowl is a result of its incredible rarity, excellent condition, and its great provenance from a private collection. There was a great deal of interest in it from around the world."
NOTES FOR EDITORS
Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to www.bonhams.com