Bronze sculpture of Hellenistic rider found in London home for sale at Bonhams

25 Apr 2012, Antiquities

Bonhams next sale of Antiquities on April 25th in New Bond Street features an important piece of Classical bronze sculpture, believed to depict a Hellenistic warrior of the 1st Century B.C., discovered in a London home. After conservation it will be sold for £50,000 to £80,000.

Madeleine Perridge, Head of Antiquities at Bonhams, says: "Once in a while you come across something special and despite the condition this piece was in, its power and significance was unmistakable. When we stumbled across this bronze torso it was in a very fragile and fragmentary state in a London home. But there was no mistaking its importance as one of a relatively small group of surviving life-size Classical bronzes."

Relatively few bronze cuirassed busts such as this have survived, even in fragmentary condition. The posture of this torso suggests that the figure was originally mounted on horseback, with the right arm raised to brandish a weapon. The dynamic movement of the drapery as it flows out beneath the raised arm gives a vitality to the piece very much in-keeping with Hellenistic art. Equestrian statues were common in the Hellenistic period, depicting kings such as Alexander and later on, generals of the Roman Republic.

This piece represents a fantastic opportunity for collectors, as most surviving Classical cuirassed figures are sculpted in marble, whilst the few examples in bronze are found almost exclusively in museum collections. Not only is it rare to find a surviving bronze of this style, but it is rarer still to find one with such a dynamic look, created by the incredible detail and accentuated movement in the figure's drapery.

Now, after some conservation work the sculpture more than justifies that excitement. The life-size bronze is depicted wearing military dress, with the right arm upraised. He wears a tunic with a leather vest over the top, with the tasseled ends visible at the shoulder beneath the metal cuirass. The shoulder straps of the cuirass are decorated in relief with a star and lion's head. The folds of the cloak are draped over the right shoulder and around the body. It stands 23in (58.4cm) high.

The work comes from an English private collection in London and was gifted to the present owner in the 1960s.


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 appraisal services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to www.bonhams.com

Contacts
  1. Julian Roup
    Press
    Bonhams
    Work
    101 New Bond Street
    London, United Kingdom W1S 1SR
    Work +44 20 7468 8259
    FaxFax: +44 20 7468 8209
  2. Madeleine Perridge
    Specialist
    Bonhams
    Work
    101 New Bond Street
    London, United Kingdom W1S 1SR
    Work +44 20 7468 8226
    FaxFax: +44 20 7468 8283
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