Saturday, December 6, 2008
I noticed there is an upcoming antiquities auction at Sotheby's slated for December 10. Although the news article I read enthused about a sculpture of an Egyptian priest, I found this beautiful Roman Imperial period bronze sphinx listed in the collection catalogue. I've seen a number of sphinx sculptures and statues from Greece and Rome at different museums but I don't think I've seen any as delicately detailed as this one. Although other sphinxes I have seen may have a female appearing face, this one even reveals the upper part of a female torso as well - sort of a blending of the huntress Artemis (the Roman Diana) with her prey.
I do hope it ends up in a public museum, as opposed to being secreted away in some private collection, so there is at least a possibility of seeing it someday. The late 1st century BCE to early 1st century CE Roman Imperial Period piece is expected to bring $8,000-$12,000.
If you've never been to Sotheby's website it's like an online museum in itself. You can browse the collections of upcoming auctions one item at a time. Each item has been photographed in very high resolution and can be examined with a zooming navigation tool to see all the fine details of a piece. Many items offer alternate views as well. They also offer a sold lot archive that is a lot of fun to explore. You can even purchase lot catalogues. The one for this particular lot of antiquities was listed at $48 - about what you would pay for an exhibit catalogue at a museum.