Phoenix Ancient Art: Winged griffin flanking a sacred tree, Phoenician, ca. 8th century B.C., ivory, H 10.6 cm
“As for the fascination, in addition to aesthetics it has great deal to do with the perception that Near Eastern art is very, very old, older in fact than every other form of art. This belief, according to Hicham Aboutaam, co-owner of‘ Phoenix Ancient Art in New York and Geneva, exists because most of the sites from the ancient Near East that we know of today were referred to in the Old Testament—Ur, Sumer, Babylon, Nineveh, not to mention kings such as Nebuchadnezzar. Because the Old Testament is so very old, we consider art from that period as very old as well.’ Aboutaam points out that this perception that is not, in fact, correct. Cycladic art is older, and Egyptian culture older still.”
Amy Page, “Neolithic to Nebuchadnazzer,” Art & Antiques, November, 2010
This beautiful Cycadic figure of a reclining female was once owned by Ali and Hicham Aboutaam, the co-owners of Phoenix Ancient Art, One of only twelve known by an artist called the “Schuster Master,” named for a collector who owned this idol, it is the only complete work by the artist that has survived. Now owned by a private collector, it is going on the auction block at Christie’s New York on 9 December, where it is estimated to bring $3 million to $5 million. The price paid could be a new auction record for a Cycladic figure.
Brothers Ali Aboutaam and Hicham Aboutaam co-own Phoenix Ancient Art, a collection of beautiful and rare antiques. Amongst their selection is an ancient Egyptian amulet in the shape of the goddess Bastet from the 3rd Intermediary Period, circa 8th-7th Century B.C. Standing almost 6 cm tall, this figurine is very delicate. Despite its fragility, the amulet is in amazing condition; it is completely intact, and still retains its original bright blue color. The figure is shaped as the human body of a thin woman with a feline head.
Bastet is the more gentle personification of the dangerous goddess Sekhmet, who appears as both a cat and a lion in Egyptian tradition. Figurines of Sekhmet have the rounded ears of a lion, while those of Bastet feature the pointed ears of a cat.
Bastet was believed to be the patron of the doctors, and protector of women and children during childbirth.