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.
Antiques certainly never go out of style. In recent news, a detailed Roman parade helmet sold at Christie’s auction house in London for 2.28 million pounds ($3.6 million). Estimates had been set at 200,000 to 300,000 pounds.
Christie’s described the helmet as an “extraordinary example of Roman metalwork at its zenith” and dated it to the late 1st or 2nd century A.D. The helmet has been named the Crosby Garrett Helmet for the village where it was found, near the Scottish border.
Certainly, this is one exciting example of how precious and valuable antiques are to many people today. Companies like Phoenix Ancient Art with Hicham Aboutaam and Ali Aboutaam understand the value of an item of this sort, and antique appreciation is growing in the general population as well.
In a recent article by Simon Hewitt titled “Defining Chic” in Art & Auction Magazine, Mr. Hewitt gave a detailed overview of the Biennale des Antiquaries that took place at the Grand Palais in Paris from September 15-22. This year’s event pared down the number of exhibitors from 94 to 87, and included 13 new exhbiitors.
He described the broad mix of material at the fair: “The Biennale is nothing if not eclectic. Highlights range from a 3rd- to 2nd-century B.C. Hellenistic bronze equestrian figure of Alexander the Great at Phoenix Ancient Art, of Geneva and New York, to “Renaissance of Yiddish Culture,” a show of Kiev-based artists at the booth of the Paris and Tel Aviv gallery Le Minotaure.”
Phoenix Ancient Art, a premier gallery specializing in Classical Antiquities and owned by brothers Hicham Aboutaam and Ali Aboutaam, will exhibit in the Biennale des Antiquaires in Paris. This magnificent event will take place at the Grand Palais from September 15-22, 2010 and will display the finest works of art on the market today.
Phoenix Ancient Art will unveil masterworks including a Statue of Leto Holding Apollo and Artemis. This statue from the Roman Imperial Period, 2nd century A.D.. stands 98 centimeters high and is is carved in the round from a single piece of fine-grained marble. The group is almost completely intact and it resembles a Greek original dating from the 5th century B.C.
One way of understanding ancient Greek culture and history is by taking a look at the artwork from the time. Pottery from ancient Greece has helped many people form a basic understanding of the place, people and culture. Indeed, it has been said that such pottery “paints a portrait of the world of ancient Greece.” At Phoenix Ancient Art, Hicham Aboutaam has a few impressive pieces from this time on sale, including a core-formed glass Amphoriskos priced at $6,500, which probably at the time contained some kind of perfume. From this piece one can learn a bit about the history of antiques in general, since the practice of using finely produced glass vessels for valuable commodities started in the late Bronze Age and was later revived in Mesopotamia in the early Iron Age.
Those interested in news in the world of antique arts will want to know about a recent discovery that was uncovered at the ancient city of Myra, near present-day Demre, on the coast of Turkey . The discovery, made six meters below ground level, is the remains of a Byzantine church that is said to date back to the 12th century. Unfortunately, the church’s dome has been somewhat damaged over the centuries, but what is quite amazing is that its roof and tiles and the actual structure of the church remain intact.
In recent news around the world, the AP reports that four clay coffins estimated to be 2000 years old were unearthed in Cyprus. The coffins, untouched by grave robbers, were said to date from the Hellenistic to early Roman period, from between 300 B.C. to 100 A.D. In addition, other items found at the site included human skeletal remains, terra cotta urns and more. All of these were discovered while workers were fixing a sidewalk in a resort location.
Certainly, if you are interested in collecting antiques, or if you are already an antique collector, you have many choices. There are many antique dealers today who offer outstanding products and exceptional quality. One such dealer is Phoenix Ancient Art. They are a second generation Ancient Art company, originally founded in the mid 1960s by the late S. Aboutaam.
Having taken up his passion, Mr. Aboutaam’s sons are, today, the owners of the company. Ali Aboutaam and Hicham Aboutaam run and manage both the Geneva gallery and the New York gallery (pictured here). Phoenix Ancient Art offers treasures from a large range of locations and time periods. Its scope includes Mesopotamia, the Near East, Egypt, Europe, the Balkans, Eurasia, Byzantium, the Steppes, Greece and the Roman Empire.