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
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.”
Bronze Statuette of a Black Dancer
Hellenistic Greek, bronze, early 1st century B.C. (100-50 B.C.).
Ht: 18 cm.
Currently at Phoenix Ancient Art, this Hellenistic statuette is a work of very high quality. Made using the lost wax technique, it represents a young black dancer, who characterized by tightly curled hair and Negroid features. A recurrent subject during the Hellenistic Age among the artists of Alexandria, it remained popular during the Roman Imperial period. The dancer stands on tiptoe, raises his arms and tilts his head backwards: his extremely elaborate position is nevertheless reproduced in a very natural way, as is his musculature and the anatomy of his athletic body.
The man is simply dressed in a short loincloth (suggesting that he belonged to the lower social classes, perhaps he was a slave) that does not entirely hide his sex. It should be noted that Greeks often represented certain types of men with oversize sexual organs: chiefly dwarves blacks and pygmies..
Phoenix Ancient Art will be participating this coming October in the annual International Fine Art and Antique Dealers Show. Organized by Haughton International Fairs, it is the longest running of its shows in New York city and a prestigious event for anyone interested in antiques. The fair is recognized throughout the world as a “premier showcase for exceptional quality works of art from antiquity to the present day.” To be featured at this event is a mark of honor for antique dealers such as Hicham and Ali Aboutaam from Phoenix Ancient Art.
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.
The South Arabian people (more commonly known as the Sabaeans), resided in the south west portion of the Arabian Peninsula , the place we know today as Yemen. They have been linked to the biblical kingdom of Sheba. Ma’rib, the capital of the ancient Sabaean Kingdom, was conquered in the late 3rd century by the Himyarites. There were various different regional kingdoms belonging to the Sabaeans throughout ancient Yemen and all were active in the spice trade, with a special emphasis on myrrh and frankincense. The best known South Arabian art is their distinctive sculpture. . They were very often carved in alabaster, and some of these are sold by Hicham Aboutaam at Phoenix Ancient Art. Currently on sale in this collection is a South Arabian Stone Head for $8,500.
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.
The Aboutaams, brothers Hicham and Ali, sell antiquities from various historical eras including the Hellenistic period which started in 323 (following Alexander the Great’s death) and lasted until 31 BC (with the battle of Actium). During this period, culture became richer throughout the world and Greek mythology and thought were prominent through the Middle East and Mediterranean Sea. From the Hellenistic collection at Phoenix Ancient Art, Hicham Aboutaam sold a blue and yellow core formed glass Amphoriskos with a small flat base, long elegant neck, and tiny decorative horizontal handles. The glass is cobalt blue, with threads of yellow in feathered patterns ornamenting the body. These types of vessels were crafted by trailing decorative threads of molten glass over a core of sand, mud or clay, forming a vase.