Auction of the Week: Sotheby's Curiosity V sale, April 2, 2019



2019-03-28 15:26:54

Our featured auction this week is the 'Curiosity V' sale at Sotheby's in Hong Kong on April 2. With 123 objects spanning 50 million years of history, from ancient fossils to modern art, here are 10 remarkable items we'd love to own...

19th century French anatomic head model

Estimate: $1,020 - $1,529

A 19th century French papier-mâché anatomical model of a human head, showing a detailed cross-section of the left hand face.

The model is the work of Louis Auzoux (1797-1880), who studied medicine and worked in the surgical department of the Hotel-Dieu, before establishing a workshop producing accurate human and veterinary anatomical models in 1827.

Chinese Qing Dynasty boxwood figure Of Bodhidharma

Estimate: $8,922 - $11,471

An 18th century Qing Dynasty boxwood statue of Bodhidharma, a 5th century Indian Buddhist monk considered the founder of Chan/Zen Buddhism in China, and the founder of the Shaolin school of Chinese martial arts.

30 million-year-old Gogotte formation

Estimate: $31,863 - $44,608

A stunning example of a 30 million-year-old gogotte, a naturally occurring sandstone formation found in Fontainebleau, France.

Gogottes consist of tiny quartz fragments held together by calcium carbonate, and are shaped by the elements over the millennia to form intricate shapes. The formations are known to have inspired everyone from Louis XIV of France to the 20th century surrealists.

50 million-year-old fossilized fish panel

Estimate: $25,490 - $38,235

A large and rare natural panel featuring 35 fossilized fish from the Eocene period, which extends back around 50 million years.

The specimens were discovered in the Green River Formation, a geologic formation of sedimentary layers found along the Green River in Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah.

17th-18th century Italian wood figure of Saint Bartholomew

Estimate: $38,235 - $50,980

A delicately carved Italian wooden sculpture of Saint Bartholomew, dating from the 17th-18th century.

In Christianity Saint Bartholomew is one of the twelve apostles of Jesus, who was martyred for his beliefs by being skinned alive and then beheaded.

During the European Middle Ages, Bartholomew began to be depicted as a figure stripped of flesh, carrying his own bearded face and skin. This depiction also led him to become the patron saint of tanners and leatherworkers. 

15th century French limestone bust

Estimate: $12,745 - $19,118

A carved limestone sculptural bust of a female saint, created in Burgundy, France, during the second half of the 15th century.

Depicted wearing a veil and a wimple, the figure was likely part of an Entombment group – an often life-sized sculptural group depicting the Entombment of Christ, found in churches and popular throughout the late Gothic period of French art.

Chinese Qing Dynasty Polychrome wood figure of Chitipati

Estimate: $76,470 - $101,960

An 18th century Qing Dynasty polychrome wood sculpture depicting the Chitipati, a supernatural being in Tibetan Buddhism formed of two skeletal deities locked together in a fiery dance.

The Chitipati is said to inhabit graveyards and burial sites, protecting them from thieves, and its skeletal form is viewed as a metaphor for the impermanence of life.

15th century limestone sculptural window section from Canterbury Cathedral

Estimate: $191,175 - $318,625

A 15th century Caen Limestone principal springer mullion from the south window of Canterbury Cathedral, one of England's oldest and most significant Christian structures.

This elaborately moulded springer mullion was installed at Canterbury Cathedral circa 1428-1433, and spent almost 600 years as part of the principal stonework of the south transept window.

The original springer mullions were permanently removed during renovations between 2009 and 2013, and later sold by the Cathedral to help fund restoration costs.

Chinese Tang Dynasty sculpture of an Elephant head

Estimate: $89,215 - $114,705

A Chinese painted stucco Elephant head sculpture, dating from the Tang Dynasty period, circa 618–907 A.D.

The lively, naturalistic sculpture depicts the White Elephant, revered as a Buddhist symbol of strength and wisdom, which stands as a guardian of the Temple of Buddha.

12,000-year-old Woolly Mammoth skeleton

Estimate: $318,625 - $446,075

A monumental 12,000 year-old Woolly Mammoth skeleton, standing an impressive 3.5m tall.

The complete skeleton originates from a single specimen, which was discovered in Siberia in remarkably-preserved condition.

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