A Minoan serpentine blossom bowl

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Lot 1
A Minoan serpentine blossom bowl

Sold for £ 40,062 (US$ 51,547) inc. premium

Antiquities

23 Jul 2020, 10:30 BST

London, New Bond Street

A Minoan serpentine blossom bowl
Middle Minoan III-Late Minoan I, circa 1750-1450 B.C.
With squat piriform body, the broad shoulders tapering to a flat base, the outer walls carved in low relief with six petals, each centrally ribbed, 8.5cm high, 13.5cm diam.

Footnotes

  • Provenance:
    Dr Fréderic Ephraim (1898-1976) collection, Paris and Lugano, acquired from the above prior to 1958; and thence by descent to Mr Jean C. Genty-Ephraim (1925-2016), Lugano.
    Private collection, Europe, acquired from the above February 2011.

    For similar, see examples in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, acc. no. 24.150.1, the Museum of Cycladic Art, Athens, acc. no. 1095, and The Ernest Brummer Collection, Ancient Art, vol. II, Zurich, 1979, no. 667.

    Stone carving developed on Crete as early as the 3rd Millennium B.C., when stone vessels are thought to have functioned primarily as tomb goods. With the development of the Minoan palace complex and surrounding settlements, which ignited a societal drive for luxury and refinement, it is likely their usage extended into the domestic and religious spheres. Blossom bowls have been found in both domestic and funerary contexts, and are presumed to have held precious commodities such as perfumes, ointments or spices.

    Trade connections with Egypt, which were particularly strong during the New Kingdom (16th-15th Century B.C.), likely inspired Minoan stone vessels, as the Egyptian tradition for such was already well-established, and Egyptian examples from as early as the Predynastic Period have been discovered on Crete. Conversely, Minoan stone vessels are believed to have been exported as far east as Byblos and Troy, and blossom bowls were a particularly popular prestige object for use as gift exchange in support of local trading arrangements around the Aegean (Greek Art of the Aegean Islands, exhibition catalogue, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1979, p. 90; see also P.M. Warren, 'Stone Vessels in Minoan Crete' in Minoan and Greek Civilization from the Mitsotakis Collection, Athens, 1992, p. 151-155).
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