Numismatica Ars Classica, Zurich   |   Auction 92 - Part I   |   23 - 24 May 2016
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Session 1, Lot 132





Estimate: 15'000 CHF   |   Starting price: 12'000 CHF Price realized: 26'000 CHF
GREEK COINS
Syracuse
Tetradrachm circa 405-400, AR 17.40 g. Fast quadriga driven l. by charioteer, holding reins and kentron; in field above, Nike flying r. to crown him. In exergue, ear of barley. Rev. [Σ]YRAK – O – SI – [ΩN] Head of Arethusa r., wearing double-hook earring and necklace with seven pearl-shaped pendants; hair bound by ampyx in front and sphendone ornamented with star. Around, two pairs of dolphins swimming downwards. Rizzo pl. XLVII, 11 (this coin). AMB 467 (these dies). Gillet 634 (this coin). Tudeer 65.
Extremely rare. One of the finest representations of Arethusa of the entire series in full
Classical style. Struck on a narrow flan, otherwise about extremely fine
Ex NAC sale 2, 1990, 102. From the collection of a Swiss lawyer purchased in the 1980s and the early 1990s and from the collection of Charles Gillet. This tetradrachm is a tour de force from the greatest age of creativity at the Syracuse mint. Though the portrait on the reverse is a sublime masterpiece, it is the obverse that demands our attention, for is perhaps the most daring and inventive of all chariot scenes produced at Syracuse. Only about a decade before these dies were cut, the chariot scene on Syracusan tetradrachms had evolved from a somber, canonical depiction inspired by an Attic vase painting into an explosive scene in which the horses were shown in high action. With this innovation it was shown at a slight angle so the artist could dwell on the physiognomies of the horses and could show the chariot with a new perspective. The style of the chariot scene in the century prior to these innovations was formulaic: though the position of the Nike varied, the chariot was shown in profile, with only the slight overlapping of the horses and the separation of their heads to indicate that more than one was present. Very few dies from that initial century diverged even slightly from the standard formula (see Boehringer dies V45, V107, V286, V291, V326), with the work of a single artist in about 440 B.C. (Boehringer dies V295 and V296) being noteworthy, if not especially accomplished. Once we enter this dynamic period of about 415 to 385 B.C. some extraordinarily talented artists energized Syracusan coins with a level of innovation that had never before been seen. Not surprisingly, several of these artists signed their dies and produced works that were influential far beyond the shores of Sicily. Leading the way was Euainetos, who seems to have been the first to express complete freedom in the way he depicted the chariot at an angle, as if it was turning the bend (Tudeer die 10).

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