Estimate: 50'000 CHF
Starting price: 40'000 CHF
Price realized: 60'000 CHF
Sicily, Syracuse. Tetradrachm circa 405-400 BC, AR 17.24 g.
Description Fast quadriga driven l. by charioteer holding reins in both hands and kentron in l.; in field above, Nike flying r. to crown him. Beneath the hooves of the first horse, a detached chariot wheel and farther to l., loose bridle. Rev. SURAKOSI[W – N] Large head of Arethusa l., wearing double-hook earring and necklace with four pearl-shaped pendants; hair bound by ampyx in front and sphendone ornamented with stars at back, the lower border of which bears a zig-zag pattern. Around, two pairs of dolphins swimming downwards. References
Rizzo pl. XLVII, 17 (this obverse die)
Boston 415 (these dies)
Gulbenkian 288 (these dies)
AMB 471 (this coin)
Tudeer 69 Condition
Very rare and among the finest specimens known of this superb issue. A portrait of enchanting beauty, work of a very talented master engraver struck on a very broad flan. A delicate old cabinet tone and extremely fine Provenance
NAC sale 13, 1998, formerly exhibited at the Antike Museum Basel Sammlung Ludwig, 471
Triton sale XVIII, 2015, 385
The A.D.M. collection
The collection of the Money Museum Zürich
This superb tetradrachm of Syracuse offers us a reverse absolutely sublime, surely the work of a master-engraver who, even if he did not sign his works, he was in no way inferior to those who were wont to put their signatures on theirs dies. We believe that to him should be ascribed some of the best made Arethusa heads, and namely Tudeer nos. 41. 42, 43, 46, 47, 52. Among these, in our opinion the masterpieces are nos. 42, 43 and 47 that, for their enchanting beauty, stand out from the others and represent the highest achievement in the coinage of classical time. The obverse equally 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 the 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 Boeh. 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 was turning the bend (Tudeer die 10). This particular die, Tudeer die 25, takes Euainetos’ inventiveness to a new level by adding unexpected elements to the scene. Here we have a snapshot of a calamity: one of the reins has been pulled from the driver’s hand and the horses trample upon a wheel that has broken away from a competing chariot. The fact that our charioteer is being crowned by Nike is all the confirmation we need that he and his team emerged victorious at the expense of a competitor whose chariot had overturned in close proximity.