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Home > Auctions > 12th February 2015 > Greek Hellenistic Gold Oak Leaf Wreath

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LOT 0529

Sold for (Inc. bp): £21,780

12 1/2" (wreath diameter: 8") (745 grams, 31cm tall including stand (wreath diameter: 20cm)).

A Greek Hellenistic diadem wreath comprising numerous projecting sprays of sheet-gold oak leaves in two sizes with serrated edges and veins, a large central rosette with two smaller similar roundels flanking, laurel leaves to the rear with gold Hercules love-knot, the four intersections covered by miniature gold masks modelled in the round with varying expressions, and four more to the bands of the knot; each element affixed to a custom-designed display stand.

Property of a London collector; acquired from Alexander Cotton, UK, in late 1970s.

The most famous of such wreaths is the example from Vergina in the tomb of Philip II of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great (see Andronicos, M. Vergina: The Royal Tombs and the Ancient City, Athens, 1984, figs.137 & 184). Similar wreaths have been found all over the Hellenistic world in funerary contexts, as far apart as Asia Minor, the Black Sea coasts and Magna Graecia. The Greek writer Demosthenes (384-322 BC) noted that gold wreaths were worn for religious ceremonies, and the inventories of Greek temples and sanctuaries record that they were left as dedications by local men and women, foreign visitors, officials approaching the end of their career, as well as foreign powers seeking a favourable relationship. The oak leaves may symbolise the power of Zeus, who was often represented by the oak tree.
This is a finely detailed example of the type executed with great skill. Cf. Williams, D. & Ogden, J. Greek Gold: Jewellery of the Classical World, London 1994, pp.106-7, no.60; also cf. Exhibition Catalogue - The Search for Alexander, New York, 1980, pl.36, p.187, no.173.

Accompanied by an XRF metallurgical and Art Loss Register reports.