‡ Sicily, Syracuse, dekadrachm, c. 405 BC, signed by Kimon, fast quadriga driven left by charioteer who holds goad over horses in extended right hand and reins in left; above, Nike flies right to crown charioteer with wreath; in exergual area on two steps, shield and cuirass between two greaves and helmet; below, ΑΘΛΑ, rev., ΣΥΡΑΚΟΣΙ-ΩΝ, head of Arethusa left wearing ampyx and sphendone, single-drop earring and beaded necklace; on ampyx, artist’s signatiure ΚΙ, 43.35g, die axis 3.00 (Jongkees 7h (Dies O. B - R.ζ), pl. II = Regling, K., “Decadrachm des Kimon von Syrakus”, ABKPM, 1914-15, 7d = G.F. Hill, “Two Rare Greek Coins: Deposit by Mrs. Allatini”, British Museum Quarterly 2, no. 3, 1927, p. 59, pl. XXXV, 3 = NC 1928 p. 4,4 & pl. 4,4 = H. Börger, “Von der Münzkunst der Sizilischen Griechen”, Die Antike, 1931, pl. 30, 2 = G.F. Hill, A Guide to the Principal Coins of the Greeks, pp. 30, 66; pl. 16, 66 = SNG Lockett 3518 = ‘Wealth of the Ancient World’, 85, this piece; SNG Lloyd 1410, same dies), beautifully toned, in high relief and extremely fine, a spectacular example Exhibited: Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, Texas (1983); Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (1983); Detroit Institute of Arts (1984); Dallas Museum of Art (1984). Provenance: T. Virzi collection, J. Hirsch 32, 14 November 1912, lot 309 (“F.D.C.” 10,300 marks); Robert Allatini collection; on loan to the British Museum, 1927-1947; R.C. Lockett collection, February 1947 (£1,800); Glendining, 25 October 1955, lot 891; Roger Peyrefitte collection, J. Vinchon, Monaco, 29 April 1974, lot 34; S. Weintraub collection; Nelson Bunker Hunt collection, part I, Sotheby’s New York, 19 June 1990, lot 85; European Connoisseur collection (formed before 2002). Note: ‘Perhaps the most perfect specimen of its kind’—Sir George F. Hill (British Museum Quarterly, 1927). An undisputed masterpiece, the quadriga on the obverse (Kimon’s second die) presents us with the four horses pulling together, in a fluid and dignified manner (so different from the rearing, unruly horses depicted on his tetradrachms) while below the exergual line, the prizes and ΑΘΛΑ, are unusually clear and complete. On the reverse, Kimon has created a nymph more human and less sculpturally remote than on his antecedent dies. Framed by four playful dolphins, her hair, deeply cut, is tumultuous and scarcely constrained by its net, while her neck is modelled with a pair of very human ‘Venus rings’. Her gaze, with the ellipse of her iris drawn with lifelike fidelity under heavy lids, is earthy and seductive. Here, Kimon’s portrait of Arethusa is perhaps his finest. This remarkable example has been one of the highlights of each of the distinguished collections it has graced. It was the most highly contested lot at both the Virzi and Peyrefitte auctions, and one of the top lots of the Nelson Bunker Hunt collection.
Estimate: GBP 400000-600000