Rupert Wace Ancient Art



  - Etruscan polychrome terracotta cinerary urn lid with reclining figure

Etruscan polychrome terracotta cinerary urn lid with reclining figure

3rd century BC

Private collection USA, acquired 1890-1900 and thence by descent


The reclining man holds a patera with omphalos in his right hand. He rests on his left arm, propped up on a cushion, a large ring on his third finger. He wears a long white tunic, his himation draped loosely over his left arm. The deceased looks out at the viewer, the head well modelled with characterful face, ears protruding behind sideburns.
Much original polychrome surviving including the flesh tones and red and white stripes on the cushion and couch.

This piece comes with a thermoluminescence test report confirming its antiquity.

Dimensions: 24.1 x 44.5 x 23.5 cm

  - Apulian tall red-figure amphora

Apulian tall red-figure amphora

Magna-Graecia. c.330-310 BC

Private collection Switzerland, acquired before 1970


Of Panathenaic form, side A showing two figures flanking a stele, the female figure seated on the right holding a patera, a standing male on the left. Side B shows a standing naked male holding a patera in his left hand, with a himation draped over his arm, and holding a foliate staff in his right hand.
This piece comes with a thermoluminescence test report from Oxford Authentication confirming its antiquity.

Height: 43.8 cm

  - Roman gold and onyx intaglio ring

Roman gold and onyx intaglio ring

c. 2nd - 3rd century AD

Private collection France, (CR) acquired 1980s


Ring size: H
Length of intaglio: 1.5 cm

The flat topped, oval intaglio with brown and white banding, set in its original gold ring, the rounded shank flaring out at the shoulders. The parallel banding of onyx, a variety of chalcedony, lends itself to such decorative use and was very popular with the Romans. Here the effect produced is reminiscent of an eye, a protective symbol.

  - Cycladic marble head, attributed to the Naxos Museum Sculptor

Cycladic marble head, attributed to the Naxos Museum Sculptor

Late Spedos type, c.2500-2400 BC

Private collection Switzerland, acquired 1960s and thence by descent

The Naxos Museum Sculptor had an unusual and easily recognised style. His works are discussed in Pat Getz-Gentle, 'Personal Styles in Early Cycladic Sculpture', Madison, Wisconsin, 2001, pp.81-3, with comparable examples included in plates 69 and 70.

Elongated shield-shaped face with long triangular nose (now lost) and rounded crown, chin and lower cheeks. Broken at the long neck from a large standing figure (estimated original length 55-60 cm or more).

A recent study of the sanctuary at Keros by Professor Colin Renfrew has suggested that dates be revised back about a century. Late Spedos examples such as this head would, therefore, be dated to around 2600-2500 BC (

Height: 13 cm

  - Greek ‘Phi’ figure

Greek ‘Phi’ figure

Mycenaean. c. 1400-1300 BC

Private collection UK, acquired Sotheby's, London, 6th December 1971, lot 111

Published: 'Eternal Woman-The Female Form in Antiquity', Rupert Wace Ancient Art, 2005, no. 35.

Of columnar form, the figure stands with her hands resting on her hips wearing a long dress flaring at the feet, the skirt painted with brown vertical stripes running from an encircling belt, whilst vertical serpentine lines decorate the flat body. A narrow band of paint outlines the thin edge of the arms. The flat body has two applied hemispherical breasts and the rounded shoulders rise to a small head with beaked nose. A line of paint runs down the nose and simple dots indicate the eyes.
Starting in the late fifteenth century BC and increasing during the following century Mycenaean terracotta figurines are found in both tombs and settlements. The female figures are grouped into two types called 'Psi' and 'Phi' because in outline they resemble these Greek letters. Modelled by hand and finished in the round, with painted decoration to the back as well as the front, their small size probably indicates that they had an amuletic purpose.

Height: 10.8 cm

  - Late Roman clear glass cup

Late Roman clear glass cup

c. 4th - 5th century AD

Niemeijer-Huysse Collection, Netherlands, purchased from Schulman, Amsterdam, in 1977


Formed of fine pale green transparent glass, the globular body decorated with a single line of trailing below a flaring rim. Set on a short flaring foot.

Height: 8.3 cm

  - Hellenistic bronze stool

Hellenistic bronze stool

c. 4th-3rd century BC

UK collection acquired 1970s to 1990s; Property of a Private Foundation, acquired from the above 2003

A silver diphros of very similar design was found inside the 4th-century BC Macedonian tomb Agios Athanasios I at Stavroupolis, Thessaloniki (Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki, inv. no. ΜΘ 7440); see D. Andrianou, 'The Furniture and Furnishings of Ancient Greek Houses and Tombs', Cambridge, 2009, pp. 28-29, no. 6 and p. 158, n. 20 for further discussion and parallels. We can also compare the stool shown on the 4th century BC stele of Polyxena in Athens (National Museum, inv. no. 723) where the tops of the turned legs clearly protrude above the seat, a feature seemingly intended to keep the cushion in place; see G. M. A. Richter, 'The Furniture of the Greeks, Etruscans, and Romans', London, 1966, pp. 40-41.
For evidence of possible Near Eastern influence see H. Kyrieleis, 'Throne und Klinen: Studien zur Formgeschichte altorientalischer und griechischer Sitz- und Liegemobel vorhellenistischer Zeit' (Berlin, 1969), 40-41

Of rectangular form, with four cylindrical legs tapering to a circular profiled foot, each decorated with three turned bands, the tops of the legs protruding above the seat frame to form four circular bosses, a horizontal stretcher across the two short sides, also with a central turned band, each terminating at the leg in two curved attachment plates with chequered border, a rectangular space for the insertion of a woven seat.

Four-legged stools - or diphroi - of this type are known from numerous representations on Greek vases and reliefs and are also well-described in the ancient literature. A number of metal examples in silver and iron have been excavated from Hellenistic and Roman period tombs in Macedonia and Thrace, where they formed part of the funerary furniture buried with the dead; these diphroi were often used to support a vessel containing the ashes of the deceased or else for the placement of smaller offerings within the tomb.

The size of this example suggests it may have been used as a foot-stool, perhaps specifically for mounting and dismounting a horse. Domestic Greek stools were typically made of wood, sometimes with solid metal feet. Solid metal stools are unusual, suggesting ceremonial or perhaps royal use. It also points to Near Eastern influence.

Height: 35.9 cm Width: 29.5 cm Depth: 20.5 cm

  - Hellenistic terracotta head of a female

Hellenistic terracotta head of a female

c. 3rd-2nd century BC

Private collection France


Mould-made from a red-brown terracotta, the head with a tang for fitting into the body. The tang follows the line of the long neck and suggests a slightly static pose to the figure with the head facing the viewer. She wears a kerchief wrapped around her head with eye-slits in case the wearer wishes to draw it over her face. The face is fully revealed but the potential to modestly veil oneself is implied. An old collector's number is inscribed in black ink on the neck - '2376'.

The style and material suggest that this head comes from North-west Asia Minor, possibly Smyrna on the Aegean coast of Anatolia.

Height: 6.2 cm

  - Patera handle in the form of a naked youth

Patera handle in the form of a naked youth

Greek. 5th century BC

Private collection, UK, acquired prior to 1970

For a complete patera with similar handle see David Gordon Mitten, Suzannah F. Doeringer, 'Master Bronzes from the Classical World' (Cambridge, 1967) pp. 82-83, no. 76. Also Wilhelm Hornbostel et al, 'Aus Gräben und Heiligtümern - Die Antikensammlung Walter Kropatscheck' (Mainz, 1980) pp. 161-164 and 'Master Bronzes from the Classical World', Exhibition catalogue at the Fogg Art Museum, USA, 1968, no. 76.

Height: 17 cm

The handle in the form of a nude Kouros, hands raised to touch the elaborate palmette which sits atop the boy's head. His face is framed by a thick fringe, his hair held by a band falls down his back in serpentine waves. The figure stands with legs held close together, broken at mid shin. A palmette shaped fixing plate projects back with two holes for rivets to attach to the broad shallow dish which would have been used for libations.

  - Roman Glass Flask

Roman Glass Flask

Eastern Mediterranean. c.3rd-4th century AD

Private collection France, acquired c. 1990


The lenticular body of translucent pale green glass with a cylindrical neck, a pronounce depression at the join, and thick flared rim. Two turquoise ribbon-like trails applied to the sides and continuing up to form handles of circular cross section attached at the middle of the neck. A small flat base with pontil mark.

Height: 14.8 cm

  - Roman marble portrait head of a man

Roman marble portrait head of a man

Mid 3rd century AD

Collection of Kenneth J. Lane, USA; Sold at Sotheby's New York, 22 November 1974, lot 320; Private collection, California, USA, acquired 1970s


The handsome sitter looks out at the viewer, his gaze slightly to the left, his expression serious. His eyes deep-set below a furrowed brow, the pupils and irises articulated. Details of his close cropped hair and neat beard are incised. The style of the beard and hair, the coiffure following the shape of the skull, as well as the treatment of the eyes, are typical of portraiture of the mid 3rd Century AD.

The last Emperor of the Severan Dynasty, Marcus Aurelius Severus Alexander (208-235 AD) adopted son of Caracalla, succeeded his cousin Elagabalus upon his assassination in 222 AD. He was himself assassinated in 235. Though seemingly older than his years, this portrait bears a marked resemblance to the images of the young emperor found in the collections of the Uffizi and the Louvre. That he was sometimes depicted as an older statesman is clear from the full length statue in the Museo Nazionale, Naples.

Height: 24.1 cm

  - Hellenistic bronze statuette of the god Attis

Hellenistic bronze statuette of the god Attis

1st century BC-1st century AD

Private collection UK, acquired prior to 1970


Cast solid, the figure stands with his weight on his left leg in a triumphant posture, left arm raised and possibly holding a spear (now missing), his extended right hand would have held a phiale. He wears a Phrygian cap, a short belted tunic and boots (embades) made of fur. His handsome features and particular wavy hairstyle reveal the influence of the imagery of Alexander the Great.

The Phrygian god Attis, in Greek mythology the consort of Cybele, represents the fruits of the earth.

Height: 16.1 cm