Ariadne specialises in works of art from the ancient world, including Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Byzantine, and Near Eastern. With prominent galleries on New York’s Upper East Side and in Mayfair, London, they are known for presenting rare and exceptional works with an emphasis on promoting the relevance of ancient art and its aesthetic impact in contemporary contexts.


    For further details on the artworks offered for sale by Ariadne in the Eye Viewing Room please make an enquiry below.


  • Fragment of a Female Face  Roman. Second to third century AD. Ariadne


    Fragment of a Female Face

    Roman, second to third century AD

    H. 16 cm x W. 15.5 cm

    Price: £80,000 (plus any applicable taxes)


    This enchanting fragmentary female face, cast using the ancient lost-wax method, is all the more intriguing because of its fractured form. The nature of the break, running from the centre of the forehead, down one side of the nose and through the mouth, to preserve only the proper left side of the face, gives the illusion of a ‘profile’ view. Portraits in bronze from the ancient world are exceedingly rare, since the majority were melted down in later antiquity. The incomplete nature of the present portrait underscores this fact, offering us only a mere glimpse of the subject; no doubt once a prominent individual in society, her identity now obscured by the missing pieces.


    The eye is delicately rendered, with a crisp, heavy eyelid, and the pupil and iris are delineated through the use of incision. The eyebrow is also finely detailed, the individual hairs incised to create a full, feathered effect framing the eye. The young woman has high cheekbones, her nose with prominent ridge and slight downward curvature, and a subtly-downturned mouth. The remaining portion of the subject’s hair reveals part of what would have been an elaborate coiffure; the section framing the face comprises wavy locks pulled back, behind which are two narrow, and one slightly wider, braids, that would have presumably encircled the head, forming a braided bun. The hairstyle resembles what scholars have termed the ‘turban coiffure’, particularly popular in the mid-second century AD and again in the early fourth century.


    The shape of the eye and lid, the delineation of the pupil and iris, and the manner of the eyebrow are details very reminiscent of marble portraits of the Severan dynasty (AD 193-235), for example, those of Fulvia Plautilla, wife of Caracalla. A marble portrait now in the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, exhibits the same heavily-lidded eye, high cheekbones and feathery brow. Her hairstyle is similar in character, featuring a band of wavy locks pulled back and a curl in front of the ear, behind which the hair is twisted into sections, rather than into fine braids as in the present bronze. It has been suggested that the so-called ‘turban coiffure’ exhibited here was associated with esteemed women of high virtue, either priestesses, or elite women who chose to adopt the hairstyle because of its similarities with the headdress worn by Vestal Virgins. It therefore connoted the virtue of castitas, expressing the modesty, chastity, morality, and altogether elevated status of its proponent.


    Further literature:

    The portraits identified as Plautilla are discussed by S. Nodelman, ‘A Portrait of the Empress Plautilla’, The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal, Vol. 10 (1982), pp. 105-120. The differences between second and fourth century hairstyles are explored in K. Fittschen and P. Zanker, Katalog der römischen Porträts in den Capitolinischen Museen und den anderen kommunalen Sammlungen der Stadt Rom. 3, Kaiserinnen und Prinzessinnenbildnisse, Frauenporträts (Mainz, 1983), pp. 64–65, cat. 85; p. 66, cat. 86. On the features of Antonine eyes, D.E.E. Kleiner, Roman Sculpture (New Haven, 1992), pp. 270-271. For the importance of hairstyle in Roman female portraiture, E. Bartman, ‘Hair and the Artifice of Roman Female Adornment’, American Journal of Archaeology, Vol. 105, no. 1 (2001), pp. 1-25; and E. D’Ambra, ‘Beauty and the Roman Female Portrait’ in J. Elsner, ed., Art and Rhetoric in Roman Culture (Cambridge, 2014), pp.155-180. On the turban coiffure as a symbol of virtue, M.M. Lindner, Portraits of the Vestal Virgins, Priestesses of Rome (Ann Arbor, 2015). For the dating of a portrait head of a young woman with turban coiffure, K.A. Raff, ‘Cat. 7 Portrait Head of a Young Woman: Curatorial Entry’, in Roman Art at the Art Institute of Chicago (Art Institute of Chicago, 2016).



    Former collection of General Amourel (1848- 1908), Captain of the 15th Armed Corps based in Marseille, France, thence by descent.
    French art market



    No restorations. Surface lightly cleaned



  • Black-Glazed Calyx Krater  Greek, South Italian (Campanian). Fourth century BC. Ariadne


    Black-Glazed Calyx Krater

    Greek, south Italian (Campanian). Fourth century BC

    H. 40.2 cm

    Price: £30,000 (plus any applicable taxes)


    This black-glazed calyx krater (wine-mixing vessel) is a study in form and style, capturing the ancient Greeks’ consummate ability to produce wares that combined aesthetic brilliance with functional utility. This example is especially notable for its large scale and exceptionally fine condition. Judging from the shape, our vase most likely came from the region of Campania on the southwestern coast of Italy, a region known throughout history for its love of Greek culture and rich natural resources.


    The vessel is a distinctive example of how the ancient Greeks could adapt the simplest of decorative forms to create a striking work of art. The minimalist black-glaze technique allows the work of the potter to shine, with the form of the vessel, rather than its decoration, taking centre stage; the eye is immediately drawn to the vase’s wonderful silhouette rather than to surface decoration. It is thought that the style was introduced as a more economical alternative to metal vessels, the lustrous glossy black imitating the patinated silver of luxury tableware in precious metals, therefore affording these monochrome wares special status and significance.


    Further literature:

    K.D. Hill, ‘The Technique of Greek Metal Vases and its Bearing on Vase Forms in Metal and Pottery’, American Journal of Archaeology 51 (1947), pp. 249-256. For a concise overview of black-glazed vases, J. Boardman, The History of Greek Vases (London, 2001), pp. 108-109.



    Private Collection, France and Belgium, acquired 1966

    North American art market, 2010



    No visible restorations



  • Headrest  Egyptian, Old Kingdom. Sixth Dynasty, circa 2360-2195 BC. Ariadne


    Egyptian, Old Kingdom, Sixth Dynasty, circa 2360-2195 BC
    H. 19.5 cm

    Price: £55,000 (plus any applicable taxes)


    The practical and magical properties of the headrest are attested throughout the long history of ancient Egypt, from the third dynasty of the Old Kingdom through to the Ptolemaic Period. The earliest and finest examples are usually made from alabaster, such as the present, but wood, earthenware, and ivory are also known. The headrest was typically made in three distinct parts: the curved pillow on which the head is supported, the gently flaring fluted columnar shaft, and the rectangular base that supports the whole structure.


    Headrests were used in everyday life as pillows, as well as in tombs; they were believed to have apotropaic properties that protected the head of the deceased in the Afterlife and prevented the body becoming detached. Furthermore, evidence suggests that the Egyptians associated the head with the rising sun, and its placement on a headrest with the notion of resurrection. A well-known spell from the Book of the Dead further attests that the lifting up of the head of the mummy was connected with the hope of rebirth.


    The present example is a study in harmonious proportion and balance, a fine demonstration of the ancient Egyptians’ expertise in producing beautiful works of functional utility in their native translucent alabaster. Its clean lines and abstract aesthetic truly belie its date of creation, over four thousand years ago.


    Further literature:

    The cosmological link between headrests and the sun is presented by B.R. Hellinckx, ‘The Symbolic Assimilation of Head and Sun as Expressed by Headrests’, Studien zur Altägyptischen Kultur 29 (2001), pp. 61-95. J. Summers, ‘Pillows For A King – The Headrests Of Ancient Egypt And Tomb Kv 62’, European Scientific Journal (July, 2016), pp. 229-237.



    Nicolas Tano, Rue Kamel no. 7, Cairo
    Mrs Mina Merrill Prindle (1864-1963), Duluth, Minnesota and Pasadena, California, acquired from the above prior to 14th April 1922; thence by descent
    Sotheby’s, New York, 15 December 2016, lot 5



    Headrest arc repaired from two pieces, and two small areas of fill to front rim. Lightly cleaned overall







    London & New York


    London & Berlin

    Beck & Eggeling


    Galleria Continua

    San Gimignano, Beijing, Les Moulins,

    Havana, Rome


    London & New York

    Marlborough Gallery

    London & New York





    MT Art


    Tornabuoni Art

    Florence, Paris, London, Milan,

    Forte dei Marmi, Crans Montana