The Hunt Katane – Signed by Herakleidas
|Sale: Triton XIII, Lot: 36. Estimate $30000.
Closing Date: Monday, 4 January 2010.
Sold For $60000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.
Circa 405-403/2 BC. AR Tetradrachm (16.92 g, 3h). Obverse die signed by Herakleidas
. Head of Apollo facing slightly left, wearing laurel wreath; [HPAKΛEIΔAΣ to right] / Charioteer, holding kentron in right hand, reins in left, driving fast quadriga left; above, Nike flying right, crowning him with wreath; [in exergue, fish left]. SNG ANS -; Basel 337 = Jameson 546; Rizzo pl. XIV, 10 and XVI, 2; Gulbenkian 190 = Weber 1269; Dewing 586; Kraay & Hirmer 43 (all from the same dies). Good VF, lightly toned, minor die rust on obverse. A classic piece from the era of the Sicilian masters. Very rare.
Ex Triton XI (8 January 2008), lot 42; Nelson Bunker Hunt Collection (Sotheby’s, 19 June 1991), lot 61.
In the late 5th century BC, the numismatic art of Sicily had achieved an unparalleled degree of quality in the Greek world. This was due in large part to the great masters whose signatures are boldly displayed on their minute canvasses: Choirion, Euainetos, Eumenos, Exakestidas, Kimon, and others. Most of these artists are known from their work in the Syracusan series, but a few also created masterful works of art at other cities as well. One of these, Herakleidas, created this magnificent facing head type that is a standout among the famed Katanean issues. Certainly influenced by the Kimonean facing-head tetradrachms at Syracuse, the subject here was the god Apollo, whose profile portrait was featured on the reverse of earlier issues of Katane.
Here, the god's portrait has become the prominent feature of the coin, moving to the obverse and appearing in a nearly frontal aspect. One may sense Herakleidas' attempt to portray Apollo in a naturalistic form, retaining through his countenance an attitude of an other-worldly god, while introducing a delicacy that conveys the thought of a living being. The hair falls in individual locks reminiscent of Arethusa of Syracuse, but rather than radiating outward as if in an aquatic environment, they are depicted in a downward splayed fashion, evoking the picture of a woodland entity whose natural appearance would retain a hint of the wild. His laurel wreath is likewise splayed, as though placed upon his head directly from the laurel bush, without any thought of molding or preparation. In contrast, his wide eyes gaze outward with an obvious power that reflects his heavenly nature. The viewer has the impression that he is looking into the face of a living god.