Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Egyptian funerary art upstages Americana at sale

Antiques and the Arts Online (Frances McQueeney-Jones Mascolo)

What better setting for a summer auction replete with good American pieces than this quintessentially New England town, the setting for Thornton Wilder's Our Town ? Antiques dealers and collectors mixed with local characters straight out of the Pulitzer-prize winning play to fill the gallery at the old mill along the Contoocook River for The Cobbs' July 11 auction.

The highlight was not early American, however, but early Egyptian — a Fayum sarcophagus portrait of a woman provoked a competition among nine phone bidders and only ended when it went to one for $143,750. The Egyptian painting dates to the Roman First Century AD and depicts a woman with earrings and two necklaces. It came from a Peterborough collector whose husband purchased it in New York City in the 1960s. It was accompanied by a letter verifying the purchase because the original receipt had not been located at the time of the auction. The portrait went to a London dealer buying for a client.

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