Olmec and Maya Artworks from Distinguished Pre-Colombian Collection Take Off

On 13 July 2021, by Anne Doridou-Heim

Collectors were attracted to the traceable provenance of this outstanding pre-Colombian art, notably from the Olmec and Maya cultures.

Mexico, Olmec culture, Middle pre-classical period, 900-400 BCE, acrobat in steatite with a brown patina, 23 x 26 cm/9.05 x 10.24 in.
Result: €454,180

The fifth part of the sale of a prestigious pre-Columbian art collection garnered the substantial total amount of €2,273,833. Once again, prices for a few pieces dating back centuries took off. The highest bid, €454,180, went to this incredible contortionist in steatite with a brown patina from the Olmec culture (900-600 BCE). The face, which was on the cover of La Gazette no. 24, expresses great serenity and might even be smiling. These acrobats evoke the look of a medieval jester.

A striking incense stand from Mexico’s Maya culture from between 600 and 900 CE fetched €322,980. The main subject is a seated lord wearing a lavish, imposing headdress featuring the "D god", Itzamnah Kokaaj. Made of baked modeled clay and partially highlighted with cold turquoise blue and white paint, this artifact is similar to more monumental ones discovered at the famous Palenque site, on which flat balls of incense were burned to evoke the breath of life fading into the invisible spirit world.

A green serpentine Olmec votive ax (h. 27 cm/10.6 in) depicting a Man-Jaguar sold for €296,740, while a Mayan ceramic three-footed vase (h. 28 cm/ 11 in) with a varnished black and brown-red slip and a lid surmounted by the coati of the "D god" fetched €244,260. This piece, from either Guatemala or Mexico, dates back to the period 400–600 CE. Pre-Colombian America evokes mind gold, which led to its discovery by Europeans and to its downfall. A Peruvian tumbler (weight 855 gr./30.16 oz, h. 25.5 cm/10.04 in) from the Lambayeque or Sicán culture (900-1100 CE), which sold for €244,260, also recalls the amazing skill of these ancient civilizations’ goldsmiths, who embossed gold to craft stylized faces with a presence that transcends the ages.

Mexico, Chiapas, Maya culture, 600–900, incense stand depicting a seated lord, polychrome modeled ceramic, 58 x 40 x 36 cm/22.83 x 15.75 x

Mexico, Chiapas, Maya culture, 600–900 CE, incense stand depicting a seated lord, polychrome modeled ceramic, 58 x 40 x 36 cm/22.83 x 15.75 x 14.17 in.
Result: €322,980

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