Hellenistic Parthian Silver-Gilt Bowl

£ 20,000.00

A beautiful, Hellenistic-period, Parthian silver-gilt bowl. The vessel features a bell-shaped bowl with everted flaring rim, raised from a single sheet of silver. The outside of the bowl is left free of decoration. Inside, the vessel begins with an inner, raised rim decorated with wreath ornamentation. Below this is a frieze of parcel-gilt, featuring geometric patterns, known as stepped battlements. A silver band follows, sitting above the central, large parcel-gilt frieze. This is richly decorated with an elaborate garland of leaves and flowers, flanked by two bands of undulating scroll-motifs. Towards the base of the bowl is a central floral medallion, forming a beautiful eight-leaf radiating calyx design. The larger leaves formed with a scalloped edge. An absolute masterpiece of Parthian metalwork.

Date: Circa 2nd - 1st century BC
Provenance: Ex Mansour Gallery, acquired 2018. Previously ex Paris collection. French gallery, Paris, 1990-2000s. Previously ex George Ortiz collection; an unparalled collector of antiquities and patron of the arts.
Condition: Excellent condition. Small repair to the bowl's interior. Supplied with a custom-made leather-casedbox.
Product Code: NES-174
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The third to first centuries were a tumultuous time, following the death of Alexander the Great. Leaving no real successor, his Empire – which stretched from India to the Mediterranean and from Bactria in central Asia to Egypt – was carved up amongst his generals. Years of fighting would commence as his ‘successors’ fought to establish themselves as legitimate rulers to Alexander’s great Empire. The emerging victors were Ptolemy I, ruling in Egypt; Antigonus ruling Macedonia and parts of Greece, and Seleucus finally controlling an enormous realm, which extended from Asia Minor and Syria, to the borders of India. With territory and leadership in such a precarious position, the peripheries of the Seleucid Empire were attacked by smaller insurgents and semi-nomadic groups looking to exert their own dominance. It was during the 3rd century that the Graeco-Bactrian Empire was founded and the Parthians began to establish themselves. The latter would consolidate their autonomy with the accension of Mithridates I to the Parthian throne, who seized the former Seleucid Iran but also added Mesopotamia to the Parthian Empire.

Culturally, the Parthian Empire fused together the influences of both the Hellenistic World, but also the Western Asiatic. Local Iranian traditions were combined with Greek-Macedonian artistry. The semi-nomadic heritage of the Parthians also greatly influenced the artistic repertoire. Silver bowls such as this beautiful example have been found within the realms of the Parthian Empire, but also into Magna Graecia and Prolemaic Egypt. Their origin, from the repertoire found, was certainly Near Eastern, with Hellenistic examples retaining a plain outside and decorated interior. Earlier examples included a central medallion with friezes of floral decoration to the rest of the inside.

Weight 246 g
Dimensions W 20.2 cm

Gilt-Silver, Silver


Near East (Western Asiatic)

Reference: For a similar item: The British Museum, London, item 134303

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