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Research Coins: Printed Auction


Masterpiece by Kimon

Triton XXII, Lot: 145. Estimate $150000.
Sold for $225000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

SICILY, Syracuse. Second Democracy. 466-405 BC. AR Tetradrachm (26mm, 17.44 g, 10h). Obverse die signed by Kimon. Struck circa 406-405 BC. Head of Arethousa facing slightly left, wearing ampyx inscribed K[IMO]N, single-pendant earring and necklace, sea-swept hair radiating outward; within her locks of hair, four dolphins: on the left, one swims downward while another is just emerging above, and on the right, one swims down toward another that is presenting from behind Arethousa’s neck / Charioteer, holding reins in both hands, driving fast quadriga left; above, Nike advancing right, preparing to crown charioteer with laurel wreath held in both hands; ΣYPAK-OΣIΩN along right edge (faintly visible), stele lying on its side below; in exergue, grain ear lying left. Fischer-Bossert, Coins 81 (O29/R54); Tudeer 81; HGC 2, 1344; SNG ANS 288; SNG Lloyd 1394 = Dewing 847 = Locker Lampson 95; SNG München 1068 = Rizzo pl. XLVIII, 11; ACGC 810 = BMC 208 = Kraay & Hirmer 123; Athena Fund II 248; Bement 514 = Gulbenkian 293; Boston MFA 418 = Warren 368; Dewing 846; Ognina 298 (all from the same dies). EF, toned with underlying luster in the devices. Well centered and struck.

From the Gasvoda Collection. Ex Triton XIX (5 January 2016), lot 55; Triton XI (8 January 2008), lot 61 and cover coin.

This masterful facing head tetradrachm sets Kimon apart from all of his “signing master” contemporaries in Sicily. His rendition of the nymph Arethousa displays a degree of delicacy and control that set a new precedent in die engraving. The composition's beautiful three dimensional perspective is augmented by a fluid style that effectively conveys the natural motion of the nymph's hair in her liquid environment. The nymph's underwater environment is further emphasized by the placement of the dolphins, who weave themselves within her hair in a playful manner. The serenity of Arethousa’s countenance, with her full, pouting lips and other-worldly gaze from her almond-shaped eyes, conveys a sense of her place aloof from the realm of man, while the entire scene firmly secures her within our natural world. One may sense the pride Kimon took in the completion of his masterpiece, as his name is prominently engraved upon Arethousa's ampyx.

We know that Kimon's tetradrachm was as revered for its beauty in the ancient world as much as it is today, as it became a model for facing-head issues of other cities, both local, such as Segesta, and around the Mediterranean, such as Larissa in Thessaly and Tarsos in Cilicia.