The Museum of Fine Arts will open two new galleries in September, one devoted to ancient gems and jewelry and the other to ancient coins.
The more than 200 gems to be exhibited in the Gems and Jewelry of the Ancient Mediterranean gallery will be drawn from the museum’s collection of Greek and Roman jewelry, the largest in the United States.
The most famous gem is the Roman cameo of the wedding of Cupid and Psyche from the mid-late 1st century BC, once owned by the Flemish artist Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) and later by the Duke of Marlborough.
Highlighting the gold jewelry is the circa 325-300 BC Nike earring made of 150 pieces of gold with a pendant of the Greek goddess driving a two-horse chariot.
On display with the jewels will be works of art depicting ancient women wearing jewelry.
The inaugural exhibition of the museum’s new coin gallery, the Michael C. RuettgersAncient Coin Gallery, will feature 500 ancient Greek and Roman coins from the museum’s renowned collection of about 7,500 coins, many of them prized through the centuries as objects of wealth and status.
It is the first gallery dedicated to coins at a major US museum and is unique in the world for its emphasis on ancient coins as works of art. The gallery was named for the retired chairman of EMC, the multinational corporation headquartered in Hopkinton, in recognition of his gift to the museum of 14 rare and important gold coins including Aureus with the bust of Aelius Verus from 137 AD.
Another highlight of the exhibit is the Dakadrachm (about 465 BC), one of the most significant coins in the world, which illustrates how Greek coins are highly sophisticated works of art on a miniature scale.
The Roman coins document political and cultural history as seen in the Denarius with head of M. Junius Brutus (43-42 BC), a coin issued by Brutus in the aftermath of the assassination of Julius Caesar and with a warning of death to tyrants.
Accompanying the coin display will be complementary works of art that show how coin engravers used similar compositions found in larger works but had to adapt them to miniature scale and a round format.
Additionally, the exhibit will examine the influence of ancient coins through the ages as documented by a Frederic II gold coin from the Middle Ages and an 18th-century American copper coin.
Gallery viewers will be able to examine these and other coins on iPads and on a computer kiosk.
. . .
Christie’s, which in 2007 became the first international auction house to give clients worldwide access to bidding over the Internet, is launching its first in a series of online-only sales for a global collecting category. It follows the success of two pilot programs last fall and this spring, said Stephen P. Murphy, chief executive officer of Christie’s International.
The pilot programs were the online-only component of the Elizabeth Taylor Collection which brought $9.5 million, far exceeding the $1 million presale estimate. and the online-only charity auction of Hermès couture bags that tripled expectations by raising $229,000.
The Aug. 6 Signature Cellars online-only auction features fine and rare wines with estimates ranging from $200-$35,000. Bidding will run through Aug. 20.
. . .
A Tiffany leaded glass lamp and a Tiffany silver teapot were among the top 10 sellers at James D. Julia’s Lamp & Glass Auction last month, which also saw a strong showing of the lavishly decorated Czechoslovakian Moser glassware.
The Tiffany dragonfly lamp sold for $69,000 against a $60,000-$80,000 estimate and the rare sterling teapot with an enameled wisteria design for $31,625 against a $25,000-$50,000 estimate.
A monumental 29-inch Moser decorated vase with applied flowers and a bird (estimate: $20,000-$30,000) brought $26,450, the auction’s third highest price, followed by the $25,300 paid for a 12-inch Tiffany bulbous black decorated vase with a $10,000-$15,000 estimate.
Other top-selling glassware by Moser, whose slogan “King of Glass, Glass of Kings” reflected the company’s role as a glass supplier to the Austrian court and Britain’s King Edward VII, included a pair of decanters ($17,825 against $5,000-$7,000) and a pair of 18-inch decorated amberina ewers ($11,500 against $7,000-$10,000).
French cameo glass vases were also among the top 10 with a Daum Nancy five-inch vase decorated with a prairie scene going for $14,950 against a $10,000-$15,000 estimate and a 15-inch Galle mold-blown vase decorated with plums fetching $12,937 against a $12,000-
. . .
At Skinner’s 20th Century Design Auction last month, a 10-inch green glazed vase made around 1904 by Grueby of Boston and a silver and mixed-metal Japanese-style punch bowl and ladle made by Gorham Silver Co. of Providence outperformed furniture by George Nakashima, one of the leading innovators of furniture design.
The vase, which sold for $25,000 against a $5,000-$7,000 estimate, and the punch bowl and ladle for $27,000 against a $3,000-$5,000 estimate, were the auction’s two top sellers.
They were followed by two of the four Nakashima pieces in the sale, a six-drawer chest ($17,000 against $8,000-$12,000) and a 20-inch-high table with a slab top over a cantilevered base ($15,000 against $6,000-$8,000). A dresser went for $12,000 and a dining table for $10,000; each had a $12,000-
All three pieces of furniture by Paul Evans, the midcentury designer of metal sculpted furniture, sold, with a credenza bringing $9,500, a Samples Chest $8,000, and a dining table $5,500. Each had a $4,000-$6,000 estimate.
An 8-inch Loetz art glass and metal overlay vase made in Austria around 1903 was the auction’s sleeper — selling for $13,000 against a $700-$900 estimate.
Correction: Because of a reporting error, the name of the donor for whom the Michael C. Ruettgers Ancient Coin Gallery at the Museum of Fine Arts is named was misspelled in an earlier version of this column.