Art Exhibitions

HORSES, RULERS, & VICTORY IN THE ART OF ANCIENT GREEK COINAGE

Written by Aksel Ritenis

“HORSES, RULERS, & VICTORY IN THE ART OF ANCIENT

GREEK COINAGE”

29th June – 29th July 2016

Preview event for London Art Week: Thursday, 30th June, from 3pm

Kallos Gallery, 14–16 Davies Street, London, W1K 3DR

 

Kallos Gallery, the world’s only commercial gallery to specialise exclusively in the art of the ancient Greeks,will exhibit a curated selection of rare and dazzling ancient Greek coins, including a fine example of the firstpure gold coinage ever minted.

The exhibition will coincide with two of the most significant events in the London art-calendar —

Masterpiece 2016 (30 June – 6 July) and London Art Week (1–8 July).

In spirit and theme, it also heralds the approach of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

With coins of stunning design dating from 561–135 BC, the display will celebrate the prestige of ancient tyrants and kings, the prowess of ancient athletes, and the nobility of the horse and horse-sport in ancient Greek culture. The Greeks exalted the master die-cutters of their most exquisite coinage alongside the finest sculptors and vase-painters of the day, and the finest coins as masterpieces of art in their own right. This fine collection will illustrate why.

KEY PIECES

KGC0020 Gold Stater of Lydia. Obverse. Credit Steve Wakeham-Kallos Gallery.

 

One highlight will be a Gold Stater of Lydia  (561–546 BC), a beautiful example of the first pure gold coinage ever minted , and a striking display of royal authority. The coin was produced under the reign of Kroisos, King of Lydia, credited with issuing the first gold coins with a standardised weight and purity forcirculation.

Before this payments were typically made in precious metals of mixed alloy that had to bechecked for size and quality.

 

“They [the Lydians] were the first men we know to have coined and used gold and silver currency; and they were the first to sell by retail” – Herodotos

“This new system of stamped coinage endowed Kroisos’s reign with symbolic and economic power. His name became synonymous with wealth in both Greek and Persian cultures. The coin’s emblem, a lion and a bull on the brink of ferocious combat, manifests this power, and suggests the tensions of Lydia as a border kingdom between Greek west and Persian east.”

KGC0010 Gold Stater of Lampsakos. Obverse. Credit Steve Wakeham-Kallos Gallery.

 

Another extremely rare coin on display will be a Gold Stater of Lampsakos  (394–350 BC), one of only two known examples of the type in the world . The coin illustrates Athena, goddess of wisdom, adorned in atriple-crested helmet and fine jewellery. On the reverse is the winged horse Pegasos, whom Athena is said to have tamed.

The coin is prized for its bold relief and striking three-quarter portrait of the goddess, which emphasises her serenity and authority.Another stand-out piece on view will be a Gold Drachm of Syracuse(c.317–310 BC). Sicilian coins are particularly cherished for their aesthetic beauty and impeccable quality, in which this example is no exception.

The drachma was produced under Agathokles, a potter’s son who went on to become the tyrannical leader of Syracuse and later the self-styled King of Sicily. The reverse depicts a two-horse chariot, symbolising the victory of charioteers and their teams of fine horses sent by wealthy Sicilian rulers to the Olympic and Delphic games. The obverse shows the laureate head of the god Apollo.

 ABOUT KALLOS GALLERY

Founded in 2014 by Baron Lorne Thyssen-Bornemisza, Kallos Gallery (Kallos means ‘beauty’ in ancientGreek) offers for sale some of the most arresting and best-preserved artworks from the ancient Greek world, of a quality rarely seen outside the world’s greatest museums.The gallery acts as a forum for discussion and learning, hosting regular talks, performances and events, with a central aim to inspire and guide a new generation of collectors. It also operates an educational outreach programme in classics, art history, and archaeology, opening its doors to primary and secondary school children from central London and the UK, and working closely with UK-based educational charities and organisations.

Kallos Gallery is open Monday – Friday, 10.30am – 5.30pm, and by appointment.

Kallos Gallery, 14–16 Davies Street, London, W1K 3DR

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Aksel Ritenis

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