Wednesday, February 7, 2018


SOTHEBY's upcoming Erotic: Passion & Desire sale in London on 15 February will present a rich chronology of artworks from the masters of painting, sculpture and photography … including two portraits of Antinous.

This exquisite bust of Antinous by an unknown 18th Century French artist is up for auction at an estimated price of 100,000 to 150,000 British pounds. It is modeled on the famous Écouen bust at the Louvre in Paris.

The bust is white marble, 75 cm (30 inches) tall.

In Addition, American artist Robert Mapplethorpe's portrait of the Capitoline Antinous statue is also on auction at an estimate of 8,000 to 12,000 pounds.

In 2017, the Queer British Art exhibition at Tate Britain was one of the most successful shows the gallery has seen in recent years, and widely regarded as a significant survey of an overlooked canon.

Marking the 50-year anniversary of the decriminalisation of male homosexuality in Britain, the exhibition opened a rich and overdue dialogue between the art and artists of the past, and what remain very relevant issues on gender, sexuality and identity politics.

This artistic acknowledgement and celebration of sexuality is resumed at Sotheby’s in the auction Erotic: Passion & Desire.

Sotheby's says the sale will present an abundance of historic objects and artefacts which resonate deeply with a contemporary audience; and that have served as the catalyst and inspiration behind many works by the artists, designers and writers of today.

Sotheby's adds that both works are superb and that the bust is particularly special, even though the artist is unknown.

Whilst they are highlights of the sale, these works are among countless depictions of Antinous in existence which reinforce his position as a celebrated idol of classical antiquity; this sculpture compares particularly closely to a bust in the Louvre, believed to have been carved after a Roman marble in the Museo Nacional del Prado.

"In considering these works side-by-side, the viewer is captivated by enduring images of this enigmatic figure," Sotheby's says. 

"Both Mapplethorpe and the anonymous 18th Century French sculptor were striving to capture an ideal of classic beauty, but also the reverence of love and desire. Though his end was premature and tragic, Antinous remains an Icon – and a Muse."

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