After inheriting his Guatemalan grandfather’s collection of Central American artifacts, Schmitt launched a career in antiquities and founded Amiguet’s Ancient Art
BOULDER, Colo. – On Thursday, October 20, Artemis Gallery will conduct a very special auction featuring the cultural art collection of Marc Amiguet Schmitt, a respected lifelong antiquities dealer and owner of Amiguet’s Ancient Art. While Marc only lived to age 49, his impact was great, especially in Pre-Columbian art circles.
“Since the 1990s, Marc Schmitt was the owner of Amiguet’s Ancient Art, a name that is immediately recognizable in the field of Pre-Columbian art,” said Bob Dodge, executive director of Artemis Gallery. “Marc’s appreciation of both Pre-Columbian and Spanish colonial cultures came from his grandfather, Louis Amiguet, who emigrated to the United States from Guatemala sometime before 1950. Many of Marc’s most cherished treasures were objects that his grandfather passed down to him even before Marc began his career as an antiquarian.’
“Sadly, Marc passed away in January from natural causes. He left an incredible array of cultural objects from all over the world, but most especially, exceptional examples of Pre-Columbian art from Central America, South America and Mexico. It is with a sense of great pride, as well as a profound sense of sadness, that we offer on October 20th part one of these treasured objects from Marc’s personal collection.”
Among the top Pre-Columbian items in the Schmitt collection is the auction opener: a 16-inch Pre-Columbian Olmec (southern Mexico to Guatemala) stone seated figure holding an offering bowl. Created circa 1200-800 BCE and carved from a single piece of volcanic basalt, the kneeling figure exhibits signature Olmec characteristics such as a jowly face, downturned “jaguar” mouth, a square jaw, broad nose, and puffy, slanted eyes. Its auction estimate is $6,000-$9,000.
Also from the Olmec culture, a huge 9.125-inch-long carved andesite drug spoon reflects how important psychoactive substances were to their shamanic rituals and healing. The spoon’s practical design incorporates a raised ridge along its edge to prevent spillage during the preparation of a mixture. Dating to circa 900-500 BCE, it is expected to attract a winning bid in the $4,000-$6,000 range.
Only a collection with deep family lineage, such as that of the late Marc Schmitt, would be likely to hold a treasure like Lot 14, a large Pre-Columbian Maya polychrome incensario fragment of sun god Kinich Ajaw (or Kinich Ahau). The richly icnonographic design sculpted by an obviously skilled artisan depicts the deity in the jaws of a serpentine – though quetzl-like – creature who was sometimes believed to carry Kinich Ajaw across the sky. Two large curls of “smoke” appear to emanate from the god’s mouth, thus adding to the theatrical quality of this exceptional ceremonial piece. Estimate: $4,000-$6,000
Deceptively primitive at first glance, a Pre-Columbian Sican/Lambayeque culture (northern coastal Peru) copper funerary mask reveals its sophistication one aspect at a time. The circa 10th-11th century CE mask would have adorned the body of an elite member of Sican society (gold was for lords, silver for noble women, and copper for wealthy commoners). Sicans of high standing were patrons of workshops that made fine metal objects such as this mask. It has a hand-hammered border finished in a pleasing, artistic motif; its eyes are of nacre shell cut into teardrop shapes with applied copper pupils, and a hand-crafted ornament dangles from the nose. The visage seems not to represent an individual, but rather a stylized deity, which would have allowed the deceased to assume a godly identity. This visually stunning mask is estimated at $2,400-$4,800.
The Schmitt collection is filled with unusual – and unusually beautiful – Pre-Columbian pottery. For example, a circa 450-550 CE Maya, Honduras, Ulua Valley polychrome cylinder is described by Artemis Gallery specialists as the rare Dedalos type, referring to its narrow and time-specific window of production. The vessel is densely decorated all around with colorful imagery that includes three human figures kneeling to remove pods from fruitful cacao trees. Comparable to a cylinder in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s collection, it comes to auction with a $2,500-$3,500 estimate.
Another of Marc Schmitt’s prized pieces of Pre-Columbian pottery is a large Maya-Teotihuacan tripod rattle vessel dating to 600-800 CE and being of the Tiquisate type. Crafted of red-orange terracotta, it stands on three squared, nicely decorated legs. Its most distinguishing feature is the array of nine applied rattles around its circumference, each a sphere with two incised eyes and a horizontal slit resembling a mouth. Vessels of this type unquestionably would have been used in ceremonial rites and shaken to create a loud din. Estimate: $2,500-$3,500.
A highlight of the Spanish colonial category is a 19th-century CE articulated Christ figure of hand-carved and painted wood with blue glass eyes. The figure is seated on a 19th-century New Mexican wood chair and is of a type that would have been dressed and used in processions and rituals. The pre-sale estimate is $3,000-$4,500.
Marc Schmitt’s highly refined taste can also be seen in the Asian antiquities he collected, including a marvelous circa 206-220 CE Han Dynasty glazed pottery model of a storage granary. Detailed with a ridged roof and panda-bear supports, it stands an impressive 17¼ inches by 9¾ inches. Its auction estimate is $3,600-$5,400. Another great treasure is a Ming to Qing Dynasty stone panel of a guardian fu lion, or “foo dog,” hand-carved in low relief against a scalloped panel. Created circa-17th to early 19th century CE and measuring 16 inches long by 11¾ inches high, it is offered with a $3,600-$5,400 estimate.
Artemis Gallery’s Thursday, October 20, 2022 auction featuring the Marc Amiguet Schmitt / Amiguet Ancient Art Collection Part I, plus high-quality selections from other consignors, will start at 10 a.m. EDT. All items come with Artemis Gallery’s guarantee that they are authentic and legal to purchase, own, and if desired, resell. An Artemis Gallery COA will accompany each piece. The company ships worldwide and has its own in-house white-glove packing and shipping department to ensure quality control. Absentee bidding is currently in progress. Detailed, authoritative descriptions and multiple photographic views of each auction lot may be viewed in the online catalog. For additional information about any item in the auction, call Teresa Dodge at 720-890-7700 or email [email protected]. Bid absentee or live via the Internet through LiveAuctioneers.