The Esman World Art Collection

Explore the diverse tapestry of the Esman collection.

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Published on
March 20, 2024
Lot 53 Ancient Greek, Cypriot Oinochoe

Lot 53 Ancient Greek, Cypriot Oinochoe


Capsule is excited for our upcoming World Art sale on March 28th. This auction boasts a stunning array of works, with many sourced from the esteemed collection of Rosa and Aaron Esman. Throughout their seventy-year marriage, Rosa and Aaron Esman shared a profound passion for the arts. Rosa Esman was a prominent figure in the art world, owning several renowned galleries such as Tanglewood Gallery and Rosa Esman Gallery, and co-founding Ubu Gallery. She was a pioneer print publisher of limited edition artworks while at Tanglewood Press, Original Editions, and Abrams Original Editions. Dr. Aaron Esman was an avid enthusiast of literature, classical and jazz performances, and theater. As a psychiatrist, he delved deeply into the intricacies of the human mind and its relationship with creativity, often writing on the subject.

Together, the Esmans cultivated a diverse and vibrant collection reflective of their shared and individual interests, comprising Modern, Post-War, and Contemporary art. In the 1960s, they embarked on a journey to build a new collection of world art encompassing African, Ancient, Pre-Columbian, and Oceanic work, continuing to expand it until the 1980s.

Lot 59 Pre-Columbian, Colima Tripod Bowl

Lot 59 |  Pre-Columbian, Colima Tripod Bowl


In May 2023, a portion of their collection was sold in Sotheby’s Art of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas auction. This collection showcased an array of artworks from various regions of Africa, including Mali, Côte d'Ivoire, Nigeria, among others, alongside selections from Oceania and Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica. Noteworthy among the sold items was a regal Bamana Antelope Headdress from Mali, fetching $15,240.

Additionally, a Protoclassic circa 100 BC - AD 250 Colima Dog, sourced from the André Emmerich Gallery, sold for $4,445. Some pieces in World Art were also purchased from André Emmerich Gallery like this Pre-Columbian, Colima Tripod Bowl. Other notable sources include Sotheby Parke-Bernet, the Omar Khayam Museum, and more, enriching the diverse tapestry of the Esman collection.

The items showcased here offer just a glimpse of the attention-grabbing pieces highlighted in the World Art sale from their collection.

Lot 18 African, Carved Wood Heddle Pulley

Lot 18  African, Carved Wood Heddle Pulley


This intricately carved female head adorns a heddle pulley, featuring elaborate carved and incised geometric patterns. Historically, these pulleys were utilized in strip-weaving, a technique for crafting long, narrow strips of cloth which were subsequently stitched together to form expansive textiles.

Lot 14 Pre-Columbian, Zapotec Pottery Urn, Mexico

Lot 14 | Pre-Columbian, Zapotec Pottery Urn, Mexico


The above artwork depicts the Lightning Deity Cocijo, with his wide snout and long forked tongue. He is seated with crossed legs and his hands on his knees. The surface has a dark, rich patina over most of the figure, fading to a lighter clay color in the less handled areas.

Lot 27 African, Male and Female Yoruba Ibeji Figures, Pair

Lot 27 | African, Male and Female Yoruba Ibeji Figures, Pair


These "Ibeji" figures serve as memorial carvings for deceased twins. In Yoruba culture, twins hold sacred significance, as the Yoruba people have one of the highest rates of twin births globally. Twins are believed to possess potent properties and bestow good fortune. When one or both twins pass away, these memorials are commissioned and lovingly tended to by their mother or surviving twin.  The care includes bathing, adorning, and feeding the figure. This regular handling contributes to the development of the unique patina on their surface.

Lot 50 Ancient Roman, Bronze Aryballos

Lot 50 | Ancient Roman, Bronze Aryballos


Bid live on items from The Esman Collection and more on March 28th! The sale spans Asia, the Ancient world, Africa, and Oceania, showcasing exquisite pieces from different continents and epochs including Pre-Columbian pottery from South and Central America, 15th-early 20th Century carvings from Africa, Ancient Roman and Egyptian items, Sino-Tibetan and Indian bronzes, Persian rugs, and more.

Preview Hours

Tuesday, March 26th, 11-3PM

Wednesday, March 27th, 11-3PM

and by appointment

Pre-bidding for World Art is available now. Live bidding begins March 28th at 11:00 AM EST.

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