The 4 x 7¼in (10.5 x 18.5cm) equine head will be offered by the Hôtel des Ventes de Monte Carlo on May 6 with an estimate of €80,000-120,000.
The firm’s antiquities specialist Bianca Massard thinks the head has been carved from a single piece of ivory, probably an elephant tusk. It dates from the classic period, the 4th century BC, and is stylistically similar in miniature form to some of the horses’ heads from the Parthenon frieze now in the British Museum.
Massard thinks its size means it may originally have been part of an equestrian statue or a group created in bronze and ivory.
The head has come from a private Monegasque collection and was acquired by the vendor from a lady in Nice. She inherited it from her uncle, whose eclectic ensemble of antiques from different civilisations was acquired between the 1970s and ‘90s from auction rooms and dealers.