Thursday, June 15, 2017

Getty returns Fleischman Zeus to Italy

Seated Zeus to return to Italy.
Source: MiBACT
The Italian Government has announcted that the Getty Museum has returned a seated Zeus to Italy ("FRANCESCHINI, IL GETTY MUSEUM SIGLA ACCORDO CON L’ITALIA PER LA RESTITUZIONE DELLO ZEUS IN TRONO RIENTRA A NAPOLI STATUA DEL I SECOLO A.C.", press release, 13 June 2017; "The J. Paul Getty Museum and Italian officials announce agreement to return first century B.C. sculpture to Italy", press release, 13 June 2017). The statue is a copy of the great chryselphantine statue of Zeus from Olympia.

The statue was acquired by Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman from Robin Symes in 1987. It was sold to the Getty in 1992 (inv. 92.AA.10), although the published statement only recorded that it had been in a New York private collection [JSTOR].

Jessica Gelt ("Getty agrees to return 1st century BC sculpture to Italy", LA Times, 13 June 2017) notes what the press releases omit:
Getty Museum Director Timothy Potts said the Italian government came into possession of a fragment that it believed joined the sculpture at the Getty. Italian officials tested their theory on a visit to the museum in 2014. 
“The fragment gave every indication that it was a part of the sculpture we had,” Potts said in an interview. “It came from the general region of Naples, so it meant this object had come from there.”
The Fleischman collection formed part of earlier research that I had conducted with Christopher Chippindale (Chippindale, Christopher, and David W. J. Gill. “Material Consequences of Contemporary Classical Collecting.” American Journal of Archaeology, vol. 104, no. 3, 2000, pp. 463–511. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/507226.). The Zeus joins a large number of former Fleischman pieces that have already been returned to Italy (including one piece from the Cleveland Museum of Art).

Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know

Friday, June 9, 2017

Stela anthemion surfaces at Sotheby's

Images:
L, Sotheby's;
R, Becchina archive (courtesy of Dr Christos Tsirogiannis)
Sotheby's will have bad memories of their antiquities department in London. The auction-house has restarted antiquities sales in London and on Monday 12 June they will be offering a marble stela anthemion with the personal name, Hestiaios (lot 8).

The collecting history is provided as follows:
  • John Hewett, Bog Farm, Kent, 1960s 
  • New York art market, acquired from the above on November 3rd, 1980 
  • American private collection American family trust (Sotheby’s New York, December 10th, 2008, no. 28, illus.) Sold for $116,500.
  • acquired by the present owner at the above sale 
  • Christie's, London, King Street, October 24th, 2013, no. 32, illus. Apparently unsold.
A parallel is suggested for Rhamnous in eastern Attica.

Yet Dr Christos Tsirogiannis has spotted that the anthemion appears in the Becchina archive. The Becchina paperwork suggests that the piece was in his hands from 1977 until 1990, and then passed to George Ortiz. If this does indeed prove to be the case then the fragment appears to have been provided with a falsified collecting history (that can be traced back to the 2008 sale at Sotheby's). This would indicate that there has been a major failure in the due diligence process by the auction-house.

I am sure that Sotheby's will want to withdraw the lot from its sale and that the present owner would be advised to negotiate with the Greek authorities to arrange its return.

Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Sardinian warrior from "old Swiss collection"

Source: New York County District Attorney's Office
Source: Google

One of the Sardinian bronzes of a warrior was seized from an as yet unnamed Manahattan gallery. It appears to be the one that passed through the Royal-Athena Gallery: Art of the Ancient World 23 (2012) no. 71. The collecting history for that warrior suggests that it was acquired in 1990 from a private collection in Geneva.

Other clues suggested that the warrior has resided in a New York private collection.

The identity of the private collection in Geneva will no doubt be telling.

The warrior also features in this news story: Jennifer Peltz, "Looted statues, pottery returned to Italy after probe in NYC", ABC News May 25 2017.

Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know

Paestan lekythos from "an old Swiss collection"

Source: New York County District Attorney's Office
Paestan lekythos. Source: Google

One of the pieces seized from an as yet unnamed Manhattan gallery is a Paestan lekythos attributed to the Asteas-Python workshop. It has a stated collecting history:

  • Swiss private collection
  • Royal-Athena Galleries (1987-1988)
  • John Kluge private collection
  • Patricia Kluge private collection, Charlottesville, Virginia (1990-2010)
  • Royal-Athena Galleries: One Thousand Years of Ancient Greek Vases II ... Featuring the Patricia Kluge Collection (2010) no. 164

It would be interesting to learn the name of the anonymous Swiss private collection in which this lekythos once resided. (And note that this information is derived not from Royal-Athena Galleries but from the present vendor.)

We also note the appearance of the Kluge collection.

Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Kantharos from an old Swiss collection

Source: Google
It appears that the kantharos seized from a second Manhattan gallery came from an old Swiss collection.

This appears to have surfaced in Basel in February 1994 and then passed to a New York private collection. It was then being offered by a New York gallery for $8,500.

The District Attorney's office have yet to release the name of the gallery.

I am willing to amend this entry if this collecting history is incorrect or partial.

The kantharos appears to be the one in Royal-Athena Galleries, Art of the Ancient World 28 (2017) no.  105. It formerly resided in the 'J.M.E. collection' in New York.

Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know

Antiquities from a Manhattan gallery

Source: New York County District Attorney's Office
For completeness I note the seizures from a second gallery in Manhattan.

  • a Sardinian bronze ox, 8th century BC, valued at $6,500
  • a Sardinian bronze warrior wearing a helmet and carrying a bow, 8th century BC, valued at approximately $30,000 
  • a Greek bronze Herakles holding the horn of Achelous, 4th-3rd centuries BC, valued at $12,500.
  • an Apulian Xenon kantharos, decorated with the image of two goats butting heads, late 4th century BC, valued at $8,500
  • a Proto-Corinthian oenochoe, decorated with rams and panthers, c. 650 BC, valued at $22,500 
  • a Paestan red-figure lekythos, decorated with a man holding a plate of fruit, c. 340 BC, valued at $9,500

The name of the gallery has not yet been released.

Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know

Intellectual consequences of the Attic red-figured lekythos

Attic red-figured lekythos
Source: New York County District Attorney
The Attic red-figured lekythos that has been seized from a Manhattan gallery is attributed to the group of Palermo 16. Find-spots (and the Beazley Archive now defines this information as "provenance") for such lekythoi include (and this may include "said to be" information):

  • Nola: 2
  • Tarquinia: 1
  • Camarina, Sicily: 1
  • Gela, Sicily: 5
  • Selinus, Sicily: 3

11 further lekythoi do not have a stated findspot. It seems quite possible that the New York lekythos was found at a site on Sicily but we just do not know.

And note the loss of information: 11 out of 23 lekythoi do not have a secure archaeological find-spot. And how many of the 12 with some sort of reported find-spot come from a scientific excavation that has provided contextual information?

Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know

Monday, May 29, 2017

Attic lekythos returned to Italy

The New York County District Attorney's Office has announced that it has seized a number of antiquities from two separate premises and that the items will be returning to Italy "8th century B.C.E. bronze statues among collection of ancient artifacts being repatriated to Italian Republic by Manhattan District Attorney's Office", May 25, 2017, press release]. Six of the items were seized in April from "a gallery in Midtown Manhattan".

The release adds:
This month, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office also seized an additional item pursuant to a search warrant from a different gallery in Midtown Manhattan. The recently recovered artifact is also being returned to the Italian Republic as part of the repatriation ceremony.
The gallery is not named but is reported to be the same one linked to a returned Attic amphora and a sarcophagus fragment.

This lekythos appears to be the one attributed to the Group of Palermo 16 that had once formed part of an old English collection, and then passed into the Kluge collection (itself a collection not without interest to readers of LM). It had passed through a New York gallery that has returned other items to the Italian authorities. The lekythos appears to have first surfaced on the London market.

Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Floating Culture: unrecorded archaeological finds

Display in Lincoln (c) David Gill
Adam Daubney, the FLO for Lincolnshire, has written on the unrecorded finds that are obtained via metal-detecting ("Floating culture: the unrecorded antiquities of England and Wales", International Journal of Heritage Studies [2017] 1-15 [DOI]). Readers of LM will know that this is a topic that has featured here. Daubney accepts in his opening paragraph: "loss of archaeological knowledge also occurs on an arguably far wider scale through the non-reporting and subsequent sale of legitimately discovered archaeological material, especially in countries such as the U.K. where there is no legal obligation to report certain classes of finds". There has to be an acceptance that under-reporting of finds is a failure of the Portable Antiquities Scheme to engage with the metal-detecting communities ("it has proved impossible to shift the entrenched ideas of some non-reporters, particularly those who were active during the ‘detector wars’ of the 1970s and 1980s ").

I am pleased that Daubney makes this comment in response to my paper (and responses) in the Papers of the Institute of Archaeology that so far appears to have escaped citation by a member of PAS (and he overlooks my main forum paper in preference to my response to the responses): "To this extent we might concede to Gill’s comment that ‘recording antiquities is not the same as protecting archaeological sites’".

But Daubney has been selective. What is his response to the finding of the so-called Crosby-Garrett helmet (even if it was not in Cumbria)? What about the implications of the uncovering of the Lenborough Hoard?

What is needed is a wider debate about the need to protect the fragile archaeological record in England and Wales.

Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know

Monday, April 24, 2017

The Tiberius and the Drusus heads

Tiberius and Drusus. Source: PIASA
Documented collecting histories are important. The portrait heads of Drusus Minor and Tiberius excavated at Sessa Aurunca have parallel histories.

Both passed through the sale of PIASA in Paris on 17-18 March 2003, lot  569, and 29 September 2004, lot 340. Both came from the same source ("Cette tête de même provenance que la tête vendue le 18 Mars 2003 ").

The Drusus was reported to have been purchased by Phoenix Ancient Art, who then sold it to the Cleveland Museum of Art in 2012. It was displayed in the New York exhibition, "IMAGO: Four Centuries of Roman Portraiture", with the information that it had formed part of a 19th century Algerian collection ["Phoenix Ancient Art to Exhibit Collection of Roman Portraits, Unveil Its Newly Renovated New York Gallery", 29 November 2007].

The Drusus appeared in Randy Kennedy's article, "Museum Defends Antiquities Collecting" (originally from the New York Times, 12 August 2012). The article specifically states, "The Cleveland Museum’s new portrait of Drusus Minor has no ironclad record pre-1970". It is noted, "But the museum said it believed its history could be traced back to the late 19th century as the property of a prominent family in Algiers." The source for this collecting history is unstated though was in circulation in 2007. David Franklin, the then director of the Cleveland Museum of Art, was quoted, “We’ve done our due diligence and we feel that both these objects have a pre-1970 provenance” [the other piece was Mayan].

The Tiberius was purchased by the Royal-Athena Galleries and then sold to the US Private Collector. I am told that the private collector returned the head to Italy in January 2017.

It is unclear when the pieces were removed from the Antiquarium in Italy.

I am grateful to Dr Jerome Eisenberg for the additional information and clarification.

Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails