Skip to main content

Fragments of Antiquity at Harvard

I have earlier commented on the 1995 purchase of more than 200 Apulian, Attic, Chalcidian, Corinthian, Etruscan, Laconian pot-fragments. (There are 182 catalogue entries in the Harvard University Art Museums Bulletin representing the exhibition at the Fogg Art Museum, 15 March - 28 December 1997.) This acquisition is discussed briefly in James Cuno's Who Owns Antiquity?
Every fragment was described and reproduced. Their provenance, such as we knew it, was indicated. And the objects became the subject of study in seminars and other classes. [p. 22]
Cuno wrote the "Director's Foreword" for the Harvard catalogue. He noted the origin of the fragments:
These had been collected by J. Robert Guy, currently Humfry Payne Senior Research Fellow in Classical Archaeology and Art at Oxford.
They were apparently purchased indirectly. Cuno wrote:
When I first saw the fragments we would soon acquire in 1995 ... Lying flat in drawer after drawer in a dealer's shop ...
The acquisition was made with the help of:
  • Jonathan H. Kagan
  • Mr & Mrs Evangelos Karvounis
  • Ian M. Watson McLaughlin
  • Nicholas S. Zoullas
As far as I can see this is the sum total of the "history" - or Cuno's less precise "provenance" - of the pieces. The catalogue (prepared by Aaron J. Paul) does not appear to provide any further information.

Cuno now adds:
We discussed the matter with the dealer and collector and got more provenance, but only some; all that could be found. [p. 22]
Who was the dealer? What was the additional information? What were the sources for the pieces? Is it certain that the fragments were known prior to the 1970 UNESCO Convention?

Catalogue
Attic Black-figure: nos. 1-11
Unattributed Attic Black-figure (Cups): nos. 12-20
Unattributed Attic Black-figure (Vessels): no. 21
Chalcidian Black-figure: no. 22
Corinthian Black-figure: no. 23
Laconian Black-figure: nos. 24-25
Etruscan Black-figure: nos. 26-27
Attic Red-figure: nos. 28-118
Unattributed Attic Red-figure (Cups): nos. 119-171
Attic White-ground: no. 172
Unattributed Attic Red-figure (Vessels): nos. 173-181
Apulian Red-figure: no. 182

Reference
Paul, A. J. 1997. "Fragments of antiquity: drawing upon Greek vases." Harvard University Art Museums Bulletin 5: 1-87. [WorldCat]

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Marble bull's head from the temple of Eshmun

Excavations at the temple of Eshmun in Lebanon recovered a marble bull's head. It is now suggested that it was this head, apparently first published in 1967, that was placed on loan to New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art (Tom Mashberg, "Met Museum Turns Over Another Relic With Disputed Past to Prosecutors", New York Times August 1, 2017 ). The head is reported to have been handed over to the Manhattan district attorney after a request was received from the Lebanese authorities.

It is suggested that the head may have been looted from an archaeological storage area at Byblos in the 1980s during the Lebanese civil war. Mashberg has rehearsed the recent collecting history:
The owners of the bull’s head, Lynda and William Beierwaltes of Colorado, say they have clear title to the item and have sued Manhattan prosecutors for its return.  The Beierwaltes bought the head from a dealer in London in 1996 for more than $1 million and then sold it to another collector, Michael …

Sardinian warrior from "old Swiss collection"

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.

Attic amphora handed back to Italians

The research of Dr Christos Tsirogiannis has led to the return of an Attic red-figured amphora, attributed to the Harrow painter, to Italy (Tom Mashberg, "Stolen Etruscan Vessel to Be Returned to Italy", New York Times March 16, 2017).

The amphora is known to have passed through the hands of Swiss-based dealer Gianfranco Becchina in 1993, and then through a New York gallery around 2000 (although its movements between those dates are as yet undisclosed).

During the ceremony, Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., the District Attorney stated:
“When looters overrun historic sites, mine sacred spaces for prized relics, and peddle stolen property for top dollar, they do so with the implicit endorsement of all those who knowingly trade in stolen antiquities” More research clearly needs to be conducted on how material handled by Becchina passed into the North American market and into the hands of private and public collectors.