Friday, August 29, 2008

Robin Symes: Reflecting on Recent Returns

A picture is beginning to emerge from a study of the return of antiquities to Italy (and Greece). The view is not yet complete as full details about the dealers lying behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Princeton, and Shelby White returns have yet to be released.

One of the more prominent dealers to feature among the returns was Robin Symes. Pieces that are said to have passed through his hands are:
In addition there was the ivory face from Tuscany. (At some point the issue of items that were seized in warehouses in London will be resolved.)

So museums, private collectors and dealers need to check that they are not holding items (or stock) that had passed through Symes' hands. They should also remember that one piece was recorded with the euphemism as coming from "a private collection in Great Britain". Or perhaps it would be recorded as the "R.S. European collection".

It is a reminder that museums need to do more to present full recorded histories for individual pieces (which is why I welcome the new policy of the American Association of Museums).

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