Monday, December 8, 2008

Antiquities from the Villa Rufolo at Sotheby's

This Wednesday (December 10, 2008) Sotheby's (New York) is due to auction three antiquities formerly in the Villa Rufolo, Ravello. All three are stated as being the property of an anonymous French private collection.

All three peices had formed part of the collection of Francis Nevile Reid (1826-1892) at the Villa Rufolo. They then passed to Charles Carmichael Lacaita (1853-1933) and Mrs. Tallon-Lacaita, both of the Villa Rufolo. In 1939 the three pieces are reported to have moved to Paris and then "by descent to the present owner".

However the cultural group "Ravello Nostra", as well as the Soprintendenza di Salerno, and the Carabinieri responsible for archaeological sites in Campania, have raised concerns about the three pieces ("Ravello, si attivano i Carabinieri per l'asta di Sothebys", Postiano News December 6, 2008). Paolo Imperato, the mayor of Ravello, has voiced his concern and called for their return to the town:
Faremo di tutto per recuperare queste opere ..., dobbiamo tornare in possesso di ciò che appartiene alla città e questo deve avvenire in maniera legittima e quindi verificare se queste non siano state sottratte indebitamente.
It is suggested that the pieces were not removed in 1939, but rather in 1974 when the Villa Rufolo was sold to the local tourism council for Salerno.

The case is now in the hands of the Nucleo di Tutela del Patrimonio Culturale dell´Arma.
  • Lot 50. A Roman Imperial marble relief fragment, Antonine. Estimate: US$20,000-30,000. Publ. Carl Robert, Die antiken Sarkophagreliefs, part III.2: Einzelmythen (Berlin, 1904) no. 289 or 289a, pl. 89; Guntram Koch, Archäologischer Anzeiger (1973) p. 293, no. 12, fig. 12; Guntram Koch, Die mythologischen Sarkophage, part VI: Meleager (Die Antiken Sarkophag-reliefs, vol. 12) (Berlin, 1975) no. 97, pp. 115-116, fig. 7. The Catalogue notes: "A 19th Century photograph taken in a vaulted chamber at the Villa Rufolo shows the present fragment, as well as another fragment from the same sarcophagus leaning against a column. Until now both these fragments were only known from line drawings."
  • Lot 58. A Paestan red-figured bell-krater, attributed to Python. Property of a French private collecition. Estimate: US$15,000—25,000. Publ. Dr. Pesce, Dionisio. Trimestrale di studi sul teatro antico, vol. 7 (1939) p. 162; Archäologischer Anzeiger (1940) cols. 497 and 512-513, fig. 40; John D. Beazley, "A Paestan Vase," American Journal of Archaeology 48, no. 4, (October-December 1944) p. 365; A.D. Trendall, "Paestan Pottery: a Revision and a Supplement," Papers of the British School at Rome 20 (1952) p. 102, no. 166; A.D. Trendall, The Red-figured Vases of Paestum (London, 1987) p. 159, no. 282, pl. 102f.
  • Lot 94. A Roman marble cinerary urn. First recorded in the "Monastery of the Conventual Fathers, Amalfi, from before 1718 until about 1860"; then "house of the Raffi family, Ravello". Estimiate: US$5000-8000. Publ. Francesco Pansa, Istoria dell'antica repubblica d'Amalfi, (Bologna, vol. II, 1724) p. 184; CIL X: Inscriptiones Bruttiorum, Lucaniae, Campaniae, Siciliae, Sardiniae Latinae, ed. Th. Mommsen, 1883, p. 68, no. 570, and p. 1005, ad n. 570; Inscriptiones Italiae, vol. 1, Regio 1, fasc. 1, Vittorio Bracco, ed., (Rome, 1931) no. 196.

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