Tuesday, September 30, 2008

CPAC: New Appointment

While most of us have been following the "credit crunch" and yesterday's surprise vote in Washington (what the BBC has termed a "bail-out failure"), the White House announced a new member of the Cultural Property Advisory Committee (CPAC): Brent R. Benjamin, Director of the St Louis Art Museum (press release, September 29, 2008).

Peter Tompa has commented on the appointment and has noted:
Mr. Benjamin should be well acquainted with cultural property issues due to an ongoing dispute with Dr. Zahi Hawass, the publicity seeking Secretary General of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, over a funerary mask of a nineteenth dynasty noblewoman named Ka Nefer Nefer.
I disagree with Tompa. Benjamin does not appear to understand the "due diligence" process when it comes to this particular mask (see my earlier comments). Was this mask removed from the store at Saqqara? What is the certified documentation to show that the object had been in the hands of various European dealers and collectors?

Announcing Benjamin's appointment yesterday looks like a case of "burying bad news". Benjamin's appointment can only be seen as controversial. Does the Bush administration mean to send out a signal that it does not care about claims on cultural property in North American museums?

The Robin Symes Collection at Auction

The Bonham's sale of antiquities on October 15, 2008 will include an Apulian volute-krater from the Robin Symes collection (lot 180). No other history has been provided.

Several antiquities associated with Robin Symes have been returned to Greece and Italy in recent years. So what is the previous history of this krater? Who is the present owner?

Museum Thefts in Egypt: Antiquities for the Market

One of the key issues that has to be addressed is the deliberate destruction of archaeological sites to provide objects for the market. But another source is to steal items directly from museums and archaeological stores. In 2005 Jill Kamil ("Changing hands", Al-Ahram, 13-19 January 2005) drew attention to a series of thefts. These include:

From museums:
  • "619 Pharaonic artefacts, stolen from the Egyptian Museum in 2000 and smuggled to London via Switzerland"
  • "15 antiquities which had disappeared from the stores at the College of Fine Arts and the Maadi Museum, were up for auction in United Kingdom."
  • "In 1995, thieves burrowed through the wall of a storeroom used to house artefacts at the Temple of Montu in Karnak, and looted some 55 scarabs and statues."

From sites:
  • granite reliefs from the temple of Isis, Beihbet Al-Hegara. Surfaced at Christie's, New York 2002 and 2004.

Kamil makes the point:
Auction houses do not intentionally handle smuggled antiquities. But how many items in their lots may in fact come from questionable sources? It is hard to put a figure on it. Sometimes large collections arrive at auction with a precise and accurate history. Other times, the only reference made is to literature in which a "similar object" is described, or the museum in which a "similar object" is displayed. No provenance. No acquisition data.

Perhaps what is needed is a more rigorous "due diligence" process.

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Graham Geddes Collection at Auction

As we look forward to the sale of the Graham Geddes collection at Bonhams in London this October, I though that it would be useful to review some of the recent sales of items from this Australian collection. The examples listed here were auctioned at Christie's.

Attic
  • New York, Rockefeller Plaza: 9 December 2005, lot 238. AN ATTIC RED-FIGURED CALYX-KRATER THE L.C. GROUP. Pre-Lot Text: ANCIENT VASES FROM THE COLLECTION OF WILLIAM SUDDABY. Provenance: with Graham Geddes, Australia, circa 1970s.
Apulian

Bell-krater
  • New York, Park Avenue: 18 December 1997, lot 127. AN APULIAN RED-FIGURE BELL-KRATER ATTRIBUTED TO THE TRURO PAINTER. Pre-Lot Text: Property of a Melbourne Private Collector. Provenance: Antiquities, Sotheby's London, 10-11 December 1984, lot 364; Melbourne, Graham Geddes Collection; Antiquities, Sotheby's London, 10 December 1996, lot 187. Literature: Trendall and Cambitoglou, Second Supplement to the Red-Figured Vases of Apulia, part I, no26a. Exhibited: The Borchardt Library, La Trobe University, Melbourne, 1988-1994
  • New York, Park Avenue: 18 December 1997, Lot 140. AN APULIAN RED-FIGURE BELL-KRATER ATTRIBUTED TO THE PAINTER OF THE LONG OVERFALLS. Pre-Lot Text: PROPERTY OF AN AUSTRALIAN PRIVATE COLLECTION. Provenance: Antiquities, Sotheby's London, 12-13 December 1983, lot 534b; Melbourne, Graham Geddes Collection. Literature: Trendall and Cambitoglou, Second Supplement to the Red-Figured Vases of Apulia, part I, no. 4/107a.
  • New York, Park Avenue: 18 December 1997, lot 142. AN APULIAN RED-FIGURE BELL-KRATER ATTRIBUTED TO THE PAINTER OF THE LONG OVERFALLS. Provenance: Melbourne, Graham Geddes Collection. Literature: Trendall and Cambitoglou, Second Supplement to the Red-Figured Vases of Apulia, part I, no. 4/110f; Schauenberg, "Herakles und Eulen," RM, 1985, p.45, pl. 85-86,2-3.
  • New York, Park Avenue: 5 June 1998, Lot 239 ($3220) = New York, Rockefeller Plaza: 10 December 2004, Lot 501 ($5975). AN APULIAN RED-FIGURE BELL-KRATER ATTRIBUTED TO THE DECHTER PAINTER. Provenance: Melbourne, Graham Geddes Collection; The Property of an Australian Collector; Christie's, New York, 5 June 1998, lot 239; The Property of a Louisiana Collection. Literature: Trendall and Cambitoglou, The Second Supplement to the Red-Figured Vases of Apulia, no. 10/79b, pl. XI, 3-4.
  • New York, Rockefeller Plaza: 12 December 2002, lot 141. AN APULIAN RED-FIGURED BELL-KRATER ATTRIBUTED TO THE TARPORLEY PAINTER. Provenance: Macciolli Collection, Melbourne, 1984; BGM Collection, Melbourne, 1988-1994; Graham Geddes Collection, Melbourne, 1994. Literature: Trendall, "Two bell-kraters in Melbourne by the Tarporley Painter" in Studies Cambitoglou; Trendall and Cambitoglou, Second Supplement to The Red-Figured Vases of Apulia, Part I, no. 3/4a. Exhibited: On loan, La Trobe University, Melbourne, 1988-2002
Calyx-krater
  • New York, Rockefeller Plaza: 8 June 2001, lot 169. AN APULIAN RED-FIGURED CALYX-KRATER ATTRIBUTED TO THE UNDERWORLD PAINTER. Pre-Lot Text: VARIOUS PROPERTIES. Provenance: Antiquities, Sotheby's London, 10 December 1984, lot 365; Private Collection, 1984-1994; Graham Geddes Collection, 1994-present. Literature: Trendall, "Two Apulian Calyx-Kraters with Representations of Amphion and Zethos" in Enthousiasmos Vol. 6, Festschrift Hemelrijk, Allard Pierson Series, pp. 157-166; Heger, "Dirke" in LIMC, III, p. 636, no. 6, pl. 505,5; Trendall, Red Figure Vases of South Italy and Sicily, no. p. 91, no. 211; Trendall, "On the Divergence of South Italian from Attic Red-figure Vase-painting," pl. 24,4 in Descoeudres, ed., Greek Colonists and Native Populations; Trendall and Cambitoglou, Second Supplement to the Red-Figured Vases of Apulia, Part I, no. 18/318a.
  • New York, Rockefeller Plaza: 8 June 2001. lot 170. AN APULIAN RED-FIGURED CALYX-KRATER ATTRIBUTED TO THE DARIUS PAINTER. Provenance: Antiquities, Sotheby's London, 13-14 December 1982, lot 291; Private Collection, 1982-1994; Graham Geddes Collection, 1994-present. Literature: Trendall and Cambitoglou, Red-Figured Vases of Apulia, Supplement I, no. 18/64d; Trendall, "Two Apulian Calyx-Kraters with Representations of Amphion and Zethos" in Enthousiasmos, Festchrift Hemelrijk, Vol. 6, Allard Pierson Series, pp. 157-166. Exhibited: Museum of Mediterranean Antiquities, Monash University, Melbourne, on loan 1994-2001
Column-krater
  • New York, Park Avenue: 18 December 1997, lot 132. AN APULIAN RED-FIGURE COLUMN-KRATER ATTRIBUTED TO THE PATERA PAINTER. Pre-Lot Text: Property of a Melbourne Private Collector. Provenance: Brought to England prior to 1920; Antiquities, Sotheby's London, 13-14 July 1981, lot 350; Melbourne, Graham Geddes Collection; Antiquities, Sotheby's London, 10 December 1996, lot 181.
  • New York, Park Avenue: 5 June 1998, lot 236. AN APULIAN RED-FIGURE COLUMN-KRATER, A-SIDE ATTRIBUTED TO THE BALTIMORE PAINTER, B-SIDE ATTRIBUTED TO THE STOKE ON TRENT PAINTER. Provenance: Property of a Nobleman, brought to England prior to 1920; Antiquities, Sotheby's London, 13 July 1981, lot 347; Melbourne, Graham Geddes Collection; Antiquities, Sotheby's London, 8 December 1994, lot 157. Literature: Trendall and Cambitoglou, The Red-Figured Vases of Apulia, vol. II, no. 27/224a, pl. 339, 5-6.
Volute-krater
  • New York, Park Avenue: 18 December 1997, Lot 128. AN APULIAN RED-FIGURE VOLUTE-KRATER ATTRIBUTED TO THE PAINTER OF COPENHAGEN 4223. Pre-Lot Text: PROPERTY OF AN AUSTRALIAN PRIVATE COLLECTOR. Provenance: Once Swiss Market; Antiquities, Sotheby's London, 11 December 1984, lot 599; Melbourne, Graham Geddes Collection. Literature: Trendall and Cambitoglou, First Supplement to the Red-Figured Vases of Apulia, no.17/40c; Schauenburg, "Flügelgestalten auf unteritalischen Grabvasen," JdL 102, p.205, fig.6-7.
  • New York, Park Avenue: 18 December 1997, lot 129. AN APULIAN RED-FIGURE VOLUTE-KRATER ATTRIBUTED TO THE DE SCHULTHESS PAINTER. Pre-Lot Text: Property of a Melbourne Private Collector. Provenance: Antiquities, Sotheby's London, 12 December 1988, lot 165; Melbourne, Graham Geddes Collection. Literature: Trendall and Cambitoglou, Second Supplement to the Red-Figured Vases of Apulia, no. 17/76, pl. xxxii,1-2; Schauenburg, "Flügelgestalten auf unteritalischen Grabvasen," JdI, 1987, pp. 199-282.
  • New York, Park Avenue: 18 December 1997, Lot 130. AN APULIAN RED-FIGURE VOLUTE-KRATER ATTRIBUTED TO THE PAINTER OF BM F281. Provenance: Antiquities, Sotheby's London, 23 May 1988, lot 216; Melbourne, Graham Geddes Collection; Antiquities, Sotheby's London, 10 December 1996, lot 197. Literature: Trendall and Cambitoglou, Second Supplement to the Red-Figured Vases of Apulia, part I, no. 17/62a, pl. XXXI, 5-6.
  • New York, Park Avenue: 18 December 1997, Lot 135. AN APULIAN RED-FIGURE VOLUTE-KRATER ATTRIBUTED TO THE SAMARCANDE GROUP, ASSOCIATED WITH THE PAINTER OF THE MACINAGROSSA STAND. Pre-Lot Text: Property of a Melbourne Private Collector. Provenance: Melbourne, Graham Geddes Collection; Antiquities, Sotheby's London, 10 December 1996, lot 196. Literature: Trendall and Cambitoglou, Second Supplement to the Red-Figured Vases of Apulia, part II, no. 27/574, pl. lxxxi,1-2.
  • New York, Park Avenue: 18 December 1997, Lot 136. AN APULIAN RED-FIGURE VOLUTE-KRATER ATTRIBUTED TO THE PAINTER OF TARANTO 7013. Provenance: German Market; Antiquities, Sotheby's London, 19 May 1986, lot 316; Melbourne, Graham Geddes Collection. Literature: Trendall and Cambitoglou, The Red-Figured Vases of Apulia, vol. II, no. 28/39a.
  • New York, Park Avenue: 18 December 1997, lot 137. AN APULIAN RED-FIGURE VOLUTE-KRATER ATTRIBUTED TO THE PAINTER OF BERLIN F 3383. Pre-Lot Text: PROPERTY OF AN AUSTRALIAN PRIVATE COLLECTOR. Provenance: Antiquities, Sotheby's London, 10-11 December 1984, lot 600; Melbourne, Graham Geddes Collection. Literature: Trendall and Cambitoglou, Second Supplement to the Red- Figured Vases of Apulia, no. 28/64e; Schauenburg, "Zur zwei Krateren des Malers von Berlin F 3383" in Festschrift Himmelmann, 1989, pl. 37,2-3.
  • New York, Park Avenue: 18 December 1998, Lot 106. AN APULIAN RED-FIGURE VOLUTE-KRATER ATTRIBUTED TO THE GROUP OF COPENHAGEN 4223. Provenance: Antiquities, Sotheby's London, 21 May 1984, lot 408; Melbourne, Graham Geddes Collection; Antiquities, Sotheby's London, 8 December 1994, lot 330. Literature: Trendall and Cambitoglou, The Second Supplement to the Red-Figured Vases of Apulia, no. 17/50-10, pl. xxx, 3.
  • New York, Rockefeller Plaza: 12 June 2002, Lot 39. AN APULIAN RED-FIGURED VOLUTE-KRATER ATTRIBUTED TO THE BALTIMORE PAINTER. Provenance: Antiquities, Sotheby's London, 11 July 1988, lot 184; Bongiorno Collection, Melbourne, 1988-1994; Buxton Collection, Melbourne, 1994-1998; Geddes Collection, Melbourne, 1994-present. Literature: Trendall and Cambitoglou, Second Supplement to The Red-Figured Vases of Apulia, Part II, no. 27/11b. Exhibited: University of Melbourne, 1990-1998
Amphora
  • New York, Park Avenue: 18 December 1997, Lot 133. AN APULIAN RED-FIGURE AMPHORA ATTRIBUTED TO THE BALTIMORE PAINTER. Pre-Lot Text: PROPERTY OF AN AUSTRALIAN PRIVATE COLLECTOR. Provenance: Melbourne, Graham Geddes Collection. Literature: Trendall and Cambitoglou, Second Supplement to the Red Figured Vases of Apulia, part II, no. 27/40c, pl. lxxiii,1; Schauenberg, "Baltimoremaler und Bellerophon" in Jb. Musem K. und G., Hamburg, 3, 1984, p. 36, fig. 39.
Pelike
  • New York, Park Avenue: 5 June 1998, lot 233. AN APULIAN RED-FIGURE PELIKE ATTRIBUTED TO THE SIREN CITHARIST. Provenance: Antiquities, Sotheby's London, 9 December 1988, lot 171; Melbourne, Graham Geddes Collection; Antiquities, Sotheby's London, 8 December 1994, lot 328. Literature: Trendall and Cambitoglou, The First Supplement to the Red-Figured Vases of Apulia, no. 18/334b1; Schauenburg, JdI 104, 1989, pl. 22, pp. 1-60.
Loutrophoros
  • New York, Park Avenue: 18 December 1997, Lot 131. AN APULIAN RED-FIGURE LOUTROPHOROS ATTRIBUTED TO THE PATERA PAINTER. Pre-Lot Text: PROPERTY OF AN AUSTRALIAN PRIVATE COLLECTOR. Provenance: Melbourne, Graham Geddes Collection. Literature: Trendall and Cambitoglou, Second Supplement to the Red-Figured Vases of Apulia, part II, no. 23/52-1, pl. lix,1.
  • New York, Rockefeller Plaza: 12 December 2002, Lot 145. AN APULIAN RED-FIGURED LOUTROPHOROUS (TYPE III=BARREL AMPHORA) ATTRIBUTED TO THE WHITE SACCOS PAINTER, CIRCA 320-310 B.C. Provenance: Antiquities, Sotheby's London, 13 July 1987, lot 309; Graham Geddes Collection, Melbourne, 1987. Literature: Trendall and Cambitoglou, Second Supplement to The Red-Figured Vases of Apulia, Part II, no. 29/4-1. Exhibited: On loan, University of Queensland, Brisbane, 1988-2002
Hydria
  • New York, Park Avenue: 18 December 1997, Lot 134. AN APULIAN RED-FIGURE HYDRIA ATTRIBUTED TO THE BALTIMORE PAINTER. Provenance: Antiquities, Sotheby's London, 10-11 December 1984, lot 368; Melbourne, Graham Geddes Collection. Literature: Trendall and Cambitoglou, Second Supplement to the Red-Figured Vases of Apulia, part II, no. 27/52d.
Skyphos
  • New York, Park Avenue 5 June 1998: lot 237. AN APULIAN RED-FIGURE SKYPHOS ATTRIBUTED TO THE FOGG GROUP. Provenance: Antiquities, Sotheby's London, 13 July 1981, lot 353; Melbourne, Graham Geddes Collection; Antiquities, Sotheby's London, 8 December 1994, lot 304. Literature: Trendall and Cambitoglou, The First Supplement to the Red-Figured Vases of Apulia, 30/53a.
  • New York, Park Avenue: 18 December 1998, Lot 105. AN APULIAN RED-FIGURE SKYPHOS ATTRIBUTED TO THE LIVERPOOL PAINTER. Provenance: Antiquities, Sotheby's London, 19 May 1986, lot 159; Melbourne, Graham Geddes Collection; Antiquities, Sotheby's London, 8 December 1994, lot 329. Literature: Trendall and Cambitoglou, Second Supplement to the Red-Figured Vases of Apulia, no. 21/297b.
  • New York, Park Avenue: 18 December 1997, Lot 143. AN APULIAN RED-FIGURE SKYPHOS ATTRIBUTED TO THE FOGGIA/BASSANO GROUP. Provenance: Antiquities, Sotheby's London, 10-11 December 1984, lot 597; Melbourne, Graham Geddes Collection. Literature: Trendall and Cambitoglou, Second Supplement to the Red-Figured Vases of Apulia, part II, no. 30/26d, pl.cvii,5.
Lucanian
  • New York, Rockefeller Plaza: 12 December 2002, Lot 142. A LUCANIAN RED-FIGURED BELL-KRATER ATTRIBUTED TO THE ANABATES PAINTER, CIRCA 380 B.C. Provenance: Antiquities, Sotheby's London, 23 May 1988, lot 220; BGM Collection, Melbourne, 1988-1994; Graham Geddes Collection, Melbourne, 1994. Exhibited: On loan, Monash University, Melbourne, 1989-2002
Paestan
  • New York, Park Avenue: 18 December 1997, Lot 149. A PAESTAN RED-FIGURE LEBES GAMIKOS ATTRIBUTED TO THE ASTEAS/PYTHON WORKSHOP. Provenance: Antiquities, Sotheby's London, 21 May 1984, lot 372; Melbourne, Graham Geddes Collection. Literature: Trendall, The Red-figured Vases of Paestum, no. 6/192, pl. 78c-d.
  • New York, Park Avenue: 5 June 1998, lot 245 ($4600) = New York, Rockefeller Plaza: 10 December 2004, lot 494 ($10,158). A PAESTAN RED-FIGURE AMPHORA ATTRIBUTED TO THE PAINTER OF WURZBURG H 5379. Provenance: Anonymous sale; Antiquities, Sotheby's London, 9 December 1985, lot 367; Melbourne, Graham Geddes Collection; Antiquities, Sotheby's London, 8 December 1994, lot 159; The Property of an Australian Collector; Christie's, New York, 5 June 1998, lot 245; The Property of a Louisiana collection. Literature: Trendall, The Red-Figured Vases of Paestum, no. 381, pl. 119, c-d.
Marble sarcophagi
  • New York, Rockefeller Plaza: 11 June 2003, Lot 220. A ROMAN MARBLE CHILD'S SARCOPHAGUS FRAGMENT. Provenance: Macciolli Collection, Melbourne, 1983; Graham Geddes Collection, Melbourne, 1985. Exhibited: Monash University, Melbourne, 1995-2002

Mosaics

  • New York, Rockefeller Plaza: 5 - 6 December 2001, lot 680. A ROMAN MARBLE MOSAIC PANEL: goddess. Provenance: Australian Private Collection, prior to 1980; Graham Geddes Collection, 1980-present. Exhibited: Melbourne, the University of Melbourne, July 1982-June 1984; Melbourne, the University of Melbourne, July 1985-June 1986; Melbourne, the University of Melbourne, Classics Department, January 1988-December 1989
  • New York, Rockefeller Plaza: 5 - 6 December 2001, lot 681. A ROMAN MARBLE MOSAIC PANEL: 'Africa'. Provenance: Australian Private Collection, prior to 1980; Graham Geddes Collection, 1980-present. Exhibited: Melbourne, the University of Melbourne, July 1982-June 1984; Melbourne, the University of Melbourne, July 1985-June 1986; Melbourne, the University of Melbourne, Classics Department, January 1988-December 1989
  • New York, Rockefeller Plaza: 5 - 6 December 2001, lot 682. A ROMAN MARBLE MOSAIC PANEL: 'Phrgyian cap'. Provenance: Australian Private Collection, prior to 1980; Graham Geddes Collection, 1980-present. Exhibited: Melbourne, the University of Melbourne, July 1982-June 1984; Melbourne, the University of Melbourne, July 1985-June 1986; Melbourne, the University of Melbourne, Classics Department, January 1988-December 1989
  • New York, Rockefeller Plaza: 5 - 6 December 2001, lot 683. A ROMAN MARBLE MOSAIC PANEL: goddess. Provenance: Australian Private Collection, prior to 1980; Graham Geddes Collection, 1980-present. Exhibited: Melbourne, the University of Melbourne, July 1982-June 1984; Melbourne, the University of Melbourne, July 1985-June 1986; Melbourne, the University of Melbourne, Classics Department, January 1988-December 1989
  • New York, Rockefeller Plaza: 11 June 2003, lot 226. A ROMAN MARBLE MOSAIC PANEL. Provenance: Australian Private Collection, prior to 1980; Graham Geddes Collection, 1980-present. Exhibited: The University of Melbourne, July 1982-June 1984 and July 1985-June 1986; The University of Melbourne, Classics Department, January 1988-December 1989
  • New York, Rockefeller Plaza: 11 June 2003, lot 229. A BYZANTINE MARBLE MOSAIC PANEL. Provenance: Graham Geddes Collection. Exhibited: The University of Melbourne, 1982-1989
  • New York, Rockefeller Plaza: 11 June 2003, lot 230. A LATE ROMAN MARBLE MOSAIC PANEL. Provenance: Graham Geddes Collection. Exhibited: The University of Melbourne, 1982-1989
  • New York, Rockefeller Plaza: 11 June 2003, Lot 232. A BYZANTINE MARBLE MOSAIC PANEL. Provenance: Graham Geddes Collection. Exhibited: The University of Melbourne, 1982-1989
  • New York, Rockefeller Plaza: 11 December 2003, lot 245: A ROMAN MARBLE MOSAIC PANEL. Provenance: European Private Collection, prior to 1980; Graham Geddes Collection, 1980-present. Exhibited: Melbourne, The University of Melbourne, July 1982 - June 1984; July 1985 - June 1986; (Classics Department) January 1988 - December 1989.
  • New York, Rockefeller Plaza: 11 December 2003, lot 251. TWO ROMAN MARBLE MOSAIC PANELS. Provenance: European Private Collection, prior to 1980; Graham Geddes Collection, 1980-present. Exhibited: Melbourne, The University of Melbourne, July 1982 - June 1984; July 1985 - June 1986; (Classics Department) January 1988 - December 1989.
The sources are:
  • Sotheby's London, 13 July 1981, lot 347
  • Sotheby's London, 13-14 July 1981, lot 350
  • Sotheby's London, 13 July 1981, lot 353
  • Sotheby's London, 13-14 December 1982, lot 291
  • Sotheby's London, 12-13 December 1983, lot 534b
  • Sotheby's London, 21 May 1984, lot 372
  • Sotheby's London, 21 May 1984, lot 408
  • Sotheby's London, 10-11 December 1984, lot 368
  • Sotheby's London, 10-11 December 1984, lot 364
  • Sotheby's London, 10 December 1984, lot 365
  • Sotheby's London, 10-11 December 1984, lot 597
  • Sotheby's London, 11 December 1984, lot 599
  • Sotheby's London, 10-11 December 1984, lot 600
  • Sotheby's London, 9 December 1985, lot 367
  • Sotheby's London, 19 May 1986, lot 159
  • Sotheby's London, 19 May 1986, lot 316
  • Sotheby's London, 13 July 1987, lot 309
  • Sotheby's London, 23 May 1988, lot 216
  • Sotheby's London, 23 May 1988, lot 220
  • Sotheby's London, 11 July 1988, lot 184
  • Sotheby's London, 9 December 1988, lot 171
  • Sotheby's London, 12 December 1988, lot 165
  • Sotheby's London, 10 December 1996, lot 196

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Geddes Collection at Bonham's: Publicity

John Boardman has written in the Bonhams Magazine (Autumn 2008), "Urning Respect" (pp. 40-43) [online], in support of the sale of the South Italian pottery from the Graham Geddes collection. Boardman notes the friendship between Dale Trendall and Graham Geddes. He comments that "most [of the South Italian pottery] has been found in tombs, and it is suspected that this was their intended fate". While it is likely that most of these near complete pots have come from tombs, very few have in fact been excavated in a scientific manner; Ricardo Elia has estimated that some 94.5% of all Apulian pots have been deprived of their archaeological context. (Consider the profile of South Italian pottery --- Apulian, Paestan, Lucanian --- in the "Nostoi" exhibitions.) So in one sense "suspect" or guess is all that we can do when it comes to this category of material because so much has been looted. There are over 50 lots (out of 180 [though some have now been withdrawn]) of South Italian pots in this auction.

Chantelle Rountree also writes about the formation of the Geddes collection. She notes the friendship with Trendall, Alexander Cambitoglou and Ian McPhee, and even the creation (by Trendall) of the "Geddes painter". Geddes apparently bought in London and New York from the 1970s onwards (i.e. after the 1970 UNESCO Convention). How many pieces were purchased at Sotheby's in London? Rountree comments on the range of objects in the sale including mosaics (some "Eastern Mediterranean" and mostly from an anonymous European private collection) that "once adorned the floors of Roman villas". But where were those villas located? Or were they bath-houses (e.g. lot 114?), churches (e.g. lot 122?) or other structures? Or has that information been lost?

Now the immediate publicity for the sale is over, it should be possible to take a serious look at the collecting histories of the individual pieces.

Context Matters for Art Crime

I will be preparing a new column, "Context Matters", for the Journal of Art Crime. This will be published by ARCA (Association for Research into Crimes against Art). Ideas for stories and themes can be left via my work website.
The Journal of Art Crime, published by ARCA, is the first peer-reviewed academic journal in the study of art crime. This biennial publication welcomes interdisciplinary articles from both academics and professionals, related to art crime, its history, and its repercussions. Relevant fields include criminology, law, art history, history, sociology, policing, security, archaeology, and conservation.

Details about submissions and subscriptions can be found on the journal's website.

From Atlanta to Athens: The Start of the Trail

The recent public announcement that the Hellenic Ministry of Culture has requested the return of three antiquities from the Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emory University can be traced back to June 2007: Nikolas Zirganos, "Ποιο είναι το CARLOS MUSEUM", enet.gr June 3, 2007.

Details of the request were carried in Ta Nea (September 4, 2008) alongside a discussion of the returns from the Shelby White collection. The items at Emory were reported to be:

● Ένα φυσικού μεγέθους μαρμάρινο άγαλμα της Τερψιχόρης (4ος-2ος π.Χ.)
που φυλασσόταν σε στάνη στα Γιάννινα προτού φύγει στο εξωτερικό- αξίας τουλάχιστον 10 εκατ. δολαρίων.

● Έναν μνημειακού μεγέθους πίθο πιθανόν από τη Ρόδο (650-600 π.Χ.).

● Μία ακέραια μινωική πήλινη λάρνακα (14ος αιώνα π.Χ.) με πλούσια γραπτή διακόσμηση (κυρίως θαλάσσια όντα) από την Κρήτη.

These appear to be:
  1. A marble statue of Terpsichore (inv. 2002.31.1).
  2. A Rhodian pithos (inv. 2004.2.1).
  3. A Late Minoan III larnax (inv. 2002.34.1).
What are their histories? Where were they acquired? Do they have recorded find-spots? Did any pass through a named collection? I emailed the press office at Emory University for this information but have had no reply.

Two of the pieces featured in Catherine Fox, "New digs for ancient treasures; revamped Greek and Roman galleries at Carlos Museum to hold expanded collection of antiquities", The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, September 19, 2004. Among the "star acquisitions" is listed:
Pithos. 600 B.C. The terra-cotta storage jar, decorated with rows of spirals, is one of only two on display in the United States.
Images include:
The Muse (Terpsichore), which bears some of its original paint, is an excellent example of Hellenistic Greek sculpture.

I also note that this newspaper report was illustrated with a further image:
This bronze Greek calyx krater from the fourth century B.C. is one of the pieces on loan from the White-Levy collection.
The calyx-krater featured on the cover of the 2005 Michael C. Carlos exhibition catalogue (authored by Jennifer Chi [then curator of the Shelby White / Leon Levy collection] and Jasper Gaunt [curator of Greek and Roman Art at the Michael C. Carlos Museum]), Greek Bronze Vessels from the Collection of Shelby White & Leon Levy. This is the krater that has just been returned to Greece.

The Atlanta report concluded with this comment:

The curator, who makes it a practice to cultivate collectors and dealers, says he's already working on future gifts. Given his energy and the collection's momentum, it's a good bet that the museum's star will continue to rise.

How is the museum going to respond to the Greek authorities if the issue was first raised some 15 months ago? Did the museum staff hope that the issue would evaporate?

It appears that the Greek authorities have been very patient and restrained in their negotiations.
Yet the opening of the "Nostoi" exhibition in Athens this week shows the resolve of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture to address the issue of looted antiquities.

What will be the next move? Perhaps a statement about the previous histories of the three pieces would help.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

"Nostoi" Exhibition Opens in the New Akropolis Museum

The text of the speech by Mihalis Liapis, the Hellenic Minister of Culture has been released (press release). It reflected on the nature of "Homecomings" and the "Odyssey" for the many pieces since they had been removed from their archaeological contexts.

There was even criticism for those who argue against the return of antiquities in what is perceived as a globalised or cosmopolitan world.

Liapis highlighted the cultural co-operation between Greece and Italy. He talked about the common concern that history is being transformed into marketable items (το κοινό βίωμα της μετατροπής της ιστορίας μας σε εμπόρευμα). Pride of place was given to the symbolic return of the Parthenon frieze fragment from Palermo; Liapis looked forward to the major homecoming of the other Parthenon sculptures.

From Atlanta to Athens: Press Statement

While in Greece I was able to follow up the news story about the request by the Greek Government for the return of three pieces from the Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emory University. I will be commenting on the detail shortly but I received this press statement from Priyanka Sinha at Emory University who confirmed that there are on-going negotiations.
The Michael C. Carlos Museum's mission is to collect, preserve, exhibit, and interpret art and artifacts from antiquity to the present in order to provide unique opportunities for education and enrichment in the community and to promote interdisciplinary teaching and research at Emory University. The permanent collection of a museum is the core of its identity; it provides the foundation for its research, exhibitions, and educational outreach. The Carlos Museum strengthens its ability to serve its audiences by making acquisitions of art and artifacts for its permanent collection through gift, bequests, or purchases.

Many factors contribute to a work's suitability for acquisition, including artistic quality, intellectual appeal, historical importance, attributes which foster understanding of a particular culture or artistic movement, and, above all, a credible provenance, or history of ownership.

Central to the Carlos Museum's mission is the thorough research and documentation of each work of art in the permanent collection to determine its historical and social context and provenance. Museum scholars and curators carefully research each proposed acquisition. Works must have a history of documentation in order to follow the Museum's collecting guidelines of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Convention on Cultural Property, adopted into law by the United States in1983. That legislation, which informs the Carlos' collecting policy, dictates that works must have been exported from their countries of origin prior to 1983 or be accompanied by a valid export license from their countries of origin. The Museum will not knowingly acquire any object which has been illegally exported from its country of origin or illegally imported into the United States. Any object surrounded by the suggestion of being illegitimate will not be acquired. Additionally, the Museum does not acquire objects that it has reason to believe were obtained by seizure during times of war.

As an accredited member of the American Association of Museums since 1991, the Carlos Museum is not alone in embracing these standards-- all museums of the Carlos Museum's stature follow similar collecting policies. Acquisitions are not treasures to be collected like trophies. Each object is a window to the past and a pathway into a culture. Through art and artifacts, we learn more about the people and their beliefs and explore these ideas in the context of our lives today. The growth of the permanent collection in size and quality enables the Museum to realize its mission of sharing these cultures with the widest audience possible.

"Homecoming" for Part of the Parthenon Frieze

A fragment of the Parthenon frieze has been returned to Greece (Επιστρέφει στην Ελλάδα θραύσμα του γλυπτού διάκοσμου του Παρθενώνα από το Παλέρμο, in.gr September 23, 2008). The sculpture forms part of the foot of Artemis from the East Frieze (Slab VI). The piece has been on display in the Museo Archeologico Regionale "Antonino Salinas". Its return reflects the growing cultural links between Italy and Greece.

The Parthenon fragment forms part of the exhibition, "Nostoi", in the New Acropolis Museum which opened yesterday (September 24, 2008). Mihalis Liapis, the Hellenic Minister of Culture spoke at the press launch. Unlike many of the other returned antiquities that have been acquired by museums and private collectors since 1970, the Parthenon fragment is a reminder that Greece considers it has a strong moral claim to cultural property removed from its soil even prior to the formation of the modern Greek state. Liapis considered the New Acropolis Museum to be one large "nostos" (το Νέο Μουσείο της Ακρόπολης είναι το μουσείο ενός μεγάλου νόστου).

Image
From in.gr.

Friday, September 12, 2008

From Cleveland to Rome: Update (of sorts)

It appears that a report that an agreement had been concluded between the Italian Ministry of Culture and the Cleveland Muserum of Art is premature (Steven Litt, "The Cleveland Museum of Art still has no deal with Italy on returning allegedly looted antiquities", September 10, 2008). An "accord" had also been announced in May this year.

The Italian Ministry of culture issued a brief statement earlier this week: "Nessuno accordo tra il Cleveland Museum of Art", September 9, 2008. It rejected the statement made by Francesco Rutelli and affirmed the continuing dialogue between the Italian government and this "important cultural institution"

Litt notes:

At issue is the fate of an unspecified number of antiquities that may have been illegally excavated and exported from Italy and purchased innocently by the museum. Italy has pressed such claims successfully against other American museums, including the Getty Museum in Los Angeles and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Rutelli made his claim about the deal with Cleveland during a telephone interview with Il Messaggero last week, after visiting the Getty. He made similar statements in May, when Bondi replaced him. At the time, the Cleveland museum and the lawyer for the culture ministry both said that Rutelli's statements were wrong.


Rutelli's comments seem to be premature. But Cleveland should now come clean over the collecting histories of potential pieces and stop hiding behind "confidentiality" statements. Who were the dealers or donors behind the 23 pieces discussed by Suzan Mazur?

Remember the August statement from the American Association of Museums?
In order to advance further research, public trust, and accountability museums should make available the known ownership history of archaeological material and ancient art in their collections ...

The curatorial staff at the Cleveland Museum of Art perhaps need to reflect on the signals sent out by their continuing silence.


From Budapest to Athens: More Antiquities Returning to Greece

The Hellenic Ministry of Culture announced yesterday (to coincide with the opening of the Athens photographic exhibition, "The Greeks in Hungary") that some 22 antiquities, presently on display in the Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest, would be returning to Greece.

Mihalis Liapis talked about the "contest" for the return of antiquities ("αγώνας για την επιστροφή αρχαιοτήτων") which he considers to be the "rescue of world cultural heritage". He considers this issue to be the lead item on the agenda for the Ministry of Culture.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Pharaonic Eye Turns on Switzerland

There are several reports that the "eye" (c. 50 cm in length) from a statue of Amenhotep III (1390-1352 BCE) will be returned to Egypt in the next four weeks ("Switzerland to return stolen Pharaoh's 'eye'", AFP, September 10, 2008; "Egitto recupera occhio Amenhotep da Svizzera", ANSA, September 10, 2008). According to ANSA, negotiations have been ongoing since 2006 (see "Egyptology News" from February 2006).

The statue was discovered at Amenhotep's mortuary temple near Luxor in 1970 (or 1969, according to ANSA); the eye was subsequently stolen in 1972. It then passed into the hands of "an American antiquities dealer" (who?) and then passed through Sotheby's (where? when?).

It then passed into the hands of a "German antiquities dealer" (who?) and was then, according to AFP, sold to a "museum in Basel, Switzerland" - identified as the Antikenmuseum by the ANSA report. A parallel report by ANSA suggests that a Swiss collector had donated the eye to the museum in 2002 ("un collezionista svizzero che l'aveva donato al museo") after acquiring it at Sotheby's.

The report, from two reputable news sources, seems to lack detail at critical points. Is the "Swiss collector" the same as the "German antiquities dealer"?

What is interesting is that stolen, but recorded, antiquities from Egypt are being returned on a regular basis.

The Antikenmuseum will, perhaps, need to look at its acquisition policy. Should it require documented histories of antiquities?

New Director at the Met

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has announced that Thomas P. Campbell, curator of textiles, will succeed Philippe de Montebello as Director and Chief Executive (Carol Vogel, "Met Chooses Tapestries Curator to Lead Museum", New York Times September 9, 2008).

Thursday, September 4, 2008

From North America to Athens: Further Returns Expected?

A contact has pointed me to a news story in today's Ta Nea (ΕΠΑΝΑΠΑΤΡΙΣΜΟΣ ΚΛΕΜΜΕΝΩΝ ΑΡΧΑΙΟΤΗΤΩΝ ΑΠΟ ΤΙΣ ΗΠΑ) (September 4, 2008). The article discusses the return of the two antiquities from the Shelby White collection. The calyx-krater, according to this report, was "stolen" from a "royal tomb" and was from the same workshop as the calyx-krater recovered from a tomb at Sevasti, Pieria (ο σπάνιος χάλκινος κρατήρας της συλλογής Γουάιτ είχε κλαπεί από βασιλικό τάφο και προερχόταν από το ίδιο εργαστήριο με αντίστοιχο που έχει βρεθεί σε τάφο του 4ου αι. π.Χ. στη Σεβαστή Πιερίας.).

However the report appears to be confused over one issue. It suggests that the (Former Yugoslav) Republic of Macedonia (FYRM)---the Skopje Government---was also trying to recover this calyx-krater. My understanding is that the officials of FYRM are seeking the return of the archaic "Koreschnica krater" from a North American private collection identified by Pasko Kuzman, director of the Cultural Heritage Protection Office (CHPO). This is said to be a volute-krater of "Trebenishte type", two centuries earlier than the Pieria calyx-krater. The monumental tomb is reported to be north of Demir Kapja, well within the frontier of FYRM. (I have been shown satellite imagery showing the alleged tomb's location.)

The report in Ta Nea notes that some 93% of the items in the Shelby White / Leon Levy exhibition, Glories of the Past, had no secure find-spot. This figure is derived from research conducted by Christopher Chippindale and David Gill and published in the American Journal of Archaeology.

Ta Nea concludes with the report that three items in the Michael C. Carlos Museum in Emory University are now the subject of an investigation by Greek authorities. Although the pieces are identified, I have requested a press release from Atlanta before I comment further on this story.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Athens: Two Antiquities from the Shelby White Collection on Display

Mihalis Liapis, the Hellenic Minister of Culture, has spoken about the two antiquities returned to Greece by Shelby White (press release). The ceremony held at the National Museum, Athens today revealed the two pieces; they will be on temporary display in the museum. These are confirmed as the stele fragment (Glories of the Past no. 97) and the bronze calyx-krater (though no mention is made of the catalogue, Greek Bronze Vessels from the Collection of Shelby White & Leon Levy no. 9).

Liapis spoke about the "trauma" of looting in Greece. He called for co-operation between governments, museums and collectors so that the full educational benefits of archaeological finds could be appreciated. He described the returned items, the upper part of a funerary stele from Attica and a bronze calyx-krater from Pieria in northern Greece. Liapis spoke about the continued fight against looters through the development of a new directorate to deal with the protection of cultural objects. He turned from this "war" on criminal activity to mention that he had raised the issue of the Parthenon sculptures at a recent meeting of the European ministers of culture.

Further details about the funerary stele were provided in the press release, including a reference to the work of Georgios Despinis who spotted the link with the piece excavated at Porto Raphti (and now in the museum at Vrauron, inv. BE6). The krater had been identified by an investigative journalist, Nikolas Zirganos. The piece was very similar to the krater excavated from a tomb at Pieria.

The agreement between the Ministry of Culture and Shelby White acknowledges that the collector had acquired the pieces in "good faith". However there is an explicit statement that the Ministry reserves the right to make claims on further objects in her collection («το Υπουργείο Πολιτισμού επιφυλάσσεται κάθε νομίμου δικαιώματός του για οποιαδήποτε μελλοντική διεκδίκηση που αφορά σε κάποια από τις άλλες αρχαιότητες»).

The handover had taken place on Wednesday July 30, 2008 in the Hellenic consulate, New York with Jennifer Chi (Associate Director for Exhibitions and Public Programs at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, New York) acting as Shelby White's representative.

Reference
Γ. Δεσπίνης, «Επιτύμβια στήλη από το Πόρτο Ράφτη: αποκατάσταση και σχόλια», Εγνατία 3- 1991-2, 7-27.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Sotheby's (London) and the Returns to Italy

Common threads are beginning to emerge from a study of the recent returns to Italy. It is possible to start building up a picture, even though some of the institutions (and the single private collector) have yet to issue detailed information (see earlier comments).

At least seven of the pieces appear to have "surfaced" at a Sotheby's auction in London. These were clearly purchased in "good faith".
  1. New York, MMA 1985.11.5. Attic red-figured amphora, attributed to the Berlin painter. S (L) 1982 December 13-14, lot 220.
  2. Boston, MFA 1998.588. Lucanian nestoris. S (L) 1982 December 13-14, lot 298.
  3. Boston, MFA 1988.431. Apulian loutrophoros, attributed to the White Sakkos painter. S (L) 1984 December 10, lot 366.
  4. New York, Jerome Eisenberg. 1992. Attic black-figured neck-amphora, attributed to the Leagros gorup. S (L) 1985 July 17-18, lot 257 (it then passed through Galerie Günter Puhze in Freiburg; reported to have been acquired by Royal-Athena Galleries in 1992).
  5. New York, Shelby White. Attic black-figured neck-amphora of Panathenaic shape, attributed to the painter of Louvre F 6. Glories no. 104; S (L) 1985 July 17, lot 313.
  6. New York, Jerome Eisenberg. 1991. Attic red-figured column-krater, attributed to the Geras painter. S (L) 1987 December 14, lot 295.
  7. Boston, MFA 1999.735. Attic red-figured bell-krater, attributed to the painter of the Louvre Centauromachy. S (L) 1995 December 14, lot 95.
Who consigned the pieces?

Peter Watson's study, Sotheby's, the inside story (London: Bloomsbury, 1997), pp. 117, 120, commented on two of these specific sales:
  • July 1985: '104 unprovenanced antiquities' consigned by Christian Boursaud of Geneva (PO Box 41, 57 Avenue Bois de la Chapelle, 1213 Onex, Geneva)
  • December 1987: '360 lots, 101 were sent in by Editions Service' (of Geneva)

Image
Apulian loutrophoros, attributed to the White Sakkos painter. © MiBAC.

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