Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Further observations on the return of the fresco fragment from the J. Paul Getty Museum

I have been following the press releases about the return of a further fragment of wall-painting from the J. Paul Getty Museum to Italy. The link between the two ex-Fleischman pieces (one returned to Italy) and a third piece once in the Shelby White collection is well known and hardly a revelation of the last twelve months.

Maxwell Anderson in the 1994 [emphasis mine] exhibition catalogue, A Passion for Antiquities: Ancient Art from the Collection of Barbara and Lawrence Flesichman (The J. Paul Getty Museum in association with The Cleveland Museum of Art, 1994), discusses two of the fragments (nos. 125 and 126).
The upper portion of the fresco [sc. no. 126] matches precisely the upper portion of a fresco section in the Shelby White and Leon Levy collection ... and is from the same room, as is catalogue number 125.
In the light of this observation, now some 15 years old, it is hard to understand the comment made yesterday ("US museum to return Roman fresco fragment to Italy", Associated Press Worldstream April 7, 2009):
Rebecca Taylor, a spokeswoman for the J. Paul Getty Trust, said the museum noticed last year that it matched another piece of a wall painting that a private collector was returning to Italy.

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