Friday, May 1, 2009

Whose Culture? and the returns to Italy

I have already made a preliminary comment on James Cuno's minimalist views (in his 2009 edited volume, Whose Culture?) on the return of antiquities from North American museums to Italy. I have begun to read the book and have been looking (in vain) for a response from Cuno and his like-minded contributors to these returns.

Kwame Anthony Appiah in his (reprinted) essay merely makes the outdated statement, "Italian authorities are negotiating about the status of other other objects from both the Getty and the Metropolitan Museum" (p. 71). Elsewhere he notes that the Metropolitan had at one point been "close to a deal" over the Sarpedon (Euphronios) krater (p. 76) - yet this Athenian krater has been returned to Italy (January 2008) and has even been on exhibition in Athens.

Philippe de Montebello does address the return of the Sarpedon krater (p. 61). He protests at the Italian description of the pot as a cosa morta, but concedes "it would have been clearly preferable to know the totality of the krater's original, found context" (p. 65).

Sir John Boardman also notes the return (p. 121). There is a strange discussion about the krater moving from Athens ("a pagan (in our terms) society whose cultural heritage is nevertheless claimed by a Christian orthodox country") to Etruria (in Italy) ("another pagan society now in a Christian Orthodox (of different persuasion) country"), then being pillaged by "Christian (no doubt) excavators" (sic.) (pp. 121-22). However he does concede, "it would be good to know the details of the krater find and cofinds and we mourn their loss" (p. 122).

2 comments:

DR.KWAME OPOKU said...

I hope you will be able to find out why such a book was written at all since it does not even attempt to give a broad picture of the present debates on looting and restitution. Moreover,much of the information contained therein is out-dated and frankly misleading. So why do such eminent scholars allow their names and articles to be used in a project that clearly does not bring them any advantage nor enlighten the public?

David Gill said...

Kwame
Thank you for this helpful comment.
Best wishes
David

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