Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Cleveland Comment on Lack of "documentary confirmation"

Source: Cleveland Museum of Art
It is worth noting the way that the Cleveland Museum of Art has drawn comment from various sources (described by Director David Franklin as "that world") over its acquisition of the Drusus from an old Algerian collection, and the Merrin Mayan vase.

Here is a flavour:
The Drusus is now on the AAMD object register. Its collecting history is provided:
Fernand Sintes before 1960; sold at auction at Hôtel Drouot-Richelieu Paris on September 29, 2004, lot. no. 340, unknown purchaser; Phoenix Ancient Art, S.A.(2004); sold to the Cleveland Museum of Art by Phoenix Ancient Art in 2012.
It is perhaps noteworthy that the register entry makes the following comment (emphasis mine): "The Cleveland Museum of Art has provenance information for this work back to the 1960’s, but has been unable to obtain documentary confirmation of portions of the provenance as described below..."

Is the earliest documented surfacing of this portrait no earlier than 2004?

The Merrin Mayan vase has yet to be posted on the AAMD Register.

The Cleveland Museum of Art has also issued a press release ("Cleveland Museum of Art Acquires Two Stellar Antiquities Objects", August 13, 2012), no doubt to counter comment. It includes the alleged (and unsupported) collecting history:
The ownership history of the Drusus Minor portrait has been traced to the late 19th century, when it was the property of the Bacri family of Algiers, Algeria. Sometime before 1960, Fernand Sintes inherited the work, and in 1960 transferred it from Algiers to France. In 2004, it was sold at auction in France.

The Director, David Franklin, emphasises what he terms "responsible collecting" by the Museum:
“I am pleased we can add these important works of art to the museum’s Classical and Pre-Columbian holdings and continue our collecting of the finest examples of art from across cultures and time periods,” stated David Franklin, the Sarah S. and Alexander M. Cutler Director of the Cleveland Museum of Art. “I believe museums play an invaluable role in society as repositories and presenters of the world’s art history, and through responsible collecting, museums make accessible the world’s art objects for the public’s enjoyment and education.”
Perhaps Franklin will produce what appears to be the unauthenticated documentation to defend his acquisition.

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