Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Robust provenance and the Sackler

The Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, part of the Smithsonian, has issued a statement in response to the Subash Kapoor case (August 3, 2012). Interestingly concerns are spreading to material linked to his brother Ramesh. The statement notes:
The Sackler owns four South Asian art objects purchased from a separate business, Kapoor Galleries (1015 Madison Avenue, New York), owned by Ramesh Kapoor, Subhash Kapoor’s brother. These include: a marble bracket figure, India, 13th c. (purchased in 1995); a seated figure of Jambala, Tibet, bronze, 13th c. (purchased in 1996); a Gautama Buddha, Tibet, gilt copper, 14th c. (purchased 1997); and a pair of lamps of fortune, India, bronze, 17th c. (purchased in 2000).
What are the authenticated collecting histories of these four items?

I also note that the release mentions that the curatorial staff are investigating the "robust provenance information" for the items. I hope that museum professionals will consider dropping the use of the misleading word "provenance" and replace it with "collecting history". Perhaps the curatorial staff would like to read more on the terminology.

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