Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Looking Ahead: 2013

This time last year there was little expectation that a major university art museum would be returning a batch of material to Italy for a second time. Nor could we have anticipated that pottery collected by one of the most distinguished classical curators of the 20th century would be leaving the collection that he had helped to build. So perhaps the first point is this: expect the unexpected.

I suspect that Asian antiquities will continue to dominate the headlines in two specific areas: firstly items from India, and secondly Cambodian objects. Museums that purchased in these two areas over the last four decades may well begin to feel the discomfort that was experienced in the wake of the Medici Conspiracy.

The Medici Conspiracy will continue to have an impact. It is clear that objects that can be identified from the Medici Dossier regularly appear at auction, especially in New York. This determination to sell recently surfaced antiquities could undermine the wider sale of antiquities. We can also expect that material handled by Medici will continue to be identified in North American collections.

Attention will shift to the Becchina archive. This is likely to have much wider ramifications. I think that we can expect further revelations about material in major North American collections. Will we also understand which North American dealers were receiving objects via Becchina (or should that be 'v/Becchina')?

Will the focus shift to European collections? Which UK museums were buying objects that were handled by Hecht and Symes?

I suspect that Turkey will step up its claims to have objects returned. Top of the list will no doubt be the stunning Bubon bronzes, as well as Late Antique silver. I also wonder if the Düver frieze will feature. And I hope that officials in FYROM will continue to pursue the Koreschnica krater and associated grave-goods that have apparently passed into a New York private collection as well as a major North American university collection.

In Britain I would imagine that there will be a renewed focus on 'heritage crime'. To what extent is the archaeology of the UK being damaged by casual digging? And I hope that 2013 will see the return to the UK --- and especially to Suffolk --- of the Icklingham bronzes presently residing in a New York private collection.

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1 comment:

Damien Huffer said...

I agree with your assessments, David, especially re the "rise" of Asian antiquities research and investigations. I'm glad to be a part of it. Let 2013 also be a year for the furthering of quantitative approaches to understanding past trends and how they shape the current market. If I have anything to say about it, it certainly will be. Happy New Year!

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