Friday, November 15, 2013

Rushed restoration for the Crosby Garrett helmet?

Professor David Ekserdjian in his introduction to the newly published study of the Crosby Garrett helmet draws attention to the newly surfaced Resurrection of Christ by Titian [see BBC]. Imagine if the Titian was sent for a quick clean and touch-up in a workshop under the railway arches in London. I would hope that Ekserdjian would be in the vanguard of those raising their voices in protest.

Yet when "a hauntingly unforgettable work of art", to use Ekserdjian's description of the Crosby Garrett helmet, was sent for a hurried restoration before its sale at auction, the silence appears to have been almost overwhelming. Indeed in the autumn of 2010 I was told that the restoration was conducted against the request from officers of the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) and a curator at the British Museum.

The new booklet on the helmet has a short note on its 'Restoration' by Darren Bradbury. This major archaeological find was not conserved but rather restored 'to prepare the mask ... and helmet for display'.

I read Bradbury's brief report soon after the sale. The half page statement that appears here in the booklet does little to allay concerns about possible the loss of information.

Will Bradbury publish a detailed report of his work?

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1 comment:

Paul Barford said...

He says (p. 20) that he spent some "240 hours" on the project. That is indeed rather a short time.

I'd say that merely examining it and producing the preliminary documentation and analyses you'd do before doing such a job on a real archaeological find (and then writing the report) would take about that amount of time, or more.

What was omitted that the whole restoration could be done in such a short time? Why should the full report not be in the public domain?


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