Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Goldstein, Geneva, and the Mummy Mask

Mummy mask excavated at Saqqara
It is known that Sidney Goldstein, the Associate Director of the St Louis Art Museum (SLAM) as well as the curator of Ancient Art, wrote a letter to Dr Mohammed Saleh, then director of the Cairo Museum, prior to the acquisition of the Egyptian mummy mask—known to have been excavated at Saqqara—by the museum in March 1998. The letter does not appear to have been released by SLAM, but a copy was made available to Malcolm Gay for his key article in February 2006. As the veracity of this letter has never been challenged we must assume its accuracy. (The letter was mentioned in a statement, "Press inquiry regarding provenance of mummy mask, 19.1998", issued by Brent Benjamin in January 2006.)

The letter includes a statement by Goldstein:
It [sc the mask] is currently on exhibition in the Egyptian exhibition at the Museum of Art and History in Geneva.
Goldstein, who also appears to have been a donor supporting the acquisition ("Sid Goldstein in memory of Donna and Earl Jacobs"), appears to be making a statement that the mask was on display in a major European museum. This claim would no doubt suggest to Saleh that the enquiry about "parallels" for the mask on display in Geneva was about a well-established object.

Was Goldstein mistaken about the venue? When was the mask displayed in the Musée d'histoire et d'art? What is the documentation for this exhibition?

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