Friday, May 13, 2016

Sicily: Culture and Conquest

© David Gill
The British Museum is currently showing a temporary exhibition, 'Sicily: Culture and Conquest'.

The accompanying catalogue by Dirk Booms and Peter Higgs (British Museum Press, 2016) does contain illustration and discussion of some material returned to Sicily. The pieces include:

  • The Morgantina Treasure, returned from New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art (p. 24, fig. 7; p. 124, fig. 91). This had been acquired through Robert Hecht (and prior 'history'). 'The hoard was found by illicit treasure hunters in the 1970s in two pits beneath the floor of a house' (p. 124).
  • The pair of Acrolithic statues, returned from the University of Virginia Art Museum at Charlottesville where they had been on loan from the Maurice Tempelsman collection (p. p. 68, fig. 49). They had previously been handled by Robin Symes. 'Thought to have been illicitly dug up in Building A in the sanctuary at San Francesco Bisconiti (sic.), the statues are likely to represent Demeter and Persephone' (p. 68).
  • The 'Aphrodite' from Morgantina, returned from the J. Paul Getty Museum (p. 69, fig. 50)
  • The Hades, returned from the J. Paul Getty Museum (p. 70, fig. 51). This had been acquired through Robin Symes and had formed part of the Tempelsman collection. 'reputedly discovered in the sanctuary at San Francesco Bisconti' (p. 71).
Morgantina Treasure. Source: MMA

Hades. Source: J. Paul Getty Museum

Acrolithic heads. Source: BBC

It is surprising that there is no mention of Jason Felch and Ralph Frammolino's Chasing Aphrodite, or Peter Watson and Cecilia Todeschini's The Medici Conspiracy (or journal literature) that address some of the concerns relating to this Sicilian material. There does not appear to be reference to Dietrich von Bothmer's full publication of the silver hoard.

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