Thursday, 21 September 2023

Bothmer, Almagià and the Michael C. Carlos Museum

Red-figured calyx-krater fragment
attributed to the Kleophrades painter.
Michael C. Carlos Museum inv. 2006.051.011B

I have noted that Dietrich von Bothmer acquired a fragment of a cup from Edoardo Almagià and then gave it to the J. Paul Getty Museum: the rest of the fragments were supplied by Galerie Nefer (D.W.J. Gill 2022. "Context Matters: Fragmented Athenian Cups." Journal of Art Crime 27: 77–84. ). 

A fragmentary calyx-krater attributed to the Kleophrades painter was presented to the Michael C. Carlos Museum by Bothmer in 2006. It is interpreted as showing the funeral mound of Hektor. Bothmer acquired the first fragment in July 1972, followed by further fragments in September 1978: the sources for these are unknown. However in 1978 another fragment was acquired from Bruce McNall of the Summa Galleries; this was followed by further fragments from Nikolas Koutoulakis in 1981, Edoardo Almagià in 1993, and Harry Bürki in 1994. 

This network of names would suggest that the origins of this krater deserve further investigation. Tsirogiannis and I will be exploring a parallel network, also including Bothmer, in a forthcoming article.

Incidentally, a fragmentary calyx-krater showing the funerary mound of Achilles (?), and compared by Bothmer to the Kleophrades painter, had resided in the private collection of Cornelius C. Vermeule (BAPD 3197). Both kraters seem to have surfaced around the same time.

| |
Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know

Tuesday, 19 September 2023

Two bronze hydriai: one from a Munich collection

L: Formerly Shelby White collection
R: Currently Michael C. Carlos Museum

Jasper Gaunt has drawn a parallel between a bronze hydria returned to Greece from the Shelby White collection and a second acquired by the Michael C. Carlos Museum from Robert Hecht in 2001. The second piece is reported to have once formed part of the collection of Doris Seebacher in Munich, Germany.

The authorities at the Carlos might like to consult the index of Peter Watson and Cecilia Todeschini, The Medici Conspiracy, in order to find out more about this 'collector'. 

Can the hydria's history be traced back to the period prior to 1970?

| |
Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know

Saturday, 2 September 2023

Bubon: More Returning Sculptures

Line drawing of part of the base in the Sebasteion at Bubon, Türkiye with portrait statues of Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus at the appropriate positions. Note: the figures are not to scale.

Christopher Chippindale and I drew attention to the imperial bronzes associated with the Sebasteion at Bubon in Turkey back in 2000: discussion of this group can be traced back to the 1970s. The looting of this space seems to have taken place in the early 1960s. It now seems that the (headless) portrait of Marcus Aurelius as a philosopher will be returned from the Cleveland Museum of Art and will be reunited with the portrait of Lucius Verus from the Shelby White and Leon Levy collection: the pair were originally displayed, appropriately, next to each other. They will join the Lipson statue of Septimius Severus that was seized from New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art. Other pieces include the head of Caracalla that had been displayed at Fordham University. 

Elizabeth Marlowe ("Bronze Roman statue, believed to have been looted from Turkey, seized from Cleveland Museum of Art", The Art Newspaper 31 August 2023) has pointed out that Cleveland has played down both the identification with Marcus Aurelius and the association with Bubon. The same phenomenon is being played out with the bronze statue in the Houston Museum of Fine Arts. The online entry now notes: 
It was associated throughout the 1970s and 1980s, by some scholars, with other bronzes that had been found near Bubon, Turkey. However, that opinion was ultimately disproved in 1993. The Houston sculpture was acquired in 1962; the excavations at Bubon commenced two years after, in 1964.
The start of the illicit activity at Bubon may well have preceded 1962 and the museum would be sensible to be cautious.

It appears that a portrait of a woman from the Worcester Art Museum (inv. 1966.67) has also been removed from display. It was reported to have been found 'in south-western Anatolia'. Andrew Oliver associated this find with Bubon. 

| |
Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know

Wednesday, 23 August 2023

Acquiring Antiquity at the Carlos Museum

Stephanie M. Lee has provided a detailed look at the way that the Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emory University developed its collection of antiquities. It includes a discussion of the Minoan larnax that was first raised on LM back in 2008.

Lee, S. M. 2023. "The Little Museum’s Big Score: Emory University wanted only the finest antiquities. It didn’t ask a lot of questions." The Chronicle of Higher Education August 23, 2023.

| |
Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know

Tuesday, 18 July 2023

Fragments of the Sophilos Dinos

Detail of the Sophilos dinos © David Gill

The Sophilos dinos in the British Museum has been reconstructed from approximately 50 fragments. It was acquired in 1971 from the Honourable Robert Erskine. Brian Shefton knew of the dinos in 1962, and Paul Zanker noted in 1965 that the dinos resided in an English private collection.

Fragments of the dinos were placed on loan from the J. Paul Getty Museum in 1977/78 (and were deaccessioned in 1983): they had been acquired from from Max and Lynda Palevsky in 1976. The couple were the source of numerous figure-decorated fragments acquired by the Getty, including dinos fragments attributed to Kleophrades (and connected with fragments derived from Malcolm Wiener and Jonathan Rosen).

Two further fragments of the London Sophilos dinos were acquired in 1978 from Bruce McNall's Summa Galleries in Beverly Hills (1, 2). 

Where did the Palevskys acquired their Sophilos fragments? And what about the Summa Galleries? Were they from the same source? When did Erskine acquire his fragments? Did he acquire them from, say, a Paris based antiquities dealer? And did that same dealer supply fragments to the gallery in Beverly Hills?

| |
Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know

Monday, 17 July 2023

"A profoundly generous supporter of the Met"

The New York Times has reflected on the seizure of antiquities collected by Shelby White. There are informed comments from academics who research cultural property. 

Bowley and Mashberg commented:
For all the understanding of the ancient world that White had fostered, her ambitious collecting upset some archaeologists who thought it helped create a market that encouraged looting. When objects were wrenched from their original context, they complained, it undermined the very understanding of antiquity that she was trying to develop.
Patty Gerstenblith is quoted:
“If you pick a trustee whose financial generosity is the most important factor, then fine ... But should a trustee be a model of conduct when it pertains to the purpose of the museum itself? Her collecting practices do not fit the model of how a museum should be pursuing knowledge and preserving the historical record.”
Max Hollein, the director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and who is said to be championing a new spirit of transparency at the museum stated:
“Shelby White is a profoundly generous supporter of the Met ... and she has had an enormous impact at this museum and many other institutions."
This report by Bowley and Mashberg comes 23 years after the first analysis of the Shelby White and Leon Levy collection. 

When will the Icklingham Roman bronzes be returned to Suffolk (UK) so that they can be displayed in the county museum? What about the krater that was on loan to Houston Museum of Fine Arts?

There continue to be some unanswered questions.

  • Bowley, G., and T. Mashberg. 2023. "At the Met, She Holds Court. At Home, She Held 71 Looted Antiquities." New York Times July 17, 2023.
  • Chippindale, C., and D. W. J. Gill. 2000. "Material consequences of contemporary classical collecting." AJA 104: 463-511.  [DOI]
  • Gill, D. W. J. 2023. "Context matters: Returns from the Shelby White Collection." Journal of Art Crime 29: 49–55.
| |
Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know

Bothmer, Almagià and the Michael C. Carlos Museum

Red-figured calyx-krater fragment attributed to the Kleophrades painter. Michael C. Carlos Museum inv. 2006.051.011B I have noted that Dietr...