Wednesday, 3 May 2023

Sourcing Makron

New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art (MMA) appears to be reluctant to release the full details of the source for three cups attributed to Makron that were acquired in 1979 alongside the two cups that were discussed in The New York Times

The three cups are:
a. 1979.136, gift of Dietrich von Bothmer. BAPD 275244. Joins other fragments in the Vatican; reported to have been transferred to the Vatican.
b. 1979.11.11, purchase (Mr & Mrs Martin Fried Gift). BAPD 6919.
c. 1979.11.4, purchase (Norbert Schimmel Gift Fund); 1979.11.16 [4 frr.]; 1980.11.5, purchase (The Dover Fund Inc. Gift). BAPD 6918. [The third acquisition is not noted on BAPD.] The MMA website attributes one of these acquisitions to the Euaion painter even though the other pieces are attributed to Makron.

No images are provided on the website for any of these three pieces.

Each object page invites users to provide feedback or to ask questions. The MMA clearly did not appreciate my requests using the online form as there has been no response to a polite request for information.

I hope that this post will prompt the MMA to update the five records to provide the relevant information as well as some images. Or were the fragments sourced from the same galleries and dealers as the other two Makron cups?

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Thursday, 20 April 2023

Fragments from a cup attributed to Makron

Cup seized from
New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art

The New York Times has run a discussion of one of the Attic red-figured cups seized from New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2022 (Graham Bowley and Tom Mashberg, "The Kylix Marvel: Why Experts Distrust the Story of an Ancient Cup’s Rebirth", April 19, 2023). The article looks at the way that this cup (and a companion piece also in the same museum) was put together from a series of fragments starting with pieces acquired from Fritz Bürki and the Summa Galleries, followed by pieces derived from Frieda Tchacos and Dietrich von Bothmer. 

The article includes identifications made by Christos Tsirogiannis from the Medici Dossier.

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Wednesday, 12 April 2023

Princeton Fragments from an Attic Cup

Princeton y1988.16 and y1989-19a–r
Source: Daily Princetonian
In 1988 Princeton University Art Museum purchased through the Classical Purchase Fund a fragment of an Attic red-figured cup attributed to the Villa Giulia painter (inv. y1988.16). The following year Dietrich von Bothmer presented a series of fragments from the same cup (inv. y1989-19a–r). The note in the Record acknowledged the join.

What was the source for the fragment purchased in 1988? And what was the sources (or sources) for Bothmer's fragments?

The cup is one of the pieces under investigation by the Manhattan DA.

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Tuesday, 11 April 2023

Developments at Princeton

Etruscan amphora inv. y1984-19.
Source: Daily Princetonian
It seems that five objects relating to Edoardo Almagià are to remain in Princeton University Art Museum (Sandeep Mangat and Miriam Waldvogel, "Five artifacts linked to alum under investigation for art smuggling will remain at University Art Museum", Daily Princetonian April 11, 2023). I am a little confused as the earlier report included pictures and some of the pieces mentioned in the most recent article, for example the Roman doll (inv. y1993-13), the Campanian stamnoid pyxis (inv. 87-3a–b) and fragments of a Roman Arretine bowl (inv. y1992-67), do not feature among the images. 

However, among the pieces staying in Princeton is the Etruscan amphora attributed to the Paris painter (inv. y1984-19). This is stated as: "Gift of Peter Glidewell through Edoardo Almagia, Class of 1973".

It should be remembered that Princeton has already returned a series of Etruscan architectural terracottas that were given by Almagià. These are discussed in: D.W.J. Gill, "Context matters: Princeton and recently surfaced antiquities," Journal of Art Crime 7 (2012): 59-66; id., Context matters: Collating the past, Amelia: ARCA, 2020, pp. 106–14; id., "Returning archaeological objects to Italy," International Journal of Cultural Property 25 (2018): 283–321 [DOI].

The latest article in the Daily Princetonian seems to confuse items that had been loaned by Almagià and those that had been given by him.

The article does include an interesting statement attributed to Almagià: 
"He added that he gave these fragments to Dietrich von Bothmer, a prominent German-American art historian."
We are aware that Almagià appears to have been the source for fragments in Bothmer's collection that had been acquired in 1984, 1986 and 1987. Does this imply that the fragments appearing in the original article were derived from Almagià? And was the Psiax fragment from the Centre Island private collection also from this source?

The Daily Princetonian mentions the seizure of fragments from Bothmer's collection although as far as I am aware no connection with Almagià had been made. These are discussed in: D.W.J. Gill, "Context matters: Fragmented pots, attributions and the role of the academic," Journal of Art Crime 8 (2012): 79-84. However other Bothmer fragments were included in the recent seizure from New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Other figure-decorated fragments derived from Almagià have been returned from the San Antonio Museum of Art that had acquired them in 1985. Material derived from Almagià has featured in the Steinhardt return

I am aware of other Almagià material in a north American university collection that appears to have been derived from Crustumerium in Lazio. (A discussion of the piece along with other items from the same place features in a forthcoming article.)

Is it time for Princeton to provide additional so-called "provenance" information on its website?

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Saturday, 8 April 2023

Amphora fragment seized from Princeton

Amphora fragment attributed to Psiax
Source: Daily Princetonian

An Attic belly amphora fragment attributed to Psiax (by Dietrich von Bothmer) was among the 11 objects seized from Princeton University Art Museum by the Manhattan DA (inv. 1997-469: BAPD 902285). The fragment was acquired by 1997 as an anonymous gift by exchange, though we also know that it was derived from a "Centre Island private collection". 

Among the other objects seized were six pieces on loan from Edoardo Almagià. Further details have yet to be released.

We know of another calyx-krater attributed to Psiax that had also formed part of a "Centre Island private collection". 

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Thursday, 23 March 2023

Return of antiquities to Türkiye

Source: Manhattan DA

Twelve antiquities have been handed over to Türkiye ("D.A. Bragg Returns 12 Antiquities to the Republic of Türkiye", March 22, 2023). Nine of the objects are derived from the Shelby White collection. The remaining three include a head from Perge:
The Perge Theater Head, dating back to 290 C.E., was looted from Perge, an archaeological site in Türkiye. The piece first surfaced on the international art market at Sotheby’s in 2000. It then resurfaced at Christie’s in 2012, when it was purchased by a private collected who loaned it to the Met. It remained at the museum until it was seized by the Office in January.
Formerly New York MMA L.2011.4
© David Gill
Another is a bronze statue apparently looted from Bubon:
A bronze statue of the Roman emperor Septimius Severus, dating back to 225 C.E. The statue was stolen in the late 1960s from Bubon, an archaeological site in Türkiye, by looters and was eventually smuggled into Switzerland by Robert Hecht. Coin dealer Charles Lipson eventually loaned the piece to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. It landed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2011, which it remained on display until it was seized by the Office in February. With its partners in Türkiye, the ATU was able to find and interview one of the individuals who actually looted and smuggled this statue.
This statue will join the Lucius Verus returned to Türkiye from the White collection in 2022. This will have implications for other European and North American museums that currently possess bronzes from this particular site.

It is possible to recognise some of the items from pictures from the press conference. They include a marble 'stargazer' (Glories no. 4), a bronze waggon with oxen (Glories no. 19), and an East Greek trefoil oinochoe decorated with two grazing ibex (Glories  no. 100). A further White piece is:
The Sitting female figure from Çatalhöyük, which dates between 6000 and 5000 B.C.E. After it was smuggled out of Türkiye, it first appeared on the market in London at the Rabi Gallery, where it was purchased by Shelby White in 1985. It remained in his possession until it was seized by the Office in 2023.
This is the steatite sitting female figure (Glories no. 3).

Source: Türkiye, Consulate NY

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Wednesday, 22 March 2023

Bronze Hydria Returns to Greece

Source: Homeland Security

Further photographs of the latest return to Greece have been released. The bronze hydria from the Shelby White collection is of particular interest (Greek Bronze Vessels no. 8). Jasper Gaunt drew a parallel with a bronze hydria in the Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emory University (inv. 2002.012.001). The 'provenance' for this second hydria is given as:
Ex coll. Doris Seebacher, Munich, Germany. Purchased by MCCM from Robert Hecht (1919-2012) [Robert Hecht Gallery], New York, New York.
Is this the Doris Seebacher linked to Nino Savoca? Should the Michael C. Carlos Museum be contacting the Hellenic Ministry of Culture?

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Sourcing Makron

New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art (MMA) appears to be reluctant to release the full details of the source for three cups attributed ...