Tuesday 19 February 2008

A Bronze Krater in the Levy-White Collection

I can remember how moved I was when I saw the "Vix krater" for the first time. It was displayed in a darkened room at the heart of an exhibition, "Die Hallstattkultur: Frühform europäischer Einheit", in Steyr, Austria (1980). Such complete archaic bronze kraters are few and far between (though the cast attachments from others have survived).

Winifred Lamb, in Greek and Roman Bronzes (1929), had a section on archaic "Bronze Vases" and noted:
The surviving bronze vases are few, but those of which the provenance is known still fewer. Fewest of all are the vases which can, like pottery, be associated with excavation (p. 133).
She also noted,
An even more magnificent crater ... was discovered, during the last months of the war [sc. 1918], in a cemetery north of Lake Ochrida (p. 135).
The find-spot was Trebenishte (in the present Republic of Macedonia, close to the present frontier with Albania).

Such archaic kraters are rare which is why there is so much interest in the one on loan to the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston. Its present proprietor is Shelby White. This appears to be the krater discussed by Conrad M. Stibbe in a review article, "The krater from Vix again" (in his Agalmata: Studien zur griechisch-archaischen Bronzekunst. BABesch. Suppl. Leiden: Peeters, 2006 [Google Books]). In his discussion of the unique nature of the volute-krater from Trebenishte (p. 318), he appends a footnote (p. 321 n. 57):
We have now a second bronze volute krater with the same pattern on its foot. See my forthcoming publication in the volume in memory of Leon Levy.
This newly surfaced krater appears to be important. So it would be helpful to have some answers to the following:
  • Does the Shelby White krater have a reported find-spot?
  • When was the Shelby White krater acquired? Who sold it?
  • When did the Shelby White krater first appear?
  • Has it passed through the hands of any other collectors?


phrygian said...

The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston is still withholding any information concerning the bronze krater from the Levy-White collection displayed at that museum for four years now.

This being the case despite a request lodged two weeks ago by Dr David Gill - a colleague and professional.

That is kinda silent confirmation of a link connecting the exhibited krater with the Koreschnica krater.

David Gill said...

I would have thought that the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston would want to distance itself from this controversial issue. What is the collecting history for this krater?

phrygian said...

Collecting history for this krater?
Nonexistent, zero, zilch, nada...!

David Gill said...

I understand why Phrygian says this ... but the krater was not "beamed" (as in Star Trek) into the Shelby White and Leon Levy collection. It was presumably purchased from a dealer and there must be a record. So the information is there - it is just that it is not being disclosed. This seems to be contrary to the spirit of the AAMD Guidelines on loans of archaeological material.

See now my specific comments on Houston.

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