Skip to main content

Cleveland: the Italian List?

There has been talk this week of the allegedly confidential list of antiquities that Italy would like to see returned from Cleveland. Rebecca Meiser reported:
"It's supposed to be a confidential document," says spokesman James Kopniske. "I don't even know what's on it."
Information on the Cleveland material started to appear with the list of South Italian pottery published by Suzan Mazur in October 2006:
  1. A Lucanian calyx-krater, attributed to the Policoro painter (1991.1). Alleged to have been sold by Robert Hecht; formerly in the Hunt collection; sold 1990.
  2. A Paestan black-figured lekythos (1985.1). Allegedly acquired through Hecht. Appears to be listed in the Italian documentation (no. 82): "Lekythos attica a figure nere, oggi al Museo di Cleveland".
  3. A Campanian red-figured acorn lekythos (1986.204). Gift of Jonathan Rosen.
  4. An Apulian volute-krater, attributed to the Darius painter (1988.41).
  5. An Apulian bell-krater, attributed to the Choregos painter (1989.73).
All five pieces are likely to have been found in South Italy given their fabrics. It should be noted that the "name vase" of the Choregos painter is a krater, once in the Fleischman collection (purchased from Fritz Bürki), and now returned from the Getty to Italy.

Mazur expanded on this simple list when she reported on the meeting between Italian officials and staff from the Cleveland Museum of Art (apparently on April 20, 2007). She then listed further pieces.
1. East Greek perfumed-oil container in the shape of a heron (1988.65).
2. Corinthian column-krater (1990.81).

South Italian and Italian
3. Geometric bird askos, Etruscan (1993.1).
4. Pontic oinochoe (1986.88).

Marble sculpture
5. Torso of Aphrodite, marble (1988.9).

6. Etruscan silver bracelet (1996.17). Gift of Edoardo Almagia and Courtney Keep in honor of Arielle P. Kozloff

7. Amber sphinx, possibly South Italian (1985.49).
8. Amber head of a woman, Etruscan (1992.61).

9. Bronze reclining woman at banquet, Etruscan (1988.155). Gift of Mrs. Ernest Brummer.
10. Bronze reclining flautist, Etruscan (1986.184). Gift of Mrs. Ernest Brummer.
11. Bronze reclining lyre-player, Etruscan (1986.185). Gift of Mrs. Ernest Brummer.
12. Bronze statue of a warrior, Sardinian (1990.1).
13. Bronze rider, perhaps western Greek (1977.41). Publ. Gods Delight, no. 13.
14. Bronze Herakles (1987.2). Publ. Gods Delight, no. 61, “purchased together and conceivably found with [62]”.
15. Bronze Lar (1987.3). Publ. Gods Delight, no. 62, “purchased together and conceivably found with [61]”.
16. Victory with cornucopia, Roman (1984.25). Publ. Gods Delight, no. 66, “traveled through the art market and conceivably found with [63-65]”. [See nos. 63-65, now in the J. Paul Getty Museum]
17. Bronze statue of a barbarian (1987.64). Publ. Gods Delight, no. 67, “said to have been found near Taranto”.
18. Roman bronze ampula in the shape of a bear (1972.102).
Note that several of the pieces are likely (though not certainly) to have been found within the frontiers of the modern Italian state given their cultural links with Etruria, the Greek colonies of southern Italy and Sicily, and Sardinia (nos. 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 17).

Some of the items on Mazur's list were known before 1970 and need not detain us here:
  1. Head of the emperor Balbinus from sarcophagus, marble (1925.945). Gift of J.H. Wade.
  2. Silver cup, Roman. Vicarello (1966.371). Silver for the Gods, no. 95. Formerly in the collections of R. Garrucci, Naples; Sir William Drake, London; Edmond de Rothschild, Paris. First known 1866.
  3. Bronze statue of a warrior, Etruscan (1967.32).
Michael Bennett, the curator at the Cleveland Museum of Art, has insisted that there is "an obligation to look at that evidence". Please could the collecting histories (i.e. former owners, dealers, alleged find-spots) for the 23 pieces listed above be made available? What are their documented histories before 1970?

Kozloff, A. P., D. G. Mitten, and S. Fabing. 1988. The Gods delight: the human figure in classical bronze. Cleveland, Ohio; Bloomington, Ind: Published by the Cleveland Museum of Art in cooperation with Indiana University Press.
Mazur, S. 2006. "Italy will contest Medea vase now at Cleveland Museum." 9 October 2006.
—. 2007. "Italy's list of lost treasures at Cleveland." April 22, 2007.
Oliver, A., Jr. 1977. Silver for the gods: 800 years of Greek and Roman silver. Toledo: The Toledo Museum of Art.


Popular posts from this blog

Marble bull's head from the temple of Eshmun

Excavations at the temple of Eshmun in Lebanon recovered a marble bull's head. It is now suggested that it was this head, apparently first published in 1967, that was placed on loan to New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art (Tom Mashberg, "Met Museum Turns Over Another Relic With Disputed Past to Prosecutors", New York Times August 1, 2017 ). The head is reported to have been handed over to the Manhattan district attorney after a request was received from the Lebanese authorities.

It is suggested that the head may have been looted from an archaeological storage area at Byblos in the 1980s during the Lebanese civil war. Mashberg has rehearsed the recent collecting history:
The owners of the bull’s head, Lynda and William Beierwaltes of Colorado, say they have clear title to the item and have sued Manhattan prosecutors for its return.  The Beierwaltes bought the head from a dealer in London in 1996 for more than $1 million and then sold it to another collector, Michael …

The Toledo skyphos and a Swiss private collection

The Attic red-figured skyphos attributed to the Kleophon painter in the Toledo Museum of Art (inv. 1982.88) is now coming under further scrutiny following the research of Dr Christos Tsirogiannis. The skyphos shows Hephaistos returning to Olympos.

Tsirogiannis has identified what appears to be this skyphos in five photographs in the Medici Dossier. The museum acknowledged that the skyphos had resided in a 'private Swiss collection'. Tsirogiannis suggests that this is probably a reference to Medici.

Enquiries to the museum by Tsirogiannis elicited the information that the skyphos had been acquired from Nicholas Koutoulakis (although that information does not appear on the museum's online catalogue).

The curatorial team at the Toledo Museum of Art will, no doubt, be contacting the Italian authorities to discuss the future residence of the skyphos.

For further discussion of the Toledo Museum of Art on LM see here.

Tsirogiannis, C. 2017. "Nekyia: Museum ethics an…

Metropolitan Museum of Art hands over Paestan krater

In May 2014 I commented on a Paestan krater acquired by New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art after it had been identified by Dr Christos Tsirogiannis in photographic images seized from Giacomo Medici. Tsirogiannis published his full concerns in the Journal of Art Crime in 2014, but it has taken a further three years for the museum to respond.

The krater showing Dionysos in a hand-drawn cart was purchased in 1989 from the Bothmer Purchase Fund (details from the Museum's website, inv. 1989.11.4). The krater surfaced through Sotheby's New York in June 1989.

It is unclear who consigned the krater to Sotheby's New York.

It has now been revealed that the krater has been handed over to the US authorities after a warrant had been issued (Tom Mashberg, "Ancient Vase Seized From Met Museum on Suspicion It Was Looted", New York Times July 31, 2018).

It appears that the museum did make an attempt to resolve the case in December 2016. Mashberg notes:
The Met, for its par…