Skip to main content

The Geddes Collection at Bonham's: Publicity

John Boardman has written in the Bonhams Magazine (Autumn 2008), "Urning Respect" (pp. 40-43) [online], in support of the sale of the South Italian pottery from the Graham Geddes collection. Boardman notes the friendship between Dale Trendall and Graham Geddes. He comments that "most [of the South Italian pottery] has been found in tombs, and it is suspected that this was their intended fate". While it is likely that most of these near complete pots have come from tombs, very few have in fact been excavated in a scientific manner; Ricardo Elia has estimated that some 94.5% of all Apulian pots have been deprived of their archaeological context. (Consider the profile of South Italian pottery --- Apulian, Paestan, Lucanian --- in the "Nostoi" exhibitions.) So in one sense "suspect" or guess is all that we can do when it comes to this category of material because so much has been looted. There are over 50 lots (out of 180 [though some have now been withdrawn]) of South Italian pots in this auction.

Chantelle Rountree also writes about the formation of the Geddes collection. She notes the friendship with Trendall, Alexander Cambitoglou and Ian McPhee, and even the creation (by Trendall) of the "Geddes painter". Geddes apparently bought in London and New York from the 1970s onwards (i.e. after the 1970 UNESCO Convention). How many pieces were purchased at Sotheby's in London? Rountree comments on the range of objects in the sale including mosaics (some "Eastern Mediterranean" and mostly from an anonymous European private collection) that "once adorned the floors of Roman villas". But where were those villas located? Or were they bath-houses (e.g. lot 114?), churches (e.g. lot 122?) or other structures? Or has that information been lost?

Now the immediate publicity for the sale is over, it should be possible to take a serious look at the collecting histories of the individual pieces.

Comments

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.

Reference
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…