Skip to main content

Bronzes passing through a North American collection

Those who have been following the return of antiquities to Italy will know that two bronzes had apparently once passed through the collection of John Kluge before being sold at Christie's in June 2004.

For one of them see:
Susan Moore ("Market review: Asian art out-performs its estimates, while fine Antique bronzes foretell a return to lucrative form", Apollo 159 no. 159 (July 1, 2004) 76) discussed the sale:
A rather more recent accumulation was also seen at Christie's New York on 8 June--the Morven Collection of Ancient Art, formed by the obviously well-advised financier John Kluge. There were no weak areas here, with high prices achieved for Greek vases, Egyptian pieces and bronzes.
Among the pieces was a Greek daedalic female figure in bronze (lot 379) that sold for $10,755. Its collecting history mentions that it had passed through the hands of "Robin Symes, London" and then the "Royal-Athena Galleries, New York, 1989 (Gods and Mortals, no. 2)". (It was published in C.C. Vermeule and J.M Eisenberg, Catalogue of the Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Bronzes in the Collection of John Kluge, New York and Boston, 1992, no. 88-82.)

Some 19 antiquities in the "The Morven Collection of Ancient Art" auction of June 2004 had passed through the hands of Robin Symes:
  • lot 379 Greek bronze female figure, $10,755
  • lot 380 Greek bronze votive, $3585 (previously 'M. Gilet (d. 1973), Lausanne')
  • lot 381 Greek bronze griffin protome, $23,900 (previously Sotheby's, New York, 2-3 December 1982, lot 159)
  • lot 382 Greek bronze griffin protome, $8365
  • lot 384 Greek bronze goat, $11,950
  • lot 385 Greek limestone kouros, $77,675
  • lot 396 Greek bronze Acheloos, $20,315 (previously an American private collection)
  • lot 401 Greek bronze mirror cover, $15,535
  • lot 402 Greek bronze baby Dionysos riding a panther, $8365 (previously French private collection)
  • lot 409 Sardinian bronze boat, $10,755 (previously Sotheby's, New York, 15 June 1988, lot 101)
  • lot 420 Etruscan bronze seated youth, $7768
  • lot 436 Etruscan bronze Aplu (Apollo), $107,550 (previously in an American private collection)
  • lot 438 Etruscan or Italic bronze Nethuns (Neptune), $6573
  • lot 491 Roman bronze youth, $5736
  • lot 524 Roman silver bust of Jupiter, $5975
  • lot 523 Roman bronze bust of Minerva, $53,775
  • lot 529 Bronze tondo bust of a goddess, $47,800 (previously Sotheby's, New York, 20 May 1982, lot 155)
  • lot 534 Roman bronze Alexander the Great as Helios, $31,070
  • lot 553 Egyptian gilt bronze bust of a pharaoh as Osiris, $83,650 (previously French private collection)
Another four were sold on 16 December 2005 ("The John W. Kluge Morven Collection "):
  • lot 418 Greek bronze athlete, $4560
  • lot 419 Etruscan or Italic bronze craftsman, $2040
  • lot 421 Roman bronze roundel, $4200
  • lot 423 Roman bronze dancing maenad, $7200
Now the Greek daedalic female figure (lot 379) is available again at Bonhams (April 29, 2009, lot 10) though without the mention that it had once passed through the hands of Robin Symes.

Is it safer to give an incomplete history than state who had handled the piece? Or was it the mention of Robin Symes that made the October 2008 sale at Bonhams so memorable?

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 …

Sardinian warrior from "old Swiss collection"

One of the Sardinian bronzes of a warrior was seized from an as yet unnamed Manahattan gallery. It appears to be the one that passed through the Royal-Athena Gallery: Art of the Ancient World 23 (2012) no. 71. The collecting history for that warrior suggests that it was acquired in 1990 from a private collection in Geneva.

Other clues suggested that the warrior has resided in a New York private collection.

The identity of the private collection in Geneva will no doubt be telling.

The warrior also features in this news story: Jennifer Peltz, "Looted statues, pottery returned to Italy after probe in NYC", ABC News May 25 2017.

Attic amphora handed back to Italians

The research of Dr Christos Tsirogiannis has led to the return of an Attic red-figured amphora, attributed to the Harrow painter, to Italy (Tom Mashberg, "Stolen Etruscan Vessel to Be Returned to Italy", New York Times March 16, 2017).

The amphora is known to have passed through the hands of Swiss-based dealer Gianfranco Becchina in 1993, and then through a New York gallery around 2000 (although its movements between those dates are as yet undisclosed).

During the ceremony, Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., the District Attorney stated:
“When looters overrun historic sites, mine sacred spaces for prized relics, and peddle stolen property for top dollar, they do so with the implicit endorsement of all those who knowingly trade in stolen antiquities” More research clearly needs to be conducted on how material handled by Becchina passed into the North American market and into the hands of private and public collectors.