Skip to main content

The Schinoussa Archive and Italian Antiquities

Terracotta heads from the Schinoussa Archive
The Schinoussa Archive is proving to be raising interesting questions about antiquities that are surfacing on the market. This pair of Greek terracottas look remarkably similar to a pair (once in a London "private collection") that passed into a North American private collection and are due to be auctioned at Christie's in London on 6 October 2011 (lot 69). Are they the same? Will Christie's reveal the identity of the London private collection? What had the due diligence search revealed?

Bonhams withdrew three ex-Symes Roman statues when their collecting histories became known. What will Christie's do in this case? Will they contact the Italian cultural attaché at the London embassy?

The Minneapolis Institute of Arts has announced that it will be returning a krater that it had acquired from Symes (or should that be a "London collector"?).

Potential buyers of antiquities need to be reassured that their purchases will not cause them problems in the future.

Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know


Anonymous said…
This is disgusting, David. Why will Christie's not learn from past mistakes? Who was the private collector who owned these objects in the US between 1999 and 2011? Where are the two Terracotta heads until Friday? Through which US Customs Control will they be able to go, through which UK border enter without proper documentation?

On a related note, why does Lot 29, which has no provenance before 1987 be allowed to go on sale, when the UK abides to the UNESCO Laws since 2002?

Since we all love Cycladic figurines and they will hit it again at Christies (Gabrielle Keiler Collection) my somewhat related question goes: Our dear Badisches Landesmuseum Karlsruhe needed a show for December:
It is probably they have so many of these figurines but they can only display them if they have learned from 1976. Guess what? Colin Renfrew will speak. So I assume there is a balance there in the exhibition and I look forward to a proper analysis of the catalogue once it is published.
Seems hard to believe these are not the same pieces. What's the usual policy on reporting repairs? Would that be in the full catalogue entry or rely on bidder's examination?
For those still wondering if the pair of Greek terracottas to be auctioned by Christie’s on October 6th, 2011, are the same as those of the Schinoussa Archive, please refer to the condition report of lot 69, provided by Christie’s. You couldn’t find a more accurate and detailed description of the terracottas initial state (before being repaired) as this has been captured on the Schinoussa Archived photo!!!
Anonymous said…
Thanks, Emmanuel! Translates to: the person who made the restorations is clearly not belonging to a professional team that has an ethics code. Why the heck is Christie's just so stupid and put their business at such a risk?
David Gill said…
Does the discussion of conservation recall a certain helmet auctioned at the same London auction house?
Paul Barford said…
I note the report only refers to the paint being "worn". if you compare what Christies are offering with the objects' condition in the Schinoussa archive it seems some paint has been removed (I think removed rather than lost) and some added in areas where there was none - like over the triangular restoration on the neck.

This is not an accurate statement of either "condition" or recent treatment. And yes, the brutal and equally poorly documented prettyfying treatment the Crosby G. helmet received at the hands of a restorer commissioned by Christies comes to mind.

Profit uber alles, I'd say.
Anonymous said…

Check out Greek's most recent request from the Karlsruhe Museum:

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 Getty Kouros: "The moral is, never ever buy a piece without a provenance"

In the wake of the 1992 Athens conference to discuss the Getty kouros (85.AA.40), one of the delegates, a "distinguished" American museum curator, was quoted ("Greek sculpture; the age-old question", The Economist June 20, 1992):
The moral is, never ever buy a piece without a provenance.
The recent discussions about the return of antiquities from North American museums to Italy and Greece may seem far removed from the acquisition of what appears to be a forged archaic Greek sculpture in the 1980s. However, there are some surprising overlaps.

The statue arrived at the Getty on September 18, 1983 in seven pieces. True (1993: 11) subsequently asked two questions:
Where was it found? As it was said to have been in a Swiss private collection for fifty years, why had it never been reassembled, though it was virtually complete?
A similar statue surfacing in the 1930s
A decision was taken to acquire the kouros in 1985. The official Getty line at the time (and reported in Russell…

The Getty kouros: a modern creation?

The refurbished galleries of the J. Paul Getty Museum no longer include the Getty kouros, a sculpture purchased in 1985 (Christopher Knight, "Something's missing from the newly reinstalled antiquities collection at the Getty Villa", LA Times April 19, 2018). Knight explains:
Unexpectedly, the Getty kouros, a controversial sculpture even before the museum acquired it more than 30 years ago, has been removed from public view. The work is now in museum storage.   For decades, the life-size carving of a standing nude youth carried one of the most distinctive labels of any work of art in an American museum: “Greece (?) about 530 B.C. or modern forgery.” The label encapsulated puzzling issues about the work, whose questionable status as dating from the archaic dawn of Western civilization had been the focus of scholarly and scientific research, debate and international symposiums for years. It is ten years since I provided an overview of the kouros here on LM. And over 20 year…