Saturday 1 October 2011

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.

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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.

John Muccigrosso said...

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?

Emmanuel said...

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:

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