Skip to main content

What has Princeton returned?

Source: MiBAC
Princeton has been reluctant to provide specific details of what has been returned to Italy. So here is a possible list based on the MiBAC and Princeton press releases. I have also looked back to the original report that appeared in the New York Times (see here). It appears that the returned items were acquired between 1993 and 2002.

a. "a black-glazed askos" / "un askos a forma di astragalo". Apparently 2002-156. "Gift in memory of Emily Townsend Vermeule, Honorary Degree Holder of the Class of 1989". [Published 2003]

b. "a pair of female statuettes" / "due statuette di donna, di cui una che suona un tamburello e l'altra la lira". Apparently y1993-28, and y1993-28. Canosan "statuette of a woman playing a tambourine" and "playing a lyre". Both Museum purchase and source unstated. [Published 1994]

c. "four fragments of a red-figure calyx krater" / "quattro [frammenti] di un cratere a figure rosse" / "a calyx krater attributed to the Attic vase painter Euphronios". I have noted before: "The calyx-krater fragments, attributed to Euphronios by Padgett, appear to be the ones that were acquired in 1997: J. Michael Padgett, "Ajax and Achilles on a Calyx-Krater by Euphronios", Record of the Art Museum, Princeton University 60 (2001) 2-17 [JSTOR]." Acquisition: 1997-488 a-d. "Four fragments from a red-figure calyx-krater, attributed to Euphronios [Padgett]". "Museum purchase, Fowler McCormick, Class of 1921, Fund". Padgett had noted: "The findspot of the fragments is unknown".

d. "fragments of an architectural relief" / "cinque [frammenti] di rilievi architettonici". This appears to be this group: Etruscan "fragment of an architectural relief (joins 1995-127)". Gift of Edoardo C. Almagià, Class of 1973 (1999-4). Edoardo C. Almagià gave four architectural reliefs in 1995: 1995-125, 126, 127, 128. [It should be noted that 1995-129, "Etruscan fragment of a polychrome architectural relief of a centaur", gift of Ali and Hicham Aboutaam, has been returned to Italy on a previous occasion.]

e. "a pithos in white-on-red style" / "un pithos a figure rosse e bianche, raffiguarante animali". Apparently 1999-8. Gift of Edoardo C. Almagià ... in honor of Allen Rosenbaum. [See here]

f. "a group of fragmentary architectural revetments"  / "un gruppo di 157 elementi architetettonici con figure di tori" / "a group of Etruscan architectural terra-cottas". These would appear to be: Group of Etruscan "fragmentary revetments with painted and relief decoration ... Gift of Edoardo C. Almagià, Class of 1973 (1996-343.1-57)" and group of Etruscan "fragmentary revetments with painted bulls ... Gift of Edoarod C. Almagià, Class of 1973 (1996-48.1-100)". This makes 157 fragments.

It appears that the reliefs and the pithos were derived from Almagià. Who sold the krater fragments and the two terracotta statuettes? Who gave the askos?

It is clear from the New York Times that other material appears to have come from the same source.

Princeton now needs to make clear its position on antiquities acquired through Almagià. Readers would do well to read the Princeton interview with Almagià in the light of the recent returns. There was also an interview with curator Michael Padgett who joined the museum in 1992.

Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know


Popular posts from this blog

The scale of the returns to Italy

I have been busy working on an overview, "Returning Archaeological Objects to Italy". The scale of the returns to Italy from North American collections and galleries is staggering: in excess of 350 objects. This is clearly the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the material that has surfaced on the market without a history that can be traced back to the period before 1970. 

I will provide more information in due course, but the researcher is a reminder that we need to take due diligence seriously when it comes to making acquisitions.

Stele returns to Greece

The Hellenic Ministry of Culture has announced (Saturday 8 September 2018) that a stele that had been due to be auctioned at Sotheby's in London in June 2017 has been returned to Greece (Friday 7 September 2018). The identification had been made by Cambridge-based forensic archaeologist Dr Christos Tsirogiannis.

It appeared that the stele had been supplied with a falsified history as its presence with Becchina until 1990 contradicted the published sale catalogue entry. It then moved into the hands of George Ortiz.

A year ago it was suggested that Sotheby's should contact the Greek authorities. Those negotiations appear to have concluded successfully.

The 4th century BC stele fragment, with the personal name, Hestiaios, will be displayed in the Epigraphic Museum in Athens. It appears to have come from a cemetery in Attica.

"Beating sites to death"

Policy decisions for protecting archaeological sites need to be informed by carefully argued positions based on data. Dr Sam Hardy has produced an important study, “Metal detecting for cultural objects until ‘there is nothing left’: The potential and limits of digital data, netnographic data and market data for analysis”. Arts 7, 3 (2018) [online]. This builds on Hardy's earlier research.

Readers should note Hardy's conclusion about his findings: "they corroborate the detecting community’s own perception that they are ‘beat[ing these sites] to death’".

Pieterjan Deckers, Andres Dobat, Natasha Ferguson, Stijn Heeren, Michael Lewis, and Suzie Thomas may wish to reflect on whether or not their own position is endangering the finite archaeological record. 

This methodological study assesses the potential for automatically generated data, netnographic data and market data on metal-detecting to advance cultural property criminology. The method comprises the analysi…