Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Thoughts on a pair of Apulian kraters

Source: Schinoussa archive
Conversations over the last few months have made me reflect on a pair of Apulian kraters that have been on offer on the New York market (and now sold).

The pair show Amphiaros before an enthroned Pluto, and Aphrodite and Zeus flanking Adonis. They are nearly equal in height: 1.14 m and 1.12 m.

The pair of kraters follow a parallel collecting history. The kraters appeared in the Hesperia Arts Auction Ltd. sale of November 27, 1990, Part II, no. 40, and were sold for $75,000 (less than the estimated $80,000-$100,000). They were sold at the Royal-Athena Galleries in 1991 (Art of the Ancient World 6 [1991] nos. 74 and 75). They then featured in A.D. Trendall and Alexander Cambitoglou's The Red-Figured Vases of Apulia suppl. II, part 2 (London 1992) 274-75, nos. 22a1, 23f. The kraters were sold by Royal-Athena Galleries in 1991 to the "S.B. collection" in San Diego, CA. Both pieces were being resold by the same New York gallery in Art of the Ancient World (2012) nos. 116 and 117.

It is significant that images of both kraters appear in the photographic archive seized by Greek authorities on the island of Schinoussa. A North American dealer has informed me that the London-based dealer represented by that photographic archive supplied much of the material for Athena Fund II.

The same London-based dealer handled the Athenian krater that is to be returned to Italy by the Minneapolis Institute of Art. There is material from the same dealer appearing on the New York auction market. (Indeed the same auction-house had material from the same London dealer in their October 2011 London sale.)

This raises a further issue. Who handled the material prior to the London-based dealer? Will another photographic archive shed light on the answer?

I am grateful to Cambridge University researcher Christos Tsirogiannis for his identifications of these two kraters.

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