Monday, 19 November 2012

Official silence on Getty return

Fabio Isman has reported on the return of 150 marble fragments to Italy from the J. Paul Getty Museum ("Il Getty Museum restituisce la tomba di Ascoli Satriano: il ritorno dell'arte perduta", Il Messaggero November 17, 2012). The pieces apparently come from a tomb at Ascoli Satriano and appear to be associated with the marble sculptures returned to Italy in 2007 (D. Gill & C. Chippindale, ‘From Malibu to Rome: further developments on the return of antiquities’, International Journal of Cultural Property 14 (2007), 205-40). We had noted Arthur Haughton's comments about the pieces linking them to Giacomo Medici, Robert Hecht and Robin Symes. Medici had reportedly informed Haughton that the find-spot was "a tomb which included a number of vases by the Darius Painter, at a site 'not far from Taranto'. Hecht said the site was Orta Nova ..."

The pieces themselves were published by Cornelius C. Vermeule ("The God Apollo, a Ceremonial Table with Griffins, and a Votive Basin", The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal 15 (1987), 27-34).

What were the pots attributed to the Darius painter? What information has been lost by the destruction of this tomb.

The Getty news centre is quiet. The Italian Ministry of Culture news centre is silent.

If Isman is right (and his sources are normally trustworthy), one is left wondering why this material has remained in the Getty since 2007. What is the untold story?

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