Friday 30 August 2013

Pot Fragments Matter

Group of part of the approximately 
10,000 terracotta vase fragments
from the Bothmer collection.

One of the themes that has emerged from the return of antiquities to Italy has been the role of fragmented pots. Sometimes pots have been reconstructed from sherds apparently brought together from numerous collections or dealers. Such pots would include the krater attributed to the Berlin painter that was returned from the J. Paul Getty Museum. And the acquisition of sherds has not been without controversy. And we could reflect on the fragments added to the Berlin painter's amphora once in New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art. Harvard's purchase (via a New York dealer) of the Robert Guy collection was not without  comment and has been used by James Cuno to support his views on antiquities. And we could consider the major collection formed by Dietrich von Bothmer: a small selection has been returned to Italy (apparently as they are associated with material already owned) and more recently fragments will be handed over to Italian authorities after an identification made by Dr Christos Tsirogiannis. Or there are fragments like the one attributed to the Euaion painter in Princeton.

These small fragments of time deserve more attention.

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