Skip to main content

Art Forgery and Provenance

I attended the ARCA (Association for Research into Crimes against Art) Art Crime Symposium at the V&A in London today. There were two sessions:

  • a. Art Recovery and Reward: Det Sgt Claire Hutcheon (Metropolitan Police), Charlie Hill, Richard Ellis, Jonathan Jones.
  • b. Art Forgery and Provenance: Vernon Rapley, Christopher Marsden, Christos Tsirogiannis, Noah Charney.

I tweeted some of the themes here.

I was very struck by Jonathan Jones' point that art can be displayed in its original context (e.g. a church) rather than the sanitised environment of a museum. (It reminded me of the Houghton Hall exhibition --- and interestingly Peter Watson alluded to the exhibition during the discussion.)

During the discussion, Richard Ellis reminded us that due diligence meant that we needed to ensure that we left no stone unturned as we researched past collecting histories.

Vernon Rapley kept coming back to the Amarna Princess as well as other pieces from the same forger. He reminded us of little clues that would send curators down carefully laid false trails. Christopher Marsden (Senior Archivist at the V&A) reminded us of the forging of documentation to support "provenance".

Christos Tsirogiannis (U Cambridge) discussed a range of forged paperwork and collecting histories drawing on examples from the Medici Dossier, as well as the Sarpedon krater that had been acquired by New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art. He explored the background to the Getty kouros.

Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know


kyri said…
i wonder if they recorded this. nothing on their website.wish i could have been there.some very intresting speakers.
lalbertson said…
We have recorded it. Still working out if all the speakers consent to transcrbing or publishing the audio.

Popular posts from this blog

Marble bull's head from the temple of Eshmun

Excavations at the temple of Eshmun in Lebanon recovered a marble bull's head. It is now suggested that it was this head, apparently first published in 1967, that was placed on loan to New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art (Tom Mashberg, "Met Museum Turns Over Another Relic With Disputed Past to Prosecutors", New York Times August 1, 2017 ). The head is reported to have been handed over to the Manhattan district attorney after a request was received from the Lebanese authorities.

It is suggested that the head may have been looted from an archaeological storage area at Byblos in the 1980s during the Lebanese civil war. Mashberg has rehearsed the recent collecting history:
The owners of the bull’s head, Lynda and William Beierwaltes of Colorado, say they have clear title to the item and have sued Manhattan prosecutors for its return.  The Beierwaltes bought the head from a dealer in London in 1996 for more than $1 million and then sold it to another collector, Michael …

Mithras relief from Tor Cervara

A fragmentary relief of Mithras was discovered in 1964 at Tor Cervara on the outskirts of Rome. It was acquired by the Museo Nazionale Romano.

A further fragment of the relief was acquired by the Badisches Landesmueum in Kalrsruhe in 1976. The source was an unstated Swiss dealer. This fragment has been reunited with the rest of the relief [press release].

Today a further fragment of the relief was reunited with the other pieces. This had been recovered during a raid in Sardinia.

The Toledo skyphos and a Swiss private collection

The Attic red-figured skyphos attributed to the Kleophon painter in the Toledo Museum of Art (inv. 1982.88) is now coming under further scrutiny following the research of Dr Christos Tsirogiannis. The skyphos shows Hephaistos returning to Olympos.

Tsirogiannis has identified what appears to be this skyphos in five photographs in the Medici Dossier. The museum acknowledged that the skyphos had resided in a 'private Swiss collection'. Tsirogiannis suggests that this is probably a reference to Medici.

Enquiries to the museum by Tsirogiannis elicited the information that the skyphos had been acquired from Nicholas Koutoulakis (although that information does not appear on the museum's online catalogue).

The curatorial team at the Toledo Museum of Art will, no doubt, be contacting the Italian authorities to discuss the future residence of the skyphos.

For further discussion of the Toledo Museum of Art on LM see here.

Tsirogiannis, C. 2017. "Nekyia: Museum ethics an…