Saturday, 12 June 2021

An amphora attributed to the manner of the Princeton painter

Photo: Becchina Archive
Source: Christos Tsirogiannis
An Attic black-figured amphora attributed to the manner of the Princeton painter has been "passed" by the Artemis Gallery of of Louisville CO (June 10, 2021, lot
0029). (The scholar who made the attribution has not been indicated.) The piece shows, "Both sides present a nude youth riding a horse to the right followed by a bird in flight and set between two cloaked confronting figures." 

The history of the piece is presented as follows (although the sequence is not made clear):
East Coast, USA collection; ex-California, USA collection, acquired at Auktion 5, Jean-David Cahn, Basel, 5 September 2005, lot 36; ex-collection, Switzerland (Dr. Gregor Berger, CH-Jona SG, Collection of his father, the late Professor Dr. H.C. Mult Ernst Hern (1928-2006) - former Director of the Basel Museum
However, Christos Tsirogiannis has identified the amphora from the Becchina archive.  He suggested that Becchina sold the amphora at Christie's (Geneva) on May 5, 1979. If so, is this the unattributed amphora ('Horseman between onlookers, bird' on both sides) noted on the Beazley Archive (BAPD 2495)?

What is the sequence of this amphora? Could we suggest the following?
Becchina; sold in Geneva by Christie's (May 5, 1979); Professor Dr. H.C. Mult Ernst Hern (1928-2006), former Director of the Basel Museum; inherited by Dr. Gregor Berger; sold in Basel, Jean-David Cahn (September 5, 2005); California collection; East Coast collection.
When did this amphora leave the tomb (hence, 'intact and quite excellent') in which it was placed?

Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know

A Couchant Horned Goat from the Medici Dossier


The goat has surfaced (as was re-spotted by Tsirogiannis) as "Masterful Greek Hellenistic Ceramic Goat Vessel" in the Artemis Gallery in Louisville CO, as lot 0054. The history is given as "East Coast, USA collection; ex-Royal-Athena Galleries, New York, USA, acquired in the 2000s". The lot was "passed" on June 10, 2021. 

The Artemis catalogue does not mention any link with Italy, but the RAG catalogue of 2010 helpfully noted 'South Italy, 4th century BC'.  Will the Italian authorities be seeking its return?

This was one of 16 pieces identified on the New York market back in 2010, yet it has remained available for sale. 


Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know

Thursday, 20 May 2021

The so-called Marcus Aurelius and the so-called Ryedale hoard

The bronze bust of a figure identified as the emperor Marcus Aurelius formed part of a 'hoard' discovered in a field in Ryedale, Yorkshire (Jonathan Chadwick, "Incredible Marcus Aurelius bust is among a treasure trove of 2,000-year-old Roman bronze artefacts dug up by metal detectorists in Yorkshire and tipped to sell for £100,000 at auction", Mail Online 21 April 2021). The find is described:
"The items were discovered last year by metal detectorists James Spark and Mark Didlick in a field in Ryedale, North Yorkshire."
In other words, during 2020, the pandemic year, these finds were made. Specifically the find was made in May 2020 (George Buksmann, "Incredible 'nationally important' Roman bronze artefacts discovered in Ryedale expected to sell for £90,000", Scarborough Evening News 29 April 2021). This has been identified as 24-25 May; the location was near Ampleforth [see here].

Url: https://finds.org.uk/database/artefacts/record/id/1013510 PAS record number: YORYM-870B0E
Object type: Assemblage
Broadperiod: Roman
County of discovery: North Yorkshire
Stable url: https://finds.org.uk/database/artefacts/record/id/1013510

Adam Staples from Hansons speculates:
"They were interred in the ground together so they should stay together. We think they were buried as a ritual deposit, as part of a Roman religious process and an offering to the gods."
Do we know that this 'hoard' was interred together? What is the archaeological context? What is the evidence that this was a 'ritual deposit'?

The hoard is due to be sold at auction by Hansons today.

| |
Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know

Wednesday, 19 May 2021

PAS Finds and Lincolnshire

© David Gill

I have been working through the RSA Heritage Index data and thought that it would be interesting to look at the reported archaeological finds for Lincolnshire (including the two unitary authorities of North Lincolnshire and North East Lincolnshire). These data are derived from PAS. Over 83,000 finds were recorded reflecting the high level of activity in the county.

| |
Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know

Thursday, 6 May 2021

A Fragmentary Athena Attributed to Myron


It has been reported that a fragmentary Roman limestone copy of a 5th century BCE sculpture of Athena attributed to Myron is now the subject of a civil forfeiture order (Christi Carras, "Kim Kardashian, statue smuggler? Government says Roman artwork entered U.S. illegally", LA Times 4 May 2021). 

The sculpture was part of a five ton consignment seized in 2016 at Los Angeles. In 2018 the Italian authorities claimed that it had left Italy without appropriate documentation. The consignment itself had reportedly come from Axel Vervoordt, though the company disputes that the sculpture was derived from Italy. 

A report in the Daily Telegraph (Nick Squires, "Authorities seek return of 'looted' sculpture from Kim Kardashian", 5 May 2021) suggests that the sculpture was purchased at the Maastricht Antiques Fair in 2011 (on that particular sale see here).

| |
Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know

Thursday, 25 March 2021

P. Sapph. Obbink: A Publisher's Retraction


Brill has published a statement indicating a retraction on their published study of P. Sapph. Obbink [statement]. They cite Michael Sampson's work that has challenged the collecting history (the so-called 'provenance') of the papyrus. Have publishers realised, rather late in the day, that there are ethical and intellectual issues relating to the publication of material that has limited information about its origins?

Where does this leave the publication (by a major university press) of texts allegedly derived from "clandestine operations" at Selinous on Sicily? Incidentally, will the museum currently holding these texts be returning the rest of the dossier to Italy? (One text has already been returned.)

Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know

Saturday, 13 March 2021

Parthenon marbles: British Prime Minister makes his position clear

Parthenon frieze in the British Museum © David Gill
The architectural sculptures from the Parthenon, part of the World Heritage Site of the Athenian Acropolis, have been part of an exchange instigated by the British Prime Minister. 

In an interview on Friday 12 March 2021, Boris Johnson stated ("Greek culture minister challenges British PM’s claims on Parthenon sculptures", ekatherimini.com 12 March 2021):
“the UK government has a firm longstanding position on the sculptures which is that they were legally acquired by Lord Elgin under the appropriate laws of the time and have been legally owned by the British Museum’s Trustees since their acquisition.”
The central issue is about whether these stunning sculptures should be displayed in Bloomsbury, or be placed within line of site of the building on which they were once an integral part of the sculptural scheme. The intention of the original sculptors was to integrate them within the decorative programme of a single building.


Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know

Friday, 26 February 2021

EES Papyri: update


The EES has issued a statement about the missing papyri from its collection ("Museum of the Bible and missing EES papyri", 26 February 2021). 34 fragments acquired by the Museum of the Bible (MOTB) have now been returned or are in the process of being returned. These pieces had been removed from the EES collection by "a number of third parties". Who are these people who had access to the EES collection in Oxford? It appears that the police investigation continues. 

For previous press release from 14 October 2019.

Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know

Saturday, 20 February 2021

Theft in Greece: surfacing in Athens, New York and Basel


Greek archaeologist Angelos Zardakas had identified a head looted from the Liopesi collection in 1967 (Marianna Kakaounaki, "The mystery of two looted heads", ekathermini.com, 18 February 2021).  It was identified in the Paul and Alexandra Canellopoulos Museum in Athens.

A companion piece, stolen from the same collection (also in 1967), had been identified in the 1990s from the Shelby White and Leon Levy collection; it has subsequently been returned to Greece and placed in storage in the National Archaeological Museum. 

A third piece from the same raid, "the top part of the funerary stele of Euthesion of Pallene that is currently on show at the Archaeological Museum of Basel in Switzerland", has yet to be returned to Greece even though it was identified back in 1971.

Who handled these pieces of sculpture? Which networks were used? When does Basel intend to return the stele?

| |
Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know

Saturday, 23 January 2021

The Medici Dossier and the Allard Pierson Museum



Image of Siana cup fragments
from Medici Dossier. Source: nrc.nl
Christos Tsirogiannis, Associate Professor at the University of Aarhus, has identified a Siana cup currently in the Allard Pierson Museum in Amsterdam with images from the Medici Dossier (BAPD 16323). The cup, attributed to the Ainipylos painter, shows Aineas conversing. It surfaced at Sotheby's in London in an auction on 18 July 1985, lot 513. The sales in 1985 have yield other examples of toxic antiquities

The cup was placed on loan in the museum (inv. B 11.999). What is more interesting is that an additional fragment was supplied by Herbert Cahn (inv. 13.247; formerly HC 1468). The Medici polaroids show the cup in fragments as well as in a restored form. How did Cahn acquire his fragment?

The Allard Pierson Museum will no doubt be arranging the return of this cup to Italy.

Theo Toebosch, "Illegale vaas in collectie van Allard Pierson museum", nrc.nl 22 January 2021.

Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know

An amphora attributed to the manner of the Princeton painter

Photo: Becchina Archive Source: Christos Tsirogiannis An Attic black-figured amphora attributed to the manner of the Princeton painter has b...