Wednesday, 21 December 2022

Homecoming and the Stern Collection

New York MMA inv. L.2022.38.22


The Keros Haul is considered to be a notorious example of looting in the Cyclades and in the publication—co-published with the Museum of Cycladic Art—is a figure formerly  in the New York collection of Ian Woodner and now in the collection of Leonard Stern (New York MMA inv. L.2022.38.22). The Stern figure appears in the Keros catalogue (no. 170), and while this publication is referenced in the Homecoming catalogue published by the Museum of Cycladic Art (no. 11) there is no explicit mention that the figure came from the haul. One wonders why this part of the object's history has been suppressed. It is, in fact, one of several pieces in the Stern collection that was derived from Keros.

The figure is attributed by Getz-Preziosi/Getz-Gentle to the Kalrsruhe/Woodner sculptor (/master). The Stern/Woodner figure was paired in Early Cycladic Sculpture (1985) with a figure in the Badisches Landesmuseum in Karlsruhe:
Nearly identical in length and exceptionally large, the two figures share a number of characteristics whose combined presence cannot have been fortuitous even though they differ in obvious ways.
The Karlsruhe figure was subsequently returned to Greece. What is stopping the Greek authorities from requesting the return of the Stern/Woodner figure? Instead they have accepted it as a temporary loan and recognise the validity of the long-term loan to New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art. 

The third figure attributed to this sculptor is in the Museum of Cycladic Art (inv. 724) and is reported to have been found 'in a cave' on Keros. Not one of the three figures has a secure archaeological context.

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