Wednesday 15 February 2023

A Roman fresco fragment and some apparent cut marks

Malibu 83.AG.222.9
Source: J. Paul Getty Museum

Among the fresco panels and fragments from ‘a wealthy Roman’s seaside villa in the area of the Bay of Naples’ acquired by the J. Paul Getty Museum in 1983 from Palladion Antike Kunst is this panel with two fish (inv.  83.AG.222.9). Someone appears, at some point prior to acquisition, to have tried to cut a square panel from the fragment.  Why would they want to damage the panel in that way? 

Is this evidence of how the panel(s) was (were) removed from the archaeological context?  Or was someone trying to cut down the panel to make it easier to move? What would have happened to the remaining section of the fragment?

Such an indication is reminiscent of the panel returned from the Shelby White collection (no. 142; 86.2 cm by 86.5 cm) that came from the same composition as two fragments from the Fleischman collection and acquired (and returned) by the Getty (nos. 125 and 126; 91 cm by 80.5 cm, 61 cm by 81 cm). [See discussion here.]

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