Friday, July 15, 2016

Ny Carlsberg returns: the pottery

Here are details of some of the pottery from the Ny Carlsberg returns:

  • IN 3417. Messapian trozella (nestoris). Acquired 1970 from the Art Market. Find-spot: Monte Salete (Grottaglie) in Apulia. CVA 1, pl. 105-106, no. 82.
  • IN 3419. East Greek alabastron in the form of a sandalled foot. Acquired 1970. Allegedly found at Gela (Sicily). CVA 1, pl. 129, no. 123.
  • IN 3444. East Greek alabastron in the form of a helmeted head. Acquired 1972. CVA 1, pl 127, no. 115.
  • IN 3445. East Greek alabastron in the form of the head of an eagle. Acquired 1973. CVA 1, pl. 131, no. 129.
  • IN 3498. East Greek alabastron in the form of a left leg. Acquired 1974. CVA 1, pl. 130, no. 122.
  • IN 3606. Attic Panathenaic amphora, attributed to the Robinson group. Acquired 1980 on the art market. CVA 1, pls. 45-48, no. 28.


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Ny Carlsberg Returns Objects to Italy

Tomb XI from Colle del Forno. Photo: Ana Cecilia Gonzalez
Back in 2008 I wrote about the Italian claims against the Ny Carlsberg in Copenhagen that had started in 2002. Earlier this month an announcement was made that Denmark would be returning objects to Italy.

A list of the material, some 501 objects, has now been released:

  • 150 objects from the tomb XI ( Colle del Forno necropolis in Sabina ) with an Etruscan wagon , inv . no. HIN 527-550 , HIN 552-668, HIN 670-672 and HIN 675 
  • 110 Etruscan architectural fragments from Cerveteri and Veii, inv . no. HIN 696-800 and HIN 802-806 
  • 98 architectural fragments and antefixes from Veii , inv . no. HIN 822-919 
  • 59 individual antique objects , inv. no. IN 3500 and IN 3502-3559 
  • 17 architectural fragments, inv . no. IN 3426-3442 
  • 19 Etruscan artifacts from Vulci and Cerveteri, inv . no. HIN 676-693 and HIN 695
  • 34 individual antique objects, inv IN 3415, IN 3417-3419, IN 3423-3424, IN 3444-3445, IN 3447, 3498-3499 , IN 3570-3576, IN 3606-3607, IN 3622-3623, IN 3625, HIN 522-526 , HIN 669, HIN 673-674, HIN 821 and HIN 920-921 
  • 14 Etruscan artifacts from Vulci and Cerveteri, inv. no. HIN 807-820 

The objects from Tomb XI from the Colle del Forno were acquired in 1970 and 1971.

I am grateful to Jakob Fibiger Andreasen for images and details, and to Lynda Albertson for other information.

For the sequence of numbers:
  • HIN 522-526
  • HIN 527-550 , HIN 552-668, 
  • HIN 669
  • HIN 670-672 
  • HIN 673-674
  • HIN 675 
  • HIN 676-693 and HIN 695
  • HIN 696-800
  • HIN 802-806 
  • HIN 807-820
  • HIN 821
  • HIN 822-919 
  • HIN 920-921
  • IN 3415, IN 3417-3419, IN 3423-3424
  • IN 3426-3442 
  • IN 3444-3445, IN 3447, 3498-3499
  • IN 3500 
  • IN 3502-3559 
  • IN 3570-3576, IN 3606-3607, IN 3622-3623, IN 3625


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Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek and Italy: "trasforma una crisi in opportunità"

The Italian Government and the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek in Copenhagen have come to an agreement over a series of objects acquired from the 1970s ("TORNA IN ITALIA IL PREZIOSO CARRO SABINO A DECORAZIONI DORATE: Franceschini, storico accordo tra l’Italia e il museo Ny Calsberg Glyptotek di Copenhagen", MIBACT 5 July 2016 [press release]). Although the press release is vague ("collezione di antichità del museo danese sin dagli anni Settanta del Novecento") it would appear that the objects are those associated with Robert Hecht (presumably "mercato internazionale dell’arte") and discussed by Elisabetta Povoledo in 2009. The original Italian request goes back to 2002 and renewed in 2007.

The press release also appears on the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek's website ("HISTORIC AGREEMENT BETWEEN ITALY AND THE NY CARLSBERG GLYPTOTEK"). One of the key sections provides information about the return:
About the Restitution 
The agreement is the result of the academic dialogue which has proceeded since the spring of 2012 between the Ministry of Culture in Italy and the Glyptotek. The agreement complies with the wishes of the Italian state for the restitution of a number of archaeological, primarily Etruscan objects which the Glyptotek acquired at the beginning of the 1970s through the international art market. Since that time investigations have shown that the objects had been unearthed in illegal excavations in Italy and exported without licence, which is why from a point of reason and common sense there is a consensus that these particular objects should return to Italy. 
The restitution which covers, for instance, the famous princely tomb from Sabina, begins in December this year and should be complete by the end of 2017.
One can only wonder if other museums in Japan, Holland and North America are preparing for further returns.

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Monday, July 4, 2016

Amphora withdrawn from Christie's

Source: Dr Christos Tsirogiannis
Christie's has decided to withdraw the amphora that had been identified by Dr Christos Tsirogiannis as the one apparently featuring in photographs seized in a Greek police raid.

Christie's now need to look (yet again) at their due diligence process that does not appear to be rigorous enough to identify these potentially 'toxic' pieces. They need to look at how they authenticate the collecting histories of lots prior to the sale.

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Due diligence needs to matter for the London market

Image seized in Greek police raid (2007)
Source: Dr Christos Tsirogiannis
Due diligence matters. And it matters even more in London as Westminster politicians discuss the issues surrounding cultural property.

And that is why major auction-houses offering cultural property for sale need to demonstrate their due diligence process and indicate the authenticated collecting history for each lot.

Failure to do so merely undermines the market.

Repeat infringements by certain institutions would suggest that due diligence is not taken seriously, and would therefore strengthen the case for politicians to take self-regulation out of the hands of the market.

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Saturday, July 2, 2016

Images seized in Greece and an amphora attributed to the Bucci painter

Source_ Dr Christos Tsirogiannis
Dr Christos Tsirogiannis has drawn my attention to an Attic Attic black-figured neck-amphora attributed to the Bucci painter that is due to be auctioned at Christie's London, King Street on Wednesday 6 July 2016 (lot 52). The estimate is £15,000-£25,000.

The collecting history is given as follows: 'Los Angeles art market, prior to 1996' and 'Private collection, UK'.

Tsirogiannis informs me about a Greek police raid on 31 January 2007 at Karavomylos in Greece. Among the seized (objects and) images  were two apparently showing this amphora. I have been informed of additional information about the people involved in the raid but will not share it here. (I understand that the information has been passed to the Greek police, Interpol, and Scotland Yard.)

However it is a matter of urgency for Christie's to demonstrate their due diligence process for this neck-amphora. What is the authenticated collecting history for the amphora? Who handled the piece in Los Angeles? What is the documentation? Who else handled the amphora? Who made the attribution?

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Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The Parthenon Sculptures: Moving on?

Parthenon frieze © David Gill
The 200th anniversary of the arrival of the Parthenon marbles in the British Museum is being marked. The anniversary is explored by Contantine Sandis ("Britain has kept the ‘Elgin Marbles’ for 200 years – now it's time to pass them on", The Conversation June 7, 2016). He suggests:
The time is right for all surviving sculptures to be reunited under this single roof [The New Acropolis Museum]. They should be displayed, for free, in a joint Greek and British international museum. This bicentenary provides the perfect opportunity for the two nations to collaborate instead of bicker over ownership. The British Museum would be praised worldwide for all its actions, culminating in a collaborative partnership that genuinely benefits humanity. It is high time that ownership of the past became a thing of the past and we began to think in terms of joint custody instead.
These are architectural marbles, and they need to be reunited visually in the same city as the extant monument, the Parthenon, that forms part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The UK Intends to Ratify the Hague Convention

© David Gill
The Queen's Speech today highlighted legislation for the year ahead (BBC May 18, 2016). This highlights:
Cultural Property Bill (UK-wide) 
  • The UK to ratify the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the event of armed conflict
  • Dealing in cultural property illegally exported from occupied territory to be made criminal offence 
  • Property protected under the convention and its protocols to be identified by new Blue Shield
The briefing notes for the speech identify this as the Cultural Property (Armed Conflicts) Bill. It identifies the main elements as:
The Bill would introduce a number of measures that would enable the UK to ratify the [Hague] Convention and its two Protocols: 
● Introduction of offences designed to protect cultural property in the event of an armed conflict at home and abroad. These include an offence of making such property the object of attack. 
● Introduction of the Blue Shield as an emblem that signifies cultural property protected under the Convention and its two Protocols. 
● Introduction of an offence of dealing in cultural property that has been illegally exported from occupied territory and a provision for such property to be seized and returned to the occupied territory after the close of hostilities, where appropriate. 
● Introduction of immunity from seizure for cultural property in the UK which is being transported for safekeeping during a conflict between two or more other states.
Clearly some of the driving force behind the proposed legislation relates to the present conflict in Syria and northern Iraq.

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Friday, May 13, 2016

Sicily: Culture and Conquest

© David Gill
The British Museum is currently showing a temporary exhibition, 'Sicily: Culture and Conquest'.

The accompanying catalogue by Dirk Booms and Peter Higgs (British Museum Press, 2016) does contain illustration and discussion of some material returned to Sicily. The pieces include:

  • The Morgantina Treasure, returned from New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art (p. 24, fig. 7; p. 124, fig. 91). This had been acquired through Robert Hecht (and prior 'history'). 'The hoard was found by illicit treasure hunters in the 1970s in two pits beneath the floor of a house' (p. 124).
  • The pair of Acrolithic statues, returned from the University of Virginia Art Museum at Charlottesville where they had been on loan from the Maurice Tempelsman collection (p. p. 68, fig. 49). They had previously been handled by Robin Symes. 'Thought to have been illicitly dug up in Building A in the sanctuary at San Francesco Bisconiti (sic.), the statues are likely to represent Demeter and Persephone' (p. 68).
  • The 'Aphrodite' from Morgantina, returned from the J. Paul Getty Museum (p. 69, fig. 50)
  • The Hades, returned from the J. Paul Getty Museum (p. 70, fig. 51). This had been acquired through Robin Symes and had formed part of the Tempelsman collection. 'reputedly discovered in the sanctuary at San Francesco Bisconti' (p. 71).
Morgantina Treasure. Source: MMA

Hades. Source: J. Paul Getty Museum

Acrolithic heads. Source: BBC

It is surprising that there is no mention of Jason Felch and Ralph Frammolino's Chasing Aphrodite, or Peter Watson and Cecilia Todeschini's The Medici Conspiracy (or journal literature) that address some of the concerns relating to this Sicilian material. There does not appear to be reference to Dietrich von Bothmer's full publication of the silver hoard.


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Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Hoards: Hidden History

(2015)
I have noted Eleanor Ghey's important work on the (excavated) Beau Street hoard. Her illustrated British Museum Press volume, Hoards: Hidden History (London, 2015) was published last year.

The double-page spread for the introduction is a reminder of the sources of some of these hoards: 'Detector user found gold on first attempt'; 'Treasure-hunters dig up a fortune'; 'A chance sweep of a farm field unearthed the most important hoard of Roman gold and silver artefacts found in Britain'. Ghey's opening paragraph reminds us of 'a story of treasure hunters striking lucky after years of searching the land ...' (p. 10).

In her section on studying hoards Ghey reminds us: 'Archaeologists have come to realize that the key to understanding a hoard is usually held not in the group of objects itself but in its context, that is, the information held in the soil immediately around it and the evidence for human activity in the wider landscape' (p. 14). Her emphasis is one that should not be overlooked in the discussion over the use of metal-detecting.

There are four main chronological chapters: Prehistoric, Roman Britain, Anglo-Saxon and Viking, and Medieval and Modern. There is a discussion of the notorious Salisbury Hoard (pp. 34-35): 'the hoard was illegally excavated by metal-detectorists and sold to dealers; it had to be pieced together after much detective work by the British Museum and the police'.

There is an appendix in the Treasure Act 1996, asking 'What to do if you find Treasure?'

There is no mention of the Lenborough Hoard and its removal from its context.

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