Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Drusus and PIASA

Source: Cleveland Museum of Art
It appears that the Drusus from an old Algerian collection was sold by PIASA (a point noted by Rick St Hilaire in an important commentary on the portrait).

The first documented surfacing was in September 2004 at a sale in Paris. the press release for the sale notes the head (identified at the time as Tiberius rather than Drusus):
Le 29 septembre à Drouot Richelieu, avait lieu la seconde partie d’une vacation consacrée à l’archéologie, organisée par la maison de ventes PIASA (Picard, Audap, Solanet, Velliet, Teissèdre). Elle comprenait de l’archéologie classique, du Proche-Orient, de l’Egypte, mais aussi de l’art paléochrétien, byzantin et islamique. 
La plus haute enchère a été portée sur une tête monumentale représentant le portrait de l’Empereur Tibère, lot n°340, en marbre blanc à grains fins, Art Romain du Ier siècle, qui a été emportée à 324 013 €. Cette tête provenait d’une collection particulière.
Now PIASA is not without interest. This same syndicate handled a Middle Kingdom alabaster duck, apparently removed from the Saqqara archaeological store, that popped up in the holdings of Rupert Wace in January 2006 (as from a French private collection). How the duck moved from the store to PIASA has not been explained (at least to my knowledge).

Now the Drusus / Tiberius seems to have bobbed onto the market through PIASA about the same time as the duck.

Did the Cleveland Museum of Art investigate PIASA as part of their rigorous due diligence search?

Rick St Hilaire also comments on the way that the collecting history for the portrait is presented in the catalogue of Phoenix Ancient Art.

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