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Showing posts from November, 2016

New Surfacings and Re-surfacings in Germany

Cambridge based archaeologist Dr Christos Tsirogannis has made a number of new identifications for items that are due to be auctioned by Gorny & Mosch in Munich on 14 December 2016.

Below is a text based on Tsirogiannis' notes and reproduced with his permission.

1. An Etruscan bronze figure of a youth (lot 19)
Mid 5th century B.C.
Collecting history: 'Ex Sammlung R.G., Deutschland. Bei Royal Athena Galleries, New York, Catalogue XXI, 2010, 43. Ex Sotheby´s Catalogue of Antiquities 13. Juli 1981, 341'.
Tsirogiannis had previously identified the same figure from the Symes archive when it was on offer in the Royal Athena Galleries on October 2010. It was one of several pieces identified from the Medici and the Becchina archives. In January 2011 these identifications were presented in brief through 'Looting Matters' and by the Italian journalist Fabio Isman in Il Giornale dell'Arte (see here). It is unclear why this piece has resurfaced given the earlier discus…

Collecting histories and the Chesterman collection

Now that Bonhams has withdrawn an Etruscan antefix from its auction due to what appear to be links with the Medici Dossier it is important that the collecting histories of the Chesterman collection of terracottas are explored and investigated.

Are any of the sources for these terracottas ones that are already known from the hundreds of objects already returned to Greece and Italy?

Anglo-Saxon jewellery declared treasure

A piece of Anglo-Saxon jewellery discovered by a metal-detectorist in a Norfolk field near Diss has been declared Treasure ("Anglo-Saxon find in Norfolk declared treasure", BBC News November 29, 2016; see also "Anglo-Saxon pendant: Norfolk student makes 'royal' find", BBC News February 27, 2015). A subsequent excavation showed that this came from a female burial.

Bonhams withdraws ex-Chesterman lot

Bonhams has withdrawn the Etruscan antefix from its sale of antiquities after images of what appeared to be the piece were identified by Dr Christos Tsirogiannis in the Medici Dossier.

The staff of Bonhams now need to reflect on their due diligence process and perhaps the auction house's use of "stolen" art databases. It has been pointed out at the APPG in Westminster that there are clear issues about the over reliance of such databases for identifying recently surfaced archaeological objects.

The decision to withdraw the lot will presumably imply a detailed analysis of the Chesterman collection and the origins of each of the terracottas.

The Medici Dossier and the James Chesterman collection

Dr Christos Tsirogiannis has made another identification from the Medici Dossier. The piece in question is a 6th century BC Etruscan terracotta antefix that is due to be auctioned in London later this month (Bonhams 30 November 2016, lot 14). The collecting history ("provenance") is given as:
James Chesterman Collection (1926-2014), formed in the UK in the 1970s-2000. With À la Reine Margot, Paris, acquired in December 1986. The antefix appears in two images, one as a standard Polaroid, the other as a record card for the Hydra Gallery. Hydra Galerie has been associated with Medici and has been discussed before, for example:
The Medici PanFragments of the Euphronios cup formerly in the J. Paul Getty Museum It is not clear why Bonham's has not mentioned Hydra Galerie in the collecting history. But note that on the card there is the annotation that the piece was to be assigned "v[ia] Londr[a]" with a value of $1,500.

The association with James Chesterman clearly has…

So-called provenance and collecting histories

The latest number of the International Journal of Cultural Property (IJCP) 23.3 (August 2016) has a cluster of papers that will be of interest. The starting point is Elizabeth Marlowe's, "What We Talk About When We Talk About Provenance: A Response to Chippindale and Gill" [DOI], pp. 217-236.
In an influential article published in 2000, David Gill and Christopher Chippindale devised a scale to assess the quality of the provenance information provided for the antiquities displayed in seven recent high-profile exhibitions or collections. This article critically reviews Chippindale and Gill’s provenance scale, arguing that the values it encodes legitimize some of the more intellectually harmful practices of dealers and curators. The scale also fails to differentiate between more intellectually responsible methods of hypothesizing provenance and those that merely generate houses of cards. An alternative model for assessing how antiquities are discussed in museum scholarship,…

Cultural Property (Armed Conflicts) Bill: Second Reading

The Hansard text of the second reading of the Cultural Property (Armed Conflicts) Bill on Monday 31 October 2016 has now been made available.

Some highlights in the debate (that ranged over a number of cultural issues beyond the Bill) include:
The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Karen Bradley): "We are lucky to have a highly professional and dedicated heritage and museum sector that works extremely hard to preserve our heritage and bring the story of our history to life. This work helps attract visitors to our shores too. We also have a duty to help protect the culture and heritage of other countries, for they are part of our shared inheritance as human beings."Helen Goodman (Bishop Auckland) (Lab): "Can she assure the House that after the 62 years we have waited since we signed the treaty, there will not be another 62 years until the Government bring it into effect?"Chris Bryant (Rhondda) (Lab): raised an important issue about clause 17 and "u…