Friday, 11 July 2014

Aftermath: Looting Matters and Sekhemka

David Gill with five  extremely thought-provoking texts on the Sekhemka sale. well worth a read:

"Our history is not for sale": protest over Egyptian statue.

Sekhemka sold

and one I especially welcome as it's a question I was on the point of putting to him as somebody who follows this closely:  Reflecting on the price received by Sekhemka
The total for all Egyptian lots from 1998 to 2013 is just over $77 million (with over $383 million) for antiquities. The highest year for Egyptian lots was in 2010 with a total value of over $12 million. So a single statue selling for the equivalent of $27 million is a third of the total sales of Egyptian antiquities during a 16 year period.

Implications of the Sekhemka Sale
will this lead to the future isolation of the Northampton Museum and Art Gallery? And what will be the implications for potential donations and bequests not just to Northampton, but to every single museum in the UK?

and finally (?) Northampton Borough Council issue a statement over the sale of Sekhemka 
If accreditation is suspended it probably means that the museum development project will have to be halted and the sale of Sekhemka will have been for nothing. And the residents of Northampton will have missed out twice over.

Photo Mike Pitts (detail)
Meanwhile, looking at Mike Pitts' excellent photos, two things strike me. The first I'd noticed on other photos, but seeing it here suggests it is not an artefact of the lighting. What is the white 'bloom' in the crevices of this statue? If this is the effect of soluble salts, why are they present in an object which has been in museum care for two centuries? What is the conservation history of this object before we see it manhandled into the Christie's showroom?  If these are salts, why are they coming out here? Is the surface of the statue saturated by the grease of all those people who've been touching it over those 180 years? This needs sorting out, and should have been sorted out before it went on sale.

The second thing I'd not really looked at Sitmerit. The representation of  Sekhemet shows him as an idealised youngish man, as was the norm in Egyptian funerary and commemorative sculpture. His wife however has the same physiognomy as many of the young ladies one can see in Upper Egypt today. This has more the appearance of a believable portrait of a real person.

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