Wednesday, 14 June 2017

"What we know and cared about is only that it's a Statue of Zeus Enthroned'...: Just Say No

The Getty has landed itself in another dodgy portable antiquities mess and are trying to extricate themselves by sending an object back to the presumed source country. This 'Statue of Zeus Enthroned' was exhibited by them in Malibu and Cleveland in the trophy-art show 'A Passion for Antiquities: Ancient Art from the Collection of Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman' (October 13, 1994 to April 23, 1995) and its skimpy collecting history is given as:
[before 1987] Robin Symes (London, England), sold to Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman, 1987. 1987 - 1992 Barbara Fleischman and Lawrence Fleischman, American, 1925 - 1997 (New York, New York), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1992
. Trying to put on a brave face after wiping the egg off, they announce:
“The decision to return this object continues our practice of working [...] to resolve issues of provenance and ownership of works in our collection in a way that responds to new information as it emerges [...]”
The key point though is that in any respectful and respectable (respect-worthy) acquisitions policy of any portable antiquity, collecting and verifying the full information of how a particular object the museum is interested in acquiring got onto the international market and left the source country should be a sine qua non of any further considerstions. Obviously, if the Fleischmans had not themselves obtained such documentation, the Getty and its Trustees should simply have walked away from the proposed 'deal' wit them.

The dealers' defiant "they-can't-touch-you-for-it-legitimacy" came undone in this case.

This object was 'grounded' by the Italian authorities presenting a joining fragment found more recerntly near naples. How can collectors claim to be 'preserving art' if the process which leads to it coming on the market in fact divorces fragments of the whole one from the other due to lack of proper excavation?

1 comment:

David Gill said...

It is significant that this is yet another Fleischman object.

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