Friday, 3 August 2012

"Provenance Check" Aussie Style

The National Gallery of Australia has a statue of Shiva as Nataraja, Lord of the Dance, dating from the 11th to 12th centuries, which it turns out they bought in New York in 2008.
The gallery said in a statement it had done all the required provenance checks before acquiring the piece from Mr Kapoor, owner of the Art of the Past gallery on Madison Avenue. "As with all leading art institutions around the world, the gallery is committed to strict due diligence when acquiring works of art, particularly with regard to determining provenance," [the gallery's director,] Ron Radford said.
What a shame then that the ONLY piece of the collecting history to appear on their website (from which for some reason the photograph of the object seems to have been removed) is:
Tamil Nadu, India [...] Purchased with the assistance of the National Gallery of Australia Foundation 2008 Accession No: NGA 2008.1. 
It actually does not even say from WHOM it was "purchased" just four years ago, let alone what the museum's "checks" had revealed about where it was before then. Or is "strict due diligence " an Aussie euphemism for "we liked it and the price was right, so we bought it"?

Clare Morgan, 'Drama over National Gallery's Shiva statue', Canberra Times August 3, 2012

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