Friday, 17 May 2019

Greek Pot of Questionable Origin Found in Another US Museum

The Toledo Museum of Art has reached an agreement with the Italian government on an ancient Greek pottery piece whose origins came into question a few years ago. The skyphos, (ceramic drinking vessel) decorated with the story of the return of Hephaistos to Olympus, is attributed to the Kleophon Painter of Athens, dating to about 420 B.C. (Roberta Gedert, 'Toledo Museum of Art to keep for now Greek vessel of questionable origin', The Blade MAY 17, 2019)
The Toledo museum purchased the piece for $90,000 in 1982 from an antiquities dealer in Geneva [...] Its record of ownership was challenged in 2017 by Christos Tsirogiannis, a forensic archaeologist who listed it among objects in collections without a clear record of origin [...] “In the absence of no knowledge of where the work had come from, he wrote to us and questioned us on its background,” he said. “It was shipped to the United States from Zurich, but it did not have an export license, so therefore it could not be shown exactly where it had come from, so this then raised the question of a lack of provenance, which caused us to raise the matter with the government of Italy.” Per the agreement TMA came to in the past couple of weeks with the Italian Ministry of Heritage and Cultural Activities, the piece will be repatriated to the Italian government, but remain on view at the museum for the next four years. At that time, TMA can ask to renew the loan or request another significant piece from the Italian government as part of a rotating exchange [...] In his 2017 paper, Mr. Tsirogiannis accuses the Toledo museum of not acting on the questionable history of the piece more quickly after returning a rare 2,500-year-old water jug in 2012 to Italy that had been linked to the same questionable antiquities dealers. “The Toledo Museum of Art … seems to follow the pattern that all American museums that return illicit antiquities have established; they silently are holding onto their tainted antiquities until (and if) someone identifies them …” he wrote.

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