Saturday 2 October 2021

More Auctioneers Fluffing the Descriptions

Roseberry's auction catalogue

On page seven of the little-known textbook "Antiquities Selling for Dummies" (2000) the authors, Aaron Grebkesh and Dunnie Runn stress the importance of providing a good description of the goods "as photo" is not enough. They write "though many of your clients will be a stupid as planks and swallow any old story you foist off on them about what it is and where it came from, collectors come from many walks of life and as such your descriptions should be carefully checked". I suspect the Islamic arts specialists in Roseberys London (" Number one Fine Art auctioneers and valuers in South London offering an annual calendar of specialist sales") have not internalised this recommendation. Lot 180 in a recent "Islamic and Indian Art" auction catalogue a "An important Timurid grey schist cenotaph, Central Asia, 14th to 15th century" ("ex-private [sic] collection, Belgium acquired 1969") manages to be made of "black granite". Of course anyone who knows anything about geology is aware (and despite what the trade has to say), there is no such stone as "black granite" because granite by definition is an intrusive igneous rock containing at least 20% quartz, perhaps they mean gabbro, diabase, basalt, diorite, norite, or anorthosite. So which is it? And if they cannot get the material it is made from right, what about this "ex-private" collection in Belgium that had it from "1969" (got the receipts and export licences?) until just now. How was that verified by Roseberry's specialists? 

Have a look at that catalogue, appalling. A load of of tat thrown in among other items, poorly-photographed. 

In any case, let us call a grave-marker a grave-marker and ask how it was removed from a Timurid tomb in or before 1969 and why it was then never replaced. What are the ethics involved in grave-robbing, even if it's a posh (?) London dealer flogging off stuff only taken from the foreign "brown-skinned guys"? The object did not sell, it's never too late to do the right thing.
hat tip: @FuchsiaHart

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