Wednesday, 19 April 2017

US Museums and their Acceptance of the Existence of a Parallel Universe Occupied by the Antiquities they Buy

Regular readers of this blog will know that I am extremely concerned about the alleged 'provenence' of the so-called 'Cleveland Apollo' which I feel more appropriately should be named the 'Leutwitz Apollo' after the place where it is supposed to have been found in the rubble of an East German farmhouse (yeah, yeah, pull the other one).  So, I am wondering whether the lessons the museum learnt from the 'Drusus Debacle' will be applied to the reported collecting history of that controversial object.

The Sessa Aurunca Drusus (as we now know it to be) was excavated in 1925/6 near Naples. But when Phoenix Ancient Art sold it to the museum, it came with a collecting history from 'an Algerian collection as far back as the late 19th century'. So, between the late nineteenth century and the 1920s, this object is claimed  (by the Aboutaams) to be documented as having been in two places at once, an Algerian collection as well as buried deep in Italian soil.

That's rather like another object the Aboutaam brothers handled and much discussed in this blog, the St Louis Ka Nefer Nefer mummy mask, documented as being in Cairo Museum at the same time as documents (supplied by the brothers Aboutaam) claim it was on sale in Belgium and then in a collection in Croatia. In both cases these are now 'dead-man's documents', their authors having passed on beyond further questioning years ago.

It's the same with the Leutwitz Apollo isn't it? This too is documented as being in two places at once (PACHI Friday, 25 October 2013, 'Leutwitz Apollo (9): Dr Marinescu Spills the Beans'). Between 1992 and 1994 the statue was both in a restoration lab in Germany as well as lying in a pile of rubble in Leutwitz (yeah, yeah, pull the other one). This is what I wrote four years ago:
How "thoroughly" have Michael Bennett, Katherine Reid and the entire board of trustees of the Cleveland Museum of Art done their due diligence if they (a) have not spotted the discrepancy here and (b) totally fail even to mention it, let alone explain it away in their "exhaustive" publication which is intended to "settle" the matter of where that statue was before they bought it? If nothing else this is intellectual dishonesty not to even quote or mention this information, and typifies a totally superficial approach to the task in hand.
And maybe it is time for Cleveland Museum of Art to take a proper (and source-critical) look at the documentation for the Leutwitz Apollo and when they have worked out what seems bleeding obvious (that a physical object, at least in the universe we inhabit) cannot be in two places at once, they can at last take effective steps to determine where the object really came from, and somehow it seems to me that a 'pile of rubble in an outbuilding in Leutwitz' is not going to be the answer.  There remains the question of those misquoted lead isotope result to be addressed too.

Vignette: Can you believe this nonsense? 

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