[agade] eREVIEWS & eARTICLES: Of "Ancient Art & its Commerce in Early Twentieth-Century Europe" [25 May 2023]

From <https://bmcr.brynmawr.edu/2023/2023.05.24/>:linebreak[This is a long Review-Article; go there for complete text and figs]linebreak==========================linebreaklinebreakBMCR 2023.05.24linebreaklinebreak“Said To Be From…”: Ethics and Hidden Provenance in Long-Established Museum Antiquities CollectionslinebreakErin L. Thompson, John Jay College (City University of New York). ethompson@jjay.cuny.edulinebreaklinebreakA review essay of Guido Petruccioli, Ancient Art and its Commerce in Early Twentieth-Century Europe: A Collection of Essays Written by the Participants of the John Marshall Archive Project. Oxford: Archaeopress, 2022. Pp. 312. ISBN 9781803272566. linebreaklinebreakThis article is part of an occasional series on ethics and cultural heritage. linebreaklinebreaklinebreak“Said to be from Rome.” “Said to have come from Kataphygi, Attica.” “Said to be from Taranto.” When I first began to visit classical collections, I was mystified by this “said to be” construction, which appears on thousands of labels in the Metropolitan Museum, Boston Museum of Fine Arts, British Museum, and many other museums. How could an identification of an origin be so precise and yet so vague at same time? Did the phrasing indicate a curator’s considered but not absolutely certain theory? Or was it a claim tossed off by someone the curator didn’t trust at all? Above all, I wondered, who said it?linebreaklinebreakThanks to the newly digitized archive of John Marshall, the Metropolitan Museum’s purchasing agent in Rome from 1906-1928, we can come closer to answering these questions for hundreds of the museum’s Greek and Roman artifacts. In this essay, I will describe the Marshall Archive and review Ancient Art and its Commerce in Early Twentieth-Century Europe (Archaeopress 2022, ed. Guido Petruccioli), a collection of essays that introduce and contextualize the archive. I also want to use this essay to argue that asking “who said it?” about a “said to be” provenance is not the silly question I convinced myself it was when I was a student. Instead, I believe all scholars should try to find out the most that they can about the acquisition history of artifacts they study. I will give examples of how such information from the Marshall Archive has brought me to a new understanding of some artifacts in the Met, both helping me to do better scholarship and avoid bad scholarship. I will conclude by calling for museums to offer such information more readily – because while the Marshall Archive reveals much new information about the Met’s collections, what it makes most clear is just how much information remains hidden.linebreaklinebreak[...]linebreaklinebreak