Oh, geeze

Orchid open

I’m still parsing an article* in the NYTimes about the pieces of the kylix that curators at the Met began collecting in the 70s. Over the years the Met obtained pieces from multiple art dealers.

A kylix is a kind of stemmed drinking cup. This one is made of terra cotta and thirteen inches in diameter. It has a nice decoration of a man and woman partying in a circular panel on the interior. The exterior has a band of multiple male figures, described as older fellows chasing younger guys.

The last fragment of the kylix arrived at the Met in 1994, and the restored vessel was on display until last fall, when the Manhattan DA’s office seized it as a looted item.

As near as I can tell, the prevailing opinion is that the vessel was intentionally broken, and the pieces essentially funneled to the Met’s purchasers and curators. This is not the only vessel in the Met’s collection that may have received this treatment.

Remember: to archaeologists pottery contributes to a complex story, while to art historians pottery has aesthetic, and, yes, monetary value—even broken, when an intact vessel would be worth more, the pieces have monetary value.

* The article is “The Kylix Marvel: Why Experts Distrust the Story of an Ancient Cup’s Rebirth,” dated today, by Graham Bowley and Tom Mashberg.

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