Looted Art Displayed in Rome
By ARIEL DAVID – 10 hours ago
ROME (AP) — Dozens of treasures from the Greek, Etruscan and Roman civilizations will go on display Friday in an exhibition featuring many of the ancient masterpieces recovered in Italy’s campaign against illegal trafficking in antiquities.
The exhibit at the Quirinal presidential palace hosts 68 masterpieces of pottery, sculpture and painting handed over by international museums and collections as Rome increased pressure to return artifacts that authorities here maintain were dug up illegally or stolen and smuggled out of Italy.
“Now their odyssey is over, they are going home,” Culture Minister
Francesco Rutelli said at a presentation to the media Monday.
More than half of the pieces to be displayed come from a deal signed in
September with California’s J. Paul Getty Museum after more than a year
Most of the other treasures were also returned by U.S. museums,
including Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, the Metropolitan Museum in New
York and the Princeton University Art Museum.
Featuring huge vases — or “kraters” — used to mix wine and water, and
statues of gods and mythological figures, the treasure from Italy’s
crackdown is worthy of the spoils of an ancient warrior.
Among the artifacts returned by the Getty is a 4th century B.C. marble
statue of a helpless deer being attacked by winged griffins. The statue
still bears traces of blue and red paint.
There’s also a bronze mirror cast 2,200 years ago by the Etruscan
civilization in central Italy, featuring Penelope and Ulysses sharing
their long-awaited reunion.
Much of the pottery displayed bears the red figures typical of the vases
produced in the Greek colonies of southern Italy, as in the 4th century
B.C. krater looted near Naples showing Europa carried away by Zeus
masquerading as a bull.
Other artifacts include an Etruscan perfume vase in the form of a duck,
frescoes from Pompeii, and a 3rd century statue, returned by Boston, of
Vibia Sabina, the wife of the Emperor Hadrian.
Also displayed is a 6th century B.C. marble statue of a young woman,
returned by the Getty to Greece and on loan for the Rome event.
Still missing from the exhibit is the prized Euphronius Krater, a
2,500-year-old vase by the Greek artist that will be added to the show
when the Met hands it over in January, organizers said.
Rutelli noted that under the deals with the museums, Italy will give
long-term loans of equally significant treasures.
Authorities have generally recognized that museum officials bought
looted artifacts in good faith from dealers who sold them after they
were spirited out of the country.
But in a case that put pressure on the art market, Italy has put on
trial former Getty curator Marion True and art dealer Robert Hecht,
accusing them of knowingly acquiring dozens of allegedly looted ancient
artifacts. The two deny wrongdoing.
Italian officials have said they negotiating for other pieces at museums
and collections in the United States, Europe and Asia.
The Quirinal exhibit runs through March 2 and admission is free except
on Sunday, when it costs $7.20. Rutelli said officials were still
studying where all the pieces will ultimately be displayed.
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