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Title:A Classical Marble Head in the Krannert Art Museum: Issues of Identity and Museum Acquisition Policy
Author(s):Archer, Marion C.
Advisor(s):Hostetter, Eric R.
Department / Program:Art and Design
Discipline:Art History
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Greek sculpture
Roman sculpture
museum acquisitions
krannert art museum
Abstract:The Bearded Head in the Krannert Art Museum (acquisition number 1970-11-1) poses a significant problem of identification. Although there is no disagreement over the fact that it is a work of ancient art, it is unclear as to the period in which it was created. It has been defined in the past as a work of Greek sculpture, although it is now recognized as possibly having been sculpted in the Roman period. Without any provenance information attached to the head, this identification is suggested only by studying clues found in the sculpture itself. Some of the clues examined in this study include the type of marble used to sculpt the head, tool marks present on the head, and similarities to examples of sculpture with known provenances. Following a close examination of the head and consideration of the possible era of its creation, a history of the acquisition of the head is reconstructed. The head was bought with the understanding that it was a work of Greek art by the assistant to the director of the Krannert Art Museum, who was eager to build an impressive collection of ancient art and may have been taken advantage of by a dealer who was extremely knowledgeable in ancient sculpture. An examination of the two parties’ backgrounds as well as correspondence between the assistant to the director and others concerning the head is studied to try and determine whether the dealer was aware of the questionable identification of the head and continued to represent it as a work of Greek art, or whether he was genuinely under the impression that the head was Greek in origin. Analyzing the documents surrounding the acquisition of the head will lead to a greater understanding of the process of the sale of artworks of questionable provenance to small museums without access to the means for thorough professional authentication.
Issue Date:2010-01-06
Rights Information:Copyright 2009 Marion C. Archer
Date Available in IDEALS:2010-01-06
Date Deposited:December 2

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