Object Description
A pair of Canosan Volute Kraters

A pair of Canosan volute kraters, from Apulia, around early 3rd century B.C. 

Identification Date
May 17, 2012
Identification Location
Christie’s Auction House 
Artefact History
Before 1986

In the Medici archive the kraters are depicted in two Polaroid images, in front of a black cloth, a background which brings out their decoration. The kraters are depicted unclean and missing parts of their bases; one of them is also missing a piece of its rim. The number printed on the back of each Polaroid image is identical, proof that the two kraters were photographed with the same film. It is also an indication that the objects arrived together and passed as a pair through the hands of Medici.

30 May 1986

The same two kraters appeared as a pair in Sotheby’s ‘Antiquities and Islamic Works of Art’ auction of 30 May 1986 in New York (Sotheby’s 1986, lot 24). Sotheby’s published no previous collecting history or the name of the consigner; the kraters appeared in a section of the Sotheby’s catalogue under the title “Other Properties”.

16 Feb 2001

When the Paris flat of antiquities dealer Robert Hecht was raided on 16 February 2001 by the French and Italian authorities (Watson and Todeschini 2007:156-162), two regular-print images depicting the same two Canosan kraters were discovered among other images, antiquities, and Hecht’s memoir. The images depicted the two kraters cleaned, with their bases and the missing piece of the rim conserved.

17 May 2012

The identification of the two Canosan kraters by Dr Tsirogiannis took place on 17 May 2012 and Italian public prosecutor was immediately notified (email 17 May 2012). The case was reported on 31 May 2012 in Italy and Greece, by Il Messaggero (Isman 2012) and Το Βήμα (Thermou 2012), respectively, but in New York, where the auction took place, the press did not refer to the identification of the kraters. (Christie’s auction of 8 June 2012)

08 Jun 2012

The same pair of volute kraters appeared in the Christie’s auction of 8 June 2012 in New York (Christie’s 2012a:82, lot 99), in the same condition as that in which they were presented 26 years earlier by Sotheby’s. In their catalogue Christie’s gave the following collecting history: 'Provenance: Private Collection, New York; Anonymous Sale; Sotheby’s, New York, 30 May 1986, lot 24.'

Artefact Status
In September 2012

In September 2012 the two Canosan volute kraters were repatriated to Italy and from 21 May to 5 November 2013 were exhibited at the National Museum of Castel Sant’ Angelo in Rome (Figures 7 and 8), together with other repatriated antiquities (but not lots 65 or 90 identified by Dr Tsirogiannis in the Christie’s 2012 auction with the two kraters, on which see Tsirogiannis 2013:10–11). As in the official notification of return of the Peucetian stamnos, the kraters’ entries in the exhibition catalogue (Landolfi et al. 2013:246–249, nos. 54–55, signed by Alessandra Avagliano), noted only the work of the Carabinieri in recovering the objects. The Italian authorities never revealed the owner(s) of the kraters who consigned them to the Christie’s 2012 auction and from whom they were repatriated.

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