Showing posts with label restoration. Show all posts
Showing posts with label restoration. Show all posts

January 25, 2013

Portrait of a Museum Robbery: The 1998 Theft of Tissot's "Still on Top" from the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki

At ten minutes past 11 o'clock in the morning on Sunday, August 9th, 1998, a man with a shotgun entered the Auckland Art Gallery, threatened nearby visitors, then went directly to one of the collections most valuable paintings, James Tissot's "Still on Top" (c 1873).  The thief ripped the painting from the wall, smashed its glass into the painting, and used a crowbar to pry the canvas out of its frame.  He then ran outside the gallery into a nearby park and escaped on a motorcycle.  The robbery took less than four minutes.

Here in this YouTube video, Auckland Art Gallery - Restoring Tissot, is surveillance footage of the crime, the story of the damaged painting recovery nine days later, and the long process of restoration for public display.

James Tissot's "Still on Top"
Many of the original newspaper stories published in The New Zealand Herald can be ordered via email through the Auckland City Council Library here.

The man arrested eight days later had demanded a ransom of more than $260,000 from the Auckland Art Gallery and hidden the damaged work underneath a bed.  One year later, Anthony Sannd was found guilty and sentenced to nearly 17 years in jail, including charges related to two armed robberies of a security van and a bank branch.

The New Zealand art museum accepted $500,000 for the loss in value for the damaged Tissot painting and was able to repair the work and return it for public display three years later.

On February 1, 2005, the thief, Anthony Sannd (also known as Ricardo Genovese), escaped from a prison farm and eluded recapture for almost four weeks (during which time he was alleged to have stolen a BMW and burgled a home).  Two more years was added to his sentence.  Sannd was released from jail in March 2012.  Then Sannd filed a claim that the government owed him $100,000 for keeping him in jail six months longer than he had been sentenced.

February 12, 2011

Amelia, Umbria: Bronze Germanicus Home in Museo Archeologico di Amelia

By Catherine Schofield Sezgin

Of the most important and complete bronze statues of the first century A.D. ever found in Italy resides in Amelia.

In 1963, outside the walls of Amelia’s historic center, a group of workers digging a mill found the broken remains of a first century bronze statue. Over the town’s objections, the fragments were transferred to Perugia, restored, and then decades later returned to Amelia to an archaeological museum built to display the bronze of Germanicus Julius Caesar.

Francesca Rossi, an Amelian and daughter of Luciano Rossi of Punto Di Vino, a local wine bistro, recalled seeing the restored head of Germanicus on display in the old town hall when she was a little girl. “I fell in love with him,” she said. “I told my mother I wanted to marry him.”

The charisma of the bronze head likely belonged to a statue created to commemorate the early death of one of the Roman Empire’s most beloved commanders. Germanicus, adopted younger son of Julius Augustus, would have followed his brother Tiberius as Roman emperor if he had not been poisoned in Antioch.

Austrialian-born writer Stephen Dando-Collins claims in his book “Blood of the Caesars: How the Murder of Germanicus Led to the Fall of Rome” (John Wiley and Sons, 2008), that the death of Germanicus in A. D. 19 predated the fall of the Roman Empire. But Germanicus’ fame catapulted his son Caligula and his grandson Nero to the throne. It was his wife Agrippina the Elder, the granddaughter of Augustus, who used her husband’s good name and affection of the people of the Roman Empire to further her family’s political ambitions. Yet, it was Germanicus’ lack of political ambition, his unwillingness to use his popularity to unseat Tiberius, that may have motivated his wife and her reputed lover and one of Rome’s greatest philosophers, Seneca, to poison her husband, according to Dando-Collins’ book.

Ruthless women characterized Germanicus’ family. His paternal grandmother had been six months pregnant when she divorced her husband and married his political rival, the future Roman Emperor, bestowing upon her great wealth and ultimately the title of Roman deity. Women used marriage and motherhood as the only available political tools. Although his grandmother’s mother had been the daughter of a magistrate, her father was from two patrician families, Gens Julia and Gens Claudia, of Ancient Rome.

At the age of 14, Livia Drusilla married her cousin Tiberius Claudius Nero, an ally of Mark Antony and Julius Caesar. For years she lived in exile before a peace agreement between Antony and Octavian in 40 BC allowed her family to return to Rome. Apparently, Octavian, her husband’s rival, fell in love with the pregnant 20-year-old Livia, divorced his wife Scribonia the day after she gave birth to her daughter Julia, and then married Germanicus’ paternal grandmother. Three months later, Livia gave birth to Germanicus’ father, Drusus. She allowed her first husband to raise her sons until his death and then they went to live with their mother and her husband who was elevated to Augustus, first Roman Emperor.

Germanicus’ maternal grandmother was Augustus’ sister, Octavia, and his maternal grandfather was Augustus' rival Mark Antony. When Antony took up with Cleopatra, then committed suicide, one of the nine children he left behind was Germanicus’ mother, Antonia the Younger. Thus, Germanicus’ grandparents were the second wife of the first Roman Emperor, the sister of the first Roman Emperor, and two political rivals of the first Roman Emperor.

Germanicus’ wife, Agrippina the Elder, was the granddaughter of the First Roman Emperor through his daughter Julia who had been abandoned by her father Octavian when he married Germanicus’ maternal grandmother Livia. Agrippina’s father, of course, was Agrippa, a political ally of Julia’s father. After her father died, her mother married Tiberius Caesar, Germanicus’ uncle and the ruler to succeed Augustus.

Germanicus, adopted by Tiberius at the will of Augustus, was patiently waiting his turn when his wife, the direct descendant of Augustus, grew impatient and plotted to poison her husband at the age of 34 so as to undermine Tiberius and raise her son to the imperial throne.

When the pieces of a bronze statue were dug up outside the city walls along the “Via Ortana”, probably the ancient road that follows the route of the Via Amerina, likely on the grounds for the old campus for ancient games and gymnastic competitions. (Archaeological Museum of Amelia, website). The statue was erected in honor of Amelia and in memory of Germanicus, also known as Nero Claudius Drusus, born in 15 BC. Germanicus, the son of a famed and beloved commander who succeeded in the Germany territories and also died young, on his horse, also earned adulation of the Roman people.

The bronze fragments were reconstructed with the use of steel frame that was anchored to a wooden structure to support the basis for the bronze fragments.

The statue, more than two meters tall, is of a “Young Germanicus” triumphant as a victorious general, with armor and the arm resting on a spear, the head turned to the right, in the direction of the raised arm.

The artistic decoration of his armor shows the scene of the attack of Achilles in Troy, perhaps linking this memory with Germanicus’ military operations in the East.

The archaeological museum is located in the Boccarini Palazzo built between the thirteenth and sixteenth centuries. In 1410, it was the seat of the papal government whose jurisdiction included Amelia, Orvieto, and Terni.
Museo Archeologico di Amelia
Piazza Augusto Vera, 10 - Amelia (Tr)

January 27, 2011

The Journal of Art Crime: Contributor Lauren Cattey on Photomacrography

by Catherine Schofield Sezgin

ARCA Class 2009 graduate Lauren wrote “Revolutionizing Security in the Art World One Photograph at a Time: Photomacrography and its Application to Protecting Cultural Property” for the Fall 2010 issue of The Journal of Art Crime. Ms. Cattey writes in her abstract:
“Photomacrography, high resolution close-up photography, is an important tool within the art world. The goal of photographing works in very close detail is to illustrate clearly the distinguishing features found on every single object. These photographic results can be used not only for analysis of the work of art, but as a protective layer of security. By demonstrating how photomacrography is used within the art world today and discussing how it should be used in the art world tomorrow, this known photographic process transforms itself from a tool for observation, documentation and analysis to a much needed security service to identify and protect cultural property for future generations.”
Ms. Cattey received her Bachelor of Arts from St. Louis University in May 2008 with a major in Criminal Justice, a minor in Psychology and a certificate in Forensic Science. While attending St. Louis University, she interned with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department in their Sex Crimes section. As an intern, she set up accounts on MySpace and Facebook for the Sex Crimes section after solving a case using these social networking sites. Later she interned at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC in the museum’s Protection Services department where she helped to review, edit, and organize security policies and procedures into a convenient security manual. In 2009, she graduated with honors from ARCA’s Postgraduate Program in International Art Crime and was the Investigative Assistant to the Security Director of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

ARCA blog: Welcome to the ARCA blog, Lauren. Your article outlines how photomacrography can be used to document and authenticate artworks. Although conservators and art historians use this method to analyze art, you are proposing that photomacrography be used to protect artwork. Would this be expensive for museums and private collectors?
Ms. Cattey: The most expensive part of investing in photomacrographs for works of art would be the purchasing the photographic equipment (digital SLR camera, macro lens, tripod, computer). However, since most museums have the equipment already, it would be a matter of labor costs.
ARCA blog: You write that photomacrography simply refers to a technique used to photograph a subject at life-size or larger – actually up to forty times its actual size. Is special equipment involved? And how would these images be stored?
Ms. Cattey: Special equipment is needed. As mentioned previously, a digital single-lens reflex (SLR) camera, macro lens, tripod, wireless shutter release and a computer with plenty of storage space. I would recommend backing up your images on an external hard drive or burning them to CDs for safe keeping.
ARCA blog: In your article, you discuss the work done at the J. Paul Getty Museum, could you elaborate here for our readers?
Ms. Cattey: In the summer of 2007, the J. Paul Getty Museum launched a new feature on their website in conjunction with the Courtauld Institute of Art and the Royal Collection. Developed by a paintings conservator and a paintings curator, Yvonne Szafran and Anne Woollett respectively, “Cranach Magnified” is a project that allows visitors of the site “to compare macroscopic details” of paintings by sixteenth century German Renaissance painter Cranach the Elder. The concept originated upon analysis of the Getty’s own Cranach painting, Faun and his Family with a Slain Lion. Szafran and Woollett observed in the painting’s background, a man running down hill, whose actual size is one-third of a centimeter.

This type of in-depth analysis provides many benefits for the art world and its enthusiasts. The access “Cranach Magnified” creates is unrivaled. Using photomacrography, the Getty Museum produced a new way to interact with works of art. It also allows side-by-side comparison of works that are in separate collections, which is the main objective of “Cranach Magnified.”
ARCA blog: In your article, you discuss a company, Art Access and Research, that uses photomacrography as an alternative security method, using cracks and brushstrokes of a painting as an ‘internal barcode’. You are suggesting that this can prevent a forgery from being passed off as an original. Could this be applied to all paintings?
Ms. Cattey: Yes, but it shouldn’t be limited to just paintings. It can be applied to prints, sketches, sculptures, etc. High resolution imaging captures features of the work of art that do not change, without damaging the original work. By having magnified images of the craquelure pattern, brushstrokes, signature or any unique identifier of that work of art not only deters forgery, but also helps in identification and proof of ownership disputes.
ARCA blog: How do you suggest that the art world begin using photomacrography to its fullest potential?
Ms. Cattey: To start, whether you are a museum, private institution, or private collector, having photographic records as an inventory list is essential. That way, if any misfortune does occur, the photographs will not only prove what you own, but will also help the insurance company, appraiser, restorer or police department do their jobs. It also adds to provenance, encouraging owners to take an interest in keeping track of the history for that work of art and their entire collections.
To seek out this piece, and many others, consider a subscription to the Journal of Art Crime—the first peer-reviewed academic journal covering art and heritage crime. ARCA publishes two volumes annually in the Spring and Fall. Individual, Institutional, electronic and printed versions are all available, with subscriptions as low as 30 Euros. All proceeds go to ARCA's nonprofit research and education initiatives. Please see the publications page for more information.