Francesca de Tomasi
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‘More for beauty than for rarity’
The key role of the Italian antiquarian market in the inception of American Classical art collections during the late-nineteenth century
in Communities and knowledge production in archaeology

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and the Chicago Art Institute managed their acquisitions of international arts and antiquities through the mediation of salaried agents in Rome who made purchases on their behalf. This network made transactions easier and allowed faster connections and the possibility of profitable deals. No Roman scholar, archaeologist or even state official was not called at least once to give an opinion on a purchase, write a report for the granting of an export permit or provide an estimate of the market value of an artwork. They often crossed the boundaries between archaeology and antiquarianism, conservation and collecting, legal and illicit. Among these personalities Wolfgang Helbig and Rodolfo Lanciani were both prominent and dynamic. This chapter answers questions such as: Why did Helbig and Lanciani choose to be intermediaries for overseas museums on the Roman antiquarian market? Was money the only reason? What were the differences between figures like Helbig and Lanciani and those like John Marshall and Edward Perry Warren, who also worked as purchasing agents and intermediaries?

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