ROMA ARCHEOLOGICA & RESTAURO ARCHITETTURA 2022. Ritratto di uomo, Sesto Pompeo? – Marmo Romano, fine I secolo a.C.-inizio I secolo d.C. Riscoperta in un negozio di rivendita in Texas 2018, per 35 USD o 33 Euro; in: San Antonio Express-News, USA (05 May 2022).
SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS; USA. Texas woman made an unusual find at Goodwill. It turned out to be a Julio-Claudian-era Roman bust.
The Roman bust found at Austin thrift store now displayed at San Antonio Museum. The San Antonio Express-News, USA (05/05/2022).
The marble looked old and chipped, but there was something about the bust in the Texas Goodwill that struck Laura Young as remarkable.
So Young, an Austin antiques dealer, acted on her hunch in 2018. She had an employee remove the 52-pound piece from the floor of the northwest Austin thrift store, purchased it for $34.99 and took it home.
After some scrutiny, Sotheby’s consultant Jörg Deterling made up his mind: The piece was a marble Julio-Claudian-era Roman bust.
The bust just went on display at the San Antonio Museum of Art.
It dates from the late first century BC to the early first century AD. It disappeared from Germany following World War II.
It is likely a marble portrait of Sextus Pompey, who dedicated his life to avenging his father’s death, said Lynley McAlpine, a postdoctoral curatorial fellow and Roman art specialist at the San Antonio museum.
Sextus’ father, Pompey the Great, fought a civil war against his former ally – Julius Caesar. After Pompey’s army was defeated, he fled to Egypt, where he was assassinated.
Sextus fought against Caesar’s successors – Marc Antony and Augustus, McAlpine said. Sextus was later executed.
“It’s a portrait of an outlaw, a sort of enemy of the state,” McAlpine said. “It’s unusual to have something like this. It’s also interesting that someone preserved it and had it in their collection as a personal enemy to the emperor. That could be dangerous to display something like that.”
The earliest record of the Roman portrait appears in an 1833 inventory of King Ludwig I of Bavaria’s art collection. Ludwig I stored his collection in a full-scale model of a house from Pompeii. Dubbed “Pompejanum,” the bust was displayed in a courtyard near the tablinum in the German town of Aschaffenburg.
In January 1944, during World War II, Allied bombers targeted Aschaffenburg and seriously damaged “Pompejanum,” according to the museum. It was restored in 1960 and reopened as a museum in 1994.
Foto: Wreckage of the Pompejanum’s courtyard after the bombing of Aschaffenburg in 1944. Photo courtesy of the Bavarian Administration of State-Owned Palaces, Gardens and Lakes.
But the Roman bust disappeared after the war. It didn’t resurface until Young found it in a Goodwill store in 2018. Young, a former state disability examiner, started selling antiques full time in 2011 through her business, Temple of Vintage.
How it got to Texas remains a mystery. Researchers believe that because the U.S. Army established various military installations in Aschaffenburg, it’s likely that a soldier there brought the bust home to the Lone Star State.
After Young purchased the bust, it took several years to determine its authenticity and origin. She met with experts in the classics and art history departments at the University of Texas at Austin as well as from several auction houses across the country.
Ultimately, Young was able to notify the German government of the portrait’s rediscovery and made arrangements to return it to the Bavarian Administration of State-owned Palaces. An agreement allows the piece to be on loan in Texas until May 2023.
“He’d been hidden for 70 to 80 years, I thought he deserved to be seen and studied,” Young said.
She chose San Antonio Museum of Art because of its large antiquities collection.
The only other known portrait of Sextus is in the Louvre Museum in France.
Much of San Antonio’s collection comes from auction houses such as Sotheby’s and Christie’s. Others come from dealers who specialize in ancient artifacts. Goodwill is a first for the museum, McAlpine said.
Most thrifted finds are paintings – such as an original Salvador Dali painting discovered at a thrift store in Virginia.
“It kind of blew my mind,” said McAlpine.
The portrait will remain at the San Antonio Museum of Art until its return to Germany in May 2023. Young, who visited the bust for the first time last Saturday, was among the first to see it.
“It was really, really exciting to see him in a museum,” she said. “It was kind of surreal; he had been in our living room for over three years.”
But for Young, it was still bittersweet.
“I liked him,” she said. “I got attached to him in our house, right there in the entryway. You could see his reflection on the television. He became part of the house.”
Fonte / source:
— San Antonio Express-News, USA (05/05/2022).