Salon Archive

Issue: 42

Weekly meeting report

This week’s meeting took the form of a ballot, at which Dr Derek Renn, FSA, outlined the history of the mid-nineteenth-century post box at the entrance to Burlington House and the General Secretary exhibited items from the Society’s large collection of casts, emphasizing that these represented the cutting-edge technology of their day for sharing knowledge about antiquities. The counting of the votes at the end of the ballot was completed in fifteen minutes, which, according to the Treasurer, Geoff Wainwright, represented an all-time record (twenty minutes or more being the norm).

A full account of the meeting can be found on the Fellows’ side of the Society’s website at www.sal.org.uk.

Ballot results

As a result of the ballot, the following were elected Fellows of the Society:

Pamela Jean Taylor
Clifford Reginald Webb
Kenneth Rainsbury Dark
Bruce Anthony Bailey
Peter Thorogood
Jane Carolin Fawcett
Helen Mary Geake
Carole Patricia Biggam
David George Wigg
Nicholas Beaver Penny
Elizabeth Graham
Maldwin Andrew Drummond
Angela Wardle
Philip Thorpe Priestley
Sophie Oosterwijk
Peter Bryan Hodson
John Douglas Creighton
Nicoletta Momigliano
Jeremy Evans
Christopher James Thomas.

Forthcoming meetings

6 February: ‘Medieval landscapes and settlements at Whittlewood (Bucks/Northants): some preliminary conclusions’, by Professor Christopher Dyer, FSA, Dr Richard Jones and Dr Mark Page

13 February: ‘Written text and surviving textiles: English pre-Reformation liturgical textiles, 1530–55’, by Dr Maria Hayward

Fellows’ news

It is with sadness that we report the deaths of two of our distinguished Fellows, Robert Braidwood, Honorary FSA, who died on 15 January 2003, aged 95, and Ernst Kitzinger, FSA, who died on 22 January 2003, aged 90.

Robert Braidwood was described in his Times obituary (28 January 2003) as the archaeologist who established Near Eastern research as a disciplined field of study, saying that he was best known for his innovative investigations into the origins of settled, farming, the so-called Neolithic Revolution. At the time when he began to undertake fieldwork in the Zagros mountains of Iraqi Kurdistan, nothing was known in the Near East of events from the end of the Pleistocene to the sixth millennium BC. As an early proponent of carbon dating, Braidwood developed techniques that enabled him to prove that agricultural economies developed earlier, and more slowly, than had previously been supposed.

Ernst Kitzinger was described in The Guardian (29 January 2003) as one of the last in a line of distinguished art historians who fled Nazi Germany in the 1930s and who changed the reputation of art history in the English-speaking world. His interests spanned late antique and early medieval art, a vast spectrum that enabled him to put a new shape to the way in which we understand the development of artistic practice in the first millennium AD. Born in Munich in 1912, Kitzinger had just completed his PhD on late Roman mosaics and painting in 1935 when he arrived in England and was befriended by T D Kendrick, then deputy curator of the British and Medieval Department of the British Museum. Visiting northern England and southern Scotland with Kendrick, he was able to bring his knowledge of Roman and Mediterranean material to bear on Anglo-Saxon sculpture and painting, a knowledge he was soon to use again in understanding the Roman and early Byzantine silver from the 1939 Sutton Hoo excavations. Evacuated to Australia at the outbreak of the war, he emigrated to the US and over the next twenty-five years helped to make the Centre for Byzantine Studies at Dumbarton Oaks into the world’s leading institution for Byzantine studies. As Slade Professor of Fine Art in Cambridge in 1974-5, he gave a series of lectures that were later published as Byzantine Art in the Making (1977) and in retirement, he published an exhaustive six-volume corpus of Norman mosaics in Sicily.

Launch of the APPAG report

The All-Party Parliamentary Archaeology Group published the results of its year-long enquiry into the state of British Archaeology last week. The report is based on written and verbal evidence given to the APPAG select committee during hearings held at the House of Lords during the summer of 2002, as well as on the contents of some 262 letters and emails sent to the group by individuals and groups with an interest in archaeology.

A total of forty-eight recommendations are contained in the report, from which ten have been singled out as key recommendations, including: replacing competitive tendering in developer-funded archaeology with a regional franchise system; improving pay and conditions for field archaeologists so that they are commensurate with graduate entry level in allied professions, such as local authority planning officers, civil engineers and university lecturers; and the establishment of an inter-departmental committee on archaeology, at ministerial level, chaired by the DCMS and including the Office of Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM), the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) and the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), whose remit should be to co-ordinate Government policy on archaeology.

Another recommendation calls for a review of the functions of the Council for British Archaeology (CBA), the Institute of Field Archaeologists (IFA), the Institute of Historic Building Conservation (IHBC) and other umbrella organisations, in order to clarify and re-define (or merge) their roles. Launching the APPAG report at the Guildhall, in the City of London, on 28 January, APPAG Secretary, Lord Redesdale, said the Group would now go on to institute this review, inviting the organizations concerned to give written and verbal evidence to the Group later in the year.

The full APPAG 2003 report can be downloaded from the APPAG pages of the Society’s website at: www.sal.org.uk/appag/report/report.htm. Printed copies are also available from the Society of Antiquaries by sending a cheque for �3 (made out to ‘Society of Antiquaries’) to The Society of Antiquaries, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1J 0BE.

An email discussion group has been set up to encourage debate on the report’s content. To join the list, send an email to appag-join@britarch.net. To post a message, email your comments to appag@britarch.net. A web-based archive of all messages sent to the list can be seen at www.britarch.ac.uk/lists/APPAG.

Politicians urged to develop policies on the historic environment

In a separate initiative from the APPAG report, the Historic Environment Forum (of which the Society is a member) agreed last week to set up a working group with the aim of encouraging all the main political parties in the UK to develop an official party policy on the historic environment, and to include a statement of their views and intentions in their party manifestos in future elections. At present, only the Liberal Democrats have an official party policy.

Liverpool nominated for World Heritage status

Liverpool's waterfront and commercial centre will be the UK’s nomination for World Heritage Site status this year. The proposed site includes twelve surviving historic docks, with the Albert Dock and Pier Head at their centre, six dockside warehouses and other important dock structures, such as the security walls. The Government’s decision follows recommendations from English Heritage and ICOMOS–UK.

Announcing the bid, Arts Minister Tessa Blackstone said that ‘World Heritage status would help to bring Liverpool’s magnificent industrial heritage to a new international audience.’ Sir Neil Cossons, FSA, Chairman of English Heritage, said that Liverpool was, beyond question, one of the great cities of the world. ‘Liverpool's historic buildings are a proud reminder that this was a hugely important maritime and mercantile city on the world stage,’ he said.

Nazca Lines under threat

Meanwhile in Peru, World Heritage status has not prevented damage to the celebrated Nazca Lines, huge geometric patterns and spirals, animal figures and thousands of perfectly straight lines that go on for kilometres. These geoglyphs were created by removing black ferrous oxide pebbles from the surface of the desert to expose the lighter coloured sand beneath. The dry and windless desert conditions have ensured their survival for 2,000 years, but commercial vehicles are now driving across the desert to avoid paying tolls on the Pan-American highway south of Lima and creating deep ruts across the delicate lines. UNESCO published a five-volume report in 2000 detailing the steps that needed to be taken to prevent the destruction of the lines and the associated Nazca (pre-Inca) settlement and cemetery at Chauchilla. No progress appears to have been made and locals claim that the money intended for conservation has instead gone into the hands of local officials who are also turning a blind eye to grave robbers and illegal squatter settlements at Chauchilla.

Arts Minister places temporary export bar on Raphael's Madonna of the Pinks

Tessa Blackstone, Minister of State for the Arts, has given potential UK buyers until 27 August 2003 to make an offer for Raphael’s Madonna dei Garofani (or Madonna of the Pinks) with the aim of keeping the painting in the country. Any would-be buyer will have to find in the region of �34,880,000 (including VAT). Charles Saumarez-Smith, FSA, Director of the National Gallery, is leading a campaign to keep the painting for the Gallery, but there are real doubts over the capacity of public institutions and grant-giving bodies to afford such large sums.

A further cause of concern is the volume of Old Masters likely to come to market in the coming months to fund repairs to historic houses in the UK. The National Galleries of Scotland has recently failed to match the �5.9m price tag for Michelangelo’s Study of a Mourning Woman, a sketch retrieved from a Castle Howard scrapbook. The Arts Minister Baroness Blackstone has now lifted the export bar preventing its sale to an anonymous American broker.

The Tate, meanwhile, has been given nine months to raise the �12.5m needed to stop the export of Sir Joshua Reynolds's Portrait of Omai. Simon Howard, heir to the Castle Howard estate, says that: ‘We don't like selling, because we don't like seeing items going out of the collection, but the upkeep of this house is huge, and restoration needs to go on.’

Fine-art experts are warning that these high-profile cases are the tip of an iceberg. Soaring prices on the open market and increasingly ineffective tax incentives will, they predict, create a new art drain like that experienced before the First World War. Where landowners might once have been persuaded to donate or sell works to public collections in lieu of inheritance or capital gains tax, this is no longer the preferred option. Landowners point out that they face a dilemma since they are often forced into selling art assets to the highest bidder in order to protect the wider heritage of a house and lansdscape.

Charles Saumarez Smith says the Government should consider new tax incentives, including US-style income tax breaks. ‘In many countries, people get exemption if they give paintings to the nation, without having to wait until their family faces an inheritance tax bill,’ he said. ‘At present, people can do this with land and stocks, but not art.’

Cultural treasures saved for the nation

As an antidote to all this gloom and doom, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport announced last week the latest list of paintings, furniture and archive materials accepted in lieu of inheritance tax.

The objects that have been accepted include a group portrait by William Hogarth, the typescripts of Anthony Powell, thirty-two watercolours by Edward Lear, a painting by Jean-Fran�ois Millet, four early nineteenth-century Gillow bookcases and the Journals of Robert Curzon.

The group portrait (c 1736) by Hogarth is thought to depict Catherine Darnley, Duchess of Buckingham, at Buckingham House (now Buckingham Palace), with two ladies of her family or close acquaintances. The four Gillow bookcases were designed and built for Nostell Priory, Yorkshire, to harmonize with the existing library furniture, which had been designed by Adam and Chippendale. They have been allocated to the National Trust for display at Nostell Priory.

The Journals of Robert Curzon (1810-73) record his journeys in the Middle East during the 1830s and were used as a basis for his famous book Visits to the Monasteries of Levant. The manuscript is accompanied by over fifty pen and ink and wash drawings, mostly by an unknown hand. Full details of all the objects accepted in lieu can be read in the DCMS press release to be found at www.resource.gov.uk/action/ail/00ail.asp.

Conferences and lectures

The After-Life of Gardens
Professor John Dixon Hunt (Professor of Landscape Architecture and History, University of Pennsylvania, and formerly Director of Landscape Architecture Studies at Dumbarton Oaks, Washington) will deliver a public lecture on ‘The After-Life of Gardens’ on Tuesday 11 February 2003 at 5:15pm in the Reception Room, Wills Memorial Building, Queens Road, Bristol. Admission is free, and everyone is welcome. Professor Dixon Hunt has written numerous major books on landscaping and garden history, and is the founding editor of two important scholarly journals, Word & Image and Studies in the History of Gardens and Designed Landscapes. His latest book, The Picturesque Garden in Europe, is about to published by Thames and Hudson.

A colloquium in honour of Professor Alan Millard, FSA
A symposium on ‘Writing and Ancient Near-Eastern Society’ is to be held on 11 April 2003 in the Merseyside Maritime Museum to mark the retirement of Professor Alan Millard, FSA, as Rankin Professor of Hebrew and Ancient Semitic Languages at the University of Liverpool. The speakers are Pierre Bordreuil (Coll�ge de France), Graham Davies, FSA (University of Cambridge), John Davies, FSA (University of Liverpool), Irving Finkel (British Museum), David Hawkins (School of Oriental and African Studies), John Healey (University of Manchester), Kenneth Kitchen (University of Liverpool), Michael Macdonald, FSA (University of Oxford), Christopher Tuplin (University of Liverpool) and Alan himself. The papers will cover aspects of writing and literacy in Mesopotamia, Israel, the Levant, Hittite Anatolia, Arabia, Egypt and Achaemenid Persia. Details of the programme will appear on the web sites at www.liv.ac.uk/sacos and www.nmgm.org.uk.

Creating identities: funeral monuments and public memorials in Europe - a call for papers
Contributions are welcomed from scholars in all disciplines to a conference that aims to bring together researchers investigating the role of funeral monuments and public memorials in the creation of collective identities. The papers will explore the importance of all elements of the memorials, analyzing not only the iconography, but also the location, material, artist and style, as well as the values spread via the content, language and style of the inscription. This holistic appraisal seeks to answer how images were projected by the group; in what ways memorials were used in this image promotion; and what this image tells us about the self-understanding of the group. The conference will be held at the Museum for Sepulchral Culture, Kassel, Germany, from 31 October to 2 November 2003. The deadline for the submission of one-page proposals is 31 March 2003. Proposals should be sent to Dr Stefanie Knoell, email: sknoell@gmx.net.

Write a Viking saga

If you have children aged nine to sixteen, or know somebody who does, the Young Archaeologists Club would like you to encourage them to enter their 2003 Young Archaeologist of the Year Award, which involves creating a short story in the style of a Viking Saga. Entrants can present the story as a comic strip, as a story with illustrations or even in digital form on a CD – but illustrations must depict authentic Viking dress and only include items that would have been available to them (no Viking helmets with horns please!). Entrants are encouraged to read extracts from an original Viking saga, such as that of King Harold or the History of the Earls of Orkney, for inspiration. Further details from: yac@britarch.ac.uk.