The Treasury - Near Eastern Art


8675. A VERY LARGE CYPRIOT BICHROME WARE PITHOS FROM THE CESNOLA COLLECTION. Cypro-Archaic, 750-600 BC. The tall ovoid body tapering to a narrow flat base, slightly flared straight neck with flat rim, the neck and body decorated with thin bands and concentric circles. 20 x 26 inches. Intact. Provenance: Acquired by Luigi Palma di Cesnola in Cyprus 1865-1873, thence whereabouts uncertain - possibly The Metropolitan Museum of Art, sold at auction by Harmer Rooke Galleries in 1996 to the present owner.

Luigi Palma di Cesnola was US Consul to Cyprus 1865-1873. He was born in Northern Italy in 1832. He was trained at the Military Academy of Savoy but for some unknown reason was discharged and left Italy. He served in the British Army during the Crimean War and travelled extensively in the Ottoman Empire. He moved to New York in 1858 and married in 1861. As an experienced soldier he joined the Union forces during the Civil War and retired with the rank of colonel in 1864. 'General' Cesnola was then appointed US Consul to Cyprus in 1865. There Cesnola became interested in ancient art and began purchasing antiquites and even funding teams of diggers. During his stay in Cyprus Cesnola formed a huge collection and managed to circumvent Constantinople's ban on export of antiquities through his excellent relationship with Said Pasha, the Governor of Cyprus. Eventually he shipped 200 cases containing tens of thousands of antiquities back to the US. There he sold 4,426 objects in two installments to the newly established Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and was appointed the first Director of the Museum. Many of these objects were later deaccessioned and sold at auction. A large and impressive piece with excellent provenance!