Posthumous Bronzes in Law and Art History

On 26-27 May 2012 at the Staraya Derevnya Restoration and Storage Centre of the State Hermitage Museum the Posthumous Bronzes in Law and Art History international colloquium was held. The colloquium examined the legal and artistic problems surrounding what are termed posthumous bronzes – cast bronze sculptures made after the artisan’s death.

According to State Hermitage Museum General Director Mikhail Piotrovsky, “The world is full of bronze sculptures by famous artists which have been made either with or without the approval of their heirs. This all creates serious problems in the art market, confusing prices. Exhibitions are held of copies which pretend to be cultural events.”

Famous museum curators from around the globe, art historians, critics and legal experts from Europe and USA participated in the conference which discussed the artistic, aesthetic and legal aspects of posthumous casting of sculptural works.

The colloquium programme consisted of three sittings. For the first sitting N.V. Iljine, Advisor for Special Projects to the Director of the State Hermitage Museum, was the moderator. Speakers included: Alexandra Parigoris, University of Leeds; Alexandra Keiser, Curator of the Archipenko Foundation, and Professor Lawrence Saphire, author of articles on Fernand Léger, André-Aimé-René Masson and Salvador Dali, Geraldine Norman, Advisor to the Director of the State Hermitage Museum.

The second sitting was run by Dr. Karen Sanig, Head of the Legal Department of Mischcon de Reya, a London law firm; the participants included Jean-Francois Canat, Paris; Dr. Sharon Fletcher, Executive Director of International Foundation for Art Research; Dr. Alex Rosenberg, Professor of the Appraisal Arts, Professor Emeritus of Appraisers Association of America.

The third and concluding session was run by Geraldine Norman, Advisor to the Director of the State Hermitage Museum. Dr. S.O. Androsov, Head of the Department of Western European Fine Art of the State Hermitage Museum and a specialist in art history; Dr. Marc Scheps, Former Director of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, the Ludwig Museum and the Ludwig Foundation; Dr. Richard Calvocoressi, Director of the Henry Moore Foundation, and Dr. Jon Whiteley, Oxford.

The subject of debate was 20th century bronze casts by Honore’ Daumier, Edgar Degas, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Auguste Rodin, Constantin Brancusi, Alexander Archipenko, Salvador Dali, and other artists. The exhibition of sculptures organised as part of the colloquium served as an illustration of the complexity of the questions being discussed.

The views and opinions of the conference participants will be published on the conclusion of the conference.

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