Rodin Bronze From Family Plot goes up for auction

Raphaël Chatroux, specialist at Freeman, informed of academics’ reactions to the upcoming offer, replied that staff members “certainly understand the uniqueness of the situation and therefore proceed with the utmost caution and sensitivity so as not to disturb anyone. “. The sculpture, valued at $ 250,000 to $ 400,000, was “not insured and not even secure at base” in Middleburg, he said, adding that Freeman’s “hopes for institutional interest” in the sale.

He noted that other important sculptures from the burial site have been removed for preservation in recent years.

But experts point out that when major works of art from cemeteries are removed for their own protection, they typically go to nonprofit public spaces rather than auction blocks. A window made by the studio of Louis Comfort Tiffany that depicts a vine lace colonnade was transferred to Michigan’s Flint Institute of Arts from a nearby cemetery that had been vandalized and robbed. Sylvia Shaw Judson’s “Bird Girl” moved to Telfair Academy in Savannah, Georgia, after drawing crowds of tourists to the city’s Bonaventure Cemetery.

It is not clear, meanwhile, whether vandalism and theft in American cemeteries is escalating. No official statistics are kept, and damage and loss often goes unnoticed for years in the remote corners of cemeteries. What is certain is that this is “an old and persistent problem,” said Dr Sharon Flescher, executive director of the International Foundation for Art Research. Christopher A. Marinello, managing director of Art Recovery International, which specializes in recovering looted or stolen works of art, quoted a warning inscribed on an ancient Roman gravestone: “Anyone who defecates or violates this grave will be cursed with blindness. . “

Most of the dozen experts interviewed for this article agreed on one central issue: even though Merrill’s descendants acted with foresight to protect Rodin’s depictions of a convicted mother and teenager from theft, or worse, in countryside Virginia, the optics of dismantling for sale are unflattering at best. “It sounds very, very bad,” said Michael Trinkley, a cemetery preservation expert in South Carolina.

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