Chrysaor on 57th Street: Theft, Forgery, and the Early 20th Century U.S. Market for Archaic Greek Art

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

5:00 pm

Hybrid (see description for details)

Internal Event

Speaker: Erin Thompson, Associate Professor, John Jay College. This is a hybrid event. In-person location is Room 3309 at the CUNY Graduate Center and online by Zoom.

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In-Person: Registration not required. 
Online: For Zoom link, RSVP by emailing

In 1925, the Metropolitan Museum curator of classical art Gisela Richter was browsing in the Brummer Galleries on East 57th Street when she recognized the head of Medusa’s son Chrysaor from the west pediment of the temple of Aphaia on the Greek island of Aegina. Sculpted around 580 BCE, the pediment was excavated in the first years of the 20th century. Spurred by the publicity of these finds and supported by post-war prosperity, American collectors and museums had begun paying huge amounts for Archaic art. Richter championed such acquisitions by the Metropolitan, believing that Archaic art could provide a model for American development. But Chrysaor was too hot. The dealer, Joseph Brummer, who supplied many of the Metropolitan’s antiquities, eventually followed Richter’s recommendation to send him back to Greece. Using the Brummer Gallery archives and the newly opened British School of Rome archive of John Marshall, antiquities buyer for the Metropolitan until 1928, I have been mapping out the market for Archaic Greek art in the United States during the first decades of the 20th century. This talk will discuss some of the many stories from these archives of forged and looted artifacts – some of which, I will argue, still feature in museum collections today.


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