POSSESSION: The Curious History of Private Collectors


POSSESSION: The Curious History of Private Collectors

ERIN THOMPSON    Book Number: 88956    Product format: Hardback

Collecting is a curious behaviour. Collectors and their critics have always believed that classical art has special powers: to legitimate rule, to create identities, to express wealth, to enervate warriors, or to or possess the collector with the spirit of the past. Chronologically we examine the history of collecting from the Romans who took Greek art as spoils of war to the 18th century Grand Tourists who accumulated life-sized souvenirs of their travels. Here is a riveting account of private art collectors' passion from Roman times to the present. Chapters include By Means of a Little Castration; Restoration and Manipulation, Erotic Connections and Irresistible Forgeries. Whether it's the discovery of $1.6 billion in Nazi-looted art or the news that Syrian rebels are looting UNESCO archaeological sites to buy arms, art crime commands headlines. Erin Thompson, America's only professor of art crime, explores the dark history of looting, smuggling, and forgery that lies at the heart of many private art collections and many of the world's most renowned museums. Enlivened by fascinating personalities and scandalous events, her book shows how collecting antiquities has been a way of creating identity, informed by a desire to annex the past while providing an illicit thrill along the way. Thompson's accounts of history's most infamous collectors-from the Roman Emperor Tiberius, who stole a life-sized nude Greek statue for his bedroom, to Queen Christina of Sweden, who habitually pilfered small antiquities from her fellow aristocrats, to Sir William Hamilton, who forced his mistress to enact poses from his collection of Greek vases-are as mesmerizing as they are revealing. "The marvellous Possession offers a savvy history of passion as politics, a delightful collection of collectors and a love of art that might just send you to a museum... reading Possession feels like sneaking through a dark museum late at night. . . . A delight." - Genevieve Valentine, NPR. "With elan and insight, Erin Thompson delves into the fascinating history of the human obsession to personally own physical relics of the past. Possession illuminates the complex psychological and social motives that drive individuals to collect antiquities, from ancient Roman emperors and Renaissance popes to modern connoisseurs and today's looters (and destroyers) of archaeological treasures."--Adrienne Mayor. 2017 US first edition, 224 pages. Illus.
Published price: £25
Bibliophile price: £9.00


Additional product information

ISBN 9780300208528
Browse these categories as well: Collectables/Antiques, Crime, Art & Architecture, First Editions

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