H. de Roos - The critique of the toronto exhibition
THE CULTURAL PROPERTY REVIEW BOARD AND THE AGE OF THE PLASTERS
Only one day before the Toronto Symposium, MacLaren Curator Mary Reid assured me that all the transactions with the donated plasters have been reconstructed and properly documented by now. Even the name of a pre-owner that definitively wanted to stay anonymous would have been confidentially disclosed to a highly renowned art lawyer engaged by the MacLaren, Ella Agnew.
In the end, all this information has to be presented to the Canadian Cultural Property Review Board, a quite critical committee consisting of ca. 15 officials, demanding exact disclosure of purchase prices and transaction history, among others. Furthermore, the MacLaren must present two value assessments by two independent experts, based on recent market prices for comparable pieces. The results of these reports must not differ more than 10%.
For Rodin scholars interested in studying this collection it would be crucial to see this transaction history and the value assessments, as far as they can be disclosed for legal reasons. For the time being, we must rely on the professional integrity of the curatorial team, that shows itself willing to answer all questions:
I am willing and quite open to provide as much information to as many people and organizations as possible. This collection is to be shared and studied and I am more than willing to facilitate this.
[From a letter from MacLaren Curator Ms Mary Reid to the author , 2 Nov. 2001]
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any other concerns. I am very willing to answer as many questions as I can.
[From: Letter from MacLaren Curator Ms Mary Reid to the author , 4 Nov. 2001]
Till now, however, the curatorial team has not presented precise dates for the time the plasters were actually produced. Till the day of the symposium, we had only Director William Moore´s statement that they were made "early":
The physical states of the works and their casting histories strongly suggest that most of the plasters are early. With one exception, a cast after a marble which we have labelled “after Rodin,” none are modern."
[Letter from William Moore to Ms Ruth Butler, second half of October 2001]
The press release by the Musée Rodin does not address the question of date specifically. Only a comment by Antoinette Romain, quoted by the Guardian in October 2001, suggests the plasters might not be "early" at all:
Director of the MacLaren Centre William Moore is
confident that the plasters date from Rodin's lifetime, pointing out that
they are signed. Romain says only posthumous plasters were signed - these
date from the 1950s, and could have been made from moulds taken from other
At the Symposium, Gary Arseneau stated the donated
foundry plasters would even have been produced by the Musée Rodin itself,
as fresh copies for the foundry pulled from the original bon creux moulds
in the Meudon Reserve, to prevent damage to the original, lifetime
plasters (positives) during posthumous casting. I will come back to this
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