Shortly after the opening of the National Archaeological Museum in Athens in 1829, archaeologists and craftsmen began making plaster casts of ancient Greek artwork. “The first casts were not made for commercial reasons, but for scientific research in classical antiquity,” says Javalas. “Later, everyone wanted ancient Greek statues in their home or palace.”
(Visit the lesser known Greek island where many classic marble carvings were created.)
“In the mid-19th century, there was a huge production of imitations,” says Anna Mikuniati, Greek art historian and author of the book. fake antiquities.
Take the Tanagra figurines now also made in the studio. After these terracotta figurines of women and mythical creatures were discovered in the tombs north of Athens in 1860, both the original looted and poorly replicated figurines were sold to tourists. “They depict elegant, well-dressed women who have been dubbed ‘the Parisians of antiquity,’” says Micconiati. “Everyone wanted a Tanagra statue like this in their home. They were in all European living rooms.”
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Some copies were really poor imitations, but other replicas were so accurate that they ended up in institutions like the Getty Museum in Los Angeles. In 2018, the curators of the Getty Museum decided that one of the museum’s most important works, a chorus From the period 650 to 480 BC. Bought for $6 million that was likely fake. The statue disappeared in the warehouse. There are ways to deceive the experts. You can artificially squeeze clay, marble, and many other materials,” Micconiati says.
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