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Dept. of Transparency: Virginia MFA Provides Complete List of Lewis’ Egyptian Loans (with images & provenance)

Late Friday afternoon, Stephen Bonadies, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts’ deputy director for collections and facilities management, responded with laudable swiftness and thoroughness to my request for a complete list of ancient Egyptian objects loaned to the museum by Virginia collector Joseph Lewis II, who was recently indicted (along with three dealers) for the alleged smuggling of other Egyptian antiquities (not those at the VMFA).

Might the stated ownership histories of any of these pieces be cause for concern? The VMFA’s director, Alex Nyerges, told me last week that the objects were “to the best of our
knowledge, purchased by the owner [Lewis] and lent to the VMFA in good faith.”

I’ll leave it to you to evaluate the provenances provided:

Lewis1.jpg
Mummified Ibis, L: 14″, Linen, mummification resin and animal remains
Ex: Canadian Private Collection; Ex: Sadigh Gallery, NYC; Ex: private Swiss collection before 1970

Lewis2.jpg
Mummified Falcon, L: 12.5″, Linen, silver gilding, polychrome paint, animal remains
Ex: Canadian Private Collection; Ex: Sadigh Gallery, NYC; Ex: private Swiss collection before 1970

Lewis3A.jpg
Canopic Jar, H: 28.6cm, Conglomerate Limestone (calcite)
Ex: Bonhams Antiquity Auction #17822, Lot #49, Apr 28, 2010, London; Ex: collection Annie Trotter 1990, London; Ex: collection James B. McMullen, 1950

Lewis4.jpg
Canopic Jar Lid in Wood, H: 13cm, W: 9.5cm, D: 10.1cm; Wood and polychrome paint
Ex: Sands of Time Antiquities, Washington, D.C., Ex: Collection of William Bowmore, Brisbane, Australia 1960s

Lewis5.jpg
Canopic Jar Lid made in terracotta, 12 cm circumference, Terracotta, pigment
Ex: Rupert Wace Ancient Art, London, UK; Ex: French private collection before 1950

Lewis6.jpg
Canopic Jar, H: 30.5 cm, Alabaster (calcite)
Ex: Bonhams Antiquity Auction #16853, Lot # 257, Oct 28, 2009, London;
Ex: collection Annie Trotter 1990, London; Ex: collection James B. McMullen, 1950

Lewis7.jpg
Wood Canopic Box, H: 45.5 cm, W: 21 cm, L: 21 cm; Wood and polychrome paint
Ex: Gorny & Mosch Auction # 168, June 24, 2008, Munich, Germany; Ex: Private US collection before 1970

Lewis8.jpg
Mummy Bead Set, H: 31″, W: 9″; Colored faience beads
Ex: Nomis Antiquities, Van Nuys, CA; Ex: private Swiss collection of Simon Ohan Simonian, before 1970

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