The Campana Collection at the Royal Museum of Art and History (Brussels)

Études d’archéologie 4
Susanna Sarti

Susanna Sarti, The Campana Collection at the Royal Museum of Art and History (Brussels), Études d’archéologie 4, Bruxelles, 2012, 207 pages

The Marquis Pietro Campana (1808-1880), an Italian banker, had assembled one of the most important art collections of the first half of the 19th century. During his time as director of the Pontifical pawnshop (Monte di Pietà) he committed financial fraud, was arrested and condemned in 1857. After the trial, his collection was confiscated by the Papal States and sold from 1861. An important part of it was bought by France and forms the core of the Greek pottery collection of the Louvre. Seventy five pieces were acquired by the Royal Museums of Art and History in Brussels. Susanna Sarti, a well-known specialist on Pietro Campana, has devoted her new book to these objects. In the introduction, she retraces the history of the Campana collection and recalls the events that led to the acquisition of part of it by the Belgian state. The main part of the book studies and publishes these vases, of varied production centres (Corinth, Athens, Etruscan, southern Italy, and Campania) and often of remarkable quality.
The catalogue of the pieces includes four unpublished vases and a fifth one that was only published previously in a brief note. For each object, the author gives a detailed description, an exhaustive bibliography, a drawing made especially for this publication, as well as new colour photos. The catalogue is organised by production centre and chronologically. Before their publication, the pieces were studied in detail and underwent conservation work when necessary. Some of them were de-restored as they proved to be pastiches made up of fragments of different vases. Amongst the pieces from the Campana collection now in Brussels, the Douris kantharos, the Smikros stamnos and a remarkable Etruscan bucchero oenochoe with a lion-headed spout stand out as masterpieces.

This book is both a scientific publication of a significant part of one of the most important ancient vase collections of the 19th century but also a beautifully illustrated and attractive book.

The author

After graduating from Florence university, Susanna Sarti did a DPhil at Oxford on the Campana collection. This was published in 2001 under the title Giovanni Pietro Campana 1808-1880. The Man and his Collection. Besides being a renowned specialist of Pietro Campana, she also works on Athenian pottery and ancient music. She works today as an archaeologist for the Soprintendenza archaeologica of Florence.