A journalist for the Naples Daily News doubted the attribution of a work at the Baker Museum in Naples unravelling a curious confusion about how museums provide provenance information.
Donald Miller doesn’t think this a Houdon sculpture even though it came from the collection of Joseph Hirshhorn’s wife, Olga. So he looked through the National Gallery and Getty Museum’s 2003 exhibition catalogue on Houdon and had further doubts. When he asked the museum, this is the response he received:
Kathleen van Bergen, Artis—Naples president and CEO, was asked by email to provide authentication or provenance on the sculpture. She replied with an emailed statement:
“Based on the information we have there is no reason for us to doubt the authenticity of the ‘Houdon’ … and we will not begin a practice of sharing details such as certificates of authenticity or provenance with the public.”
Van Bergen later said the museum makes provenance available to scholars, but not to the media.
She did say the sculpture was signed on the bottom and appeared with similar attribution when exhibited in Washington, D.C.
Naples museum leaders reluctant to authenticate sculpture to public (Naples Daily News)