I’ve been working on this project since I was a graduate student! Other research distractions (like finishing my dissertation in 2005), teaching work, and delays in laboratory tests on this piece slowed down the final publication of the article. Finding the right venue for publication was also difficult. I sent it to a major archaeology journal, who said the project was too art historical. When I sent it to a major art history journal, they said it was too archaeological! I’m so glad this project found a home at the Journal of the History of Collections. The editors were very helpful and patient with me; the work on their side went very quickly, yet meticulously. This is the second article I’ve published in an Oxford University Press journal and both experiences have been excellent.
I wish I could have found a way to quote the late, great Miranda Marvin in the article. When I was first working on this project, I made my way from Kenmore Square out to Wellesley, meeting her for the first time, to talk about this head, to see if she had that “blink” reaction to it, that it could be fake. I brought with me the slick MFA headshots of Augustus, which I laid out on her desk. She glanced at them, then slid them back across the table to me and said very seriously “Anything with a nose is suspect.”
Indeed the state of preservation was a major element in my making a case for this piece not being ancient. The article also tackles the provenance of the piece, its style, and technical aspects. And although laboratory tests were carried out on the head by the Museum of Fine Arts, they proved inconclusive.
Read the article here at the Journal of the History of Collections. It will be in the print version of the journal soon.