The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York announced today that it will return to the Kingdom of Cambodia two 10th-century Koh Ker stone statues of “Kneeling Attendants”—donated in separate stages to the Museum in the late 1980s and early 1990s—and on public display in its Asian Wing for nearly 20 years. The Met recently came into possession of new documentary research that was not available to the Museum when the objects were acquired.
The decision follows a recent meeting in Phnom Penh between senior museum officials and representatives of the Cambodian government.
Commented Thomas P. Campbell, Director of the Metropolitan: “The Museum is committed to applying rigorous provenance standards not only to new acquisitions, but to the study of works long in its collections in an ongoing effort to learn as much as possible about ownership history. This is a case in which additional information regarding the Kneeling Attendants has led the Museum to consider facts that were not known at the time of the acquisition and to take the action we are announcing today. In returning the statues, the Museum is acting to strengthen the good relationship it has long maintained with scholarly institutions and colleagues in Cambodia and to foster and celebrate continued cooperation and dialogue between us.”
The works of art to be returned are:
* Kneeling Attendant, ca. 10th century (Museum Accession Numbers 1987.410 and 1992.390.1)
* Kneeling Attendant, ca. 10th century (1989.100 and 1992.390.2)
The works were presented as separate gifts to the Museum over a period of years. The head from the first of the pair of reunited Kneeling Attendants (1987.410) was donated in 1987 by Spink & Son Ltd. and Douglas A. Latchford. The second head (1989.100) came as a gift from the late Raymond G. and Milla Louise Handley in 1989. The two torsos were subsequently donated by Mr. Latchford in 1992.
The matching heads and torsos were reassembled by Museum conservators in 1993 and placed on display in the Galleries for South and Southeast Asian Art (Gallery 289) in 1994, where they have remained on view since.
The Kneeling Attendants have been widely published in scholarly publications, and posted along with photographs and provenance information on the Museum’s website.
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