Lawrence Cesnola’s Collection, Cyprus Antiquities, excavated by Major Alexander Palma di Cesnola, 1876-1879
Major Alexander Palma di Cesnola
this is a copy signed by Alexander Palma di Cesnola himself.
signed and dated Londra, 20 Febbraio 1881, A. P. di Cesnola
It contains 63 albumen photographs, 62 photographs of objects in the collection and a photograph of a map of Cyprus.
It also contains 38 letterpress leaves, the majority with printed English text, 31 mounted on the verso of plates and 7 at the end. On 34 of these leaves there is handwritten translation in the Italian language. The handwritten Italian translation is believed to be by Cesnola himself.
an early very rare photographically illustrated catalogue of the Cesnola Collection, the most significant collection of Cypriot antiquities ever assembled.
the Online Computer Library Center locates but 12 copies, with this copy being unique due to the Italian handwritten translation and the Cesnola signature.
cover elaborately decorated in gild.
metal clasp and latch.
private collection, Nicosia
The final destination of the Cesnola Collection was for a long time uncertain. In 1870, negotiations were held first with Napoleon III of France, who wished to acquire the entire collection for the Musee du Louvre in Paris, then the Russian officials for their possible transfer to the State Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg. But soon afterward, Cesnola shipped the collection to London, where its exhibition aroused considerable public interest.
It was at this point that the newly founded Metropolitan Museum of Art intervened and acquired the bulk of the collection for New York. The purchase was funded by public subscription with several leading business tycoons making substantial contributions.
Cesnola accompanied his collection back to New York and devoted himself to supervising the work on its installation and publication. In 1877, he accepted a place on the Museum’s board of trustees and served as its first director from 1879 until his death in 1914.
The Cesnola Collection is by far the most important and comprehensive collection of Cypriot material in the Western Hemisphere. The objects illustrate the unique character of Cypriot art and highlight the exotic blend of Greek, Near Eastern and Egyptian influences in Cyprus.
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