Risley Park Lanx


Risley Park Lanx

The Risley Park Lanx is a large silver dish of Roman origins, first discovered in 1729 in Risley Park, Derbyshire. Subsequently lost, later it apparently reemerged in the 1990s, a supposed heirloom of the Greenhalgh family. Bought by private buyers and donated to the British Museum it was on display for several years, but was removed when the nature of its authenticity became suspect. It was later determined to be a complete fabrication. The fate of the original, genuine, Risley Park Lanx is unknown. ["This Is London", (no byline). [http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/news/article-23421598-details/The%20artful%20codgers:%20Pensioners%20who%20conned%20British%20museums%20with%20%C3%82%C2%A310m%20forgeries/article.do "The artful codgers: pensioners who conned British museums with £10m forgeries"] , "This Is London", November 16, 2007. Accessed November 18, 2007.]

Definition and use of a lanx

"Lanx" is Latin for dish, and was generally a large serving platter of the Romans, in size about 15 by 20 inches. [Lysons, Daniel & Lysons, Samuel. [http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=50714 "Antiquities: British and Roman"] , Magna Britannia vol 5, 1817, pp. CCIII-CCXVIII. Accessed November 26, 2007.] Particularly ornamented ones were used to make offerings or sacrifices. [Dunlop, John Colin. [http://books.google.com/books?id=iRkOAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA233&dq=lanx%5DDunlop "History of Roman Literature from its Earliest Periods to the Augustan Age"] ' Eve Littel, New York: 1827, p233.] Indeed, the silver Corbridge Lanx, [Discovered in 1735 the Corbridge Lanx was owned by the Duke of Northumberland, and purchased by the British Museumin 1993. [http://www.artfund.org/artwork/5376/the-corbridge-lanx] . Multiple images here [http://rubens.anu.edu.au/raid1cdroms/england/london/museums/british_museum/hoards_and_treasures/corbridge_lanx/ eight] and here [http://rubens.anu.edu.au/new/england/london/museums/british_museum/hoards_treasures/corbridge_lanx/ twelve] .] the second discovered in Britain, has depicted on it a lanx itself, set beside various gods and goddesses - Minerva, Diana, Juno, Vesta and Apollo. [Note divinities otherwise characterised as the Greek equivalents, see: Nicholson, Oliver. [http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0068-113X%281995%2926%3C312%3ATCLATE%3E2.0.CO%3B2-O&size=LARGE&origin=JSTOR-enlargePage "The Corbridge Lanx and the Emperor Julian"] , "Britannia", Vol. 26, 1995, p312] Positioned atop an altar the lanx is heaped with an offering "of a globular form." Fruit as well as sheep parts and "other small victims" were likely used. However, the exact meaning in this representation has not been determined. [Hodgson cited in Bruce, John Collingwood. [http://books.google.com/books?id=yx_G5MYXeLoC&pg=RA28-PA337&dq=lanx&output=html "The Roman wall: a historical, topographical and descriptive account of the Barrier of the Lower Isthmus extending from the Tyne to the Solway."] , London: John Russell Smith, 1851: p335-7; plate p335.] [Nicholson,Oliver. [http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0068-113X%281995%2926%3C312%3ATCLATE%3E2.0.CO%3B2-O&size=LARGE&origin=JSTOR-enlargePage "The Corbridge Lanx and the Emperor Julian"] , "Britannia", Vol. 26, 1995, p312] The inscription on the Risley Park Lanx suggests it was used as a "church plate." [Johns, Catherine & Painter, Kenneth. [http://www.biab.ac.uk/online/results1.asp?ItemID=20285 "The Risley Park Lanx 'rediscovered'(abstract)"] , "Minerva" 2(6) 1991, 6–13.]

Discovery at Risley Park

In 1729 a large silver dish was ploughed up at Risley Park, Derbyshire. Damaged, if not already in pieces, it soon was. ["This Is London", (no byline). [http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/news/article-23421598-details/The%20artful%20codgers:%20Pensioners%20who%20conned%20British%20museums%20with%20%C3%82%C2%A310m%20forgeries/article.do "The artful codgers: pensioners who conned British museums with £10m forgeries"] , "This Is London", November 16, 2007. Accessed November 18, 2007.] [Lysons, Daniel & Lysons, Samuel. [http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=50714 "Antiquities: British and Roman"] , Magna Britannia vol 5, 1817, pp. CCIII-CCXVIII. Accessed November 26, 2007.] Lady Ashton, the owner of Risley Park was in contact with William Stukeley about it, though it was some years before he acted. Indeed, there is some doubt as to whether he ever actually saw the lanx himself. However he became sufficiently interested after the discovery of the Corbridge lanx to have Gerard Vandergucht make line drawings and an engraving of the remaining pieces. [Piggot, Stuart. "William Stukeley: an eighteenth-century antiquary," rev & enlarged. London: Thames & Hudson, 1985, pg 110.] Vandergucht certainly saw them, and may well be the "one that saw" mentioned in the testament inscribed at the bottom of the engravings:

This print of a curious piece of Antiquity in silver... was defined from all the fragments of it that could be got together, by one that saw it, before it was broken in pieces, by the ignorant peoples that found it. [Bottom right paragraph on engraving. See, for example, plate 26 in Piggot, Stuart. "William Stukeley: an eighteenth-century antiquary," rev & enlarged. London: Thames & Hudson, 1985, pg 110.]

Stukeley then at a meeting of the Society of Antiquaries in 1736 read his account, which was later published, [Flynn, Tom. [http://www.tomflynn.co.uk/FakingIt.html "Faking It"] ,"Art Quarterly", Summer 2007. Accessed November 23, 2007. See
] [ [http://books.google.com/books?id=OSsIAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA246&dq=risley+park+lanx "Catalogue of maps, prints, drawings, etc. forming the geographical and topological collection attached to the library of his late majesty King George the third"] , vol 2, Oxford University, 1829.] [Stukeley,William. [http://library.ox.ac.uk/ "An account of a large silver plate, of antique basso relievo, Roman workmanship, found in Derbyshire, 1729"] . Read before the Antiquarian Society of London, 8 April, 1736.] complete "most humbly" with a dedication underneath the drawing of the lanx:

To the most noble prince PEREGRINE duke of Ancafter and kefteven, Marquis and Earl of Lindfey, Baron Willughby of Erefby, hereditary Lord great Chamberlain of England, Lord Lieutenant & Custers Rotuleram of the county of Lincoln &c, &c, &c... [bottom left paragragh on engraving. See, for example, plate 26 in Piggot, Stuart. "William Stukeley: an eighteenth-century antiquary," rev & enlarged. London: Thames & Hudson, 1985, pg 110.]

Description and origins

This lanx, what was left of it, was decorated with pastoral and hunting motifs around the edges, and at the centre was a scene from a boar hunt, similar to the pagan ones on the Mildenhall bowls. [Henig, Martin. [http://books.google.com/books?id=mRaduwl1KJQC&pg=PA167&lpg=PA167&dq=risley+park+lanx&source=web&ots=dGClZJ3z08&sig=k8ZKa1dVPT0iCLDE4u73fl98asM "The art of Roman Britain"] . Routledge, 1996, p167. ISBN 0415151368] On one fragment there is also a curious scene of a cherubic figure riding a lion.

Like the Corbridge Lanx the Risley Park one was done in a raised relief style with cast figures. The inscription "round the foot at bottom" was on the back [Inscribed on the front of the engraving. See, for example, plate 26 in Piggot, Stuart. "William Stukeley: an eighteenth-century antiquary," rev & enlarged. London: Thames & Hudson, 1985, pg 110.] and reads "Exsuperius episcopus ecclesice Bagiensi dedit," (Bishop Exuperius gives this to the church of Bagiensi). This has inspired several different possible theories of the lanx's origin, depending on interpretation of the word "Bagiensi."

Stukeley conjectured that it belonged to Exuperius, the Bishop of Tholouse 405 AD, who gave it to the Bouge church in Touraine. And that it only ended up in England after it was plundered as spoils of the Battle of Bouge in 1421. However this turns on his reading of "Bagiensi" as "Bogiensi," whereas the Abbe de la Rue's considered choice was Exuperius of Bayeux as a more likely candidate. This Exuperius was the Bishop of Bayeux, and gifted it to his own church. It was still plundered though, taken by Henry I after he wrested the city from his brother Duke Robert in 1106. [Lysons, Daniel & Lysons, Samuel. [http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=50714 "Antiquities: British and Roman"] , Magna Britannia vol 5, 1817, pp. CCIII-CCXVIII. Accessed November 26, 2007.]

A third theory suggests that the lanx was actually cast in Roman Britain by a local pewterer and "eventually came into the possession of an important Christian," another Exuperius. He gave it to a rural estate called "Bogium," which was possibly a Roman one in Derbyshire. [Henig, Martin. [http://books.google.com/books?id=mRaduwl1KJQC&pg=PA167&lpg=PA167&dq=risley+park+lanx&source=web&ots=dGClZJ3z08&sig=k8ZKa1dVPT0iCLDE4u73fl98asM "The art of Roman Britain"] . Routledge, 1996, p167. ISBN 0415151368]

Whatever its origins, [see further Johns C, & Painter, K. "The Risley Park Lanx: Bauge, Bayeux, Buch, or Britain?" in "Orbis Romanus Christanusque ab Diocletiani aetate usque ad Heraclium. Travaux sur l'antique tardive rassembles autour des recherches de Noel Duval", Paris, 1995, p175-87. This cited in Leader-Newby, Ruth E. [http://books.google.com/books?id=Aoh_rINBgSwC&pg=PA116&lpg=PA116&dq=risley+park+lanx&source=web&ots=SA_L0M1YVy&sig=YbX_YxMZ4QIrW6uUZJGIsockBco "Silver and society in late antiquity"] , Ashgate Publishing, 2004: p116, footnote 88. ISBN 0754607283 ] shortly after its discovery the "Risley Park Lanx," as it became known, disappeared again.

"Rediscovery"

In 1981 Johns wrote the then most definitive article on the Risley Park Lanx. [Johns, C. [http://www.heritagemp.com/titles.asp?cstk=104117 "The Risley Park Lanx: a lost antiquity from Roman Britain"] , "Antiquaries Journal" London 61, 1981, p53-72.] It was this, plus Stukeley's publication, which allowed the Greenhalghs to produce a forgery which "fulfill [ed] the expectations of the scholars." [Middleton, Andrew & Lang, Janet. [http://books.google.com/books?id=ijDLS3ON0uoC&printsec=frontcover&dq=editions:ISBN0750663472&sig=qTAOYbdDZrBhVz3ZL-BCV8dL8WY#PPA181,M1 "Radiography of Cultural Material"] , 2nd ed. Elsevier, 2005, p181. ISBN 0750663472] Thus the elderly George Greenhalgh came forward in the early 1990s, claiming the family had found the pieces and "welded" them together ["This Is London", (no byline). [http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/news/article-23421598-details/The%20artful%20codgers:%20Pensioners%20who%20conned%20British%20museums%20with%20%C3%82%C2%A310m%20forgeries/article.do "The artful codgers: pensioners who conned British museums with £10m forgeries"] , "This Is London", November 16, 2007. Accessed November 18, 2007.] - and he had the provenance to prove it, a will bequeathing them the lanx. [Flynn, Tom. [http://www.tomflynn.co.uk/FakingIt.html "Faking It"] , "Art Quarterly", Summer 2007. Accessed November 23, 2007.]

The British Museum was unconvinced that the [http://books.google.com/books?id=mRaduwl1KJQC&pg=PA166&dq=risley+park+lanx&sig=wLQ73DcZfpOMXu5FrsEq_BpgBBA Greenhalgh item] was the original lanx, but nevertheless considered it probable that it was a genuine period replica. The original had been fragile, therefore it was feasible that "moulds of the pieces were taken and copies cast." [Middleton, Andrew & Lang, Janet. [http://books.google.com/books?id=ijDLS3ON0uoC&printsec=frontcover&dq=editions:ISBN0750663472&sig=qTAOYbdDZrBhVz3ZL-BCV8dL8WY#PPA181,M1 "Radiography of Cultural Material"] , 2nd ed. Elsevier, 2005, p181. ISBN 0750663472] No matter either that the pieces did not match the arrangement in the Stukeley engraving (itself a mere guess by Vandergucht, who had less than half of the lanx to work with). They could have reasonably been the remaining original pieces put together differently at a later date.

Furthermore, the Greenhalghs had in fact cleverly invested in some actual Roman silver coins, which they melted down. [Chadwick, Edward. [http://www.theboltonnews.co.uk/display.var.1840818.0.antiques_rogues_show_update_3.php "Antiques rogues show: update 3"] , "The Bolton News", November 17, 2007. Accessed November 30, 2007. And see also: Chadwick, Edward. [http://www.theboltonnews.co.uk/search/display.var.1840813.0.antiques_rogues_show_update_2.php "Antiques rogue show: update 2"] , "The Bolton News", November 17, 2007. Accessed November 30, 2007.] This complicated the matter of authenticity. And radiographic analysis showed different era solders had been used, suggesting it had been recast in the eighteenth or nineteenth century, perhaps using fragments of the original. [Middleton, Andrew & Lang, Janet. [http://books.google.com/books?id=ijDLS3ON0uoC&printsec=frontcover&dq=editions:ISBN0750663472&sig=qTAOYbdDZrBhVz3ZL-BCV8dL8WY#PPA181,M1 "Radiography of Cultural Material"] , 2nd ed. Elsevier, 2005, p181 (image and caption). ISBN 0750663472] [Henig, Martin. [http://books.google.com/books?id=mRaduwl1KJQC&pg=PA167&lpg=PA167&dq=risley+park+lanx&source=web&ots=dGClZJ3z08&sig=k8ZKa1dVPT0iCLDE4u73fl98asM "The art of Roman Britain"] , Routledge, 1996, p167. ISBN 0415151368]

In the event, the Risley Park Lanx was sold through Sothebys in 1998 for £100,000. [Pallister, David. [http://www.guardian.co.uk/crime/article/0,,2248334,00.html "Background:'The antique road show,"] , "Guardian", Jan 28, 2008.] This was far less than the purported worth of the original – a million pounds ["This Is London", (no byline). [http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/news/article-23421598-details/The%20artful%20codgers:%20Pensioners%20who%20conned%20British%20museums%20with%20%C3%82%C2%A310m%20forgeries/article.do "The artful codgers: pensioners who conned British museums with £10m forgeries"] , "This Is London", November 16, 2007. Accessed November 18, 2007.] – yet still a clear indication that it was considered to be a significant historical "rediscovery." [Kelly, James. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/7091435.stm"Fraudsters who resented the art market"] , "BBC News", November 16, 2007. Accessed November 17, 2007] When "two wealthy Americans" ["This Is London", (no byline). [http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/news/article-23421598-details/The%20artful%20codgers:%20Pensioners%20who%20conned%20British%20museums%20with%20%C3%82%C2%A310m%20forgeries/article.do "The artful codgers: pensioners who conned British museums with £10m forgeries"] , "This Is London", November 16, 2007. Accessed November 18, 2007.] gifted the lanx to the British Museum in honour of David Wilson, outgoing director of the Museum, it was placed on display as a replica. It remained there until the rising publicity over the Greenhalghs forced its withdrawal for reassessment. [Flynn, Tom. [http://www.tomflynn.co.uk/FakingIt.html "Faking It"] , "Art Quarterly", Summer 2007. Accessed November 23, 2007.]

However, even after the Greenhalghs were exposed as forgers, the Museum remained ambivalent about the worth of their lanx. Andrew Burnett, Deputy Director said, "There have been different views of it and it's something we're looking at again in the light of the "Amarna Princess" case. We haven't formed a final view on it yet." [Flynn, Tom. [http://www.tomflynn.co.uk/FakingIt.html "Faking It"] , "Art Quarterly", Summer 2007. Accessed November 23, 2007.] Since the Lanx's only relation to the original is derived from the incomplete Stukeley engraving, the Museum's assessment of its worth appears over optimistic.

Gallery

* [http://www.tomflynn.co.uk/FakingIt.html The Risley Park Lanx (image)]
* [http://books.google.com/books?id=mRaduwl1KJQC&pg=PA166&dq=risley+park+lanx&sig=wLQ73DcZfpOMXu5FrsEq_BpgBBA The Greenhalgh forgery (image)]

ee also

*Known forgeries

*"Amarna Princess"

*"The Faun"

Footnotes


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