The Dietrich von Bothmer Fragment Collection
The collection is a study resource of over 16,000 fragments of Greek vases assembled by Dietrich von Bothmer, former head of the Department of Greek and Roman Art at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Bothmer began acquiring the pieces in the late 1960s, around the time he began to teach. On his death in 2009, he bequeathed them to The Met, which accepted them with the approval of the Italian Ministry for Cultural Property and Activity. Between 2013 and 2018, the Department of Greek and Roman Art, together with the Imaging and Digital Departments, accessioned, photographed, and digitized the collection. It is a work in progress that The Met is pleased to make available online. A selection of fragments is on view in gallery 157.
Born in 1918, Dietrich von Bothmer joined the Department of Greek and Roman Art at the Metropolitan Museum in 1946. He became head of the Department in 1959 and Chairman in 1973 until his retirement in 1990; thereafter, he was the Distinguished Research Curator until his death. While his competence extended to all areas of classical art, as reflected by his acquisitions, publications, and teaching, his particular expertise lay in Greek vase-painting, notably that of Athens.
Following in the footsteps of his mentor, the great English scholar Sir John Beazley, Bothmer's special interest lay in reassembling ancient vases—actually, or on paper—from their component pieces that had become dispersed. He formed his study collection in large measure to make it possible for fragments of vases, many of which came from the backfill of nineteenth-century excavations, to be reunited and joined together. This work has benefitted museums worldwide.
The Met website presents the contents of the study collection and records the identifications that Bothmer provided for the vase fragments. The primary rubrics are the fabric (the geographical region where the object was made); the shape of the original whole vase; the subject of the figural decoration; and the artist. The majority of attributions are Bothmer's own; the initial cataloguing has not gone beyond this stage of documenting his work.
Given the large number of pieces, they have been subdivided into groups for ease of reference. After the general accession number for the entire bequest (2011.604), the subgroups are:
2011.604.1 Attic red-figure kylikes (cups)
2011.604.2 Attic red-figure shapes other than cups
2011.604.3 Attic black-figure vases
2011.604.4 Attic fragments from the Bothmer and Love collections
2011.604.5 Black-glaze fragments from Attic cups
2011.604.6 Black-glaze fragments from Attic shapes other than cups
2011.604.12 South Italian
2011.604.13 East Greek
2011.604.14 Fabric unknown
2011.604.23 Miscellaneous Bone and Ivory
The photography records the appearance of the fragments, obverse and reverse. In view of the quantity, they have not been measured individually but appear on a grid measuring 1 cm. The reverses in many cases retain the stickers, attached by Bothmer, that identify the year in which he acquired the fragment and the source. Some stickers also indicate dimensions.
Communications to the Museum concerning the fragments may be sent to email@example.com. Appointments to study the original works may also be made by writing to that address. Individuals must indicate the purpose of their study and provide a list, by accession number, of the objects they wish to see.