Interview with the project coordinator and researcher Daniela Ventrelli and Florence Le Bars-Tosi

A research in Paris has been conducting on the Southern Italy archaeological beauties. It’s about the Rubi Antiqua project, coordinated by the archaeologist-researcher Daniela Ventrelli, starting from the original findings of Peucezio site of the town Ruvo di Puglia. Developed within the contest called Emergence(s) de la Ville de Paris won by the scholar from Bari, ‘Rubi Antiqua’ is a French-Italian research project, supported by the Region of Puglia and the Conseil Scientifique de la Mairie de Paris whose target is to renew interest in archeology and collecting of the nineteenth century between Italy and France, through the special monitoring site of Ruvo. A systematic initiative for studying the archaeological findings path of Ruvo from the local heritage collections (Giovanni and Giulio Jatta Brothers at Palazzo Jatta, Caputi, Lagioia) and other ancient findings of Ruvo, which have largely enhanced the Real Museo Borbonico of Naples, following up to France the exports trend and auction sales that have firstly promoted private collections (duc de Blacas, Edme Antoine Durand, Joseph Tôchon) and then public museums. A study of thousands of findings, including the French decade budget in Naples and works done by the Istituto di Corrispondenza Archeologica, where France has taken an active part in that, to establish the main effect on the nineteenth century Italian archeology. Daniela Ventrelli, assisted by researcher Florence Le Bars-Tosi, has deeply involved us in the project.

Daniela Ventrelli ©SaraRania

Daniela Ventrelli ©Sara Rania


Sara Rania Where does the Rubi Antiqua-Emergence(s) project come from ?
Florence Le Bars-Tosi.: The project keeps going on and develops its initial stage begun by Daniela Ventrelli in 2012 for her ‘Research in Paris 2011’ scholarship. The extended version won the Emergence(s) competition in 2013 and will be carried out with a deepened and complex investigation.

S.R. How is the project structure?
F.L.B.T.: By avoiding a biographical approach which was an earlier bibliography feature, the project starts from the historical study of the archaeological site, since it is the most relevant for a study on global, transdisciplinary and European phenomenon, to develop scientific conclusions on Ruvo archeology and its effect on the French-Italian collectors. The project is structured as follows:
1) The study of archive sources, often unreleased (Jatta private archives and Italian and French public archives funding), begun in January 2015 and will be continuing at least up to the beginning of 2016.
This exploration has made us discover extraordinary stories almost above the law, following the traces of urns found in the tombs in the subsoil of Ruvo and allow us to rebuild a bright social context of that age.
2) The next stage is to scientifically trace and analyse the restored findings from Ruvo and scattered throughout Europe, for reestablishing a specific archeological origin to various generic elements.
3) The results of this analysis will develop the Jatta collection knowledge and other collections of Ruvo, and focus on several characteristics of a collection phenomenon linked to the style of the time, some protagonists’ love of Country and desire to glorify the famous origins of Magna Graecia, then developing the source through the creation of materials and media to inform the scientific community and general public.

S. R. What sort of structure will have this multiple access to results ?
Daniela Ventrella: Findings will be collected into ©RubiAntiqua, a prearranged digital database according to a system of three schedules for archiving materials, people involved (dealers, collectors, representatives of the public authorities at the time…) and works themselves, which will be available within the AGORHA base of INHA (National Institute of Art History in Paris). The results related to the study will be shared with the experts in scientific publications and in summary speeches of all the team during a convention organised by INHA. A documentary film will illustrate the different research stages by spotlighting Ruvo as important historical site in the European archeology, and an exhibition for the general public hosted by a famous museum in Paris, will be interested in the archaeological collections of the 19th century, with the Jatta family example and other relevant families of Ruvo, by presenting some of the most well-known findings and less famous artworks to the public.

Florence Le Bars-Tosi ANHIMA ©SaraRania

Florence Le Bars-Tosi ©Sara Rania

S.R. What about the Rubi Antiqua team, who does take part in this project?
D.V.: The Rubi Antiqua project is located in the ANHIMA UMR 8210 department (Anthropologie et Histoire des Mondes Antiques) and conducted by the French-Italian team made by the CNRS (Centro Nazionale di Ricerca Scientifica) members, by the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, by the École Pratique des Hautes Études, by the Université Paris Panthéon Sorbonne and by the Université Paris 7 Diderot. Néguine Mathieux, Section Head of the Louvre History and professor at the Ecole du Louvre, responsible for the dispersion study in Paris of the works from Ruvo, through auctions and merchants, and their access into French public collections; Florence Le Bars-Tosi, Graduate student in Archeology and History of Ancient Art in co-supervision with the Paris Ouest La Defense and Federico II of Naples universities, head of on file researches for the discoveries of ancient urns in Ruvo during the French decade; Andrea Milanese, director of the Historical Archives of the Museo Nazionale of Naples, a historian about the Southern Italy collecting in the 19th century and the Neapolitan art and antiquities market, a focus for his deep knowledge of the main Neapolitan private and public on file funds. Marie-Amélie Bernard, Graduate student at the Université Paris Panthéon Sorbonne and responsible for researches related to the role of restoration in the collectors’ families, both in Ruvo and France, with an important place for Aniello Sbani, family Jatta’s favorite restorer; Louise Detrez, student custodian at the INP (Istituto Nazionale del Patrimonio) whose work will put the accent on the ancient findings discovered in Ruvo during the 19th, for the French market is interested in.
S.R. Who are your scientific institutional partners?
D.V.: “Rubi Antiqua” is a four-year project in collaboration with the Louvre/ INHA research program “Répertoire des ventes d’antiques à Paris au XIX siècle”, the Petit Palais Museum, the Museo Archeologico Nazionale of Naples, the Museo Archeologico Nazionale of Ruvo di Puglia, the INHA, the C2RMN (Centre de Recherche et de Restauration des Musées de France), the University of Bari and the University of Milan. The project is supported by the Municipality of Paris and the Region of Puglia and based on a wide network of exchanges with European museums and universities and still looking for public and private funding.


This post is also available in: Italian