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PROVENANCE

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PROVENANCE

Postby Dr. Goodword » Mon Feb 25, 2013 9:59 pm

• provenance •


Pronunciation: prah-ve-nêns • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. Place of origin, source, derivation. 2. Proof of authenticity used in authenticating art and antiques.

Notes: Today's Good Word is a more eloquent way of saying origin or source; that is why it is employed mostly in the worlds of art and antiques. It comes without family, not even an adjective provenant, which usually accompanies nouns ending with -ence/-ance.

In Play: As mentioned above, when you want a more sophisticated word than source or origin, today's word works nicely: "I was afraid to ask the provenance of the laptop computer I purchased at the flea market." In the art and antique worlds a provenance should contain an unbroken history of ownership: "My Picasso came with a provenance, but it had a 20-year lacuna in it."

Word History: Today's Good Word comes from French provenant "originating", the present participle of provenir "to originate", from Latin provenire, composed of pro- "forth" + venire "to come". As difficult as it may seem, both come and venire share the same provenance. It set out from the original Proto-Indo-European gwem- "to come". In Latin the [g] dropped off and the [w] became [v], a common occurrence in the history of IE languages. Then Latin added its own endings. In the Germanic languages, the [g] changed to [k] by regular rule and the [w] vanished. When all was said and done, we got venire in Latin and come in English. (Perry Lassiter has apparently been watching too much Antique Roadshow on PBS, for 'twas he who suggested today's Good Word in the Alpha Agora)
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Re: PROVENANCE

Postby LukeJavan8 » Tue Feb 26, 2013 2:19 pm

Good going, Perry!
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Re: PROVENANCE

Postby MTC » Tue Feb 26, 2013 6:18 pm

You done good, Perry, reel good!

Provenance has been at the center of international controversy in the world of art since 2005 when the Italian government charged Marion True, curator of antiquities at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, with conspiracy and creating a false paper trail for looted Italian antiquities. That's a fascinating story in itself. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marion_True) Now the Getty has put its best foot forward with a website on provenance. It's worth a look:

What does provenance mean?
From the French word provenir, which means "to come from," provenance is the history of ownership of a valued object, such as a work of art. A full provenance provides a documented history that can help prove ownership, assign the work to a known artist, and establish the work of art's authenticity. See an example of how the Provenance Index was used to trace the ownership of Peter Paul Rubens's The Entombment after it was purchased by the J. Paul Getty Museum.
- See more at: http://www.getty.edu/research/tools/pro ... KEXzF.dpuf
Last edited by MTC on Wed Feb 27, 2013 6:01 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: PROVENANCE

Postby Slava » Tue Feb 26, 2013 7:18 pm

Provenance has also recently come up in, of all places, the world of fossils. Some dealers have been accused of buying illegally imported valuable fossils, and then putting them up for auction in the West.
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Re: PROVENANCE

Postby Perry Lassiter » Tue Feb 26, 2013 9:22 pm

Middle Eastern archaeology is also plagued with the problem. In fact the official Israeli position is that any piece not found in a properly supervised and recorded dig is to be considered fraudulent. There was a recent incredibly long trial of the dealer who surfaced the James Ossuary as a forger. Their main point was that it couldn't be real since there was no provenance. In fact many bedouins find artifacts in or near archeological digs and sell them to dealers. Some of the Dead Sea Scrolls are of this nature.
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Re: PROVENANCE

Postby MTC » Wed Feb 27, 2013 7:32 am

Provenance is not restricted to art and antiquities.

Proving the provenance of wills is called "Probate."

Arrowhead collectors are constantly on guard for easily-faked "points." Just the other day while browsing around an antique store I found a beautiful collection of points on display. At my request the store owner called the source who was honest enough to admit "maybe 20%" were "resin." Proving the provenance of points requires an expert.
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Re: PROVENANCE

Postby LukeJavan8 » Wed Feb 27, 2013 1:46 pm

Perry, do you receive Biblical Archaeology Review?
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Re: PROVENANCE

Postby Perry Lassiter » Wed Feb 27, 2013 3:12 pm

Yes, have for years. Now mostly get it online. They got great free ebooks!
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Re: PROVENANCE

Postby LukeJavan8 » Wed Feb 27, 2013 5:15 pm

Thanks for the heads up on the online bit.
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