King of the Confessors ~ Thomas Hoving ~ 3/98 ~ History
Larry Hanna
January 21, 1998 - 05:35 am
Have you ever wondered where museums get their treasures?

This exciting, "stranger than fiction," wonderful book which was given a rating of 9+ on a scale of 1-10 by our SeniorNet readers, is the story of the acquisition of the Bury St. Edmund's Cross by Thomas Hoving, former Curator of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Read it and see if you ever feel the same about a museum again!

"In the spring of 1955, after eight centuries of silence, a mysterious work of art, one of the most beautiful and enigmatic ever created in world history, suddenly turned up in the hands of a strange and secretive collector."

Stages in Appreciation of Art:

1. Initial Reaction
2.Pedantic Description
3. Physical Condition
4. Use
5. Style
6.Subject Matter
7. Documentation
8. "Iconography"

Provenance: "Origin, source: the history of ownership of a valued object or work of art or literature."

Typology: "The practice of using Old Testament scenes and events to predict and explain the New Testament."

Quote of the Week: " I think Rorimer's relationship with Hoving included the elements...Testerone poisoning...Just plain cussedness." --Jackie

Your Hosts are LJ Klein and Ginny Anderson

Inscriptions in the Order Found

TERRA TREMIT MORS VICTA --Earth trembles, death is vanquished

The Prophet David's Scroll: They pierced my hands and feet: no Latin given

SIC ERIT VITA TUA PENDEN S. ANET O N CREDE VIE TVE-- And thy life shall hang in doubt before thee. Thou shalt fear night and day and shall have no assurance of thy life.

QUI SCRIPSI-- What I have written, I have written

ASCENDAM IPALMAM APPREHANDENDA FRUCTUS EIUS-- I shall ascend into the palm tree and take hold of the fruits thereof.

Ascension scene with hand-- Jesus Nazarene King of the Confessors

TERRA TREMIT MORS VICTA GEMIT SURGENTE SEPULTO VITA CLUIT SYNAGOGA RUIT MOLIMINE STULT-- Earth trembles. Death is conquered and bewails, from the opening grave life surges forth and the synagogue collapses after vain and stupid effort.

CHAM RIDET SUM NUDA VIDET PUDEBUNDA PARENTIS; IUJDI RESERE DEI PENAM MOR---Just as Cham laughed to see the shameful nakedness of his parent, so the Jews laugh at the death agony of God. (hardback, p. 244)

Zechariah's srcoll: Eagle scroll:
no Latin: They weep for him as an only begotten son and Not a bone of him shall be broken.

Pilate Scene (Scripsi):
Write not King of the Jews, but that he said, I am King of the Jews…Pilate: What I have written, I have written.

Accursed is he who hangs upon a tree .

Christ before the High Priest: no Latin:
They shall look upon him whom they have pierced.

The Three Marys:
Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth which was crucified.

Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness even so must the Son of man be lifted up.

QUARE RUBRU IDEMENTUTUU (m) VESTIMENT(a)SIC.C.T. (tua calcantium in torculari)---
Wherefore are thou red in thine apparel and they garments like Him that treadeth in the wine vat?

Jeremiah's scroll: no Latin:
Why should you be as a man wadering, like a mighty man who cannot save?

Mark's scroll: no Latin--
For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale- so shall the son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

Amos's scroll: no Latin:
They sold the righteous for silver.

Everyone is Welcome!

Authors who've participated in Books discussions

January 22, 1998 - 07:05 pm
Oh, my goodness, here's another fabulous book!! Now, THIS one is about as exciting as they come, and it's all true! You'll never regret reading this one, hope we'll have a crowd here on the 4th!


LJ Klein
February 2, 1998 - 02:38 am
As I recall there were only three of us committed to reading thisd one, and of the three I was the only one who hadn't read the book allready. Its realy an exciting book.



February 2, 1998 - 07:43 am
WE may have more than you think, LJ, and ISN'T it a wonderful book?

Jonkie even took it with her to the beach, baggage weight and all!

Di said she'd look in, am thinking Jackie has read it? And somebody else, I hope, I hope....Was it Ella?? Or Larry??


February 2, 1998 - 07:44 am
No, I'm wrong, it was Princess that Di said she'd like to look in on.


Larry Hanna
February 2, 1998 - 07:27 pm

I won't be reading this book, although it does sound good. I checked at my library and they don't have it and there isn't time to get it from Interlibrary loan. I will read the discussion with care, however, and perhaps sometime in the future read it.


February 3, 1998 - 05:13 am
Larry: thanks for that, it IS hard to get, out of print, but a winner. Reads better than any mystery I've read in a long time and all true.


February 4, 1998 - 03:57 am
Today's our first day of discussion, and, even tho we're a small group, SO FAR, with one member in the Florida wetness, I can't tell you how much of a treat it is, and how enjoyable I find it to reread this marvelous book.

Am 50 pages in, so far, and there are so MANY things to talk about, found myself so grateful to have people to talk to about it. Will be back later to ask your opinion of the FIRST thing I underlined and had a question on.

At this point, (pages 1-50), the reader may be saying to himself how interesting it all is, but where's the suspense and IS that a treasure??

We're just climbing to the top of the roller coaster, we're almost at the summit, and then it's hold on for the ride of your life.

And WHO KNEW the stuffy world of museums and antiquities could be so interesting? Have learned so much, and really think the book is better the second time around.


Joan Pearson
February 4, 1998 - 06:07 am
And what wetness it was! The really dismaying part is that the same soaking rains that made the last days in Florida so memorable, have made their way up the coast...and now must live through the whole mess all over again!

Yes, this is an exciting book on many levels...history, art, suspense, biography...and LJ, it's NOT fiction!

I'll confess this...I am most interested in Thomas Hoving's biography! Before we are finished discussing this book, I want to know where he is now and what he is doing with himself these days. Perhaps we can get him to drop in...he is on-line!

I'd like to keep the suspense element alive, so won't tell you what else I want to know...

LJ, have you finished the book? Or are we going to move through the chapters Odyssey through the art/history world?

This will be fun. When I get home from work tonight (and unpack), I'll surf around to see what related material I can find.

I bet there are some great photos out there...although the book contains photos of what we are interested in here. If I can find the photos, I'll post them for those who are following the posts, but have not been able to get their hands on the book.



Jackie Lynch
February 4, 1998 - 06:49 am
Hi, all: Hoving has a way with words, hasn't he? It is amazing to me that there can be still undiscovered treasures from so long ago, if treasure it be.

Ginny: What is your first question? I'm so curious to hear it.

Joan: What a thrill it would be to have Hoving to drop in.

Dale Knapschaefer
February 4, 1998 - 03:15 pm
I am up to page 50 and the message from Ginny says this is where the excitement will start. It is interesting so far. These art historians and museum curators are a snobbish bunch the way they look down on work at art galleries, on people who wear red socks with blue pants, on the back bitting of directors and curators, etc. Some of Hoving's descriptions are really good; the way he was treated by the French professor visiting the cloisters and the way Wildenstein dismissed him when he applied for a gallery job. This is a hard book to find; even Wordsworth Bookstore in Cambridge, MA, which has more different books than any store I have ever seen, didn't have it. Fortunately, our library borrowed it from another library in only 3 days. The must not be many Senior Net members here in New Hampshire to get it so quickly. It seems right to search for the book, since Hoving had to search for the cross. Dale Knapschaefer, Manchester, NH

gladys barry
February 4, 1998 - 06:51 pm
This was drawn by my grandaughter, Hannah

Ann Alden
February 5, 1998 - 03:26 am
Wow, Gladys, what a great sketch by your granddaughter!

To the book, I was able to find it through Bibliofind and it just arrived yesterday so am only 40 pages into it. I must have spent 30 minutes just looking at the super pictures. Aren't art history people living in a whole different world than we are? But, wha have to see in our museums if they weren't. I feel like I'm following Indy Jones around in the Met. Can't wait to get deeper into this book. But, today, I am on my way to the National Archives on a geneology search. Tomorrow and tomorrow!

February 5, 1998 - 06:02 am
Ann, Dale, Jackie, Jonkie, Larry, LJ!!

This is so fabulous, what a wonderful group! I'm interested, first, in which volume you might have? I believe I've noticed an error in the paperback one...

I'd like to do this group diffrently: instead of topics at the top, I'd like for us all to respond to the statements of the other posters, and post some topics right in our own posts.

Let's take it 50 pages a week? You needn't look back if you'd rather not, just whatever you happen to remember, I'm like Jonkie, tho, I want to know much more. Did NOT know he had a internet site, have his other book, too: Making the Mummies Dance . Even from what I've read so far, I can see where he would cause a stir in the very peculiar world, apparently, of the haute art set.

Gladys, by the way, that's a wonderful drawing! Is it of you??

OK, I think Dale mentioned the haughty, thin- air world of the art world, and the way they treat each other.

I was so struck by his interview with Rorimer, who deliberately did NOT LOOK AT HIM. He lit his...pipe?? Now, do we consider that a nervous oral response? And refused to look at him. So Hoving had to talk to his back...Now, except in anger, when is the last time you talked to the back of somebody's head?

Now, what does that say to you? Do you personally know any "arty" people or people in the art world, and are they this way? And, if so, what makes them this way??

Why is knowledge in ONE field supposedly more important than that of any other field?

Now, the first thing I had underlined, Jackie, was the part where he, at the bottom of page 3 and top of page 4 in the paperback version, was "within a single percentage point of being tossed out" from college, and this in his Sophomore year, and yet graduated Summa.

Now, I believe the Summa, but I don't understand how the early career was overturned, and I should know: had a miserable two years myself and changed majors my sophomore year, too, but the early grades did NOT overcome the latter, and I don't understand how his did??

Of course, where I went to school, an F was -3 quality credits, and could not be erased by taking it over....could that be it? Summa is very high stuff. Don't know if he's just being modest about his early years or what, as Summa is easy to check, so know he's truthful there.

When I'm reading, and I hit something like that, I have to stop...and wonder.

What do you think??


PS: Dale, am not sure the excitement starts right at page 50, but, having read the book, I meant that I know it gets so unbelievable, but it's just sort of warming up: that's what I meant!

February 5, 1998 - 07:05 pm
And Ann: it is a lot like Indiana Jones, never thought of that. So, what do you all think about the proposed 50 pages a week? And if you're wondering WHY I'M horning in, LJ and I have decided to split it, and that's why I'm so pushy!!


LJ Klein
February 5, 1998 - 07:24 pm
WOW, Ginny, You said "Get off to a slow start". Thats a post and a half. I'm printing it to digest before diving in head first.

I do have an "apropos" comment written on the flyleaf (I wrote it): "Style seems a bit egocentric--with thinly veiled pseudohumility, but then, the action takes place in a millieu peopled significantly by dilletantoid personalities."



February 5, 1998 - 07:35 pm
LJ: As always, you're controversial! SO, YOU think he's pseudo humble?? HAH?? What makes you think so??


LJ Klein
February 6, 1998 - 07:26 am
It takes "One" to catch "One"



Dale Knapschaefer
February 6, 1998 - 02:41 pm
Ginny was talking about haughtiness of people in the art field. I think there is more haughtiness among the category of appreciators of art, such as art historians, curators, art gallery owners than among actual artists. Many of them must feel inferior to the real creators of art; their jobs are secondary to the actual artists. Hoving, of course, is talented so he can add something to the artist's work, by knowing what is good enough for a museum and being able to explain the meaning of the work. Maybe Hoving was exaggerating or wanted to look like an ordinary person when he talked about almost flunking out of Princeton. Or maybe he just had one bad semester. He said his grades were good the first year. If he had only one bad semester, he could have had a good average with seven good semester. He might have been exaggerating in another place where he discussed the Annunciation relief. The art agent, Harry Sperling, said it was in a Genoa garage propped up against a broken down Fiat. It must gotten better care after it was found to be valuable. It doesn't seem real also that in the church of San Leandro that the custodian didn't care that he was scraping away on the pulpit sculptures with a Swiss Army knife. The book did become exciting shortly after page 50 when he investigated the Annunciation relief. His detective work on that was very interesting and probably serves to build up what is going to happen with the cross. I don't know if he is trying to act humble or like a regular guy. I think he feels about himself the way he describes Ted Rousseau; he really raves about that guy. Ted Rousseau is so smart, so rich, has such great social connections, is so handsome he doesn't have to pretend about about anything because he is so sure of himself. I don't mean to be criticizing the book, because it is extremely interesting. Dale Knapschaefer, Manchester, NH

LJ Klein
February 6, 1998 - 03:19 pm
In the first fifty pages, I found the checklist of how to evaluate are treasures to be most interesting. 1. Initial Reaction, 2.Pedantic Description, 3. Physical Condition, 4. Use, 5. Style, 6.subject matter, 7. Documentation and 8. "Iconography" (This was #7 but its the one I did not fully comprehend)

One of my lifelong (His life) friends was a bit of a psychopath, who dealt in antiques, sales, auctions and the like. Much of this material reminds me of him and some of the things I learned from him.



Joan Pearson
February 7, 1998 - 05:38 am
Is Thomas Hoving incredibly lucky, exceptionally gifted, or extraordinarily blessed with advantages that read like fiction? Perhaps all three. I have no trouble at all with the way in which he is treated by the art world in these first 50 pages. He IS only a fledgling curator and I'd say he has been given every bit of consideration and advice by the best!

Look at the advantages:

  • great prep schooling (preparation got him into the best colleges and through his freshman year without doing much work at all.)

  • summa cum laude, in spite of a rocky start!

  • landed in Med Art 207, while looking for an easy A to bolster his GPA

  • Kurt Wertzmann just happened to be his instructor, who would become his mentor...and provide great connections and recommendations in the future

  • discovered right off while taking that course, in something "akin to a religious experience" that he wanted to become an art historian. (would that one of my kids had such an awakening as a college sophomore!...or myself for that matter)

  • graduate school (Princeton) and PhD. in Philosophy (???did I read that right??? Where did that come from?)

  • Dad's connections...interview with Wildenstein

  • last minute discovery of photos that he needed to impress the experts with his research

  • Dad's connections with Met president that put Director Rorimer in the audience as he impresses the experts with his photographs...which ultimately leads to position at the Met!

    etc., I see no room for humility here, pseudo or otherwise! He has had no humbling experience from what has been presented here.

    Dale is right...but I haven't read beyond those fifty pages yet.......he does seem to be admiring himself as he admires Ted Rousseau...
  • Ginny
    February 7, 1998 - 06:10 am
    Joan: I'd say you are right and Hoving is all three: lucky, gifted, and blessed. He does make it sound easy: of course, let's take a course in Medieval Art for a "gimmie." Sure. If he didn't have the "right stuff" to start with, he'd not have been interested enough to succeed.

    Dale said: "I don't know if he is trying to act humble or like a regular guy."

    I have read somewhere that Hoving caused somewhat of a stir among the haute monde by the way he ended up running the Museum as he eventually got the whole enchilada: the Met, to run...but, frankly, I think the more you can do to help us, the regular public, to appreciate and understand the wonders of the artifacts in museums, the more we'll get out of it and the more we'll go. And the more we go, the more revenues they get.

    LJ: I've put your points of the steps in art appreciation up in the heading, as they intrigued me, too. I wonder if Hoving in this book is spilling any "secrets" about the appraiser's art? Is this something everybody should know, or is this something known only to the elect? Will they be elect, if we all know? Probably, as they have the backgrounds in history that we don't.

    Dale: I believe you've hit on it: he's exaggerated his failures in his early years at Princeton. I did not see the good first year, and it may be that his later courses were able to overcome that disastrous semester: after all, if he changed majors in his Sophomore year, he must have done so midway, so not too much disaster to overcome.

    Talking about the San Leandro knife scraping: I've not gotten to it yet, but I do remember a wonderful story told to me by Dr. Reece (apologize to those of you who have heard this) of a trip he took to the Italian countryside, in which he heard of a discovery by a farmer who was digging a bull pit, of a ROOM with frescoes which appeared very old.

    He was so excited and made arrangements with the farmer to visit the site the next day, as it was too dark to see it properly by night. The next morning, as they excitedly presented themselves, they found bare walls, still freshly wet...nothing. When pressed, the farmer admitted that his wife had "washed those dirty pictures off the walls!"

    I guess some countries have so MANY archeological treasures that they get a little blase: didn't England just cover up the actual site of the Globe (not the one I just visited, but the REAL Globe) because they need the space??

    Jackie and Ann: I do agree Hoving has a way with words, I love reading this book. He's such a rara avis (rare bird), moving in an entire cage of exotic birds, that it's a pleasure to fly right along with him...And I enjoy the inside view.

    Dale: I love your statement about: " It seems right to search for the book, since Hoving had to search for the cross. " Makes us feel part of it.

    Now, LJ mentioned dilettantes, and I just got a letter about that very subject, so I quote: dilettante: "one who pursues an art desultorily and for amusement"

    Now, is this how we'd describe Hoving?

    I also think Dale is right in that the problem with art comes from the so called appreciators and not the artist themselves...I mean, the whole question of "what is art," is one our own Congress has had to wrestle with in the last few years.

    Now, I'm not sure about that "iconography," either? What is that??

    Is the statement, " I don't know if it's art but I know what I like," ignorant or savvy??


    Ann Alden
    February 7, 1998 - 08:24 am

    I think that statement about art just gets us off the hook of explaining why we like something. That way we don't reveal our ignornance. I am having a good time reading the book but had to suspend my reaction to the writing of a man who seems full of himself. Six months only at the Met, and he was already seriously worried about his climb up the ladder? Well, maybe! I loved the section on The Annunciation relief, his Swiss Army knife scrapin and also his decision to not listen to his conscience and have the relief sent to the Met through Switzerland. Makes me wonder about the many art objects that are not in their countries of their origin.

    LJ Klein
    February 7, 1998 - 05:45 pm
    There has been so much written in so short a time, but to me the MOST important point referred to Art Appreciation.

    I personally think that beauty IS in the eye of the beholder. Great works of art to me, are those thought to be beautiful by a large number of people. For example the "Boy on a Dolphin"

    Those nine points were the same (essentially) which my psychopathic friend taught me (With the possible exception of the one I didn't fully understand)

    With reference to "Dilletante", to me the word has always implied a certain element of superficiality and egocentricism if not downright deception.



    February 9, 1998 - 06:22 am
    Ann: he does seem full of himself, doesn't he? I noticed he said when he first started at the Met that "There were just five people ahead of me in the Medieval Department and The Cloisters. They were capable yet placid people; admirable but listless professionals. I was relieved when I realized I wouldn't have to crush anyone in my climb to the upper levels. Well, perhaps one, an eager young chap..."

    This was on page 18 of the paperback. Am I the only one reading the paperback? I have a good reason for asking.

    Anyway, I think Hoving was young and competitive, and saw the people over him as merely obstacles to be overcome...I think competitiveness is a curse, and it seems to be something you don't outgrow. I think it stems from a background filled with criticism, and is more a reflection of feeling inadequate, rather than feeling superior.

    So much for my understanding of psychology. I'm awfully competitive, myself, for some reason, but not in my field. There are far too many ahead of me there.

    Now, I must say Hoving reveals a cut-throat approach to the young man who "walked in boyishly full of cheer," with the socks and the suit..."That did it forever...." and Hoving says "The threat didn't last long."

    What threat?? From the young man?

    See how we all approach things differently. My son, with his BSME, MBA, and new P.E., has been joined at the Engineering firm where he works by an old elementary school classmate. Hired after Mom is immediately on the offense: o, what projects does HE have, is HE working later hours, is HE getting the good stuff, will HE be .....and my son looks at me and says, "It's not a contest. " End of story and discussion.

    I can relate to Hoving, and I really want to find out how he's ended up, because I can relate to the eager young man, too, and I'd also like to know what happened to him.

    Wonder if either has any latter day reflections on this time period?

    Now, on snobbishness, I'd really like your opinion. How about that visiting French professor? What's your opinion of snobs? Do you tend, in your heart of hearts, to respect them more for such sentiments, or less??

    And just found out our Carole will be joining us here, too.

    Now, tomorrow, we'll get to page 100...

    LJ: Yes, I agree. I tend to like art that has a personal meaning for me or really "grabs" me or reminds me of something I like. If I lived nearer to a good museum, I could take in one of their lectures on a piece, and then I'd know more and probably appreciate more!

    I also have always thought of "dilettante" in a perjorative way, but my Webster's says it means: "an admirer or lover of the arts; a person having a superficial interest in an art of a branch of knowledge: DABBLER."

    So, apparently it can mean either one.

    Sorry about this long post: want to read YOURS!!


    Ann Alden
    February 10, 1998 - 07:12 am
    Hey Ginny,

    What a great post!! Funny you should mention your reaction to your son's work atmosphere and the new kid on the block. I just heard a discussion on the different approach towards work that the GENXers have. One guys opinion is that they have seen how hard their parents have worked in one place all their lives and then were forced to take early retirement! Grandparents the same thing. So, it seems, according to this ONE guy, that GENXers are more interested in enjoying life and their work as it comes and not just the money or the ladder climbing. My son has a super job in a university and was offered a big money job on Wall Street which he turned down. His reason was that he had just married and was planning on having a large family and he wanted to be part of the process. He said that if he took New York's offer that the hours would have been horrendous and that the money couldn't replace the family.

    Now, back to Thomas Hoving and this wonderful book! I am ahead of you, page 165, as once he found the Cross, I couldn't stop reading. Yes, the man is full of himself BUT he is so passionate in his search for its authenticity that I can't stop. And, that's what it takes. Passion! I'm hooked. Weren't you the person who mentioned that he is now the Director of MOMA? He certainly succeeded in his quest for power.

    My reaction to the Frenchman was to just discount his opinion since I really didn't care what he thought as long as Hoving didn't give up on his intentions to get the Cross into the Cloister's collection. By the time he finds the Cross, a Christ possibly by the same sculptor and the missing panel, I'm enchanted! I want him to buy every piece by that sculptor and dedicate a whole corner of the museum to him. Then, I can just go to New York and see it all in one place.

    Snobbery? I don't know! We all are snobs in a way. I have always been accused of being a reverse snob when it comes to money and brains but the longer I live, I just think we all have a snicker in us concerning someone else's life. And, you always hear that the French think they are God's gift to world. I always remind myself (and anyone else who might be around) that it was the French who helped us free ourselves from the English kings.

    'Nuff said. I am off to a Lite Lunch with some old friends!

    Ann Alden
    February 11, 1998 - 06:49 am
    Hi again to Ginny,

    Seems our digressing concerning the author's personality was right on! I talked with a friend yesterday who has met the Hoving and he is full of himself and very passionate. She met him in New York. He is no longer director of the Met but is speaking around the country on art and searching for fakes. He is well known as an expert in this field. Sort of the Art History Detective of the World or at least, the US. His email address is at Columbia/Barnard, Dept of History, I believe. Back to the book!

    Joan Pearson
    February 11, 1998 - 07:33 am
    On my way out to work - enjoying the posts. Will jump in this evening somewhere between Thomas Hardy, dinner and the Olympics! Despite all the interuptions, I am enjoying them immensely...just wish Americans were doing better! there's still time...

    I found this email address...sounds like our guy, doesn't it?

    Thomas Hoving New York, New York, United States Of America

    E-Mail Address: Old E-Mail Addresses: Group Connections: (see below) Past College/University

    Princeton Univ

    LJ Klein
    February 11, 1998 - 08:25 am
    On this, my second time through the book, I notice a subtlety I missed omn the first pass. I had forgotten about the Silver Cross and the "Committee" rejection. The Ivory cross approval of record proportions, (bypassing potential religious objections) was a symbolic achievement.

    Ginny, Your first (and an easy one) challange: "Tio Dabo"



    P.S. I like this pace. Does Hoving have a Home-Page? If He's on line, and if He's sharp enough we might ask him to join us. I'd like it if he'd come into one of the folders anonymously and just sort of take over with an air of authority.

    Ann Alden
    February 12, 1998 - 06:37 am

    On the silver cross rejection, at the beginning of the book, I was suspicious of Rorimer's intentions. It seemed that he had actually planned the rejection. Just my thoughts then. Also, I haven't figured out his absolute rejection and dislike for Parsons but am in the middle of the chapter concerning the meeting of Hoving and Parsons. That man does use the museums' directors to his advantage. At least, he thinks so.

    Dale Knapschaefer
    February 13, 1998 - 06:42 pm
    Does anyone know much about Hoving when he was the director of the Metropolitan Museum? I only read a little in an internet article written by someone who seemed to dislike him. Even he said that Hoving was an outstanding director who completely changed the museum from a stodgy place to a museum holding blockbuster exhibits, having popular gift shops, restaurants, etc. He sounds like one of the main people who made museums more popular. The description sounds like Hoving was so innovative and in such a hurry to change things that he didn't let anyone stand in his way and made so many enemies that he was finally forced to resign. In King of the Confessors, Hoving says so many bad things about Romirer's character; that he was petty, played curators against each other, was envious, was ashamed when a Jewish relative visited him. Do you think Hoving just personally disliked him or was it a professional dislike, because he thought Rorimer wasn't an innovative director and was unable to understand good ideas? In addition to being such a fascinating book about the art detective work, it is very interesting because Hoving is a complicated person. Dale Knapschaefer, Manchester, NH

    February 14, 1998 - 06:41 am
    What wonderful posts!! Am enjoying this no end, and isn't this just a marvelous, marvelous book?

    You know, when you try to read a lot of books for the various book clubs, it's inevitable, reading 6-8 books a month with outside reading, too, that you're going to hit a clinker. It seems lately that I've actually been drumming my fingers with some of them: sigh, drum, OK , OK, will I never get to the end?

    Not so with this book. Every PAGE is a delight. Just love it, so many questions: so glad to have you all to chat with about it!!

    LJ: You sly dog, what's that Tio stuff?? I have caught up, and now see where you got the phrase...thought my dabo: paint analogy was hilarious: bet Hoving would have appreciated it!!

    Ann: Was caught by the Rorimer/ Parsons thing, too, but I thought the most telling part was where Rorimer received the letter from Parsons kind of putting down Hoving's entrance on the stage of the Mimara adventure, and Rorimer gave it to Hoving. Now, there's a man who dislikes Parsons enough that he wants to show Hoving how awful Parsons is. I recognized the technique immediately.

    Dale: I've heard the same about Hoving. It will be interesting to see if, in fact, he was forced out, and, if so, who did it.

    Adding to the fun here is my old paperback book (I also have it in a first edition: it's a keeper), but my old paperback book is yellowed in pages, and just lends more atmosphere to the chase.

    Now, in pages 50-100, here's what I stopped over, do help:

    Loved the part where Rousseau looks for the hands. I LOVE this book's casual revealing to us, the untutored, what the great experts look for: seems so simple. Rousseau looks at hands. Or temperature. Of course, he has the learning and background to know WHAT he's looking at, but found it fascinating, to say the least. He didn't remember much about the cross: not his area of expertise, but "I recall that the hands of the little characters carved all over it were exceedingly rigid."

    Love it. He looked at, and remembered the hands. Love it.

    I'm not, I blush to say, familiar with Romanesque art, and the entire book is ABOUT Romanesque art: can any of you illuminate here?

    I loved the way Hoving details HOW he identifies a piece: seems easy enough. The first time I read this book, years and years ago, I said I would make a list of his steps for my own keeping, but never did. Have now.

    The Annunciation relief's being propped against a Fiat in a garage does jibe with what I've heard of the attitude in Italy!

    On the pocket knife at the pulpit, I was astounded. Did the janitor KNOW who Hoving was?? He must have. Can you imagine ME taking a pocket knife to a pulpit and telling the janitor I was going to take away two of the sculptures, cut them out and take them to America? Oh, please?

    Now, here some information, I think, was left out...the janitor must have hoped for a commission or something. Else, unbelievable!!

    The "King of the Confessors" title is so puzzling, and Hoving makes it into a true mystery, doesn't he?? An this Topic: better than any fiction.

    I thought when I first read the book it would make a good movie, and I do, now, too.

    And when Hoving lifted the plate of Theodosius, and it broke, I gasped myself!!

    I love his turns of phrase: "face like a crowd," of Topic Mimara, "I answered with a leer, "A beast within him had almost come to the surface,"

    Sorry this is so long, but just love the book, and wish we could somehow slow it down...and next Tuesday we'll be at pages 100-150, if we can wait that long.

    In June, I'll be in Zurich, and will walk right in the Savoy if still there, and to the bank! Never say I don't like to take my reading to the Nth degree!!

    Loved his not considering any other American museum but the Cleveland a threat, which shocked me, and that "England could be very, very dangerous." Entering once again into the world of Sotheby's auction of the effects of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, I can just imagine what's going on behind the scenes, tho I expect the best pieces are gone already, and in just the way we're reading now.

    Love it,


    Carole Davis
    February 14, 1998 - 02:58 pm
    Wow, Ginny! You have made me see so much more than I saw in reading the book. This is truly a captivating book, and the pace of the action keeps picking up.

    I am totally unaware of the "Museum" world, and the politics and infighting that goes on, but to me it appears to be a perfect reflection of any corporation. Hoving comes into the Met totally full of himself, and really crossing the lines of acceptable behavior in his quest for the cross. He slips and slides around his boss, shuts his eyes to shady dealings, and generally promotes himself. I am not too surprised that the post on the internet appeared not to like him,--I didn't either.

    That Hoving is a genius I have no doubt, or rather, he leaves me little doubt. I will say in his favor, that he was willing to learn and absorb everything he could from others. I agree with Ginny, the ways of examining art are informative and fascinating. Hoving obviously sees Rorimer as an obstacle on his way to leadership, and he states numerous times that he expects to be the top dog. I also noticed that the references to his wife got fewer and fewer. Are we to assume that this quest for the cross overtook his personal life, or that he no longer had a family?

    Am I the only one who gets the feeling that the cross is secondary to his obsession with being the one who proved Rorimer wrong? Could this have anything to do with Rorimer's rejection of Hovings first "find" at the beginning of the story?

    I will admit to getting a little bored by the cross itself, but the quest to get it for the museum more than makes up for this boredom. This would indeed make a good movie. I can't imagine who would play Hoving though. We don't currently have a tall, asthetic, New England type actor that I can picture being Hoving.

    I am enjoying this book immensely, as I am in completely new territory and learning so much.


    February 14, 1998 - 03:58 pm
    Carole: so glad to see you back!! Oh, a movie?? Let's see, there's a photo or illustration of Hoving himself on the cover of the paperback, and he's a handsome man, very. Suave looking, urbane. He could play himself, but for the early years, I don't know...find I no longer know WHO the young actors are, they all look like third graders to me.

    Anybody got another photo of him?? If I can, before I totally switch over to my NEW COMPUTER, I'll scan in the cover and try to post it here...nice looking man.


    Jackie Lynch
    February 15, 1998 - 06:58 am
    Carole & Ginny:

    Yes, this glimpse into the museum world was fascinating. As to a movie, I believe that Harrison Ford could play anybody! Seriously, I, too, felt that Hoving's quest was ego-driven. But the possession of things has never been one of my vices, so I can't identify with the mania collectors suffer from. I felt that Hoving couldn't allow those others to get the treasure away from him. His rivalvry with Rorimer seemed to be an offshoot of that since Rorimer was as much an impediment as the other museum curators. Didn't Hoving become a big name in the art fraud detection world after he left the Met?

    February 15, 1998 - 07:12 am
    Jackie: I don't know, but find myself fascinated by the man, want to visit his website so cleverly provided by Jonkie, and see what I can find out!

    I also see I have been misusing the word "provenance," which I now find means "Origin, source: the history of ownership of a valued object or work of art or literature."

    That's one of those "uneasy" words I tend to use, have a vague foreboding when I use it that it really means something else, will not forget it in future!! Of course, it's all over this book and the Iain Pears mystery The Last Judgement which we're reading in the Mystery Book Club, so am determined to get it right this time!


    February 15, 1998 - 12:00 pm
    Hoving on TV!!

    So there I was, trying to dry my hair in front of the TV, which is the only time I see TV anymore, and suddenly A&E was showing a pyramid, then King Tut, and suddenly, I just knew (as his first book was about King Tut), and there he was, could it be he?? Yes, a little older than the photos in the books I've got, silver haired, handsome, and gravelly voiced! It seems he's written a new book, and The Open Book, which is on A&E, was interviewing him.

    Now, A&E repeats its programming constantly: do any of you have the guide to their programming, I'd LOVE to see the entire interview. Going off to Barnes & Noble and Amazon to see if they are, by any chance, featuring an interview with him.


    Carole Davis
    February 15, 1998 - 02:52 pm
    Ginny- I was just about to tell everybody this, and you beat me to it. I too watch the A&E Open Book each Sunday at 9:30 am CST. I was blown away to see Thomas Hoving on there pushing his new book. I always make sure I am plopped in front of the TV every Sunday, because they have fascinating interviews. They also interviewed Sabastian Junger today, and his wonderful book The Perfect Storm. The third author this morning was Robert Tanenbaum, a mystery writer, and I missed the fourth one, as my little Max was dancing rather alarmingly in front of the front door.

    Anyway, Hoving was pushing his new book, Greatest Art of the Western World and I am reinforced in Jackie's and my opinion of the man. He stated that he was able to complile this list of the greatest art from his extensive travels around the world, during which he was able to see every piece of art in existence.(!?!?) He chose these particular items because they had something extra that reached out and grabbed him. He went on to talk about a painting from the 1600s of a young lady holding what looked like a ferret. He explained that after looking at it for five hours, he was able to see the evil that was under the surface. I think I would see all kinds of things if I looked at something for five hours! Anyway, I found him to be extremely opinionated, superior, and sarcastic - - just as he was in the book. We will have to add about 20 years to the picture on the book cover, don't you think. Now I am imagining Alec Guiness, with his lip curled all the time!

    This A&D Open Book is a good series, and they ask people to give them ideas of who and what to feature. I hope they get a lot of reactions, as this is a "good thing" -(No, I am not Martha Stewart!).

    I have finally finished this book, and I read it all the way through because of the fact the even though I don't like him as a person, I did find this glimpse into the art world very interesting. I found that I was more interested in Rorimer, although I gathered his ego was as huge as Hoving's, but not quite as open. Do you think that because a person is involved in the Arts, they feel that they are heads and shoulders above the commoner? This was definitely the impression I got from Hoving.


    February 15, 1998 - 03:28 pm
    Carole: What a fabulous post! I CANNOT believe that this Open Book would feature not one, but TWO authors we're reading, the Junger in the Travel, and Hoving here!

    Well, I hate to say this, slap me, all, but what would you do if you had such knowledge?? I mean, wouldn't YOU feel a little above the ordinary?? Or not??

    I wish I had seen that, I must see the rerun!


    LJ Klein
    February 17, 1998 - 03:07 am
    GINNY, seriously now, what about "Sic erit vita tua penden etc on pg 122.

    When he first saw the cross he says " I abandoned" my list. Yet in reading the text its clear that he followed it as best he could.

    Even at the end of the book, Topic's lack of sophistocation in evaluating his own collection is almost unbelievable.



    February 18, 1998 - 05:38 am
    LJ: I could be dead wrong, but I SEEM to remember that he not only translates that later in the book, but it's essential to the plot, and adds to it, so will hold off, and then, if he doesn't mention it again, will do. It's simple enough, but don't want to spoil the suspense.

    Then again, we could go with the dab painting idea (hahahahahahah).


    LJ Klein
    February 18, 1998 - 06:07 am
    To the best of my memory you are entirely correct. BUT, the intent of my post was/is to focus upon it NOW. When I got to the "Key", the reference to this point, i.e. the latterly added medallion and a visualization of what was on it, was too remote. (I hadn't underl;ined it and couldn't readily find it)

    Your ball



    February 18, 1998 - 04:47 pm
    OK, now we're to be talking about pages 100-150 in the hardback, which I just found out is different in the paperback, so in the paperback you'd want to be just up to 128.

    What exciting stuff this is! I switched to the hardback, which not only has huge photos of the cross in COLOR, so you can see the neat golden tone, but also has lovely details of the sides of the cross, and one of the photos is misnamed.

    That's NOTHING compared to the paperback, tho, which, the first time I read it I thought I was going insane, as the cross sides are reversed in the captions, and the pictures mislabeled.

    I love the way he makes you a part of the exciting process of identification. I just love how he details how they try to figure out what period of time from the appearance of the figures and that the inscriptions say.

    Now, what did you think of his business with the cameras??

    And what did you think of his reasoning about taking the pictures at all? That Topic wouldn't have broken his word about no photos, since Hoving would be taking the pix!


    And what of his colleague's ability to translate some of the most difficult and telling pieces, including the wonderful Pilate text?? (Incidentally, I think "Scripsi," would be more effective translated, "What I have written, I have written." But that's just me).

    I couldn't see the word Confessor, could you? I saw Rex, fessor but not the "Con." Where is it??

    Now that business about the dots on the cross and where they stopped, indicating a missing figure was marvelous, just so exciting!

    How did you feel when Topic broke up the cross and explained why it was made that way??

    Did you see the little peg in the prophet that held the missing figure of Christ?

    Isn't this the MOST exciting thing??

    OK, LJ, I'll translate what I can from the intact text in the first line:

    "SIC ERIT VITA TvA PENDEN " That's as far as the intact words go:

    Meaning loosely, " Thus will your life be hanging..."

    Without knowing the source, cannot attempt the S ANE T 0 N Crede Vie tve."

    I don't know WHAT to make of Topic, LJ. At one point, Hoving calls him an idiot. He can't be that dumb. Wonder where he got the cross?

    I loved the part where Hoving said he "began to look upon the cross as a book, a literary object."

    Am really caught up in it, how about you all??


    Oh, and, what do you think of his bargaining techniques??

    LJ Klein
    February 19, 1998 - 02:48 am
    "Topic" is the most thoroughly described character I've ever read about who remained totally incomprehensible.

    Even that big flap about photographs was strange since there were photographs extant.



    Ann Alden
    February 20, 1998 - 03:07 am
    Well, after falling asleep last night on page 270(not bored, just tired from driving from Ohio to Atlanta today), I woke up to all these interesting and opinionated opinions! Anyway, I am having trouble with Rorimer sending Hoving back to Zurich without telling him that he has only been approved for $500,000 until the last moment. I'm beginning to think that one of them is not well. And, then good old Topic decides to let the British museum have more time because it will be easier for him and his wife to visit the Cross in England? Whaaaaaaat! Talk about making a person paranoid! Ugh! I am looking forward to visiting the Cleveland Museum this summer after settling in our new home in Columbus. Although, my son made two trips up there and one of my friends, I had no idea that it was one of the best museums around. Maybe that was back in the 50's. I have a catalogue on the midwest exhibits of the present and it looks to me like Chicago is the art place to be. They have four pages of museums and exhibits in this little book. King of the Confessors has certainly piqued my interest in art again. I must pay more attention to these things! So sorry to have missed the book discussion with Hoving on A&E but we were watching Big Bird or something similar on Sunday morning. Grandchildren are wonderful but they are sometimes limited in their TV watching .

    LJ Klein
    February 20, 1998 - 08:03 am
    Rorimer, believe it or not, was one heck of a good teacher. Hoving was his plenipotentiary, but he still held the reins. He forcibly taught Hoving how to bargain. Hoving himself, could never have dealt with the principles in this aquisition.

    As I see it, Hoving was in training for Rorimer's job. Rorimer was his teacher. They were both more than just good at what they were doing.



    February 21, 1998 - 04:32 am
    I can't believe my post just disappeared! Gone!! Back tomorrow, I guess, with the new one, for Pete's sake!


    Carole Davis
    February 21, 1998 - 02:54 pm
    Ginny and L.J.

    You have made this book come alive. I must confess (Hmmmm, not in THAT way) that I had droopy eyelids each evening as I would try to absorb this book, but the "opinionated opinions" that Ann mentions have made me dig deeper and find new and interesting tidbits in this long story.

    I still hold to my "opinionated opinion" that Hoving was using Rorimer to advance himself, and that he never realized what a treasure Rorimer was, but that is the way life works, I guess. The young learn from and eventually replace the older ones.

    Ginny, how in the world did you find so much in that cross? I must admit that when he was examining the cross in the vault, I was flipping the pages back and forth to the pictures at the front of the book to see if I could see the things he saw in just a few hours. I was totally fascinated at the story about the cross being portable. How technological for the so-called "dark ages"!

    I thought Topic favored the British Museum because the cross originated that part of the world, or did I miss something? Topic was one character I could happily have done without. I,like L.J., was in complete awe of Topic's incompetence, especially as he was supposed to be such a fabulous business man and a millionaire. Would he have succeeded if he had not had the opportunity that he did after the war? Who knows.

    Can you even imagine how it would feel to hold something so old and so full of devotion? It would be almost mystical. I have always wondered if the touch of something so sacred and so full of the ages would impart any of its aura to one fortunate to hold it and care for it. The lack of this reverence in Hoving was something that I had a real problem with, as I did not feel that he loved the ancient pieces he worked with, but only saw them as valuable objects he (in the personna of the Museum) had to own. Maybe this was simple male competitiveness, to which I am not privy, or maybe it was his innate coldness. He protests to Parsons that he feels the history of an object, that is reaches out to him, and then, on page 88, he states that "collecting is taking risks, collecting is taking possession". That really identifies the true Hoving to me.

    I am convinced that this book definitely is a "group read" as it comes alive only with the input of fellow readers. Hoving is way too wordy, technical and conceited to hold my attention all alone on my little sofa at night. I can't wait for you two to bounce more thoughts and ideas around. It is sure mentally stimulating after a day spent appeasing angry customers!!!!! My deep love of history and archeology is awakened and I go journey to peoples and worlds that once were. What a wonderful end to a day!!!!!



    LJ Klein
    February 21, 1998 - 06:00 pm
    Carole, You're quite correct. Hoving was "Using" Rorimer as he was supposed to be doing. And Rorimer was being used at his own discretion, a "Master-Student" relationship in which the stakes were high and in which the mutual goal was achieved.

    My only question about ethics was the information with-held from the board about the anti-semitic nature of the inscriptions which were only partially adumbrated prior to the later research done by Hoving.



    P.S. my apokogies for geting a bit ahead in the story but I felt that your post deserved a respectable response.

    Ann Alden
    February 22, 1998 - 05:18 am

    Am I forgetting something here or didn't Hoving begin this search for the meaning of the cross with a somewhat spiritual experience? He even thought he experienced the feelings of Christ crucified when he was viewing Michelangelo's marble sculpture of Christ walking along holding an immense cross. His description part of what kept my interest. Remember the hatred and evil that came through to him when he interpeted the scrolls? It was palpable to him.

    February 22, 1998 - 05:35 am
    Isn't this fun? And here I was coming in to suggest we read another of his books!! LOVE your statement about him, Carole.

    I don't know why, but he appeals to me immensely, maybe I'll get over it!! Jonkie sent me a wonderful URL which I posted here during all the problems, but which has disappeared. Jonkie, my new computer is down with your letter, will you post it here?

    It tells of what happened to Hoving after this episode, and, Jonkie says it's an "eyebrown raiser," and so it is! We need to see it here.

    I do agree with Carole, this is always a bright spot in a particularly hectic day.

    I think Hoving saw Rorimer as an obstacle to be overcome in his quest for the cross, and I do agree with Ann that Hoving seemed to feel a religious experience with the cross: I seem to remember that he stated he was not a religious person, but that he felt the cross "holy."

    Of course, I'm not as far along as you all, now on Tuesday we're to take up pages 150-200 in the hardback version.

    Can't you just SEE a documentary or movie moving over the cross and examining the figures with background voice?

    I can make nothing of Topic at this point, he's a mystery.

    LJ: The "confessor" part and the apparent anti-semitic parts are giving me pause. Hope these are more fully explained, you're ahead of me. Thought his explanation of the "confessor" part a little stretch, but am no expert in religion.


    Joan Pearson
    February 22, 1998 - 10:33 am
    I marvel at the author's writing ability! While it's true that he did have the benefits of a superior education, he was not trained as a writer. His ability to create suspense, dialogue and the writing expression itself is sometimes poetic! From the early pages, "a light cold rain glistened on the cobblestones of a quiet Seventh Avenue South. The sky was moody gray....", I was a fan.

    His ego never gets in my way either. Know that I am also a great fan of William F. Buckley. The two are somehow linked in my mind...both well-educated men, with wide intellectual and artistic talents...sort of Renaissance men of our time. (I can hear LJ snickering in the background Now you stop that! We are each entitled to our own opinions!)

    I was also struck by the true religious experience, this professed non-religious man experienced in the presence of this "holy" cross. I found this very moving...

    The machinations of the art world in procuring the great pieces of antiquity are certainly intriguing. Mr. Hoving appears to have succumbed to the same ethical lapses in his pursuit of the great art he had to own for the Cloisters. That business with the photos...Premeditated - he brought that second tiny camera just in case his first was confiscated! Did you get the impression that Topic left him alone with the cross, knowing that TH had another camera?

    And how about that Italian pulpit sculpture? He rationalized the act of spiriting the panel illegally out of Italy:
    "Collecting meant taking risks. Collecting meant possession. Italy had six reliefs. A seventh would only cause administrative confusion...."

    A few things I still find difficult to understand, such as the statement by Cleveland's Swarzenski (who has just told TH that he was certain the cross was not a fake), that he has lost the article on the cross with pictures..."Sorry, I believe I lost it" "Damn"!, says Hoving. Damn? Does he really believe that? Does he believe that Swarzenski wants this cross, but can't afford it - and that he has lost the only existing photos of the thing (no matter how poor the quality)? At the very least, Hoving should have been alerted to the fact that S. is still very interested in acquiring the cross.

    The hardback copy of the book contains fantastic photos of the cross! I'm sure these weren't taken with that tiny camera in the bank vault! I think that Ginny was looking at the photo in the very front page of the hardcover, beside the title page. There you can clearly see the letters "NFESSOR" Do you think that the"thither"pointing hand was supposed to be super-imposed over the "CO" part, and that the artist intended it to look like that?

    I was taken aback at Topic's handling of the cross. The way he so casually took it apart! I would worry that he might crack or split off some part of the ancient carved figures handling it like that!! Also, the way he "attached" his own Christ figure to the cross. How did he do that? Glue? Hopefully he didn't bore into it!!! And then he "filled" in the holes where the original probably was...The same with that missing square at the bottom. How did he attach that blank piece of ivory. (did they ever find the true missing panel last seen in Brussels in 1956? )

    Searched and searched for more information on the cross and Hoving. Not much luck ...yet!

    Did find two of some interest. We know that Hoving went on to become the Met director, making splashy headlines (in NY at least) with his "Hoving Happenings".

    Will include a site and the "Happenings" - and tell you my own humorous "Hoving Happening" story in another post...I do realize this one has gone on too long...that I have used up all my "bytes".

    Then I came across this site, which really opened my eyes. The same ethical lapses we witness in this book, finally caught up with Mr TH
    Hoving & the Met

    Later! Enjoy your day - must spend some time with family, Thomas Hardy and Jude!


    LJ Klein
    February 22, 1998 - 01:06 pm
    Ginny, The "Confessor" bit is further developed and clarified.....LATER. Best


    Ann Alden
    February 23, 1998 - 06:04 am
    Well, Jonkie, after reading about Hoving and The Met, I still find this man and his art affairs over the years fascinating. His life has certainly been interesting.

    I, too, saw his seeming lack of truth finding when he just wants to acquire another art treasure for the Met but I also sense that he was more taken with the searches than with the acquisitions. Its been so much fun reading about the process and the personalities in the art world. I vote on reading another similiar book in the near future. Maybe the one mentioned in the article by Hess. Can't remember the title but will look it up. Truth is indeed stranger than fiction and definitely more interesting.

    In the article, I thought that he was just ahead of his time when it came to the Met and its new look in the late 60's and 70's. Now, many or most of our museums are set up in the same manner and because of that, many of us (myself included) really look forward to museuming in most cities. There are so many guides available now and their information is invaluable to me and the ladies for whom I plan trips.

    February 23, 1998 - 05:31 pm
    Ann: I agree totally, have so enjoyed every minute of this discussion, it's made the whole experience fun.

    I find him fascinating, too. Isn't it marvelous how we all agree to disagree? Maybe in his later books we can SEE the REAL Hoving!

    Now, I have his False Impressions, "The Hunt for Big-Time Art Fakes," which is dated 1996. I know he's just come out with a new one, tho. I also have Making the Mummies Dance which I have not read and which is the one mentioned in the article, I think.

    It would be fun to really do an author or subject in depth.

    Tomorrow we're to take up pages 150-200 in the hardback edition. Does anyone have the paperback, do I need to keep on estimating pages there?


    PS: Ann, what do you mean you "get up trips?" Are you a Travel Agent?

    Jackie Lynch
    February 24, 1998 - 06:15 am
    Yes, let's "do" Hoving! Although he seems to be a royal pain, he perhaps was the seminal force in modern museums. There must be lots of materials available on him, Time, NYTRB, etc. in addition to his own output. Maybe he could "drop in". Great idea!

    Joan Pearson
    February 24, 1998 - 06:30 am
    Jackie, yes, I agree. Let's do Hoving! And after we have exhausted ourselves here, how about a trip to the Cloisters in NYC? Last July there was a traveling exhibit of medieval ivories in Baltimore. I had just read the book, and nearly wore out the photos from staring at them. Then I spotted a photo of the same ivory figures in the Arts section of the Washington Post...could have sworn they were Sir Hugo's carvings...I phoned the Baltimore museum to see if the Bury St. Edmunds cross was on display, and when they said "no", I was so disappointed, I decided not to go. Could kick myself now! But it was hot summer and there were so many alternatives for that weekend...

    No, haven't read my fifty pages yet (will do that tonight), but here is a site that describes what a "confessor" is, compared to "martyr". After reading it, I am wondering why the crucified Christ was not referred to as "King of the Martyrs", instead.


    Ella Gibbons
    February 24, 1998 - 07:24 am
    Ann: Can I go on one of your trips for the ladies? Are you going to still plan them when you move to Ohio and, if so, put me on the list. I would love to go on a guided trip to a museum - maybe to Cleveland?

    February 24, 1998 - 09:17 am
    YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSs! Trip to the Cloisters!! NYC at Christmas time!! YESSSSSSS to more Hoving!! Everybody vote!!

    Ann: Is this kind of trip up your alley??


    Ann Alden
    February 25, 1998 - 04:40 am

    My trips have been mostly local or in the state but its not that hard to plan one. With all the help that's out there from the places one plans to stay to the places one plans to visit. But, NYC at Christmas sounds so good, doesn't it? I, myself, would like it anytime, just to see the Cloisters and the Met and maybe one good musical! It is very expensive!

    Ella, The senior center in Gahanna has trips planned frequently. They go to see all kinds of things. My treks have not just been museums but visits to small towns and being bussed around with a guide and visiting old homes and historical sights. So much to see and learn and so little time. {^:^}

    Yes, I vote on another Hoving book. Ginny, you have gone "hog wild and pig crazy" on his books. My mother's saying, not mine! I am looking up that other art history book here in the library. I finished this book and am now reading The Last Judgement from the mystery corner and its not bad.

    LJ Klein
    February 25, 1998 - 07:21 am
    I wish I could keep all these Latin inscriptions in mind and in order.



    Joan Pearson
    February 25, 1998 - 07:39 am
    LJ, that's the magic of the net. Just type the inscriptions into a post, and Ginny can post them up top for you...or we can tell you how to do it since you have "host" access! Then they would appear each time you fire up the site, and you could add more as they come......

    Ann, that "hog wild and pig crazy" description fits our Ginny to a "T", but that's the enthusiasm she shows for EVERYTHING!!! This is why we all love her so much!

    LJ Klein
    February 25, 1998 - 07:43 am
    Joan, I think that would end up making the "Header" unpardonably long. Do we have an alternative?



    Ella Gibbons
    February 25, 1998 - 02:52 pm
    Ann: Have been on a few of those "senior citizens trips" with another center in Westerville that my sister was so involved in. Am not enthused about them, as I feel like an adult child (second childhood or something). They count you getting on and getting on and help you down, blah,blah. I'm not that old yet (mentally, anyway). Of course, it's just me, I know many enjoy them very much!

    NYC? I'm game - what hotel? Last time I was there we stayed in a darling little French hotel called the Beverly and not too expensive either! Fare at Christmas time is quite reduced. Must read Hoving!

    Ann Alden
    February 26, 1998 - 05:22 am

    How about just using the beginning latin words with a string of periods? Just that and maybe a page number so we could go to our book and discuss it intelligently? Would that work?

    What did you think of his initial reaction to the inscription "King of the Confessors" on page 66? and then his second attempt to tie it to the Jews who confessed Christ to save their homes and lives from Samson on page 320? At the time that I read it, I wondered if he had the cross made after that or if maybe it was an instument of teaching the Jews at Bury St Edmond? And then, I wondered if it was an instument of hate which Samson had made to tell the story of the Jews and their treatment of Christ? Different times, different mindset!

    Ann Alden
    February 26, 1998 - 05:28 am

    I haven't been on any of the senior trips so can't comment on them. Our group here and out in California kind of took in all ages. We were just a group of friends who walked at the beach out there and lunched together freque . And here, I was the Treks & Travels person for my ladies club of 100 who have moved here due to their husbands jobs. It started out as a Welcome Wagon association but we disbanded under that name and started this club about three years ago. Called the F.A.N Club meaning the Friends and Neighbors Club and we really do have a lot going on all the time.

    LJ Klein
    February 26, 1998 - 06:30 am
    Samson ?? Christ???

    Jackie Lynch
    February 26, 1998 - 06:36 am
    Yes to Hoving; don't know if I can make it to NY, but if I ever get there, in addition to the Cloisters, I must visit The Dakota! Locale for Rosemary's Baby, for Jack Finney's time travels, former home of John Lennon, etc. There is a biography of this fabulous place, pix, history, tales both apochrophal and true. One picture is a close up of the roof. You could get lost up there!

    LJ Klein
    February 26, 1998 - 07:00 am
    ANN, ideally Your suggestion of an abbreviated Latin seems best then with an English translation (Ginny ?) and page references for clarification.

    Thats a lot of work. It would be fun. I can't take it on for about six weeks and that's too late. WE\I realy should have thought of this in the first place.



    February 26, 1998 - 04:03 pm
    Well, so much going on here, such excitement! Will make one more call tomorrow to Excursions Unlimited and see what they say.

    NYC at Christmastime is often sold out. I usually stay at the Mariott Marquis, at Times Square, which is a good place to be, now.

    Ann, you seem to have more experience with this, want to ask around a little? Will be back with info tomorrow afternoon.

    OH YES, the Cloisters, the Met, the Tavern on the Green, the musical The Lion King, oh yes. And at Christmas, too....oh yes. O, something to dream about, anyhoo.

    If I get a chance this weekend, will try to get the inscriptions up? In the heading?? Can take out some of the stuff there. Didn't think there were that many, tho?? At least as far as I've gotten. I'm almost to page 200, am reveling in the Parson's dialogue. What interesting people he knows. Like a movie.

    And the fake business is the subject of his book of last year, and it DEFINITELY shows the Etruscan warriors.

    More later today,


    Joan Pearson
    February 26, 1998 - 06:08 pm
    LJ..give me some access to this site and I'll go in there and make a clickable reference to the translations up in the heading. The clickable won't take any room and you'll find it quickly with no problem - similar to the way in which the text for Jude is stored up in the heading...

    I've got a really inexpensive alternative to hotel accomodations in NYC...very comfortable, clean and centrally located. Will call my friend and get the details and share with you in the am. Don't know if it is too late for the Christmas holidays though...

    A demain!


    February 27, 1998 - 05:15 am
    Joan: you asked for it, you got it, Toyota!

    What fun!!

    Off to read the last five pages, and yes, hog wild!! Hahhahaha!

    My mother used to say of the way I took off my clothes: "Rip, snort, tear!"


    Maybe we ought to start a discussion of these neat sayings!!


    Ann Alden
    February 27, 1998 - 06:39 am
    Go Joan!! on the inexpensive alternatives in New York, as long as you don't expect us to stay in homeless shelters or serve in the soup kitchens for a bed, I'm interested! We used to have availability to a brownstone but that left with a divorce settlement in the family. Oh well!

    Yes, Ginny, aren't old family sayings just too much fun? Some of grandmother's aren't repeatable here on the net, but she and my mother were very funny women.

    LJ, So, I'm a few pages ahead. Get a grip! Is this your only comment on what I asked about Hoving's interpretation of the meaning of the cross and the reason for Samson having it made by Hugo?

    Joan Pearson
    February 27, 1998 - 07:12 am
    Ann, I've got some errands, but when I come back, I'll share the biggest SECRET on affordable housing in NYC, but we must keep it here! No fair sharing with friends OR family, or it won't last! This is one of those things that is too good to be true and yet it IS!

    LJ, I'll put some stuff in the clickable up top to get it started if you tell me what you envision up there...tell me where you want to start, then you can add to the list as you specific and I'll type it. I'll be back this evening...


    February 27, 1998 - 11:43 am
    Yes, and here we can compare what Jonkie has found: I do have a package, now we ARE talking about NYC at Christmas time. There were three dates to choose from: starting Dec 2, Dec 10, and Dec 17....the Dec 10- is a weekend: Wednesday thru Sat night. The reason I'm so vague is I've already, YES already misplaced the stuff!! Yes, the Computer people came again today, got growled at again by the puppy, and cost me AGAIN $100, and the thing is only a week old. So am flustered. They took it away, think they can take ME away next time.

    The hotels are three nights, at the Mariott Marquis (very fine) or the Sheraton or something Towers, never heard of. Two Broadway shows: they have put in for Ragtime and whatever wins the Tony's. They say no seats available for the Lion King, (AAA says "are so--starting at 92.50 for the matinee and going up to $110 evening--but that's another story)...then on the Excursions Limited tour you get IF YOU WANT (you don't have to do a thing with them, if you want to be on your own) lunch at the Tavern on the Green, dinner at a restaurant in the evening (restaurant not settled yet: they did Sardi's last year) a tour if you want of lower Manhattan, the Met, and airfare, but the air is out of Savannah, GA, so there would be add ons or subtractions. So for this the price is $1,195.

    As a comparison, the Marquis sent me a list of bargain rooms at $195 per night with some $99 specials, but not during the holidays. AAA is looking up the Milford Plaza: tourist trap, but cheap.

  • ******************

    We'll have to separate this trip from the folder in a minute!!

    Now to the Hoving!!

    Now, LJ, I went back and studied the hand thing in detail in the very large photos in the hardback. I can definitely see "Rex." and "fesso" but I sure don't see anything else. Maybe, as I think you said, it's underneath the hand.

    OK, I've got lots of questions: what is "morse" ivory on page 132 in the paperback (the page opposite the drawing of the cross).

    Was just stunned and appalled at his removing the case and, I guess more the lack of security in the Bargello museum. I certainly plan to make that one of my stops on my trip in June, and will report back if there still is no security! Maybe I'll be writing you from prison.

    What did you think of his having done this??

    What did you think of Parsons? Upon hearing Hoving had lived in Rome for a year, his response was "Oh, do tell me about your little tour." Do you consider a year to be a little tour??

    I certainly did NOT know ancient Rome was only 14 feet down from the modern city, and hope to see some holes while I'm there!

    On the Etruscan warriors, there's quite a lot about them in his 1996 book on fabulous fakes, and it was with fear and trembling that I looked for the Bury St. Edmund's Cross: and it was listed!! Won't tell you what it said now, or what he thinks of Topic in hindsight, will keep for the end.

    I think Hoving was very clever in his business about the Collecting Point: "Thomas, you must know about the Collecting Point..." that gives Hoving a chance to explain to US without lecturing, what it's about. That's good writing.

    I hate to say it, but Topic's wife Mersmann's idea of the Cross having been made in honor of Edward the Confessor makes a whole lot more sense to me than Hoving's explanation of the "confessor" stuff, which so far does not compute.

    I understand the photographs thing, LJ, now that I see that Parsons told Topic "if he were absolutely strict in insisting that clients come in person, a vital sense of mystery would begin to surround the object." and that the thing could probably never be photographed effectively.

    The thing I don't understand is why Topic couldn't do the intermediary work himeslf.

    Two new words present themselves, one for the second time: typology: the use of verses, phrases or even single words plucked from the Old Testament as parallels for the New Testament and proof that Christ was the Messiah."

    And palimpsest: writing material, such as a parchment or tablet used one of more times after earlier writing has been erased or something having usually diverse layers or aspects apparent beneath the surface.

    It seems we're drawing closer and closer to the discovery of WHERE Topic got the cross and the race to attain it is really heating up. It's almost stranger than fiction, and WHO can fail to learn something from it??

  • Joan Pearson
    February 27, 1998 - 03:14 pm
    just passing time to post, but just had to include this:

    walnut or morse ivory?

    Ann Alden
    February 28, 1998 - 06:58 am
    Joan, I really enjoyed you reference to the "morse ivory". We are really spoiled by this net and all of the fascinating info that is available.

    Ginny, At the moment, I have not got into looking for info on a NYC visit as my husband has been ill and he goes into hospital on Wednesday for some pretty scary tests. EP studies having to do with v-tach and other arrhythmias. So my mind has not been on trips.

    Are your pictures larger than mine? I have looked for specific things on the pics but without my magnifying glass, I'm having difficulty spotting much. (its been packed, of course!)

    See ya, Ann

    February 28, 1998 - 07:03 am
    Oh, Ann, best of luck there, hope everything will be OK!! I'll get a magnifying glass out, good idea, and try again.

    Jonkie has found us a fabulous place to stay, it's perfect so perfect, she's just checking into it now. If they're full at Christmas, maybe we could go another time for our Books Convention! She REALLY has a hot one, don't worry a bit about a thing.

    Waiting for news.


    Joan Pearson
    February 28, 1998 - 10:47 am
    Hello everyone!

    Did you enjoy the morse ivory chessmen? 12 th century no less! Still don't know what morse ivory is.....

    I have some very good new, I think!...

    First I will tell you of the great find Ginny just referred to...BUT you must promise to keep it secret, because this is really Hot!

    There is a "non-profit Catholic organization called the Leo House offering safe, affordable accommodations in the heart of NYC - run by nuns (Sisters of St. Agnes). The Leo House is open to people of all faiths and from all countries..mission is to provide lodging for those on a modest budget, seeking lodging in the City, visiting the sick, or coming to this country for the first time."

    My friend, an art instructor at Mt. Vernon College in Washington, has been taking his family to NY for Christmas for the past 17 years. They always stay at the Leo House. It is a lovely old, eight story building (1926), beautifully furnished and kept spotless by the nuns. It has state-of the-art fire detection, alarm and sprinkler system.

    There is a garden, meeting rooms for 10-40 people, other common sitting rooms, and a beautiful panelled dining room where the nuns provide meals...this brochure says breakfast, but my friend Jim tells me that they had other meals there, I think! The brochure speaks of the home-made breads, pastries, bacon, eggs...Jim says they charge a ridiculous $5.00 for mountains of food.

    There is a chapel on the first floor, where he and his family attend mid-night Mass on Christmas Eve.

    Oh, and there is great security. A guard at a desk, buzzes you in. All doors are locked at midnight. If you want to stay out on the town later than that, you have to telephone the security system to accomodate you! Will we all be out painting the town?

    Interested yet?

    I'll save the best part for my next post...and the best news........


    Joan Pearson
    February 28, 1998 - 04:12 pm
    OK, I'm back...still haven't caught up on my reading...will do that tonight, maybe...

    But here's the best part about the NYC trip to the Cloisters:

    THE PRICE!!!!!!

    Single (1 twin bed, sink, toilet,shared shower)$59 per room*

    Single (1 twin bed, full bath) $65 per room

    Double (1 double bed, sink, toilet, shared shower) $67 per room* **

    Double (1 double bed, full bath) $69 per room**

    Double (2 twin beds, sink, toilet, shared shower) $67 per room* **

    Double (2 twin beds, full bath) $69 per room**

  • these shared shower rooms have sinks and toilets in the room, but a group shower (individual stalls) in the hall. Since the rooms with full bath are only $2 extra, my friend always opts for those.

  • *
    the price for the double room is the total. In other words, if you share a $69 double with someone, your cost is $35!

    Okay, here's the GOOD NEWS! I learned this morning. My fear was that the place would be booked, but I learned that they don't start reserving rooms for three months in advance. What I must do is put my request in writing now...dates and types and numbers of accommodations; then three months before, he contacts us and confirms.

    Room is guaranteed for any reservation with one night's room paid in full. Any reservation without one night's rent applied is held for the guest only until 4:00 pm two days prior to arrival. Reservations without guarantee are canceled two days prior to scheduled arrival. Balance of payment is required upon arrival. Notice of cancellation or change of arrival dates must be received at least two days in advance of the expected arrival date for full refund. I think this is a very liberal policy, don't you? My friend says that because of it, people tend to make reservations in advance and then cancel at the last minute...often you can get in a few days before your arrival...

    Well, how does that sound to you? Too good to be true? Remember, don't spread this promised!!!

    The man is sending me a dozen brochure...color photographs of the rooms...if you want one, email me and I'll mail you one...


  • Ginny
    February 28, 1998 - 05:36 pm
    Jonkie, what dates are we talking about, I'm half way on the plane! How exciting, thanks so much!

    HOW can we keep it a secret when you've just posted it on the INTERNET??



    Joan Pearson
    February 28, 1998 - 06:06 pm
    Yes, the numbers, dates, types of accomodations will be necessary to include in the letter...and I think that letter should get to Leo House, sooner, rather than later if we are to be high on his list to call three months before whenever we want to book.

    Let's start with WHEN...Here are Cloister hours - I'd like a group tour...they seem to be closed on Mondays...
    And good plane rates seem to always want you to stay over a Saturday night...


    I think I should contact the Cloisters and see if they have any plans for a special program on the ivories...

    Shall we start throwing out dates...or wait til we hear the Cloisters program...or the availability of the Cross (maybe it needs maintenance, or maybe it's travelling or something). Maybe we should be trying to contact Mr. Hoving. Wouldn't a tour of the Cloisters by Mr. Hoving be simply "fab"?

    March 1, 1998 - 12:37 pm
    I think we need to get a date. I vote for the weekend of Fri the 10th - Sun the 13th. I think we really ought to do Thurs the 9th- but it may be too many days. The price is beyond belief.

    Then we can be sure the Cloisters has something going. We can't go the 5th as that's Shoppers Weekend, and the 16th is too close to the holidays, I think.

    Our reasons for choosing NYC at THIS time is that the city is at its best, all decked out and everyone in a holiday mood: smiles everywhere.

    I think we need to have a luncheon at Tavern on the Green and invite any and all SeniorNetters within commuting distance to join us in a Saturday's where we need the Cloister's schedule, as we can eat lunch any day:

    How about check, our Jonkie, on the cross and whether it's there or not in December for the weekend of the 9-13, they'll know now, and get back to us, if you don't mind, and we can really go from there and get a nice new home for the First Annual Book Groups Meeting??

    ALSO everyone keep in mind whether or not you've any interest in the Cloisters or the Met or not, you are free to do as you like, we'll have lots of things bookish to do and enjoy. We are going to do this one up right!


    March 1, 1998 - 12:45 pm
    PS: My Travel Agent says the hotels have stopped offering discount packages at this time in the year: they know they can fill the rooms. She just booked a party into the Salisbury for the same weekend at $400 per night, which they will split.

    Year before last we were at the Marquis for $215 per night at the same time, am sure it will hover around $295 this year. If you are NOT in the habit of going to NYC at Christmas, you sure are missing something; it's a sure fire fab trip. Even if Ella shows up with flowers in her hair!


    March 1, 1998 - 12:46 pm
    PS: Have never shared a bathroom in my life, but this is just TOO GOOD to miss. You can stay at the Plaza and invite us all there, if you like!


    Joan Pearson
    March 2, 1998 - 07:47 am
    I am afraid that dreaming of a white Christmas has left me hopelessly behind in my reading...

    Little slips notes, litter my desktop. Will attempt to clear them up now, even though I am clearly not up to the rest of you. This is a start...Just smidgets, not a windy explanation of impressions... Bear with me please. Will catch up this week.

    Mr. Hoving's personal understanding of the term "Confessors" differs from the Church definition. "Christ advocated the confession of sins to Him - guaranteed forgiveness. The phrase embodies the root of Christianity." Interesting concept...

    Albrighi, the Italian lawyer and art smuggler defends his actions and counsels Hoving, "Art is the only thing that matters, not the people surrounding art." And Hoving took these words to heart, it appears...I simply loved his description of the pursuit of art and think it should be highlighted somewhere:
    "It's a love affair, a hunt for a mysterious and dangerous beast, a detective story full of perils."

    I am stunned, overwhelmed...won't say skeptical, but wow! I'll say "wow"! Aren't you just wowed at the way Mr. Hoving is drawn to discover things that have been hidden for centuries...and in such a serendipitous manner. He is in Rome. He rents a motorscooter. He has no planned itinerary. Stops at the church of Santa Sabina and notices the carvings on the door are the same style as the cross. Concludes these very doors could have inspired the same person who carved the cross..

    .You know, the second I read about the motorscooter, I knew he was going to find something to do with that cross. And how about when he was in Florence...decided on a whim to climb up to this little visited attic or something at the Carrand/Bargello museum...finds a piece from the cross!!!!!!Knowing that it would take days and ribbons of red tape to get approval to open it, he takes out his Swiss army knife ( I love men who carry Swiss Army knives...I remember thinking that once, and decided that I too would carry one - keep it in my purse. Hardly ever use it though...too hard to open) Anyway, he checks for an alarm system, unlocks the case, and turns the thing over, looking for an inscription.

    And how about when he decided to spend an hour paging through the Goldshmidt book and spots the walrus ivory Christ figure that he concludes is carved by the same person who carved the cross!

    I find all of these chance discoveries almost, though not quite, unbelievable!

    Ginny, I hope you are taking notes for your summer trip:

    Never sit in a draft!
    Wear a flannel bellyband...well, maybe in summer you don't need flannel...
    Find the church of Santa Sabina in Rome and take a picture of the doors...

    And if/when we get to the Cloisters, we must look up the sleeping child in bronze in the Greek & Roman Dept, which Harold Parsons helped to place there...which Hoving described back then as one of the top three holdings in the entire museum.

    OK, you won't hear from me till I've caught up and gone back and read all of your posts.......


    Joan Pearson
    March 2, 1998 - 01:23 pm
    Just put up a new folder to accomodate the NY trip to quiet things down in here.

    You can reach that site by clicking here:

    Book Club's NYC Trip

    Ella Gibbons
    March 3, 1998 - 08:29 am
    Just made my reservation in the folder - am so excited by it! And I will wear flowers somewhere - my hair is rather short to hold them - and Ginny is bringing grape jelly for us all (good thing she's so strong to be lugging all that jelly in her suitcase) - or do you really think she will wear it on her face - instead of "egg on her face?" Lunch in Central Part and a theatre night and people skating in Rockefeller Center and the golden tree, angels and music - it's so romantic at Christmas, been there before at that time and love it. So all - do come! We should read a book about NYC about November, shouldn't we? The only one I can think of is "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" - which isn't Manhattan at all - but a wonderful old book!

    Ella Gibbons
    March 3, 1998 - 08:31 am
    Sorry Joan - I'll be quiet now! Sh! Sh!

    Dianne O'Keefe
    March 3, 1998 - 09:57 am
    Can you give me a chapter # for the March 3 assignment. I just got a softback from my lib. Sun. I'm on page 148 but don't know what that translates to. I have to catch up so I will be properly informed by Dec. (4 BCs in a month, crazy. I've given up TV for the most part long ago. It looks like housework is on the way out. We're still eating.)

    Thanks, Di

    March 3, 1998 - 10:12 am
    Di: Today we'd start the newest section, pages 150-200 in the hardback.

    In YOUR paperback version, and mine, that translates from pages 128- 178. Now everyone, am I correct in these pages? Should we now be on page 200 for this entire week? Let's rest here till next week (the 10th) and catch our breaths. SUCH a fabulous book, I love it.

    Di: look at the photographs and the captions in the paperback!!


    March 3, 1998 - 10:18 am
    hahahahahha, I do know about the TV going, AND the housework, AND the grape pruing, AND AND AND, but, like you, Di, am still eating. Must quit before December.

    Ella: the way you wrote that description could be a commercial. Am trying to shhh myself! Not working. Wait till you hear what our Jonkie has arranged at the Cloisters! Boy, is she SOMETHING OR WHAT??

    PS: If you have the hardback version, that's Hoving himself standing IN the Cloisters on the back cover.


    Ella Gibbons
    March 4, 1998 - 06:49 am
    Dianne and Ginny - Smiled at both of you. Good thing I have a husband who lives with me, or I would even quit the eating and read, read, read. He loves to eat and thinks I should still cook!

    Ann Alden
    March 5, 1998 - 06:42 am
    All right, Ginny, what does Jonkie have arranged for us at the Cloisters? I can't find any reference to it in her trip folder so am begging you to extend and expand your remarks! Hahahaha! I am on CSpan!

    Also, I am quickly rereading the proper pages so will comment later.

    March 5, 1998 - 03:08 pm
    Ann: It's a secret, and I wasn't supposed to tell, but ol blabber mouth did, and I'm sworn to secrecy!

    Everybody will be glad they read this book, tho!

    Life imitates art!


    March 6, 1998 - 08:16 am
    I've started compiling (and am somewhat confused as to if I'm supposed to be doing this or not) but have gotten up this list so far of the quotations as they occur in the book, starting with the Swarzenski report of his first view of the cross, and going as far as I've read.

    Probably plenty of typos, but here goes.

    TERRA TREMIT MORS VICTA --Earth trembles, death is vanquished

    The Prophet David's Scroll: They pierced my hands and feet: no Latin given

    SIC ERIT VITA TUA PENDEN S. ANET O N CREDE VIE TVE-- And thy life shall hang in doubt before thee. Thou shalt fear night and day and shall have no assurance of thy life.

    QUI SCRIPSI-- What I have written, I have written

    ASCENDAM IPALMAM APPREHANDENDA FRUCTUS EIUS-- I shall ascend into the palm tree and take hold of the fruits thereof.

    Ascension scene with hand-- Jesus Nazarene King of the Confessors

    TERRA TREMIT MORS VICTA GEMIT SURGENTE SEPULTO VITA CLUIT SYNAGOGA RUIT MOLIMINE STULT-- Earth trembles. Death is conquered and bewails, from the opening grave life surges forth and the synagogue collapses after vain and stupid effort.

    CHAM RIDET SUM NUDA VIDET PUDEBUNDA PARENTIS; IUJDI RESERE DEI PENAM MOR---Just as Cham laughed to see the shameful nakedness of his parent, so the Jews laugh at the death agony of God. (hardback, p. 244)

    Zechariah's srcoll: Eagle scroll:
    no Latin: They weep for him as an only begotten son and Not a bone of him shall be broken.

    Pilate Scene (Scripsi):
    Write not King of the Jews, but that he said, I am King of the Jews…Pilate: What I have written, I have written.

    Accursed is he who hangs upon a tree .

    Christ before the High Priest: no Latin:
    They shall look upon him whom they have pierced.

    The Three Marys:
    Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth which was crucified.

    Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness even so must the Son of man be lifted up.

    QUARE RUBRU IDEMENTUTUU (m) VESTIMENT(a)SIC.C.T. (tua calcantium in torculari)---
    Wherefore are thou red in thine apparel and they garments like Him that treadeth in the wine vat?

    Jeremiah's scroll: no Latin:
    Why should you be as a man wadering, like a mighty man who cannot save?

    Mark's scroll: no Latin--
    For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale- so shall the son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

    Amos's scroll: no Latin:
    They sold the righteous for silver.

    That's as far as I've gone. What did I leave out? Amazing they could get so much on a two foot cross! Can't wait to see it.


    Joan Pearson
    March 6, 1998 - 08:23 am
    Ginny, I did the same with the translations, getting them ready for LJ's surprise...was going to put them up top as a clickable.. Since you already did them here, do you want me to insert the sources and page nos. (as they occur in the hardback) right into the heading?

    LJ Klein
    March 6, 1998 - 12:25 pm
    I'm overwhealmed !!! I can't possibly respond to everything thats been posted, but ANN ALDEN, I apologise for not responding to your "HUGO" post (Ref #72) but now is the earliest we should probably be considering this interesting personage. I was taken with the thought of how St.Edmonds related to the earlier Irish Green and White Martyrdoms (How The Irish Saved Civilization). Let's all pay attention to this historical person who appears to be rather interesting himself.

    JOAN PEARSON. I'm only now responding to #73. As you know, I'm back from my brief "Absence episode". You and Ginny here in the "Real" world clearly have everything under control. Moreso than do I at the moment

    If I win the Lottery (Or even "Pick 5") I'll be with you in New York.

    Dynamically, I'll pick up my train of thought about where Ginny has suggested. At the point where the Animosity represented by the cross is revealed.

    P.S. I liked the Idea of Edward the confessor too. J.C. did confess "God" and of course to confess something basically means to ascribe to it.

    March 6, 1998 - 02:36 pm
    Joan, yes, that would be great, I had already written LJ to tell him there were two versions (the Jonkie and the Brainless)...

    If you happen to have the rest of the inscriptions, I would like to see them up there, too. Do you have all....what is it, 63??

    I was somewhat surprised NOT to find a list of them, surely they have been catalogued to death by now.

    Found I enjoyed reading them this Lent. Really enjoying this discussion, learning a lot. Still don't know morse, tho.


    Ann Alden
    March 7, 1998 - 04:18 am
    Boy, what work you have accomplished! Wonderful to have someone put those inscriptions all in one place. I have been trying to find them and then see how they relate to the OT and NT prophecies. So this makes it so much easier. It is amazing that anyone could get that much info in such a small space. I think that's why I don't think the Cross is a fake. Who would do all that work which must have taken a great deal of time? LJ-So glad you are back and ok. Once again I am into the hunt for meanings here and the reasons for the making of the Cross.

    March 10, 1998 - 04:25 am
    OK, today we're to be up to page 250 in the hardback (which is 228 in the paperback), and I hope everyone is enjoying their reading and catching up.

    I can truly say this is one book I look forward to reading its 50 pages, almost like a feast.

    Anyone have any general comments before I post some discussion topics later today?? Anything YOU consider would be a good thing to discuss?

    Di: have you studied the inscriptions of the photos in the paperback?? ahhahahahaha


    LJ Klein
    March 10, 1998 - 07:21 am
    Throughout, I have been most intrigued by Rorimer's teaching methods. Note his quote, "I was impressed with your mature state of mind when you returned from Europe, but now under the slightest pressure.....You simply have to learn that runing a vast Art Museum does not require me to hold hands a hundred percent of the time with a youthful curator who has an irrepressable urge to acquire an impossible work of art"

    I think Rorimer is one heck of a good teacher.



    March 10, 1998 - 05:54 pm
    And also a very enigmatic person? How about on the second page of the Chapter titled "A Game of Chess," in which Hoving attempts to present to his boss his findings, telling Rorimer, " I have made arrangements to have it sent out for study at our expense if we don't buy it, and at the dealer's if we do," and Rorimer states, "Fine work. I know the piece, of course. I have admired it for years," only to be called on it when Hoving reveals it's not the German piece he's thinking of.

    What just happened there in that scene? Was Rorimer sincere, did he really think it was another piece? Are there that many bronze gilt reliquary busts of female saints appearing to be "pastels in three dimsnsions?"

    Why did Hoving call him on his mistake? Would you have done the same?

    Am I the only one shocked by the plethora of art experts, ivory experts, medieval art experts in the world, and by the fact that they all know each other??

    Were you shocked at the magnitude of the loss of art to the German armies in WWII: "at least thirt-five shipments, consisting of over a hundred and fiftY freight-car loads. Train after train." Did the statement "From 1945 to around 1951 over five hundred thousand looted works of art were returned to their rightful owners throughout Europecoome as a surprise to you. "Goodness, how some of the art of Eastern countries had suffered--Poland, Czechoslovakia, Rumania, Albania, Yugoslavia?" Did you know that?

    Here, in addition, are some discussion topics, I guess, for this week: have put them in the heading, and will rush back to see what you all think! Have lots to say on this section.

    What do you think of Rorimer's assessment of Hoving: "You have a disconcerting talent to bend the facts for your own benefit?"

    Why do you think Rorimer stonewalled about purchasing the cross? What reason could he have?

    How did you feel when you read the statement at the end of the Chapter "A Litany of Hatred:" How such a beautiful work of art could carry such an embittered message I could not fathom?"


    LJ Klein
    March 11, 1998 - 06:12 am
    Well Ginny, those are deep questions. I think Rorimer was, of necessity privy to the counsel of the board and subject thereunto. Hoving had no way of being aware of what was going on in that quarter and thus neither do we.

    I tried to nominate a recent book about these stolen art treasures in the mainline book club last year but there appeared to be no interest in our group. It might surface in a new "Archeaology, Anthropology, Philosophy, and Current events" folder.

    Hatred and religion are inseparable.



    March 11, 1998 - 07:47 am
    So, LJ, you favor that title for the new folder? My email is, once again, down. I don't think hatred and religion are inseparable unless you can separate the people from the religious tenets.

    It's not the religion: it's the people and their willfull and inaccurate interpretations of religion where you get the problems.

    Consider the Crusades.


    By the way, that was a nasty little slap at Rorimer and his courting of the trustees that Hoving put in the book, "I felt certain that, were Ante Topic MImara a rich count of lord with a chateau gussied up by a fashionable interior decorator, or his collection published in glossy volumes, Rorimer and his trustees would have flown to Zurich at once."

    Now, I'm assuming three things here:

  • Rorimer is deceased
  • Hoving is petulant
  • Hoving has left this in for a reason, and the reason ior motivation of his doing this is fascinating to me. Wonder what it is??

  • LJ Klein
    March 11, 1998 - 12:20 pm
    Consider also that if any of the board members were Jewish its questionable whether they would want to spend that much on an antisemitic relic.

    No I don't like that long but accurate and all inclusive title. I've been trying to think of a better on for months now and the time to ACT is at hand. Please, think of a better one !!

    You are right about the "Slap", but I think it was more at the board than Rorimer. Wonder if it relates to Hoving's then future, now past relations with the board?



    March 12, 1998 - 04:52 pm
    LJ: That would be interesting to know, and I hope we can find it out in the next book, which, I think, outlines his struggles with the board.

    I also want to know what happened to Rorimer. Find myself in sympathy with him: he could see the writing on the wall when he met ol Thomas, and yet he didn't flinch, and he also promoted him; says a lot fot him. Find self feeling sorry for him, now!


    LJ Klein
    March 12, 1998 - 04:56 pm
    You still haven't responded to the problem of nameing the soon to be born folder.



    March 12, 1998 - 05:38 pm
    OH, well, whoever is going to host it can name it what they will, I guess, was trying to get discussion back to this fabulous book. I love it.

    The title you suggest is fine? I like it. Maybe you would want to add Books to the end of it?

    Naming things is NOT my forte: I've got a dog named Marley, remember?


    LJ Klein
    March 13, 1998 - 06:33 am
    What is Chthonian ??



    Ella Gibbons
    March 14, 1998 - 07:22 am
    Ginny - I want to buy this book - I think it's a must for those of us going on the trip. I believe you said the hardcover has pictures? Should we buy that one, or the paperback. Anymore paperbacks are getting harder to read, but they slip so easily into a purse I'll just strain my eyes (no way, am I ready for a magnifying glass!) Does Bibliofind have it or Amazon - perhaps you can post at top the best place to purchase and the price?

    LJ Klein
    March 14, 1998 - 07:34 am
    I have magnifying glasses stashed virtually everywhere. If one's "Self-Image" were threatened by a magnifying glass there are "Magnifying Glasses" available in many stores.



    March 15, 1998 - 06:38 am
    Ella: Bibliofind is where I got it, but Katie Bates just got a copy and so did Elin thru somebody else, and they're very pleased. Please go look at the Exchange and you'll see what they said, I'd never heard of it. I would definitely go for the hardback, as the photos are SO good and easy to see , and the paperback has it's photo captions reversed: will drive you nuts.

    Now, everyone, while we're waiting for everybody to catch up, what say you??

    This is probably one of my favorite books, and I can't wait to see the cross, and experience the thrilling surprise Jonkie has for us.

    How bout those topics in the heading? Anyone? Have you got one you'd like to discuss better?

    Amazing to find people reading and discussing a book with this subject!!

    Antiquities, archaeology, ivories.

    LJ: Wondered about that myself: don't know!


    Jackie Lynch
    March 15, 1998 - 07:18 am
    I think Rorimer's relationship with Hoving included the elements: 1. The natural antipathy between the wise old leader and the ambitious young challenger; 2. A bit of vicarious living at Hoving's freedom to go to Europe and hang out for weeks at a time; 3. The desire to season Hoving's enthusiasm, prevent him from going off half-cocked; 4. Testosterone poisoning; 5. Just plain cussedness.

    LJ Klein
    March 15, 1998 - 07:48 am
    Where are we "Pagewise" ?



    Dale Knapschaefer
    March 15, 1998 - 01:45 pm
    I had to return the book to library three weeks ago, so don't remember some things. I think the artist could have created this beautiful work of art even though it had a hateful message because I think he would be more concerned with creating the work of art than with it's message. Also this was a time when people accepted what they were told by religious leaders, so he may have accepted what the authorities said. This part of the book about identifying the artist showed great detective work by Hoving and to me was one of the most interesting parts of the book. How much do you think this identification process has changed in the 30 years since Hoving did this work? Would there be computer files on artists showing the characteristics of each artists work so that it would be possible to match up photos of the unkown work with the work of known artists. Does anyone know if Hoving became director of the museum right after Lorimer was director? By the time Hoving wrote this book, the board had already been forced Hoving to resign as director. Maybe there was a battle between Hoving and Lorimer. Someone had posted a message to say that Hoving appeared to dislike the board of directors. At one point in the book, he was discussing the directors with the socialite curator (forgot the name) and they talked about them as if they were dopes. Dale Knapschaefer

    Ann Alden
    March 17, 1998 - 05:32 am
    Hi everyone,

    Sorry to not be discussing the book with ya'll for the past week but I have been discussing the book with my discussion group here in Georgia. They are now so enthused that they plan on reading it next. In the meantime, I have been delving into the history of the Middle Ages and buildings by reading a delightful book titled "Cathedrals and Castles-building in the MIddle Ages" by Alain Erlande-Brandeburg. It justs more info on the times of the creating of the Cross.<paragraph> My hardback copy which I bought from a Bibliophile dealer remains at my side, in spite of the packing of all the rest of my books.<paragraph> LJ--have you suggested reading the book by John Hess titled "The Grand Acquisitors"? It looks very good and I assume from the title we would find more info on the museums' acquisitions.

    Ella Gibbons
    March 17, 1998 - 06:54 am
    Ann: I want to buy a copy of the book - is it safe to give your charge card # to one of those dealers on Bibliofind? Thought I would call some used book stores here first.

    LJ Klein
    March 17, 1998 - 07:13 am
    Fraid I'll have to look up "The Grand Acquisitors"



    March 17, 1998 - 10:18 am
    Gosh, came bouncing in here to say, as today's Tuesday, we're to do the next 50 pages, and OH NO!~!

    We're NOT coming to the end of the book, are we?? Horrors and more horrors!

    LJ asked where we are:

    We're now to be chatting about pages 250-300 in the hardback and from 228-278 in the paperback,

    Dale for somebody who returned it a long time ago, you sure do remember it well.

    I've copied out everybody's posts, such good points, and will be back later to try to refer to what all you've said. Then I plan to sit down in front of the FIRE here since it's raining and cold outside, and read a very good book: pages 250-300 of this wonderful experience, King of the Confessors!

    Ann, how exciting! I really want to hear every word they say, and since we've voted to read another of his, it'll be germane to that discussion, too.

    Back at ya later,


    Ella Gibbons
    March 18, 1998 - 06:24 am
    Ann: We have a wonderful used book store in Grandview, we'll have to go together sometime when you get settled in. I went yesterday and got a lovely hardcover "King of the Confessors" for $11 and, of course, had to buy a couple more. All ready for NYC!

    LJ Klein
    March 18, 1998 - 06:34 am
    Ginny, which book are we reading next?



    March 18, 1998 - 10:47 am
    LJ: We've really not decided? Someone mentioned several of his that were mentioned in an article about him. I'd really like to know what happened to him. I've got Finding the Fakes and Making the Mummies Dance, let's all nominate a Thomas Hoving book so we can get a little ahead: good idea, LJ!!


    Ann Alden
    March 19, 1998 - 06:34 am
    Ella, yes its safe to use your credit card on Bibliophile. But, I am so glad you have found a good used book store in Columbus. Can't wait to visit it.

    Ginny, I am interested in another Hoving book but also mentioned to LJ that there is that other book from the article by John Hess, "The Grand Acquisitors" that appealed to me. I haven't had a chance to inquire about it at the library. But I will soon.

    Ann Alden
    March 20, 1998 - 03:20 am
    Hi again,

    I looked for The Grand Acquisitors at Amazon and they say its out of print. So, I went to Bibliophile and they have 4 0r 5 copies that range from $13 to $25 with $3 to $5 shpp chgs. The description is as follows: "the rise and fall of those heroes and villians, dealer and directors, curators and patrons" Behind the scenes collecting, dealers, museums and patrons--Thomas Hoving and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Sound very interesting but won't buy until we make a decision here. Length-178pp.

    Would also consider Hoving other books.

    March 20, 1998 - 06:07 am
    Ann: That looks excellent. We'll consider that nomination #1, and may give more of an overview than Hoving himself would. Am going, as soon as I finish this post, to Barnes & Noble online and see what's available in Hoving, and repost here.

    Meanwhile, I don't want this book to end! I want to just stay here!! Am posting new discussion thoughts in the heading, some from our readers, and would like your opinion on all, starting with the Party which we got to go to of the Board members in action.

    Here we are among the lions of commerce, no small collectors themselves, and what do we find?? Let's let Hoving himself tell us:

    "But the situation had none of the glamor I had been dreaming about. there was just a bare conference tale surrounded by seven groggy men. ...I appeared to be in trouble from the start. " (He chatted up each impressive man in turn about each's interests in art)....

    What did you think of this party scene? Is this what you expected? What did you think of his witholding the information about the anti-Semitic information on the cross? Wonder if THIS is why he fell out with the board??

    How would YOU have felt if you were on the board and YOU had been denied that information??

    "Political maneuvering, gracious manners, the ability to flatter the director and the board members--those qualities are more important then connoisseruship or intellect."

    Is this true, and if so, what does it SAY about the art world in general??

    I have nothing but admiration here for the way Hoving relates this tale. When Rorimer tells him HE it to go to Zurich to negotiate with Mimara, Hoving is "hoarse" in his replies: thus taking us right along with him in the excitement.

    I'm not able to read a lot of this at once. I keep putting it down to think about it. I'm right at the point where Rorimer is sending him on to Zurich, has said they DID contact the British Museum and the representative of that institution screamed and shrieked at the Met representative! And THEN Rorimer drops the bomb: not only will he NOT buy the tacky additional pieces, but he won't pay but #500,000 either! Also there's ANOTHER find that Hoving needs to go pick up for $90,000.

    It's so exciting, even after all these years, to read about it. I love it.


    March 20, 1998 - 06:29 am
    Here are the available Hoving books I can find, and I think it's the Mummies we want, have enclosed the blurb on the Mummies, maybe we should read BOTH the mummies and the Acquisitors??? Then we could really get a perspective?? First the Mummies, then the Acquisitors? What do you say? With Bibilofind and the other service, we can have them in a day or so, meanwhile we can lovingly pull this out, I love it.

    An American Vision : Three Generations of Wyeth Art : N.D. Wyeth, Andrew Wyeth, James Wyeth ~ Usually ships in 24 hours James H. Duff, et al / Paperback / Published 1994 Our Price: $23.96 ~ You Save: $5.99 (20%) Read more about this title...

    False Impressions : The Hunt for Big-Time Art Fakes Thomas Hoving / Hardcover / Published 1996 Our Price: $18.20 ~ You Save: $7.80 (30%) Read more about this title...

    False Impressions : The Hunt for Big-Time Art Fakes ~ Usually ships in 24 hours Thomas Hoving / Paperback / Published 1997 Our Price: $11.20 ~ You Save: $2.80 (20%) Read more about this title...

    Greatest Works of Art of Western Civilization ~ Ships in 2-3 days Thomas Hoving / Hardcover / Published 1997 Our Price: $35.00 ~ You Save: $15.00 (30%) Read more about this title...

    Making the Mummies Dance ~ Ships in 2-3 days Thomas Hoving / Paperback / Published 1994 Our Price: $10.40 ~ You Save: $2.60 (20%) Read more about this title...

    Art for Dummies (For Dummies) Thomas Hoving / Paperback / Published 1998 Our Price: $19.99 (Not Yet Published)

    Discovery Thomas Hoving / Published 1989 (Hard to Find)

    King of the Confessors Thomas Hoving / Published 1982 (Hard to Find) Read more about this title...

    Making the Mummies Dance : Inside the Metropolitan Museum of Art Thomas Hoving / Published 1993 (Hard to Find) Read more about this title...

    Masterpiece Thomas Hoving / Published 1988 (Hard to Find)

    The Search for Tutankhamun : The Untold Story of Adventure and Intrigue Surrounding the Greatest Modern Archaeological Find Thomas Pearsall Field, Hoving / Published 1978 (Hard to Find)

    Tutankhamun, the Untold Story Thomas Pearsall Field Hoving / Published 1984 (Hard to Find)

    Two Worlds of Andrew Wyeth Thomas Hoving / Published 1978 (Hard to Find)

    Two Worlds of Andrew Wyeth : A Conversation With Andrew Wyeth Thomas Hoving (Editor) / Published 1984 (Hard to Find)

    Here's the info on Making the Mummies Dance : From Kirkus Reviews , 10/15/92: A backbiting, freewheeling account of irrevocably shaking up the country's leading museum--told at breakneck speed by former Metropolitan Museum of Art Director Hoving (Discovery, 1989, etc.). ``From the moment I leaped out of my city limousine and dashed up the steps of the Met, I was picking the place apart.'' The brash, publicity-seeking scholar and former N.Y.C. parks commissioner began his ten-year reign in 1967; during it, the museum repeatedly made front-page news. It bought Vel zquez's Juan de Pareja secretly at auction for over $5 million, and purchased a vase by Euphronios allegedly robbed from an Italian tomb. It ``deaccessioned'' paintings, including a van Gogh, and the catalogue for the ``Harlem on my Mind'' show was so inflammatory that it was withdrawn. Hoving's vision for the museum as ``a living forum for communication and teaching and education and celebration'' meant doubling its size, mounting blockbuster shows, acquiring ``the big, rare, fantastic pieces, the expensive ones, the ones that would cause a splash.'' Crowded with rich trustees and erratic art-world figures, the museum's backstage, as depicted here, is as ugly as any. ``To survive,'' Hoving argues, ``a director had to be'' not just ``scholar [and] aesthete'' but ``part gunslinger, ward heeler, legal fixer, toady.'' In fact, from the evidence here, those roles seemed Hoving's choice. And though he takes the blame for many ``disasters,'' he attributes them to his backing down on a master plan that was, despite criticisms of grandiosity, finally ``too little and too cowardly.'' Leading the public to the Met's keyhole, Hoving reveals that his directorship had much to do with intrigue, money, and power. Still, 15 years later, he fails to thoughtfully analyze what his drive for the grand scale ultimately meant. (Photos--16 pp. b&w-- not seen.) -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

    Synopsis: The former director of the famed New York museum recounts his activities at the art world's pinnacle, from wooing important patrons to battling for acquisitions, from high-society goings on to day-to-day power struggles and one-upsmanship.

    This looks like a winner, what say you all? What fun!!


    LJ Klein
    March 20, 1998 - 07:46 am
    I'll read it !!!

    To answer one of the questions, had I been on the "Board", I'd have fired Hoving out of hand. Any Executive Director who is contemptuous of his/her "Board" is both foolish and rideing for a precipitous fall.



    Jackie Lynch
    March 21, 1998 - 07:25 am
    I have been hooked by King Tut since I was a kid, when a kind librarian turned me on to Carter's books. What a story! Yes, let's continue on this Hoving trek. How about the art fakes next? Maybe we should do Hoving, book-by-book. Hmmmm.

    Ann Alden
    March 21, 1998 - 10:50 am
    Since the availability of Making the Mummies Dance is better, I vote for it as our next book


    I think I will buy the Acquisitors just for fun. It looks so interesting. In fact, all of these books look good.

    March 21, 1998 - 10:55 am
    I agree, let's read 'em all. Every one. Let's start with the mummies and then the Acquisitors, as that will give us another glimpse of Hoving, then let's vote again. I hear the Tut one is fab, too. He's an interesting writer. Just the thought of having a book by him to read brightens up considerably my day. He's a shark, love the man.


    Personally, and this will sound stupid, I was vaguely disappointed by the scions of industry in a Board Presentation meeting. Kept wondering WHY they seemed so leery of Hoving? Is he a tall man? Do you think he towered over them? Wonder why one and all of them seemed to back off from him?


    Ann Alden
    March 21, 1998 - 10:56 am
    As to Thomas Hoving and the ivory cross, I would have been tempted to give Rorimer a sharp kick. But, that's my childish reaction as I know this acquisition was of utmost importance. The story reads like a younger, more passionate man's reaction to all of this exciting running around. Maybe it is diary connected. Them so bored as if the purchase was forgone conclusion orchestrated by Rorimer.

    Joan Pearson
    March 22, 1998 - 07:14 pm
    Oh please tell me we haven't finished discussing this book!!! I have been overwhelmed by the Litany of Hatred chapter. Stalled out, sidetracked. I have spent the entire week searching out the biblical inscriptions...all of them. But the large ones on the vertical bar and down the sides...the chthonian inscriptions I really found compelling!

    How very fortuitous...Mr. Hoving didn't stop at the translations, but went to the sources and read them in context!.. Thereby learning the true implications of the inscriptions! Just the sort of thing we have come to expect of him...and just the sort of thing that gets him into deep doo-doo!

    Prior to this discovery, I had been fascinated by his submersion in the impressed he was becoming with the human qualities of Christ. He could be angry, afraid, petty, contrite, confused." He was drawn to the parables, the words of Christ himself, committing parts to memory. It was as if the cross was drawing him to a new, personal understanding of Christianity.

    I hated to see all that come to a halt, as he gradually grasped the "dark side" of the beautiful cross!

    To completely understand the power of that cross, I think we are compelled to regard, and perhaps try to understand all three of the levels of interpretation Hoving has identified:

    1. The "powerful and beautiful tale of the Passion of Christ expressed through the Evangelists and the predictions of the ancient prophets"

    2. the glory of Christ which appeals to non-believers to convert to Christianity

    3. On the chthonian* level - the harshest diatribe against the Jews ever to be found on a work of art.

  • Looked up chtonian, (from the Greek word "chthon, meaning "earth) > infernal>damnable>hellish.

    I went to the sources to read the context of the offensive quotations to see for myself what Hoving saw.

    How important it was for Hoving to go to the Biblical context to arrive at that chtonian level! "It was as though someone, inspired by malevolence had deliberately chosen to manipulate passages from the Scriptures into a litany of hatred."

    Some of the inscriptions were "benign, but others cried out for vengeance, destruction and death to the Jews; for believers, grace, salvation and eternal life." It would have been bad enough if these were direct quotes used out of context to convey this message. But to group an actual Biblical quote (out of context) in the same verse with a comment from somewhere other than the Bible was .....shocking!
    Here's a good example of one of the more offensive inscriptions. Of course they were engraved three times larger and not at all abbreviated in prominent places across the vertical bar and down the sides:


    "Just as Cham laughed to see the shameful nakedness of his parent, so the Jews laugh at the death agony of God."

    The first half of this verse was from Genesis. Cham was cursed by his father for laughing at his nakedness as he slept in a drunken stupor. He was not honoring his father and his brothers reported him...but the second half is not from the New Testament, to compliment the first part from the OT!!! Where did they come from? I wondered if the artist who carved the cross decided to add his own commentary, or if he had been commissioned to do it, and told what to include. Hoving wondered if they had been added at a later date, so much bolder they seemed than the rest of the cross!

    Of course he was able, with little difficulty , to find the source of such sentiments in those dusty old encyclopedia in the Institute of Fine Arts.

    Nothing harsh at first, but then in the Tract Against the Jews by St. Cyprian in the late 5th century, he found 8 of the quotations. And in "Disputations", identical quotations to those found on the cross.

    He asked himself, was the cross an evil tract against the Jews or a typology used to convert Jews to Christianity?

    Did the "King of the Confessors" call for conversions. Or did the cross creator write 'Confessors' because he couldn't bear to think of Christ as King of the Jews.

    I was impressed with the observation by Kurt Weitzmann that the cross was worn in certain places, probably by fingers, indicating it was used a ceremonial cross over a long period of time...and that this couldn't be forged!

    I found it very interesting that Rorimer had the same reaction as did Hoving...that the dark side of the cross must be kept secret.

    I wonder at what point this dark side was disclosed to those board members and to the public!

    So happy to be caught up. Just hope the discussion isn't over! I really want to consider your questions...and read your posts on the pages after Litany of Hatred chapter...
  • Ginny
    March 23, 1998 - 07:25 am
    Joan: I hope it's not over, I'm not through, anyway, loved your post.

    I must admit to being sort of disappointed at the hate stuff on the cross, and I really like your "Confessor" theory and the possible explanation for the "Jews laughed," connection. So glad to finally have chtonian explained, am moving books all over the place and don't have a dictionary to hand.

    What clever thinking on your part: what a mysterious object this cross is, can't wait to finish the book and see how it all ends, even tho I read it years ago, so much more fun with all of you!

    Let's not stop now, I'm enjoying this tremendously!


    Ella Gibbons
    March 23, 1998 - 01:50 pm
    We are interrupting this discussion for a brief message:

    KATHARINE GRAHAM'S FASCINATING BOOK "PERSONAL HISTORY" will be discussed starting April 20th. Get your book soon, reserve it at Library, or buy it. Best Buy has the paperback discounted at 35%. IT'S THE BEST BOOK YOU WILL EVER READ ON WATERGATE AND ONE WOMAN'S PLACE IN HISTORY!!

    We will now resume our regularly scheduled program. Thank you.

    Joan Pearson
    March 24, 1998 - 09:13 am
    I received some bibliographic information on the cross from the Cloisters - well actually, there is a book, The Cloisters Cross, by Elizabeth Parker/Charles Little, published by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1994, based on approx. 50 sources, - which are attached in the bibliography. Most of them refer to museum newsletters and exhibit catalogs.

    So I checked Amazon and found the Met. Book

    The Cloisters Cross - Its Art and Meaning

    March 24, 1998 - 09:26 am
    What a fabulous find, Joan, what a wonder this all opens up!!

    While we're pausing a moment for breath, can we settle on the next few books?

    Since we thought we'd read another Hoving, I nominate the one I discussed above, Making the Mummies Dance followed by, in a leisurely way, The Grand Acquisitors .

    I'd really like to hear from everyone on this, as it will probably take a while to get both books or what has been your experience?

    I'm so glad to be reading this with you all.


    Joan Pearson
    March 24, 1998 - 10:50 am
    Can you stand one more commercial?

    MARCH MADNESS Comes to Books & Lit!


    Feeling Lucky? You might just win the May book selection,
    The Color of Water

    Deadline for all guesses is MIDNIGHT, March 27!

    March Madness Headquarters


    Joan Pearson
    March 24, 1998 - 10:54 am
    Yes! Let's do both...starting with Mummies

    About the book on the Cross...Yes, it is expensive. Can we put our heads together and figure a way to "chip" in ...and mail it around to one another? Or something? It looks intriguing just from reading the bibliography.

    LJ Klein
    March 25, 1998 - 06:11 am
    Let's DEFINITELY do Mummies. We KNOW that we have at least three readers there. I'd like to hear more from readers of "Aquisitors" (I've grown a bit more cautious after "Loitering")



    March 25, 1998 - 06:12 am
    YES!! Yes, I ordered it, had to have it, and I figure we've got 9 mos till the trip, and we can mail it out and share it all! I figure 2 weeks for each person who wants it going on the trip, and then longer later: if nothing else, in two weeks we can revel in the photos, they ought to be spectacular for the price, and that way we can all share it in a round robin!

    Who's first? I'll let you know when it comes, we can all autograph it, lovely keepsake for when it finally gets back to me!


    Joan Pearson
    March 29, 1998 - 05:34 am
    Me! Me! I'm first! Two weeks! OK, but someone else will have to host the Great Books those two weeks while I retreat to those pages! Let me know when you get it Ginny! I want to hear all about it. The bibliography itself is so intriguing...and extensive!

    Are you all just slowly savoring the final chapters of KOC as I am? I must say I am enjoying Mr. Hoving's search for the creator of the cross, as much as his attempt to acquire it for the Cloisters... Am still turning those last pages...truly amazing research and discoveries on his part, don't you think? To think that all that information had been there all the time, gathering dust. Makes one wonder how many more such puzzles are out there just waiting to be unearthed...

    March 29, 1998 - 06:37 am
    Joan, yes, and for some reason they wrote me there was a price DECREASE, so have taken $10 off the price. They say it will be 4-6 weeks, so will get it in circulation ASAP.

    I am reveling in these last pages, we're now to be from 250-END.

    I read the last pages in the opthamolgist's office, was so swept away by the final tension filled moments, that I JUMPED a mile high when name was called.

    Surely from pages 250 (278 in paperback) there's no more thrilling book!! I MARVEL at his saying YES I have the money when he didn't!! What on earth was he to do??

    No wonder he sat and cried, he had me almost crying with frustration, too.

    He's a wonderful writer, and I do agree, Dale, that's one thing we must ask when we have the Mystery Event in NYC, do they now have all this on computer? How fast it would be!

    I'm surprised Cambridge did not want him to look at the Bible, and shocked that it had such a mundane name for such a glorious work.

    Once the history of the remarks on the cross were explained, I can understand them. Wasn't that fascinating about the Abbot??

    And Lord Kenneth Clark again rears his head! Katie S would love to see that: apparenly he had something to be snooty about!


    It's official: Making the Mummies Dance will be on tap for May 1!! Plenty of time to get and read this one, and let's find out what HAPPENED to Hoving??

    Ginny: WHERE are you all? Do comment!!

    March 29, 1998 - 06:52 am
    OK: Have got up four new discussion topics, and am holding the biggest one for last: do, please try to give your opinion on at least one.


    LJ Klein
    March 29, 1998 - 04:08 pm
    I too have "Mummies" ordered, am on board and will be ready and, I hope, waiting.



    March 30, 1998 - 11:36 am
    It's in paperback, too!~


    Joan Pearson
    March 30, 1998 - 01:34 pm
    Does the paperback have the same graphics on the front as the Hard cover? Love the little dance Hoving is doing on the binding...I think we should work on that...what's it called?

    March 30, 1998 - 03:51 pm
    Hahahahahha: what was that old song about mummies?? Hahhahahah

    I'm going to answer one of the questions above in preparation for next week's bombshell question.

    I'll give this book a 10 on a scale from 1-10. I don't know what else he could have added, it certainly held my interest right to the end: I learned A LOT and enjoyed every word. A perfect book for the doctor's waiting room, you'll forget where you are!!

    I think I'll answer a question a day, and then tackle the BIG BOMB!!

    I don't have the paperback, just the hardback with him capering all over it. We must meet this man.

    At the very last, he provides the documentation for his writing of the book: all his diaries, etc. I think the book truly represents how he felt and what he thought, and am on FIRE to see what happened to Rorimer.


    LJ Klein
    March 31, 1998 - 06:15 am
    I give it a Nine

    I Don't believe Topic

    The "Missing Piece" is frustrating and

    Nearly everybody is a collector of "Something"



    April 1, 1998 - 04:43 am
    LJ: On the missing piece, question #3, I would say after all this time with so many millions of us looking ofr it and knowing what it looks like, our chances are non existant.

    If I had been the rich old woman who had the missing block, I'd have wanted it in a special exhibit forever with my little name upon. Maybe it does have her name on it, one authenticated piece....or at least some mention. When we see it in NY, we'll know. It's a miracle that so much of it DID survive, and I don't believe Topic either, especially with that criminal record.


    Joan Pearson
    April 2, 1998 - 08:26 am
    I finished! Didn't dare come in here to follow the discussion, as I was afraid to spoil the suspense...similar to getting involved in a discussion of a mystery, when I still had the last 20 pages to read!

    Bring on the questions!

    1. I'll rate this book a high 9.9, because I really found very little lacking...beautifully written, breath-taking suspense, and so much to say about human nature from the 12th to the 20th century.

    The reason I withhold a perfect 10, is my personal disappointment in not finding a photo of the Oslo Christ-figure that was originally on the cross. I know that the figure was on loan to the Cloisters from Oslo...don't know if it was exhibited on the cross. Was it affixed, or shown in a separate display. Is it still up at the Cloisters on indefinite loan - or back in Oslo? We shall see. Anyway, I wish there had been a photo showing the figure on the cross.

    My other disappointment was the maddening reference to the illustrated Life magazine spread that came out after the announcement of the acquisition of the cross...what was the date? I assume it was 1964. Does anyone know anyone who collects Life Magazine? I know there are collectors somewhere...If this was National Geographic, there would be no problem...

    It seems that all the "Sources" were either in-house Met bulletins or British publications......

    2. I found it very helpful to learn that Mr. Hoving kept a diary and extensive notes all through the period he was dealing with Topic...even the weather was noted in his diary. I had noticed his wonderful imagery when describing rain, starting with the very early chapters and did wonder if he was "embellishing" his story or if he was actually remembering the rain on certain important dates. He was using his diary!

    Only because this is a one-sided, subjective observation of what transpired, do I think the story was "embellished" in any way, if that is the correct word. I think it is an honest recollection of how it appeared to the author at the time, with the help of his notes......

    2. No, I don't believe Topic for an instant. Never did trust a man with beady eyes AND bright red lips!!!

    Believe that Frau Mersmann confessed the truth when she thought Topic had left her with the baby. Whatever happened to that baby anyway.?

    Believe the cross was acquired from the Nazi plunder.

    Aren't there such great ironies here? From the medieval period to the present. From early days of Christianity to the recent message of apology from the Pope for the great silence of the Church at the time of the holocaust. The great Cross of Christianity, a transforming inspiration to all who look upon it, later inscribed by the monastic Samson with the hateful anti Jewish sentiments , then plundered by the Nazis, greatest persecutors of the Jews in history...And no one through the ages... until Thomas Hoving knew of the dark side of the cross! I find this mind- boggling, don't you?

    Late again for work...will finish with thought on the "missing piece" tonight...

    So is TH doing the "Funky Chicken" on the Mummies' binding?

    LJ Klein
    April 2, 1998 - 02:05 pm
    Nice post, Joan, but we realy don't know whether it was Nazi Plunder or not. Topic did claim to have found it in a church basement. Of course we can't believe him.



    Joan Pearson
    April 2, 1998 - 06:57 pm
    LJ, where do you think he got any of his treasures from? Surely, Topic was not a true collector, but an opportunist, who had no idea of the authenticity of any of his pieces. He was able to "acquire" numerous works of art, only because of his position at the Collection points...and then he needed to learn from others whether he had anything worthwhile in his possession...

    I believe that EVERYTHING he had came from the collection points...that EVERYTHING he had came from the artwork confiscated by the NAZIS...

    I must say here that I enjoyed the final search for the creator of the cross as much as the whole acquisition process...and the afternotes too. There is still so much to learn. But it is amazing how much was unearthed in Hoving's research!

    If I had the missing piece in my possession, I'd do what Mrs. Fuld did. I certainly wouldn't hold out for more money. She didn't need it, and valued her peace and serenity over a lengthy're right, Ginny...a nice, tasteful little plaque at the Cloisters is all that I'd require. And then I'd tune in to seniornet and read the whole exciting story from start to finish...

    But there is still a missing block out there somewhere, right? Last seen in the 1950' France was it? Well that's modern time ...and in the Western World. Surely the person who has it in his possession has heard of the Bury St. Edmunds's cross? I mean, it must be in the hands of a collector ...and we have seen how single-minded the collectors are. Their quest is all- consuming...they focus only on that which they must have...and will go to any lengths to acquire... Now, I'd say the person who has that piece of ivory is of the art world and is quite aware that it is sought after. The only explanation for his silence is his death perhaps...and the block is in the hands of his heirs, who know nothing of the value of the little block of ivory.....

    What was the most gripping moment for you in the story? I want to see if it was the same that got to me....

    LJ Klein
    April 3, 1998 - 04:39 am
    To me, the most "Gripping" moment was the discovery that the "Mona Lisa" had been showered all night by the sprinkler system.



    Dianne O'Keefe
    April 3, 1998 - 08:53 am
    I'd give this book a 9. It read as a wonderful mystery. It was difficult not to read ahead and know how it all turned out. I too did not buy Topic. I felt the art treasures were Nazi plunder and I didn't feel Hoving could be that charismatic with just everyone giving him the inside scoop on their museum doings, and telling all.

    Joan Pearson
    April 6, 1998 - 08:04 pm
    Oh yes, LJ, the misted Mona Lisa was a mouth-opener, wasn't it? I do remember gasping at that! Consoled myself that it was an oil. Perhaps it was in some sort of wrap, as well? I saw the Mona Lisa in that show at the Met and it looked fine!

    What really got me was the "greening" of the cross. I screamed out loud at that! I cried with Hoving. I thought he behaved wonderfully with the poor fellow who had to tell him what happened. That dye had penetrated the cross and there was nothing the conservateur could do to remove it! Then I remembered the photographs. But were they taken before the cast was made? But wait! Let's try to bleach it out with the sunlamps... and it worked!!!

    Ann Alden
    April 10, 1998 - 01:53 am
    Well, I guess this is the last day of this wonderful book and yes, the showering of the Mona Lisa was quite a shock but anything can happen anywhere, I guess. I will be going offline for about two weeks after Sunday while we get moved to Ohio. I am still searching for Making the Mummies Dance. Probably will order it from Amazon after the move. Chao to all til we meet in May!

    LJ Klein
    April 10, 1998 - 05:51 am
    I just started "Mummies" last night. Right off the bat we get a lot of the questions about Rorimer, the board, and even Hoving - clarified. I think this one is going to be even better than the "Confessors"

    I'm so pleased with myself that I have to "Cackle" I've finished and am ready for the Graham book, Undaunted Courage, Cold Mountain, Into Thin Air, and the David Niven books.

    Of course there's still "The Color of Water" and four other related books I want to read (One of which I'd like to recommend for "Current Events" and about six others that have been waiting on my shelf for the past year. How do youall keep up with all these books??



    Joan Pearson
    April 10, 1998 - 06:17 am
    Oh LJ!!! Not a word about Jude!!!

    Yes, Mummies is very promising! Ginny was wondering out loud - before she left us - about Rorimer, and we get more than we bargained for in the first chapter!

    I'm having a hard time with all these books too! Some of them are library books, and I have to keep renewing and getting on lists to get them back. With the fines I pay (I can't keep track of all the due dates), I probably should buy the books and be done with it!

    Later! Bye Ann. Look forward to hearing from you again!

    Let me be the first to say

    Jackie Lynch
    April 11, 1998 - 06:36 am
    Yes, welcome home, Ginny. (Where has Ginny been? Did I miss something? I'm always the last to know what's going on. Mumble, mumble, mumble.)

    April 11, 1998 - 12:56 pm
    Hahahahahah!! Me, too, Jackie, mumble mumble mumble, still exhausted, (have been in Oklahoma) but had to look into my beloved books today to see what you were all up to!

    Thanks, Joan, too, glad to be back, but totally overwhelmed with mail and seriously behind with the posts. Catching up tomorrow evening, I hope.

    Brain dead, but so glad everyone liked the book, why don't we keep this open for those who are just starting it, as they mentioned in the NYC Trip?? Those of us who have finished could keep looking in and kibbitizing??

    Seemed like every other page had a shock. I gasped my way throught this one, I can tell you, and he had me hanging on the edge of my seat, too.

    The New York Magazine has an article by Hoving in its 30th Anniversary issue talking about what he tried to do in the museum world. It's very short, so will try to go to the site and bring it here.

    Let's keep this one and open a new Mummies?? Or would that confuse people?? I agree with LJ, Mummies looks fabulous, and am very proud of LJ for being ready with ALL those books! I'm surprised, myself, at how well the Katherine Graham reads.

    I KNOW the Hoving is a treasure, can't wait to open it,


    LJ Klein
    April 11, 1998 - 02:59 pm
    Ginny, WElcome HOME !!! Glad you didn't blow away out there.

    Hoving mentions Katherine Graham in the "Mummies" book

    Joan. No mention of "Jude" simply because I can't call it worthwhile OR true literature. The story outline might have been handled with great effect by a REAL writer, but Hardy doesn't measure up to modern High School standards of excellence. Of course thats just my opinion, and I've never been known for Humble opinions.



    April 11, 1998 - 06:01 pm
    Ah, LJ, what a pleasure to see you as opiniated as ever! Hardy not a true writer?? AH LJ!!

    Hoving does mention Katherine Graham?? Can't wait to see, am enjoying the Graham immensely.

    Happy Easter, Everybody!!


    Joan Pearson
    April 13, 1998 - 10:17 am
    From the travel section in Sunday's Washington Post, devoted to NYC this week:

    The Cloisters: Good & Medieval

    Sunday, April 12, 1998; Page E08

    Of all the special retreats recommended by friends of ours in New York City, we were most intrigued by the Cloisters. This medieval art museum perched on a hillside in upper Manhattan seems as far as one can get from the bustle of Broadway and Times Square. "I don't recommend it to just anybody," one friend confided, "because it takes some energy to get there."

    The Cloisters is, indeed, far afield, in the middle of Fort Tryon Park on the banks of the Hudson River. But we found the trek to be worth it. The building, composed of stones and walls brought from medieval structures in France and other parts of Europe, has an unusual mix of calm and grandeur.

    As if the architecture -- adorned with angels and priests carved from stone -- were not stunning enough, the walls are decorated with wonderful medieval artifacts and tapestries.

    Among the most remarkable art works displayed there are the Nine Heroes Tapestries. Painted about 1385, the oversized wall hangings memorialize both pagan and Christian heroes. Another favorite of ours was the Gothic chapel, decorated with spectacular stained glass and several stone tombs dating from the Middle Ages.

    Take some time to walk through Fort Tryon Park. Piped-in medieval music enhances the peaceful ambiance. Occasional lectures and concerts are held there, particularly on spring and summer weekends.

    THE CLOISTERS (212-923-3700) is about $15 by cab from Midtown. By car, take the Henry Hudson Parkway north to the Fort Tryon/Cloisters exit, one mile north of the George Washington Bridge. By bus, take the Madison Avenue M4 bus north to the last stop. By subway, take the A train to 190th Street and walk 10 minutes north, or board the M4 bus at 190th Street and ride one stop north. Suggested donation: $8.

    © Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

    Jackie Lynch
    April 26, 1998 - 07:03 am
    Put my name in the column with those who have their own copies of Confessors. My daughter found the paper back!

    April 26, 1998 - 01:55 pm
    YAY YAY Jackie, want to hear what you thought of it. Take a GOOD look at those PHOTOS and captions! What do you see??




    Jackie Lynch
    April 27, 1998 - 08:14 pm
    Ginny: I feel like one of those poor souls who can knock off the NY Times crossword puzzle with one hand and then they get on the other end of the phone line with Will Storz and Leanne what's her name on Sunday morning. I have looked and looked at those illustrations without seeing what I'm supposed to see. Give me a hint, please?

    April 28, 1998 - 05:53 am
    JACKIE!! (You may have a different edition--just thought of that, am secretly trying to drive you crazy!)

    No, look, for instance at the next to last page of illustrations: the full figure of the cross.

    Now, read the description, and find the Lamb of God. Or the bull. Or the lion.