As the Metropolitan Museum of Art prepares to relinquish a prized, 2,500-year-old bowl, Italy's Culture Ministry has agreed to lend the institution three ancient Greek vessels for four years.
Met spokeswoman Elyse Topalian acknowledged last night that the loan stemmed from an agreement the Met signed last year with Italy to resolve a longstanding dispute over looted antiquities.
In an e-mail, the museum said the three pieces include a jug in the shape of a young woman's head (6th-5th century B.C.), a cup signed by the potter Euxitheos and the painter Oltos depicting the assembly of gods on Mount Olympus (515-510 B.C.) and a vase from the 4th century B.C. showing Oedipus solving the riddle of the Sphinx.
The three pieces are scheduled to go on view in the Met's Greek and Roman galleries beginning Wednesday, Jan. 15. They join a Laconian drinking cup already on loan.
The objects, which the Met described as ``outstanding,'' will fill a void left by the return of the 2,500-year-old Euphronios krater, among other objects.
The last day the krater will be on view at the Met is Sunday, Jan. 13.
Last February, Italy and the Met resolved a three-decade dispute over looted antiquities. The museum agreed to return the krater -- a bowl painted by the Greek artist Euphronios for mixing wine and water -- along with 20 other antiquities.
In return, Italy agreed to lend objects of equal importance and beauty to the museum. The Met's director, Philippe de Montebello, and Italian Culture Minister Rocco Buttiglione signed the agreement at a ceremony in the ministry's Rome headquarters. Earlier this week, de Montebello announced his retirement from the Met at the end of this year.
Among the terms of the renewable, 40-year agreement, Italy waived civil, administrative or criminal claims against the museum for its acquisition and holding of the artworks.
The Met bought the Euphronios krater for $1 million in 1972. At the time, the Italian government said the vase had been looted from an Etruscan tomb outside Rome.
The other items to be returned include a 15-piece set of Hellenistic silver, allegedly dug up at Morgantina in Sicily; an additional silver box; and four clay vases. The silver box was added to the agreement since Feb. 2, when the Met presented the Culture Ministry with a revised proposal to return disputed works.