Poor Sir William Burrell?
November 11 2013
Picture: BBC/Glasgow Museums
When Sir William Burrell left his important art collection of some 8,000 objects to the City of Glasgow in 1944, he did so on condition that none of the items should be loaned overseas. Now, the Scottish Parliament has passed a bill to get around that restriction. More details here.
What do readers think about this? I'm mindful that we have to respect the conditions of people who donate works. That, in the end, must I suppose be inviolate?
Update - a reader writes:
Well in those days the "lending of" was probably not as well organised as it is now, and things probably went on horse and cart, so not good for the articles. The decisions were made under v different condiditons.
Good point. Lending conditions are now very different.
I don't see this as a chance to get things out of the stores, but rather the lending out of the highlights. They want to close the Burrell for years while they make cash by renting out the collection for a world tour. It's not shedding new light on the collection by showing objects in a new and relevant context, but simply shipping them around the world in exactly the same configuration to raise cash. There's a lot of it going on these days (I think the big Barnes tour may have started the trend), and I think it's wrong on many levels. It puts art at risk, it makes serious exhibitions harder to mount (because the schedule is tied up with these shows, which take very little organising, and because works are bespoken for touring and cannot be released for other more meaningful exhibitions), and it sets an unfortunate precedent for the monetisation of collections - why provide any public money if you can pay your way by renting out a third of the collection? The organisers of these shows are often 'for-profit' entertainment companies that are incentivised to pay as little as possible and cut as many corners as possible.
Update II - another reader writes:
My own research into the history of collecting has taught me that while some collectors wanted their art to be kept together in museums with their names attached to it as a way of remembrance, others also knew of the inherent dangers of museum display. Dusty, unvisited museums could become mausoleums and just as in a collector's home, objects had to be part of daily life in order to remain relevant. Of course, Burrell's great achievement needs to be remembered but his objects have multiple meanings, of which the provenance is just one. It might be wrong to emphasise this over all other aspects. Burrell collected European objects and their temporary inclusion in European museums where they could enter into dialogue with the continental collections might in a way revitalise the objects. Loans are an excellent means of focussing on the art historical or historical value of the objects that once belonged to a Glaswegian collector. I am sure that this is what Burrell would have wanted. After all, he did approve of loans.
Update III - a reader adds:
Regarding lending and other such restrictions a friend who is the scion of fabulous collectors/philanthropists often had said that "the dead shouldn't govern the living" in such matters. His family made unrestricted gifts and left relatively little to their descendants.
Things change and the static instructions of the dead must occasionally be altered, to wit the Barnes of which I was a neighbor long ago.
While art historian and fellow blogger Neil Jeffares says:
The Burrell dilemma overlaps with the Detroit question, as I discussed in my post.
However tempting it may seem to broaden access etc., every time we ignore the explicit wishes of philanthropists we run the risk of alienating other donors. But the most disturbing feature of this development is the council’s complacency about transportation risks and their apparent total disregard for Nick Penny’s widely reported cautionary advice.
Presumably the council thinks that the collection attracts many visitors to Glasgow. Have they considered whether those who are now to have the opportunity to see its star attractions elsewhere will now bother to go to Glasgow when it is reopened?
Nick Penny's advice about the risks of sending works on tour was given to Glasgow in confidence, but leaked by mistake some time ago. The Grumpy Art Historian (who is very wary of the risks of transporting art) covered it here.
Regular readers will know that I take a more sanguine view of loaning and transporting works of art. And in practice, so do most museums. In fact, I remember that on the day news of Penny's comments came out, I got an email from the National Gallery press office, headlined 'Masterpiece on Tour'. This year they're sending around the country Manet's Execution of Maximilian on tour, next year a Canaletto, and in 2016 Rembrandt's 1669 Self-Portrait.
Update IV - a reader writes, conclusively I think:
Better to give the collection a life for another generation, and put it on the map with wider audiences at home and abroad, rather than to consign the whole collection to the stores for four-five years whist the refurbishments takes place. A London showing of its own will present the chance of attracting a wider international audience than would otherwise venture as far north to Glasgow.
The V&A sent fragile masterpieces from its Islamic collection on a overseas tour whilst reconstructing the galleries. The more recent tour of Kenwood's Iveagh Bequest to four venues in the US was a worthwhile venture ("US Tour Pays Off", Art Newspaper November 2013, p.18).
In the light of Dr Penny's leaked comments about the risks of transporting, how comes the National Gallery are prepared to tour mega-value Old Masters, not least the Titian Diana and Actaeon. Dr Penney seems to have had little qualms about the conservation risks of transporting that £50 million painting several times within one year, or Constable’s Salisbury Cathedral to five venues.
There is plenty of scope for well-curated selections. This is hardly the scenario of cherry picking masterpieces, literally leaving blank spaces on the gallery walls and plinths as was the deplorable case of the Louvre's venture to the mining town of Lens.
Glasgow's art directors report "In the last five years, Glasgow has loaned more than 400 objects to 150 venues in 12 countries and has received 1700 objects from almost 250 lenders from eight countries. There has not been a single claim as a result of damage to any of those items. From lending the Dali to Atlanta, to the current tour of Italian Renaissance treasures in America, our staff are expert in assessing risks and ensuring we meet the strictest national and international standards on lending and transportation." (Herald 5 Sept 2013)
We are fortunate in the UK in having world-class regional art collections, but given the fact that the greater proportions of most languish in the stores I would welcome many more opportunities aside for the Burrell in letting publicly owned artworks see the light of day by means of loan exhibition programmes.
Meanwhile, Maurice Davies of the Museums Association has more on Nick Penny's view of lending and transportation here.
Church of England conservation scheme
November 6 2013
What's this, the Church of England making an effort to restore their works of art, rather than flog 'em off at every opportunity?* The Art Newspaper reports that the Church is seeking to raise £3m to restore treasures such as the above 15th Century wall painting, 'Doom', from Waltham Abbey. Other items, according to TAN, include a della Robbia relief, some early 15thC brasses, and a William Morris carpet. (In other words, if you were being unkind, all the things they know they can't ever sell.)
* vis the Benjamin West in the City of London.
More of Leonardo's Sala delle Asse mural uncovered
October 24 2013
Removal of whitewash in Sforzesco Castle, Italy, has apparently revealed the remains of Leonardo's decoration in the Sala delle Asse. From the Gazzetta del Sud:
New sections of artwork by Leonardo da Vinci have been found in a room of the Sforzesco Castle, where he was the court artist for the duke of Milan, Ludovico il Moro, in the late 1400s. Restoration work on the Sala delle Asse (room of the planks), which da Vinci decorated from April to September of 1498 with a mural of trees soaring into a vaulted canopy, has revealed additional sections of the original work under several layers of whitewash - sometimes up to 17 - according to representatives of the Florentine restoration institute Opificio delle Pietre Dure. Restoration workers say they are uncovering a monochrome section of the mural depicting a huge tree root [below], stuck in rock at the base of the many trees that adorn the room - a giant, surprising 'trompe l'oeil'. Analyses done on the face of the mural to reconstruct the original composition give "quite interesting results", they say, and give hope of restoring large parts of the original decoration. So far the work of scraping away newer layers has been performed with mechanical means, like scalpels and hammers, but further work will likely require other methods, like ultrasound scaling, laser instruments and chemical products.
More photos of the work in action here.
Understanding condition (ctd.)
October 17 2013
Regular readers will know I'm always beanging on about the importance of understanding a picture's condition, when buying at auction. The above picture, by Thomas Willeboirts Bosschaert, was recently sold at Christie's Amsterdam for EUR133,000, against a EUR20-30,000 estimate. As an attractive and engaging image, painted fluidly in oil on panel, it ticked a lot of boxes. Kinda cute, don't you think?
But did you spot the later over-paint around the chin? The picture had been very cunningly 'restored' by a previous owner, which had the effect of making it look a touch 19th Century. Click 'read on' to see what it looks like now, with all the over-paint removed.
Henry Moore stolen in Scotland
October 13 2013
The Guardian reports:
A valuable Henry Moore bronze has been stolen from an open-air sculpture park in the latest high-profile theft of the British artist's work.
Standing Figure (1950) was one of four Moore pieces in Glenkiln Sculpture Park, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland.
The park in moorland on the Lincluden Estate also includes his world-renowned King and Queen (1952-53), Upright Motive No.1: Glenkiln Cross (1955-56) and Two Piece Reclining Figure No.1 (1959). They sit among work by other artists including Auguste Rodin and Jacob Epstein.
Police said Standing Figure was a high-value sculpture and are appealing for anyone who saw any suspicious people or vehicles in the Glenkiln reservoir area last Thursday or Friday.
Re my posts below, it wasn't me.
First photo of Titian's(?) 'Concert'
October 4 2013
Picture: NG3, Possibly by Titian, 'The Music Lesson', about 1535, Oil on canvas 100.4 x 126.1 cm, (C) National Gallery, London
The National Gallery have kindly sent me a photo of the newly cleaned 'Concert', or as it is now called 'The Music Lesson', which I posted about below, and which is featured in the latest issue of The Burlington Magazine. The Gallery catalogues the work as 'Possibly by Titian'. It's hard to judge the picture from this, not least because it has obviously suffered significant damage in the past. The best bit is the central figure below, which, in his jacket, is quite Titian-esque.
September 10 2013
The Independent reports on an art world opening night disaster:
Quite a few hacks were probably thinking “there but for the Grace of God…” when on Saturday evening in Lugano’s swanky Meno Uno gallery, one of their number, tanked up on free cocktails, made a lunge for a passing nibble but instead knocked over and destroyed a priceless work of art.
With the famous Swiss sense of decorum notably absent, “one guest at the preview," intoned Radio Switzerland (RSI), "caught between a canapé and a chat with someone, unfortunately knocked over a work by Luciano Fabro and smashed it to pieces. It is, or rather, it was, the famous Impronta (Imprint) dated 1962-1964". [...]
The sculpture, an opaque glass disk with a central impression of Planet Earth at its centre, was left in a thousand pieces, while the other 30 guests picked their jaws up of the floor. Ironically, the work was said by its creator to represent the longevity of the world.
'Fresco Jesus' - the payday
August 15 2013
Remember this? The restoration job that was so bad it became a world cultural event? Well now the 'restorer', Cecilia Gimenez, has cashed in on her reputation by signing a deal with the local council to split profits from merchandising featuring the image. The 'artist', as the Washington Post describes her, gets 49% of everything.
This is all very amusing, but there's something jarring about rewarding the person who trashed a perfectly decent painting. If the resulting damage didn't look so funny, I suspect she'd have been arrested by now.
Rare 15thC English religious art stolen
August 14 2013
Picture: Apex, via Mail
Horrible story this - thieves in Devon have ripped out two panels from a set of 15th Century religious icons, and damaged a third. English religious art like this is very rare. More details here.
Kunsthal theft trial (ctd.)
August 13 2013
The trial was meant to start today, but it has now been delayed until September. One defence lawyer has said the pictures are intact, and returnable. It's all most mysterious. I'm going to be discussing the case on BBC World radio* & TV shortly (everyone else, I guess, being on holiday).
Update - thinking further about this, I'd be prepared to bet that the paintings have not in fact been destroyed (as the mother of the gang leader first claimed), and will turn up one day. It seems clear to me from the trial details so far that we're dealing here only with the low-level villains, those who physically removed the pictures. I refuse to believe their story so far; that the crime was just one of opportunity, that they thought the pictures might be valuable, and so worth nicking. They also claim that they found the museum just by googling 'museum' in Rotterdam (where they were already living).
I'm sure that somewhere out there is the usual 'Mr Big', the one who plans and bankrolls such operations. Invariably, as I believe probably happened in this case, the paintings are stolen as hostages, one day to be ransomed back to the museum or insurer. Therefore, the whole 'the pictures are burnt' story, and the presentation of the thieves as amateurish chancers, is useful in that it takes the heat off those who are likely still holding the paintings. In five, ten, twenty years time, once things have died down and the police have moved on, I'm confident we'll see the pictures again.
* here, at about 48 minutes in.
Kunsthal theft trial (ctd.)
August 9 2013
More details of the Kunsthal theft case have emerged. Yesterday, experts from Romania's National History Museum (above) gave a presentation on the old nails, pigments and other details found in the ashes of Olga Dogaru's stove. Olga is the mother of one of the accused thieves, who admitted to police that she burnt at least two of the works, though she has since changed her story, and we don't know which ones were really destroyed.
There were also further details of the theft in Rotterdam, where it seems the security response to the alarm going off was pretty woeful (according to Dutch News:
Police [...] alerted by the alarm, carried out an inspection but failed to realise the museum had actually been broken into because the thieves had closed the door behind them.
In addition, security staff wondered if the gaps on the walls of the exhibition were due to paintings being moved. It was only 75 minutes after the alarm went off that officials realised paintings had been stolen, the AD said.
Lawyer Maria Vasii even claims police saw the suspects shortly after the robbery. ‘One officer waved, as if to say "all’s fine boys",’ the lawyer is quoted as saying.
The paper says the thieves were so shocked by their narrow escape they left the paintings in their getaway car on the nearby Coolsingel canal and did not pick them up until the next morning.
The works, including paintings by Picasso and Matisse with a value of some €17m, were not smuggled out of the country for several days.
She did burn them
July 23 2013
Or at least, three of them. Yesterday, the mother of one of the thiefs accused of stealing seven works of art from the Kunsthal in Rotterdam, who had told police she burned the paintings, retracted her claim. This may, as the New York Times reports, have something to do with the fact that:
Under Romanian law, the crime of “destruction with very serious consequences,” one of three charges against Mrs. Dogaru, carries a sentence of 3 to 10 years — far longer than the punishment for her two other alleged crimes, “supporting a criminal group” and “assisting criminals.”
Oops. Undermining her new found innocence, however, is a report from Reuters that the charred remains of three paintings have been found in her stove:
"We gathered overwhelming evidence that three paintings were destroyed by fire," said Gheorghe Niculescu, head of the team examining ashes that police found in a stove at her house in Carcaliu, a village in southeastern Romania.
Crucial pieces of evidence examined with high-tech equipment were the nails used to fasten the canvases to their wooden frames, and a particular blue paint, Niculescu, of the National Research Investigation Center in Physics and Chemistry, told Reuters.
But he could not say which paintings were destroyed, nor say whether the burned remains could have come from other paintings.
Really keen AHNers can hear me discuss the theft on the BBC World Service, here at 48:20 in.
City in debt? Flog the museum! (ctd.)
July 19 2013
In May, I reported on the possibility that the Detroit Institute of Art's collection could be sold off to pay the city's debts. News today that the city has now filed for bankruptcy has raised the threat, although the state of Michigan has been taking steps to prevent such a calamity, as the Washington Post outlines:
In May, the city’s emergency manager, Kevyn Orr, requested an inventory of the DIA’s collection, causing concern among arts leaders that the works could be sold if the city filed for bankruptcy. In June, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette issued an opinion that the city’s art could not be sold to pay off its estimated $19 billion in debt, citing the state’s charitable trust law.
The state Senate recently passed a bill that would prohibit the sale of the city’s art unless sold to a comparable institution to further the museum’s core mission. But the bill has yet to become law, and the museum has hired attorneys to advise it on protecting the art.
“I’m obviously concerned,” said Ford Bell, president of the American Alliance of Museums. “We thought that this was behind us in terms of the collection at the DIA, but I’m not an attorney so I don’t know what could happen. This has never happened before.”
The collection is undoubtedly valuable. Graham W.J. Beal, director of the DIA, has called it one of the most valuable in the Western Hemisphere. An independent assessment by the Detroit Free Press estimated that the bulk of the collection could be worth $2.5 billion, although the exact value is impossible to determine because it is rare for so many valuable works to hit the auction block. The DIA has more than 60,000 works spanning centuries, with nearly 90 percent of the pieces in storage.
I bet someone involved in the city's administration will wonder if the 90% in storage can be sold...
Update: Wowee - fast work; The New York Times reports that Christie's is already in on the action:
About a month ago, the institute’s officials were contacted by Christie’s auction house, which asked for an inventory of works and asked if appraisers could visit to assess the collection. It is unclear whether such a visit took place and whether it was creditors or someone else who enlisted Christie’s to begin an appraisal. (Mr. Nowling said that the emergency manager’s office did not do so, and Christie’s declined to comment.)
Update II - Tim Worstall, a fellow at the Adam Smith Institute in London, says (in Forbes), sell the lot, and quickly!
Leave aside the precise legalities of this for a moment. The City’s in the hole for something like $10 billion and one quarter of that amount could be raised by moving around some paint daubed pieces of canvas. That looks pretty much like a no brainer to me as a start. What is it that we’re supposed to care about? A few pieces of canvas or real lives as they are actually lived? Pensioners moving down from known meat from an animal whose species can be assured to the cat food aisle? Retired city workers getting the medical treatment they were promised for 40 years or keep a few paintings that the well to do like to oooh and aaah at? Get the ambulances back on the road, get cop cars to a 911 in under and hour or please the arts establishment?
It’s a toughie really, isn’t it?
Imagine that the paintings are sold: we’re moving two sets of assets from where they have a lower value to a higher. Firstly, we’re moving money into Detroit. Given that whoever buys the paintings will clearly, by the purchase itself, value the painting more than the money being paid for it we therefore know that the money is worth more in Detroit. Similarly, that the painting is leaving the city means that we also know that the money is worth more to Detroit than the painting. So we have moved two assets from places where they are lowly valued to places where they are more highly valued. The money’s worth more in Detroit and the paintings worth more out of it.
And this is the thing: moving an asset from one use to one where that asset is more highly valued is the very definition of wealth creation. So, selling the paintings would indeed be wealth creation.
More cuts at English Heritage (ctd.)
July 16 2013
I recently mentioned the latest round of cuts to English Heritage's budget, which has taken repeated hits now for almost a decade. A reader has kindly had a go at doing the maths on what those cuts amount to over time, and it's not good:
Based on Bank of England CPI data, the English Heritage budget of £127,901,000 in 2004 is equivalent to £160,556,000 in 2013 British pounds. That means the English Heritage budget of £83,056,000 in 2013 represents a 52 percent decline in real terms (i.e., adjusted for inflation) from its level in 2004.
Update - a reader writes:
Concerning those English Heritage budget cuts, I cannot help thinking what a terrible reflection this is on the effectiveness of that organisation's leadership. As EH itself stated in evidence to Parliament in September 2010, although EH's budget had been falling since 1997, DCMS's as a whole had risen, as had many other arms-length organistions funded by DCMS. What does that say about EH's ability to get its point across to government?
Kunsthal theft trial
July 16 2013
Picture: AFP via Art Daily
Last year in Rotterdam thieves stole seven important pictures by the likes of Picasso and Monet from the Kunsthal. Now, even though no pictures have been recovered, six Romanians are to stand trial for the theft in Bucharest. More on Art Daily here.
Update - the mother of one of the alleged thieves claims she burnt the paintings. From AP:
A Romanian museum is analyzing ashes found in a stove to see if they are the remains of seven paintings by Picasso, Matisse, Monet and others that were stolen last year from the Netherlands, an official said Tuesday.
Prosecutor spokeswoman Gabriela Chiru told The Associated Press that Romania's National History Museum is examining the ashes found in the stove of Olga Dogaru. She is the mother of Radu Dogaru, one of three Romanian suspects charged with stealing the paintings from Rotterdam's Kunsthal gallery in a brazen daytime heist.
It was the biggest art theft in more than a decade in the Netherlands. The stolen works have an estimated value of tens of millions of dollars if they were sold at auction.
Dogaru told investigators she was scared for her son after he was arrested in January and buried the art in an abandoned house and then in a cemetery in the village of Caracliu. She said she later dug them up and burned them in February after police began searching the village for the stolen works.
Update - Mrs Dogaru is not the first art thief mum to do this. In 2002 a German woman chopped up her son's stolen art, and dumped it into the Rhine.
Grim news from Paris
July 10 2013
Picture: Bridgeman Art Library
Paris' famous Hotel Lambert, home to art treasures such as Charles Le Brun's Hercules frescos, above, has been badly damaged by fire. As is so often the case, the building was being renovated at the time.
Update - the latest here in The Art Newspaper.
Prado goes LED, and unveils a new Ribera
July 9 2013
Picture: Museo Prado
The Prado Museum has announced that it is to convert its galleries to LED lighting. These give a much more natural sense of light, and as I've noted here before, it's probably as close to daylight as you can get. Mind you, there was that slightly alarming study into how LED lights cause some yellow pigments to go brown...
Still, basking happily for now in the Prado's new LEDs is a recently cleaned and newly attributed work by Jose de Ribera, Saint Jerome Writing. The picture was long thought to be by Esteban March, but recent restoration by the Prado has prompted a rethink. From the Prado's press release:
Formerly in the collection of Isabella Farnese, this work has been on deposit since 1940 at the Casa-Museo Colón in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. That loan agreement was cancelled last year in order for the work to be studied and restored.
Saint Jerome writing was in the Casa-Museo Colón in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria with an attribution to the Valencian painter Esteban March. The expert on Caravaggism, Gianni Papi, has, however, recently identified and published it as an early work by José de Ribera, basing his attribution on the work’s close stylistic and compositional similarities with various works painted by Ribera around 1615, including some of the paintings in his series on “The Senses”. The present painting shares their descriptive preciseness and markedly tenebrist use of light, the origins of which lie in Ribera’s highly personal interpretation of Caravaggio’s models. In the light of the painting’s importance, it has been brought to the Prado for restoration and display in the galleries devoted to naturalism and Ribera. To replace the painting, the Casa-Museo Colón has received the long-term deposit of Saint Andrew, also by Ribera. From the viewpoint of the Prado’s collections, this is an important addition, given that together with his painting of The Raising of Lazarus, it will allow the public to gain an idea of the originality and high quality of Ribera’s work during his early years, which is a unique period in his career and one not represented in the Prado’s collection until around twelve years ago.
The painting arrived at the Museum with problems around its edges due to damp and an old attack of woodworm. The pictorial surface was generally well preserved but had an abnormal appearance due to the oxidization of the varnishes, surface irregularities caused by an old lining and an earlier selective cleaning that had concentrated on some zones to the detriment of others. During the restoration process the edges have been consolidated and straightened, dirt and oxidized varnishes have been removed, some small losses have been replaced and the painting has been cleaned. The result is the recovery of numerous spatial planes and as a consequence, a sense of volume in the saint’s figure.
More pictures under attack?
July 1 2013
It seems that Fathers4Justice protesters are now deliberately targeting works of art. Last week we had an attack on Constable's Haywain, and before that a portrait of the Queen was spray painted in Westminster Abbey. Now, the Abbey has been targeted again, this time with a statue being defaced. And worryingly, The Guardian reports a F4J source as saying that similar protests are on the way:
Obviously that is the way we are heading at the moment after the two protests on paintings.
What to do? Glaze everything? At the moment, people who damage works of art in this way can only be charged with causing criminal damage. Do we need a new offence that makes the targeting of heritage assets a more serious offence?
Update - a reader writes, correcting me:
It is possible to prosecute someone for a ‘heritage crime’, which can be interpreted as any offence which harms the value of heritage assets and their settings.
The idea was pioneered by English Heritage who set up “The Alliance to Reduce Crime against Heritage” (ARCH) in response to the metal theft crisis.
Essentially it allows the crime to be properly recorded, and for sentencing to be more severe. More info here.
Another reader writes:
I think you must recognise a great difference between suffragettes slashing the Rokeby Venus [Fathers4Justice claim, strangely, that their protests are akin to the suffragettes attacks on art in the early 20thC], and a disposessed father sticking a photograph to a Constable, an act which apparently resulted in no lasting damage, criminal or otherwise. The great worry is that the warders at the National Gallery are not sufficiently numerous or alert to prevent an attack on a painting in their care. If they were, it would be impossible to touch the pictures, even to write in the dust.
Constable's 'Haywain' removed from view
June 28 2013
Picture: National Gallery
A reader alerts me to the removal of Constable's Haywain from public display, this lunchtime, at the National Gallery. It appears there was an incident involving a sticker of some kind. Let's hope it's nothing too serious. More as I get it.
Update - our witness tells us:
Was looking at the National's newly purchased Maulbertsch (not great) at around 1.00 when the (rarely seen) art handling team rushed passed with an empty trolley heading for the blocked off English room. Minutes later they returned by the same route with The Haywain loaded up - I couldn't see clearly but there appeared to be a sticker showing the head of a child roughly where a load on the fording cart in the foreground would be.
Update II - the damage isn't serious. A photo was stuck to the picture by a Fathers for Justice protester. This is the second FforJ protest recently that has involved defacing paintings. Protesting dads everywhere, stop being so bloody daft.
June 23 2013
Video: Monuments Men Foundation
Robert Edsel, the author of Monuments Men (now being made into a film by George Clooney), has a new book out, Saving Italy. Looks like fun, and another useful reminder of just how close we came to losing vast chunks of western art history during the war.