Canaletto restauriert

April 7 2011

Image of Canaletto restauriert

Picture: dapd

That's German (I think) for 'Canaletto restored'. Canaletto's epic view of Dresden has been at the cleaners since 2009, and will go back on public display at the Albertinum in Dresden on 25th August. More here (in deutsch).

Gemaldegalerie restitutes Vogelstein portrait

April 7 2011

Image of Gemaldegalerie restitutes Vogelstein portrait

The indefatigable staff at the Commission for Looted Art in Europe have succesfully brokered the return of Carl Christian Vogel von Vogelstein's Portrait of a Young Woman Drawing to the heirs of an Austrian Jewish family. The painting was stolen by the Nazis from the Rosauer sisters of Vienna in 1938, and entered Hitler's Linz collection in 1941. After the war the painting was held by the Dresden Gemaldegalerie. Two of the Rosauer sisters, Bertha and Jenny, were murdered in Treblink in 1942. They were in their late 70s.

This is the second Rosauer painting that the Commission has restituted - Portrait of a Young Woman in White by Johann Baptist Lampi the Elder was returned in 2010. Full details here

Sir Charles Eastlake exhibition at the National Gallery

April 6 2011

Image of Sir Charles Eastlake exhibition at the National Gallery

A new exhibition at the National Gallery will celebrate the life and achievements of its first director, Sir Charles Eastlake. Art for the Nation (27th July - 30th October) will exhibit some of the works he acquired for the gallery, and the notebooks from his acquisition trips to Italy. Eastlake was also an artist, who was elected President of the Royal Academy in 1850. More on him here

Art History Futures - Dictator special

April 6 2011

Image of Art History Futures - Dictator special

Picture: Getty images

Saif Gaddafi; ranting tyrant, wannabe dictator, painter

'Boffins in Dig for Mona Lisa Body'

April 6 2011

That's The Sun's take on a group of researchers in Italy who are excavating remains that may be those of the Mona Lisa, Lisa Gherardini. They want to take samples of her DNA, and then recreate her face to see if it matches the Mona Lisa.

The Daily Mail, meanwhile, reports that the dig may be a waste of time:

..there are fears that the project will be unsuccessful as locals have told the team that 30 years ago the remains of the convent were bulldozed into a rubbish dump. 

I'm afraid I'm deeply suspicious of facial reconstructions from skulls - they always look like rejects from Madame Tussaud's, c.1795.

Art History Futures

April 6 2011

Image of Art History Futures

Picture: AFP

A triptych by Zhang Xiaogang has sold for $9.8m in Hong Kong, setting a record price for a Chinese contemporary work of art.

If anyone thinks this is a high water mark for Chinese contemporary art, think again. It's probably just the beginning...

Stubbs to break £20m barrier?

April 6 2011

Image of Stubbs to break £20m barrier?

Auction news from Christie's this morning; George Stubbs' masterpiece Gimcrack on Newmarket Heath, with a Trainer, Stable-Lad and a Jockey (1765) will be offered for sale on 5th July, with a lower estimate of £20m. This follows Sotheby's sale of Stubbs' Brood Mare and Foals in December 2010 for just over £10m, which set a new auction record for the artist by some margin. 

Both prices suggest that Whistlejacket, bought by the National Gallery in 1998 for £15.75m, was a bit of a bargain. 

Only paintings by Turner, Pontormo, Rubens and Rembrandt have previously made more than £20m at auction. 

Happy Birthday, Mr President

April 5 2011

Image of Happy Birthday, Mr President

A painting by Gerrit van Honthorst that belonged to James Madison has been restored in time to hang back in its original place in his home, Montpelier, in time for the 4th President's 260th birthday. More here.

Manet at the Musee D'Orsay

April 5 2011

Image of Manet at the Musee D'Orsay

Picture: AFP

Manet - the Man who Invented Modern Art, opened today at the Musee D'Orsay in Paris. 140 works, including 84 paintings, closes July 3rd. Richard Dorment gives it 4 stars, and even a video. 

Worth jumping on the Eurostar.

Largest known Mughal portrait sells for £1.42m

April 5 2011

Image of Largest known Mughal portrait sells for £1.42m

Picture: Bonhams

More evidence that the art market is looking East - the largest known Mughal portrait (197x128.5 cm), of Emperor Jahangir, sold today at Bonhams for £1.42m (inc. premium). 

The estimate was £40-60,000.

Ai Weiwei arrest

April 5 2011

Jonathan Jones, in the Guardian, makes the comparison with Michelangelo, and others:

Will Ai Weiwei be a Courbet or a Michelangelo? While the Communard painter was ruined by his political enemies, Michelangelo was spared and allowed to carry on working and enjoying his success after the defeat of the Florentine rebellion – he really was too big to hurt. We have to hope that, once it feels it has made its ugly, bullying point, the state will release Ai Weiwei and his fame will continue to protect him. Whatever happens, he is that rare thing: the artist as moral and political hero.

Iran v. The Louvre

April 4 2011

Image of Iran v. The Louvre

Picture: British Museum

Iran has announced it is severing links with the Louvre over the museum's refusal to lend Persian artefacts to the country.

I wonder if the Louvre's hesitancy has anything to do with the spat between Iran and the British Museum in February 2010 over the loan of the Cyrus Cylinder (above). Then, Iran broke off relations after the BM hesitated on the deal. The loan did go ahead, but when the Cylinder arrived in Iran, a prominent newspaper suggested it should not be returned. Subsequently the Iranians asked for the loan to be extended for another three months, which was agreed.

The Cylinder is now due to stay in Tehran till April 15th. One to watch...

Re-joining Monet's Water Lilies

April 4 2011

Image of Re-joining Monet's Water Lilies

Picture: Kansas City Star

One of Monet's Water Lily triptychs has been reunited for the first time in thirty years at the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas. The three individual panels belong to the St. Louis Art Museum, the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Nelson-Atkins. More here

Better glaze that Gauguin...

April 4 2011

Image of Better glaze that Gauguin...

Picture: BBC

A picture by Gauguin on loan to the National Gallery of Art in Washington has been attacked during an exhibition.

Susan Burns pounded Two Tahitian Women and tried to rip it from a gallery wall on Friday, officials said. The 1899 painting, which depicts two women's bare breasts, was behind a plastic cover and was unharmed. She was charged with attempted theft and destruction of property and is being held pending a mental evaluation.

Restoring Gainsborough's Grave

April 4 2011

Image of Restoring Gainsborough's Grave

Graves aren't really my thing, but here's a deserving cause: Gainsborough's grave in St Anne's, Kew is seriously in need of restoration. The sum needed is £15,000. Here's a rather wobbly but charming video on the project.

A number of you kindly responded to my plug for the Anne Boleyn restoration fund - and if anyone wants to spread the word about this, the friends of St Anne's would be most grateful.

If you're so minded, cheques should be sent to:

'The Friends of St. Anne’s Church, Kew', The Treasurer, The Friends’, C/O The Parish Office, St. Anne’s Church, Kew Green, Richmond, Surrey TW9 3AA

Eisenhower speech on saving art in WW2 found

April 1 2011

Image of Eisenhower speech on saving art in WW2 found

Picture: AP

'Ike' was no orator, but this newly discovered speech is well worth a listen. It relates Eisenhower's rationale behind his decision to help save the thousands of works of art looted by the Nazis. 

We've been researching the work of Ike's 'Monuments Men' (those who helped find the stolen art) for our new BBC1 series, Fake or Fortune. We all have a lot to thank them, and Eisenhower, for.

Art history relief?

April 1 2011

From the Art Newspaper:

The visual arts survived the Arts Council England (ACE) cuts better than most sectors, including theatre, music and dance. Visual arts organisations funded by ACE will overall actually receive a 2% increase in their grants from 2010/11 to 2014/15, although once inflation is taken into account this represents a 7% fall in real terms.

Looking for Eworth

April 1 2011

Image of Looking for Eworth

Here's an interesting article by Hope Walker on what is thought to be Hans Eworth's only known drawing. Trouble is, nobody knows where it is. If you do, pray tell...

This one is Not an April Fool

April 1 2011

Image of This one is Not an April Fool

If you're in Pennsylvania this weekend, you can go to the Tattoo and Arts gathering at 'Inkin the Valley', and get your favourite painting tattooed somewhere special. Nice.

Turning Deaccessioning into Art

April 1 2011

Image of Turning Deaccessioning into Art

Next month, I shall be taking part in a conference at the National Gallery on whether major galleries should begin deaccessioning. However, one gallery has jumped the gun: Tate has announced a collaboration with a Turner Prize contender to create an interactive deaccessioning exhibit.

Store/Sell/Destroy No.4 promises to take Michael Landy’s Art Bin concept to a whole new level. A number of low-value, damaged, and less popular paintings will be deaccessioned and shredded, and rewoven into a giant quilt. The stuffing will be made of pulped frames. 

The artist, Korean performance interpretive specialist Ei Pri Fuh, will then sleep under the quilt for the duration of the exhibition. In order to make the installation participative, both Fuh and Tate are hoping that the quilt will be large enough to allow visitors to sleep under it too, subject to a health and safety assessment.

Fuh’s agent said;

Store/Sell/Destroy No.4 will be a commentary on accessioning, deaccessioning and reaccessioning through the creation of a temporal cacophony of orchestrated multi-linear collisions between spatially and historically remote works, set within a rich inheritance of reductive aesthetics. 

Fuh said:

I hope it will be warm.

At the end of the exhibition, the quilt will be sold to benefit Tate’s acquisition fund. 

Update 2.4.11: This was a joke.

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