Vermeer and Music at the NG

March 26 2013

Image of Vermeer and Music at the NG

Picture: National Gallery

The National Gallery has released details of their summer exhibition, Vermeer and Music. Details here

Hot, in a 17th Century way

March 26 2013

Image of Hot, in a 17th Century way

Picture: Royal Collection, Frances Stuart by Sir Peter Lely

Buzzfeed has posted an art historically essential guide to the 13 hottest portraits of Restoration England. Nell Gwynn is number one.

The selection misses out my favourite, and the undoubted beauty of her age, Frances Stuart, Duchess of Richmond. She also did it for Pepys, who wrote, on 13th July 1663:

into the Queen’s presence, where all the ladies walked, talking and fiddling with their hats and feathers, and changing and trying one another’s by one another’s heads, and laughing. But it was the finest sight to me, considering their great beautys and dress, that ever I did see in all my life. But, above all, Mrs. Stewart in this dress, with her hat cocked and a red plume, with her sweet eye, little Roman nose, and excellent taille, is now the greatest beauty I ever saw, I think, in my life; and, if ever woman can, do exceed my Lady Castlemaine, at least in this dress nor do I wonder if the King changes, which I verily believe is the reason of his coldness to my Lady Castlemaine.

Logos in the Fitzwilliam

March 26 2013

Image of Logos in the Fitzwilliam

Picture: BG

In 2009 the Fitzwilliam turned down an £80,000 grant from the ArtFund, because it would have meant displaying a small ArtFund logo on the label next to the painting. Daft. I was in the Fitzwilliam yesterday to film a sequence for 'Fake or Fortune?', and was pleased to see that everyone has now calmed down a bit: the ArtFund logo above is part of a prominent display to welcome the Fitzwilliam's triumphant acquisition of Poussin's Extreme Unction.

Update - a reader writes:

The Fitz wasn't being so daft about the Art Fund logo. It was a horrid luminous pink with a heart and there was no consultation, just a diktat that museums had to use it on every label instead of the text acknowledgement that had been the rule before. It really did shout in a very insensitive way when placed next to works of art. Now the logo has been simplified, the heart has gone and one is allowed to use it in black.

Rescuing looted art (ctd.)

March 26 2013

Image of Rescuing looted art (ctd.)

Picture: AP

Seven pictures, including four from the Louvre and the above Gandolfi, will be returned by the French Government to the heirs of Robert Neumann, an Austrian Jew who fled the Nazis in the 1930s. More details here

Faking Renoir

March 26 2013

Image of Faking Renoir

Picture: New York Times

John Anderson in The New York Times has an interesting piece on how artist Guy Ribes faked a bathc of Renoirs for a forthcoming film on the French master:

To call Mr. Ribes a colorful character is putting it mildly. Born in a brothel to a prostitute mother and a gangster father, he’s a former member of the French Foreign Legion and a lifelong devotee of the great painters. Although he created and sold his own work early on, he also provided paintings “inspired” by the masters to a criminal art ring that sold the paintings as genuine.

Rather than copy known work Mr. Ribes would create work that simulated style, paintings that might have been done by Picasso or Chagall or Renoir and, say, languished in a private collection before being made available to gullible buyers. For this Mr. Ribes, at the age of 61, was sentenced to three years in prison, getting out in December 2010.

“I was in a rather precarious situation when this project was proposed to me,” Mr. Ribes said by phone from Paris, referring to his post-prison finances. Mr. Bourdos hired him in May 2011 and put him in a studio next to his office, and Mr. Ribes worked for six months on the paintings that appear in the film — not just re-creations of existing Renoirs but also paintings he might have done.

The art event of the year

March 26 2013

Image of The art event of the year


I can't wait for this.

How to publicise an art class

March 25 2013

Video: via & Dr Ben Harvey

Speedy work at TEFAF

March 25 2013

Image of Speedy work at TEFAF

Picture: Lawrence Steigrad Fine Arts

In Maastricht, New York art dealer Lawrence Steigrad has sold the above The Women's Speed-skating Race on the Westersingel in Leeuwarden, January 21st, 1809, by Nicolaas Baur, to the Rijksmuseum. The picture will be on display in time for the Rijksmuseum's re-opening (at last, hooray) on April 13th.

AHN still blocked in Buckinghamshire

March 25 2013

Image of AHN still blocked in Buckinghamshire


A reader tells me that Buckinghamshire County Council is still blocking AHN. At least this time the reason given is 'profanity', not porn.

Another effective use of taxpayer's money.

Durer in Washington

March 25 2013

Image of Durer in Washington

Picture: Albertina

The Albertina's prized collection of watercolours and drawings by Albrecht Durer goes on display in Washington today in a new exhibition. More details here

Not Your Paintings

March 25 2013

Image of Not Your Paintings

Picture: Bournemouth and Poole College/Your Paintings

An ungrateful higher education college is to sell off an important collection of modern British art bequeathed to it by a former principal, the artist Arthur Andrews. The Bournemouth and Poole College collection includes works by Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, and Ivon Hitchens (above). The oil paintings in the collection feature on the BBC Your Paintings website, and include a work by the donor himself. They are being sold to raise £4m for a new building project. More details here.

I hope Poole College (which, incidentally, offers a number of art courses) will reimburse the Public Catalogue Foundation for the cost of photographing and uploading the collection onto Your Paintings.

Update - a reader writes:

Pretty sure some of those acquisitions were funded by the Gulbenkian Foundation. The Sven Berlin paintings were donated by his widow.


Lely the romantic novelist

March 25 2013

Image of Lely the romantic novelist


A reader sends me the above book cover, featuring Lely's portrait of Nell Gwyn. If you want one, the book is The Saturday Book 26, edited by John Hadfield, and published by Little Brown, Boston, in 1966.

Rescuing looted art

March 22 2013

Video: Pathe

A reader alerts me to the above video, showing part of Goering's collection of stolen art being sorted by the US army. Van Dyck's Family of Cornelis de Vos makes an appearance, whilst white gloves and bubble wrap are conspicuous by their absence. Warning - the film gets a bit grim at about 1m30 with the death of Himmler.

Update - a reader writes:

About your post "rescuing looted art", there is a good book from Hector Feliciano called "The Lost Museum", really worth reading. (Doing it now for the 3rd time)

It describes very well the French art market during WWII, as well how the Germans stole thousands of art works and entire collections of important families in Western Europe.

Steen mania continues

March 22 2013

Image of Steen mania continues

Picture: Arts Council/Christie's

Last December Sotheby's sold a Jan Steen, The Prayer Before the Meal, for a record £5.6m (incl. premium). This summer, however, Christie's will offer Steen's 1660 Interior with the Artist Eating Oysters for up to £10m.

That at least is the 'Guide Price' being quoted on the Arts Council's 'Notice of Intention of Sale' page, where works being sold which have previously been exempted from capital taxation have to be placed, in case a museum wants to make a pre-emptive bid. We don't yet know what the auction estimate will be, for, as the Arts Council says:

Please note that the price given is intended as a rough guide only, and does not constitute an offer to sell at this price. The practice of the auction houses is usually to pitch this at their high auction estimate or, sometimes, even higher.

Happy Birthday Ant

March 22 2013

Image of Happy Birthday Ant

Picture: Prado/Gemäldegalerie der Akademie der bildenen Künste, Vienna

I don't normally go in for 'on this day' things, but today is Van Dyck's birthday. So Happy Birthday Sir Anthony (or as we call you in the BG household, 'Ant'). Thanks for being the best.

This is still not Shakespeare (ctd.)

March 22 2013

Image of This is still not Shakespeare (ctd.)

Picture: BG

Now it's appearing on pub signs. What next - the £5 note?

Met to open 7 days a week

March 21 2013

Image of Met to open 7 days a week

Picture: Metropolitan Museum

I have a tedious habit of ending up in foreign cities on a Monday, when most art galleries are shut. So it's good news that as of July 1st, the Metopolitan Museum in New York will be open 7 days a week. More details here.

Bowes Museum acquires Turner

March 21 2013

Image of Bowes Museum acquires Turner

Picture: Bowes Museum, via Art Daily

The Bowes Museum, fresh from gaining a Van Dyck, is now also up a Turner, after it successfully bid for the above Lowther Castle - Evening from the government's Acceptance in Lieu scheme. More details here

$14m Velazquez at TEFAF

March 20 2013

Video: Sotheby's

Here's a film from the opening day of TEFAF at Maastricht. Star of the show it seems is a cleaned and recently discovered Velasquez.

I haven't been this year. Bit of a schlep. More Sotheby's videos from TEFAF here.

No triple A, just triple dip (ctd.)

March 20 2013

Image of No triple A, just triple dip (ctd.)

Picture: National Portrait Gallery/Estate of Vanessa Bell

Here in the UK, it's Budget day. It seems our debt is still rising, due mainly to a complete lack of economic growth, and the threat of an unprecedented triple dip recession (predicted even by AHN as far back as September 2011) is still with us. Today's budget contained more of the same failed economic policies, and I've reluctantly come to the conclusion that the Cabinet really is brain dead. So, for the benefit of our readers in government, here's another reminder of what John Maynard Keynes (he of sound economic sense) looked like. This portrait of 'The Memoir Club' [NPG] is by Vanessa Bell. Keynes is at the centre, next to his wife, Lydia Lopokova. 

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