May 3 2013

Google Analytics tells me that we passed a million page views last week here on AHN. So thank you very much for your support and continuing to read the site - I really appreciate it. Those of you who have been reading since we started just over two years ago get a special pat on the back. 

Thornhill's Greenwich painted hall restored

May 2 2013

Image of Thornhill's Greenwich painted hall restored

Picture: Country Life

Read all about it here

Two conferences in London

May 2 2013

Image of Two conferences in London

Picture: V&A

Two conferences in June in London look to be worth going to. The first, at the V&A on 14th & 15th June, is all about England and Muscovy in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries. The second, at the National Gallery on 21st and 22nd June, is on London and the Emergence of a European Art Market c.1780-1820

The Landscapes of Piero della Francesca

May 2 2013

Landscapes of Piero della Francesca from The Frick Collection on

Video: Frick

Here's a video of a lecture by Scott Nethersole on the landscapes of Piero della Francesca.

This is still not Shakespeare (ctd.)

May 2 2013

Image of This is still not Shakespeare (ctd.)

Picture: Telegraph

Regular readers will be aware of the increasing misuse of the phoney Shakespeare portrait, above, which is now regularly appearing in newspapers, books and even pub signs. The latest case in the Daily Telegraph, however, caused me to choke on my tea and swear rudely at the computer. The image above will appear in a TV series speculating on how historical figures would look today.

The infectious spread of the phoney Bard must be evidence of how, subconsciously perhaps, people want Shakespeare to look like something out of the film Shakespeare in Love, and not the plain, bald man he really was. For the record, again, the sitter is of course Sir Thomas Overbury.  

Job opportunity

May 1 2013

Image of Job opportunity

Picture: The Frick Collection

The Frick Collection in New York is looking for a new Chief Curator. That's a good gig. If you're interested, you need:

[...] a Ph.D. in art history with expertise in one of the Frick's primary areas of collecting, a minimum of ten years curatorial experience, and an extensive record of exhibitions and publications.

More here. Good luck!

Re-hanging Tate Britain (ctd.)

May 1 2013

Video: Tate

Tate Britain has a video of what we can expect in their new galleries. I'm very much looking forward to seeing it. The chronological hang is to be called 'The BP Walk Through British Art' (which is a bit too much, even for a free-marketeer like me).

Update - Tate Britain Director, Penelope Curtis, writes more about the re-hang in The Art Newspaper

Sleeper Alert!

April 30 2013

Image of Sleeper Alert!


Here's an interesting picture that came up for auction last week in Switzerland, catalogued as 'Follower of Titian - Portrait of Gabriel Solitus', with an old inscription 'Titianus' at top right. The estimate was CHF 4-6,000, but it sold for CHF 460,000 hammer - gently helped on its way by us here at Philip Mould & Co. With premium it would have been well over the CHF 500,000 mark, or not far off £400,000, all of which is clearly not a Follower of Titian price. So what was it?

I wouldn't be surprised if we see it surface again one day as a Titian, probably of the late 1540s/early 1550s. Titian portraits don't often come on the market, and Titian 'sleepers' are even rarer, so this picture represented quite an opportunity for picture hunters like us. We went out to see it, buoyed by some pre-sale research which made the attribution to Titian very plausible. In the flesh, however, the picture was so covered in dirt, overpaint and thick varnish that it was very hard to get a grip on the overall quality, while large areas of abrasion made one wonder what original paint was left. There were flashes of brilliance, such as the book. But much of the picture was impenetrable, hence it looking like a copy at first glance, and from the photographs. The picture therefore represented a significant risk, and as a result (and despite our very encouraging research) we didn't feel confident to take the bid any further. I'm sad we missed out on it though. My hunch is it's right.

Re-opening the Rijksmuseum (ctd.)

April 30 2013

Image of Re-opening the Rijksmuseum (ctd.)

Pictures: Anon

A reader has kindly sent in this response to the new Rijksmuseum, following my earlier post:

I went round the Rijksmuseum today.  First things first, it's excellent.  The rich collection is shown off well; not too cluttered and fully (read also, sensibly) labelled in English and Dutch. As other commentators have written, the placing of paintings with furniture and decorative arts makes great sense.

The queue was manageable at around 45 minutes - around half that if you book online - but unsurprisingly it was very busy inside.  It's perhaps not quite as bad as the attached photos suggest, but there were certainly a lot of people when I went.

I'm not totally convinced the grey blue wall colour works with the paintings, but that may just be personal preference.  The layout of the floors is also slightly confusing.  I appreciate that this was dictated by the constraints of the building but it is a little annoying that the chronology of the floors jumps around: ground floor 1100-1600, first floor: 1700-1900, second floor: 1600-1700, third floor: 1900-to date.  But these are minor quibbles in what is a superb museum.

Go, go go!

Our reader also adds:

One other thing I forgot to mention was that the main sponsors of the Rijksmuseum have had their company names and logos boldly commemorated in new stained glass windows at the end of the main gallery.  Although it is a little incongruous, I rather liked it and if they've helped financially in what is such an obvious, not to mention expensive success then why not.

Re-hanging Tate Britain

April 30 2013

Image of Re-hanging Tate Britain

Picture: Mark Bramley/Mail

They're putting the finishing touches to the Tate Britain renovation, which opens next month. The Daily Mail was invited along to watch the re-hanging.

Analysing Van Gogh

April 30 2013

Image of Analysing Van Gogh

Picture: Van Gogh Museum

It's all go in Amsterdam at the moment - following the re-opening of the Rijksmuseum, tomorrow sees the re-opening of the Van Gogh museum. The museum will open with a new exhibition devoted to Van Gogh's techniques. Nina Siegal in the New York Times reports:

By using an electron microscope and X-ray fluorescence spectrometry, which reveals the parts of pigments without taking invasive samples, researchers found that early on van Gogh used perspective frames as a guide and drew on the canvas to correctly render proportions and depth of field in his landscapes. Later, as he gained mastery, he abandoned these grids. Like many artists, he reworked certain paintings repeatedly to perfect his desired effect. The most important insight was into his palette, said Nienke Bakker, curator of the show.

“We now know much more about the pigments van Gogh used and how they might’ve changed color over time,” Ms. Bakker said. “That’s crucial to our understanding of his works, and to know better how to treat them. The colors are still very vibrant, but they would have been even brighter — especially the reds. Some of the reds were much brighter or have completely disappeared since he painted them.”

Apparently The Bedroom, above, was originally painted with brighter, violet walls. 

Auctioning in Dubai

April 30 2013

Video: Christie's

They applaud after every lot!


April 29 2013

...I'm filming for 'Fake or Fortune?', so I'm afraid won't be posting till later on. Got a treat of a story for you though...

If you're in Tuscany...

April 25 2013

Image of If you're in Tuscany...

Picture: Palazzo Strozzi

...then Andrew Johnson of Renaissance in Tuscany says a new exhibition at the Palazzo Strozzi on 'sculpture and the arts in Florence 1400-1460' is well worth a visit.

One that got away?

April 25 2013

Image of One that got away?

Picture: Art Institute of Chicago

A reader alerts me to the Art Institute of Chicago's acquisition of Ludwig Richter's 1832 The Fountain at Grottaferrata, and notes that the National Gallery tried to buy it in 1989. It was eventually sold at Christie's in 2010 for £181,250 with premium, placing it affordably (for the National) at the lower end of the estimate of £150,000-250,000. It's an interesting case of how an institution's taste can evolve over time.

Andy Warhol does Van Dyck

April 25 2013

Image of Andy Warhol does Van Dyck

Picture: Steve Wood, via The Guardian

A series of photos of Andy Warhol have been published - in one of which he poses a-la Van Dyck with a sunflower. Suddenly, he's gone up in my estimation. More here

Update - a reader writes:

Fascinating to contrast your interpretation of Warhol posing with a sunflower as homage to Van Dyck and J. Jones' interpretation of Warhol posing as homage to Van Gogh!!  Does one versus the other change how one interprets the photo, and hence how one reads Warhol?   Or is it both at once, as a kind of triple pun on three artists together?  And was it perhaps the photographer who created the photo, with or even without Warhol realizing that Van Dyck portrayed himself with a sunflower?  Would that make it a quadruple visual pun, about four artists being brought together?

Want to work in the art world?

April 25 2013

Then blimey the competition is stiff. We recently advertised in The Guardian for a front-of-house position here at the gallery - and promptly got over 400 responses. Many of the candidates were exceptional, and we had a tough time making our choice. 

The Raising of the Van Dyck?

April 25 2013

Video: De Standaard

The above video is in Dutch, but the jist of it is that a recently restored Raising of the Cross (in a church in Tienen, Belgium), has been suggested to be a work from the studio of Van Dyck. It was previously thought to be a later copy. It's impossible to say much from the video, but it does look like it has a chance of being a studio replica of the undoubted original in the Church of our Lady, Kortrijk. The original is exceptionally well documeted. The Canon who commissioned the Kortrijk picture was so pleased with it that he sent Van Dyck 12 waffles in gratitude. Yum.

Re-opening the Rijksmuseum (ctd.)

April 24 2013

Video: The Economist

Fiammetta Rocco, the arts editor of the Economist, discusses the new renovation.

ps - is that furry thing a microphone, or an accessory?

Re-opening the Rijksmuseum

April 24 2013

Video: BBC

Cool fireworks.

If you're going soon, let us know what it's like.

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