16th Century

Better Late than Never...

July 21 2021

Image of Better Late than Never...

Picture: Louvre

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

News from Russia that the Louvre's La Belle Jardinière by Raphael has finally made it to Saint Petersburg. The painting was due to be included within their recent Raphael exhibition that opened last year, however, 'difficulties encountered at customs' prevented this from happening.

The painting will be on display in the State Hermitage Museum from today until 19th September 2021.

Audley End Painting Cleaned

July 16 2021

Image of Audley End Painting Cleaned

Picture: The Guardian

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Guardian have reported on news that a painting in Audley End in Essex, run by English Heritage, has been conserved and redisplayed (pictured in its restored state). The media seems to have led the story with news that the removal of overpaint has in fact removed the smile from the young lady's face:

The transformation of the picture rather impressive, especially as layers of overpaint and an upper extension to the canvas have been removed. The vibrant greens, a colour which usually doesn't survive that well over the centuries, are glorious. Furthermore, a new attribution to Joachim Beuckelaer has also been suggested now that the original paint surface has re-emerged.

Private Visit: Le retour des portraits de la Renaissance

July 15 2021

Video: Scribe Accroupi

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Here's another brilliant private viewing (in French) of the latest exhibition at the Château d'Azay-le-Rideau in France entitled Le retour des portraits de la Renaissance. This presentation is delivered by Mathieu Deldicque, curator of the musée Condé

The exhibition features renaissance portraits from the collection of the Marquis de Biencourt, a former owner of the Château, and will run until 19th September 2021.

Michelangelo's Thumb Print found on Wax Model in V&A (?)

July 13 2021

Image of Michelangelo's Thumb Print found on Wax Model in V&A (?)

Picture: The Times

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Curators at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London have discovered a previously unknown thumb print on a wax preparatory model which they hope might belong to Michelangelo. The model of a Young Slave, linked to an incomplete statue carved for Pope Julius II, has been questioned in the past due to the difficulty in dating wax models. The appearance of this thumb print will, they hope, prove that it was modelled by Michelangelo himself. The fate of the wax model will appear in the new BBC2 series Secrets of the Museums which begins next Tuesday.

Leonardo Bear makes £7.5m Hammer

July 8 2021

Image of Leonardo Bear makes £7.5m Hammer

Picture: Christie's

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Leonardo's drawing of a Bear came in just under its £8m - £12m estimate today and hammered down at £7.5m. The total including fees adds up to £8,857,500. This was a little less than expected, especially considering the enormous amount of media coverage the work generated. We'll wait and see if it ends up anywhere interesting...

Potential Dürer (?) to be featured in Aachen Exhibition

July 5 2021

Image of Potential Dürer (?) to be featured in Aachen Exhibition

Picture: The Times

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Times published an interesting article on Saturday relating to the above painting which will be featured in the current Dürer exhibition in Aachen. The picture was bought at auction in the 1980s by the late Sebastian Thewes who has spent decades trying to prove that this is an autograph work by the German master. Lots of interesting analysis has been put forward, including dendrochronology which places the panel at c.1521. The work will be included in the show catalogued as 'by an unknown painter', however, the article invites the possibility that Dürer experts might use this opportunity to reappraise the work.

Andrew Graham Dixon on Christie's Leonardo Bear

July 2 2021

Video: Christie's

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

After television art historian Andrew Graham Dixon's successful video with Sotheby's last year, it seems that Christie's has now asked him to have a look at the upcoming drawing of a Bear's Head by Leonardo da Vinci.

Members of the public who want to see the drawing, between 3 - 8 July, will have to book in advance to do so.

Virtual Opening: The Medici: Portraits and Politics

June 30 2021

Video: MET

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

For those who are unable to fly across to New York at the moment, the Metropolitan Museum of Art will be hosting a virtual opening of their latest exhibition The Medici: Portraits and Politics, 1512–1570 on 2nd July 2021 at 12.00AM (BST).

The virtual tour will be taken by Keith Christiansen, the John Pope-Hennessy Chairman of the Department of European Paintings, and guest curator Carlo Falciani, Professor of Art History at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Florence.

Bernardo Zenale's Musical Angels Exhibited in Brera

June 29 2021

Image of Bernardo Zenale's Musical Angels Exhibited in Brera

Picture: ilgiornaledellarte.com

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

A set of musical angels by Bernardo Zenale (c.1460-1526), painted in 1500 to decorate the parapet of the organ in the church of Santa Maria di Brera, have returned for a special exhibition in the city. The paintings were torn out of their original location when the church was demolished in 1808. The works, then attributed to Leonardo, came into the collection of Andreani Sormani in 1838 and only received their current attribution to Zenale in 1960.

An exhibition dedicated to these pictures will open at the Pinacoteca di Brera on 6th July 2021.


This painting is a real celebration of the many diverse musical instruments the angels are holding, as much as anything else...!

Dürer Was Here - A Journey Becomes Legend

June 22 2021

Picture: Stadt Aachen

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Suermondt-Ludwig-Museum in Aachen, Germany, will be opening their latest exhibition next month. Dürer was here - A Journey Becomes Legend will chart the artist's journey to the Netherlands made in 1520/21 and will contain 65 drawings and paintings alongside 35 prints. The show will open on 15th July 2021 and run until 24th October 2021.

The 'Hekking Mona Lisa' makes €2.9m

June 18 2021

Image of The 'Hekking Mona Lisa' makes €2.9m

Picture: Christie's

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The aforementioned 'Hekking Mona Lisa' made a total of €2.9m (inc. fees) over its €200k - €300k estimate at Christie's Paris today. This total has smashed through the recent amounts raised for copies of comparable quality in 2019. I'm sure a few collectors might be digging around their stores for such copies in their own collections during the next few months...

Update - As it so happens, look at these two Leonardo copies (1) (2) coming up in the Sotheby's sale day sale...

Spanish Reliefs Stolen 32 Years Ago Returned

June 16 2021

Image of Spanish Reliefs Stolen 32 Years Ago Returned

Picture: heraldo.es

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

News from Spain that a set of sixteenth-century reliefs that were stolen from the church of Santa María la Mayor, Olvés, have been returned to the region. The reliefs were taken in 1989 and were recently rediscovered when someone brought them in to an auction house for a valuation. They will now be displayed in a secure case within a museum connected to a local church.

National Gallery's Raphael Exhibition for April 2022

June 15 2021

Image of National Gallery's Raphael Exhibition for April 2022

Picture: The National Gallery, London

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The National Gallery in London have announced that their highly anticipated Raphael exhibition will be opening on 9th April 2022 and run till 31 July 2022. The ongoing virus crisis had delayed the planned opening in October 2020.

According to the gallery's website:

This exhibition, one of the first ever to explore Raphael's complete career, looks at his celebrated paintings and drawings as well as his work in architecture, poetry, and design for sculpture, tapestry and prints. 

With loans from the Hermitage, the Louvre, National Gallery of Art, Washington, the Prado Museum, Uffizi Museum, and the Vatican Museum this is an unprecedented opportunity to see the breadth of Raphael’s skill, creativity, and ingenuity.

Lecture: Mildred Cooke Cecil: Pregnancy Portrayed in Elizabethan England

May 28 2021

Image of Lecture: Mildred Cooke Cecil: Pregnancy Portrayed in Elizabethan England

Picture: Hatfield House

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The University of Hertfordshire's 2021 Chancellor's Lecture is being given by Dr Karen Hearn on Mildred Cooke Cecil's portrait. This painting, from Lord Salisbury's collection at Hatfield House, is a rare depiction of a obviously pregnant Elizabethan Lady. The lecture will be broadcast on 3rd June 2021 at 7pm (GMT) and is completely free to watch (although registration is required).

According to the blurb shared by the University:

The lecture will focus on Mildred Cooke, Lady Cecil (1526-89) who was one of the most learned women of her time. Her marriage to William Cecil, Lord Burghley, Elizabeth I’s trusted chief minister, was clearly companionate and successful. 

In about 1563, Mildred was painted as visibly with child – one of the earliest examples of an English ‘pregnancy portrait’. This lecture will discuss Mildred’s unusual portrait in its Elizabethan context, and suggest a number of reasons why her portrait looks the way it does.

Conservation of Hardwick Tapestries nearly Complete

May 27 2021

Image of Conservation of Hardwick Tapestries nearly Complete

Picture: The Art Newspaper

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The conservation of Hardwick Hall's tapestries, a project which was started twenty years ago, is nearly complete. Twelve out of a set of thirteen wall hangings, which decorate the building's famous Long Gallery, have been treated. The set have hung in the space since 1592 and have required painstaking work to replace broken threads and include added strengthening to these delicate works of art. Work on the last panel is being completed with the help of a private donation worth £287,000.


As beautiful as these tapestries are, the irony is that the hall's outstanding portrait collection is hung in front of them! There is no way of getting around that, I suppose.

NGA Acquires other half of Dosso Dossi Painting

May 25 2021

Image of NGA Acquires other half of Dosso Dossi Painting

Picture: Christie's

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The National Gallery of Art in Washington DC have announced their acquisition of a Landscape by Dosso Dossi (also known as The Trojans Building the Temple to Venus at Eryx and Making Offerings at Anchises’s Grave) from the recent Christie's Old Master Paintings Sale in New York. Indeed, the gallery already owned the other half of the painting Aeneas and Achates on the Libyan Coast. This sixteenth century masterpiece was originally part of the decorations made for Duke Alfonso d’Este’s study in Ferrara. It is believed that work had been separated into two during the later nineteenth century.

Fortunately, Christie's spliced the two images together for their catalogue note, which makes for very interesting reading:

Restoration reveals Silver Eyes of Cellini Bust

May 25 2021

Image of Restoration reveals Silver Eyes of Cellini Bust

Picture: ansa.it

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The National Museum of Bargello in Florence, Italy, have shared news that a recent campaign of restoration has revealed the original silver eyes of Benvenuto Cellini's bust of Cosimo I de' Medici. The silver foil, which was an original part of Cellini's work dating to 1545-48, had become obscured by centuries of grime and a dark coating which may have been applied to the sculpture in the eighteenth or nineteenth centuries. The delicate process of removing the later layers was undertaken by conservator Ludovica Nicolai.

For those wanting to see the results of this interesting project, the newly restored bust will be heading to the MET's upcoming exhibition on Medici Portraits.

Rosary Beads owned by Mary Queen of Scots Stolen

May 24 2021

Image of Rosary Beads owned by Mary Queen of Scots Stolen

Picture: BBC

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Extremely sad news emerged over the weekend that a set of Rosary Beads once owned by Mary Queen of Scots were stolen from Arundel Castle last Friday night. These treasures, owned by the Duke of Norfolk, seem to have been target alongside other precious metal objects.

According to reports:

Staff were alerted to the break-in at 22:30 BST on Friday after a burglar alarm went off. 

Sussex Police told the BBC the thieves entered through a window and smashed a glass cabinet to grab the items. 

Det Con Molly O'Malley said the force thinks a 4x4 saloon found abandoned and on fire in nearby Barlavington "was linked" to the raid. 

The castle spokesman said the rosary had "little intrinsic value as metal" but was "irreplaceable".

Fingers crossed that they will be recovered and that other private collections and stately homes will be as vigilant as ever.

Medici Portraits at the MET

May 20 2021

Image of Medici Portraits at the MET

Picture: MET

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Here's something to look forward to next month.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York will be opening their latest old master paintings exhibition on 26th June 2021 entitled The Medici: Portraits & Politics, 1512-1570.

According to the exhibition description:

Through an outstanding group of portraits, this major loan exhibition will introduce visitors to the new and complex ways artists portrayed the elite of Medicean Florence, representing the sitters' political and cultural ambitions and conveying the changing sense of what it meant to be a Florentine at this defining moment in the city's history. The exhibition will feature over 90 works in a wide range of mediums, from drawings, medals, and engravings to sculptural busts, paintings, books, and manuscripts. Included are works by the period's most celebrated artists, from Raphael, Jacopo Pontormo, and Rosso Fiorentino to Benvenuto Cellini, Agnolo Bronzino, and Francesco Salviati.

For those unable to make it to New York this summer, one hopes that the museum will be producing some of its excellent free YouTube videos for us all to enjoy.

The show will run until 11th October 2021.

Lavinia Fontana's Lucia Bonasoni di Garzoni Doubles Estimate

May 18 2021

Image of Lavinia Fontana's Lucia Bonasoni di Garzoni Doubles Estimate

Picture: subastassegre.com

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Subastas Segre auction house in Madrid realised a rather impressive price today for Lavinia Fontana's Portrait of Lucia Bonasoni di Garzoni. The picture, dated to 1590, doubled its estimate of €40k - €50k and was eventually sold to a telephone bidder for €140,000. The Spanish press are speculating as to whether a Spanish institution will step in to try and keep the work in the country, if indeed the new owner intends to export the painting.


As a lutenist, I am absolutely drawn to the beautifully depicted instrument that features within the painting. The attention to detail lavished on the strings and concaved ribs are lovely. Equally, it is just about possible to read the so-called Italian tablature that Fontana painted into the picture. I've strummed through it and it seems to make some sense. I'll let you know if I find the exact song it may refer to.

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