16th Century

Leonardo Bear Drawing Coming up for Sale at Christie's

May 8 2021

Image of Leonardo Bear Drawing Coming up for Sale at Christie's

Picture: Christie's

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Exciting news today that Christie's will be offering a drawing of a Head of a Bear by Leonardo da Vinci in their upcoming July sale in London. The drawing has a distinguished British provenance as it was in the collection of the painter Thomas Lawrence PRA and was later purchased by the dealer Samuel Woodburn. It is believed to be only one of eight drawings by Leonardo left in private hands.

Reports suggest the the rare drawing will carry an estimate of £8m - £12m.

More news when it appears!

Horace Walpole's Catherine de Medici Family Portrait Accepted in Lieu

May 7 2021

Image of Horace Walpole's Catherine de Medici Family Portrait Accepted in Lieu

Picture: Sotheby's

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

News broke today of a monumental portrait of Catherine de’ Medici and Her Children, attributed to the Workshop of François Clouet, being accepted as part of the UK lieu of tax scheme. The portrait had been in the possession of the eighteenth-century collector Horace Walpole and will now return to his former residence Strawberry Hill House in Twickenham.

According an article published by The Guardian:

Dr Silvia Davoli, the curator at Strawberry Hill House, said Catherine’s gestures are highly symbolic, as she simultaneously presents the young monarch and protectively keeps him close to her, reflecting the substantial influence she held over the political life of France and the control and guidance she exercised over her son’s rule. It also shows the bond between members of the family – they are close and look alike.

The portrait settled £1m in tax and was brokered by the auction house Sotheby's. Visitors will be able to see the painting when the house reopens later this month.

Bilbao Fine Arts Museum Acquires a Sofonisba Anguissola

May 7 2021

Image of Bilbao Fine Arts Museum Acquires a Sofonisba Anguissola

Picture: Bilbao Fine Arts Musuem

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Bilbao Fine Arts Museum have announced their acquisition of The Mystical Marriage of Saint Catherine by Sofonisba Anguissola.

According to the museum's press release:

This painting by Sofonisba Anguissola was recently discovered, making it an extraordinary new addition to her small known body of religious works. Signed and dated by Anguissola herself, it is in an outstanding state of conservation and only required a slight intervention to participate in the exhibition A Tale of Two Women Painters: Sofonisba Anguissola and Lavinia Fontana, curated by Leticia Ruiz and held at the Museo del Prado in 2019, the first time the painting was seen in public.


The date of the work, 1588, indicates that it was painted in Genoa, the city where Sofonisba Anguissola lived between 1580 and 1615, when she enjoyed a wealthy lifestyle that enabled her to devote herself fully to painting. This leads us to believe that this was where she directly encountered the work by the same name by Luca Cambiaso—one of the top representatives of the Genoese school—which she faithfully reproduced on the canvas that now joins the collection of the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum. The artist may have been interested in this new iconography, which shows a Christ Child grown and very strongly resembling his mother, which humanises his figure and gives him a more important role in the scene.

Here's the write up from La Tribune de l'Art.

New Release: Albert and the Whale

May 6 2021

Image of New Release: Albert and the Whale

Picture: Pegasus Books

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Artdaily.com have produced an interesting write up of Philip Hoare's new book entitled Albert and the Whale: Albrecht Dürer and How Art Imagines Our World. The book is said to be a blend of "art history, biography, nature writing and memoir."

To quote the article linked above:

The book’s central figure — the one from which Hoare’s centrifugal energies radiate — is German artist Albrecht Dürer. The book’s marine angle, initially anyway, is a beached whale that Dürer traveled to see but never saw; perfectly indicative of the strange, seemingly spare ingredients that Hoare likes to turn into feasts. In Dürer’s time, whales “presented a great challenge and allure” to artists, because “they were so difficult to comprehend. Like God, no one could agree what they really looked like, or what they might be capable of.”


This book requires patience, and a mild tolerance for passing clouds of pretension or obscurity; but these hazards are just residual effects from the forceful weather system that is Hoare’s imagination...

New Release: The Life and Times of Hans Holbein

May 5 2021

Image of New Release: The Life and Times of Hans Holbein

Picture: headofzeus.com

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The television producer and author Franny Moyle has a new book coming out later this month entitled The King's Painter: The Life and Times of Hans Holbein. The format of the book seems to look towards the many popular Tudor history books that have been published in recent times.

According to the book's blurb:

Hans Holbein the Younger is chiefly celebrated for his beautiful and precisely realised portraiture, which includes representations of Henry VIII, Thomas More, Thomas Cromwell, Anne of Cleves, Jane Seymour and an array of the Tudor lords and ladies he encountered during the course of two sojourns in England. But beyond these familiar images, which have come to define our perception of the world of the Henrician court, Holbein was a protean and multi-faceted genius: a humanist, satirist, political propagandist, and contributor to the history of book design as well as a religious artist and court painter. The rich layers of symbolism and allusion that characterise his work have proved especially fascinating to scholars. 

Franny Moyle traces and analyses the life and work of an extraordinary artist against the backdrop of an era of political turbulence and cultural transformation, to which his art offers a subtle and endlessly refracting mirror.

Last week I featured one of the pieces of research, relating to Holbein the Younger's earliest portrait, which will be included within the book. Another piece of research was published by artnews.com earlier this week, explaining Moyle's theory regarding a Holbein miniature in the Royal Collection.

Martin Kemp on Salvator Mundi

May 4 2021

Image of Martin Kemp on Salvator Mundi

Picture: The Art Newspaper

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The renowned Leonardo scholar Martin Kemp has penned a piece for The Art Newspaper reiterating why he is convinced the Salvator Mundi is by Leonardo Da Vinci. The piece mostly focuses on the scientific evidence presented in favour of the attribution, evidence which was seemingly confirmed in the 'non-book' produced by the Louvre. Kemp also expresses his opinion on the claims made in the recent French documentary The Savior for Sale, which he calls "bogus" and "sensation-seeking".

The final paragraph too summarises his thoughts on the continuing saga:

The painting deserves better. It is not to blame for its ownership, past and present. Being owned by dealers, a Russian oligarch and a secretive Saudi prince tends to attract unfavourable attention. Poor painting! It is time the abuse stopped and the looking started.

Titian's Pietro Aretino

May 4 2021

Image of Titian's Pietro Aretino

Picture: The Frick Collection

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Frick Collection in New York have announced the publication of a new book in their Diptych series entitled Titian's Pietro Aretino.

According to the book's blurb:

Written by Xavier F. Salomon, Deputy Director and Peter Jay Sharp Chief Curator, and acclaimed author Francine Prose, this new book takes as its subject the celebrated and notorious figure who earned the nickname the “scourge of princes” for his satirical writings on the rich and powerful. After moving to Venice in 1527, Aretino befriended Titian, who went on to paint three portraits of the writer and included his likeness in two other larger works. The portrait in the Frick’s collection, apparently painted in just three days, conveys Aretino’s intellectual power and presents him as a richly robed figure wearing a gold chain given to him as a gift from a patron. Salomon’s essay delves into the complex relationship between the artist and the sitter as well as publisher Francesco Marcolini, who commissioned the portrait as a testament to his friendship with Aretino. A lyrical text by Prose addresses the virtues and vices of Aretino as a sharp-tongued Venetian, known to be a blackmailer.

Possible Isaac Oliver Miniatures for Sale (?)

April 30 2021

Image of Possible Isaac Oliver Miniatures for Sale (?)

Picture: coutaubegarie.com

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

@Drouot on Twitter have drawn attention to these two miniatures that are coming up for sale at La maison Coutau-Bégarie & Associés next week. Both bear traditional attributions to Isaac Oliver (c.1565-1617). The gentleman on the right depicts an unknown sitter in armour, painted onto ivory, and is estimated at €10k - €12k. The miniature on the right bears an inscription identifying the sitter as Queen Elizabeth I (?) and Isaac Oliver as the painter, also estimated at €10k - €12k. We'll wait till the sale on 7th May to see exactly what the market makes of them!

Before and After - The Hermitage School of Raphael Frescos

April 28 2021

Video: State Hermitage Museum

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

A reader has kindly pointed out the following video released by The State Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia. The presentation provides some rather amazing 'before' and 'after' images of the restoration of the museum's fresco cycle given to 'the School of Raphael'. It seems that later over-zealous re-painting had obscured some lovely original work preserved underneath. Considering that these frescos were removed from the plaster work of a building during the nineteenth century, it is quite amazing that they survived at all!

Hans Holbein the Younger's Earliest Portrait?

April 27 2021

Image of Hans Holbein the Younger's Earliest Portrait?

Picture: The Telegraph

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Telegraph have published an article by Franny Moyle who might well have found the earliest portrait of Hans Holbein the Younger (c.1497-1543) hiding in plain sight. Her article describes a visit she made to the Staatsgallerie in Augsburg, where she noticed a prominent boy featured in Holbein the Elder's memorial to the Walther Family (pictured). Famously, the gallery features another work by Holbein the Elder showing two blonde haired boys who have long been identified as Hans (the Younger) and his brother Ambrosius (see below). Many readers will undoubtedly know of the drawing of the pair in Berlin. The Walther family memorial was created when Hans was five years old.

The comparison between these figures encouraged Moyle to get in touch with several scholars to see if anyone else had spotted him. It seems that no one else had. Indeed, her theory has since been endorsed by Dr Bodo Brinkman, curator of Old Masters at Basel's Kunstmuseum, which houses a major collection of Holbein's works.

Borghese Gallery's Titian X-rayed

April 26 2021

Image of Borghese Gallery's Titian X-rayed

Picture: radiocolonna.it

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Galleria Borghese's Venus Blindfolding Cupid by Titian has undergone an interesting conservation project in recent months.

Indeed, recent x-rays of the painting have revealed more details concerning the additional figure that Titian decided to paint out of the scene. The pentimento suggests that the painter had initially included Euphrosyne (good cheer and joy) within the composition. Therefore, it is likely that the other two figures would have originally represented Aglaea (splendour) and Thalia (prosperity) to complete the set of 'Three Graces'. The painting received its current title in 1870, when it was suggested by the art historian Giovanni Battista Cavalcaselle.

The work will be exhibited in Mantua later this year for their set of exhibitions on Venus.

New Release: Giovanni Bellini - an Introduction

April 21 2021

Image of New Release: Giovanni Bellini - an Introduction

Picture: marsilioeditori.it

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Marsilio Editori in Italy have announced their upcoming publication Giovanni Bellini - An Introduction by Prof. emeritus Peter Humfrey of the University of Saint Andrews.

According to the book's blurb:

The art of Giovanni Bellini has been a passion for half a century…” Peter Humfrey accompanies us through the work of Italian Renaissance artist Giovanni Bellini, considered the most important practitioner of Venetian painting in the latter half of the fifteenth century.

Born into a family of painters, Bellini began studying art at a young age, painting primarily in the then dominant Gothic style of the early Renaissance. As time passed and he evolved as an artist, Bellini’s wide-reaching influence came to inform the maniera moderna, or modern manner, inherited by Giorgione and Titian. His unparalleled ability to both harness the expressive power of light and recreate the poetry of natural landscapes became the foundational tenets of the Venetian school of painting for centuries to come.

This volume provides an accessible guide to Bellini’s work and the lasting influence of his career on Western European painting. Organized chronologically, the book maps the development of Bellini’s own craft alongside the greater technical experimentation of the Quattrocento, detailing the artist’s rejection of traditional egg tempera technique for oil on canvas and taking into account the influence of contemporaries Andrea Mantegna and Antonello da Messina.

Concise and up to date, this book effectively conveys the scale of Bellini’s contributions to Western European painting in the wider context of the era. 

There's no exact release date to be found on the website, but other sources suggest that shipping will be available from June.

Update - A reader has been in touch to share the details that the book will be available in the UK on 28th April, but buyers in the US will have to wait until 8th June.

Michelangelo's Teacher: The Belvedere Torso

April 20 2021

Video: Vatican News

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Vatican Museums are the latest organisation to start releasing videos on YouTube focusing on various aspects relating to its rich collections of art. Their first video examines the Belvedere Torso, and in particular the effect it had on Michelangelo.


A nice video, but I think they could definitely make some improvements on the audio and music choices (!)

Amazon's Leonardo Drama "Cringe-inducing" and "Dull"

April 16 2021

Video: Amazon Prime

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Amazon Prime's new drama based on the life of Leonardo da Vinci, released today, has received less than favourable reviews from critics. The Guardian's Lucy Mangan gave the show 2/5 stars, describing it as "cringe inducing", and The Telegraph's Ed Power has described it as "worthy-but-dull – and stonkingly chaste" at 3/5 stars. It seems that not even the appearance of Aidan Turner could not salvage the script which has been described as "woeful".

It goes without saying that AHN welcomes reviews from its own readers too!

Update - A reader has written in:

I managed 1 minute 38 seconds of the Official Trailer. That was more than enough.

Lorenzo Lotto's Crucifixion

April 7 2021

Video: Municipality of Monte San Giusto

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Municipality of Monte San Giuto in Italy have published the above video describing Lorenzo Lotto's Crucifixion (1528-9) in the church of Santa Maria della Pietà in Monte San Giusto. This version in English was narrated by Matthias Wivel of the National Gallery in London who collaborated on the project with Italian curator Enrico Maria Dal Pozzolo. Here's an article if you'd like to know more about the collaboration.

The Savior For Sale

April 7 2021

Image of The Savior For Sale

Picture: TAN

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Art Newspaper have published a fascinating article on the new film by Antoine Vitkine entitled The Savior for Sale.

The film seems to reveal some very interesting details about the aborted attempt to exhibit the Salvator Mundi for the Louvre's Leonardo exhibition in 2019. Firstly, the film suggests from a source that Saudi owners of the painting had strong conditions on the work being exhibited. They supposedly had insisted that the work should hang next to the Mona Lisa and should be catalogued as a Leonardo 100% in full.

A little more murky is scientific analysis that the Louvre is said to have undertaken on the painting. It is claimed that initial investigations by the museum's technical laboratory C2RMF have concluded that Leonardo had only contributed to part of the painting. We'll have to wait for the film to hear more, as the article gives absolutely no details of how they came to this decision. There's also the matter of the book later and secretly published by the Louvre, which actually confirmed the authorship to Leonardo.

It is claimed that President Macron eventually took the decision to not go ahead with the Saudi's conditions.

The film will be broadcast on French television on 13th April 2021.

The Light of Michelangelo

April 6 2021

Video: MIC_Italia

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

News from Italy that the special natural lighting which illuminates Michelangelo's Tomb of Julius II in the Basilica of San Pietro in Vincoli, Rome, has been captured on film. The time-lapse video above shows how the natural light flooding into the church around Easter lights up some of the key features of the tomb in a theatrical manner. It has been suggested that Michelangelo had this lighting effect in mind when the tomb was designed.

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Acquires a Lavinia Fontana Portrait

April 5 2021

Image of Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Acquires a Lavinia Fontana Portrait

Picture: VMFA

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts has acquired a portrait by Lavinia Fontana (1552-1614). Although the identity of the sitter is not known, it has been suggested that it may depict Isabella Gonzaga (1565–1637).

According to Dr Sylvain Cordier, the museum's Paul Mellon curator and Head of European Art:

Here is a woman’s regard for another woman during an era when the very contours of womanhood were principally being delineated by men. A noble woman in this society had to struggle to affirm her place, her dignity and her authority. This representation of a confident and charismatic young noble woman will play a vital role in the development of the spectacular Grand Portrait Gallery that we are preparing for 2025. This gallery will assist our visitors to interrogate the constantly changing conventions governing gendered representation in European art over the course of several centuries.

Albrecht Dürer Prints in Moscow

April 1 2021

Video: ГИМ

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The State Historical Museum in Moscow has opened a new exhibition this week on Albrecht Dürer Engraving Masterpieces. The show has been organised with the Pinakothek Tosio Martinengo in Brescia, Italy, whose collections of printed works by the artist is one of the best in the world. Overall, the show features 120 engravings by the artist excluding works by other contemporaries.

The exhibition will run until 28th June 2021.

Raphael Tapestry Exhibition in Urbino

March 29 2021

Image of Raphael Tapestry Exhibition in Urbino

Picture: finestresullarte.info

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

On 21st May 2021 the Palazzo Ducale in Urbino will be opening their new exhibition dedicated to Raphael and Tapestries. The show will be in collaboration with the Vatican Museums and Mobilier National Paris. It will features tapestries made after his designs and frescos, and include later reinterpretations such as those made at Gobelins during the age of Louis XIV (pictured).

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