16th Century

Pier Francesco Foschi given first monograph exhibition in Florence

November 28 2023

Video: Italia7

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

News from Florence that the  Galleria dell’Accademia have opened the first ever monograph exhibition in Europe dedicated to Pier Francesco Foschi (1502-1567) today. Known primarily as a student of Andrea del Sarto, and a collaborator with Pontormo, the exhibition brings together 40 works or so by the artist alongside paintings by contemporaries.

The exhibition opens today and will run until 10th March 2024.

Johannes Stradanus Conference in Florence

November 28 2023

Image of Johannes Stradanus Conference in Florence

Picture: niki-florence.org

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

It's not too late to sign up to join the upcoming international conference on Johannes Stradanus (1523-1605): A Flemish Artist in Florence in the Age of Exploration being held in Florence in two days time. The conference is free and is also being held online for those not able to travel to the city. The event is being held to coincide with the Museo di Palazzo Vecchio's exhibition on the artist which runs until 18th February 2024.

Lorenzo Lotto and Pellegrino Tibaldi in Cuneo

November 27 2023

Video: grp.it

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

A new exhibition has opened in Cuneo, Italy, celebrating the nuanced influences between the sixteenth century painters Lorenzo Lotto and Pellegrino Tibaldi, a subject which has only recently been investigated. The highlight appears to be the display of the seven canvases which form the so-called 'Lauretan cycle', which were completed for Chapel of the Choir of the church of Santa Maria di Loreto.

This show at the city's Complesso Monumentale di San Francesco will run until 17th March 2024.

Dürer Woodcuts at Strawberry Hill House

November 27 2023

Video: Strawberry Hill House & Garden

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Strawberry Hill House & Garden in Twickenham, London, have created the following video to celebrate their current exhibition The Devil is in the Detail: Dürer’s Great Passion and Early Woodcuts from the Schroder Collection. The video follows the artist Elena Greggio in producing a woodcut print from scratch. A very time consuming process indeed, just imagine creating something far more complex!

The show will run until 10th April 2024.

Château de Chantilly pre-empt Miniature

November 24 2023

Image of Château de Chantilly pre-empt Miniature

Picture: Christie's

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Château de Chantilly have announced that they have pre-empted a miniature sold in the recent Christie's Paris auction. Jean Decourt's group portrait, showing Catherine de Medici surrounded by her family, realised a total of €22,680 (inc. commission) in the recent sale.

The catalogue note makes for an interesting read, and claims the following:

Further research is necessary in order to determine whether this miniature is an isolated work or, more likely, an illumination detached from a larger manuscript. The central positioning of Catherine de’ Medici, as well as her love for portraits, suggests that this miniature was likely commissioned by the queen mother herself. The unlikely gathering of the two brothers who were each kings of France and the absence of their younger siblings Francis and Margaret, reinforces the significance of this miniature as celebrating the ascension of Henry III to the throne in 1575.

Rosso Fiorentino's Deposition Conserved

November 17 2023

Image of Rosso Fiorentino's Deposition Conserved

Picture: ansa.it

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

News from the Pinacoteca civica di Volterra in Italy that their Deposition from the Cross by Rosso Fiorentino has been conserved. The conservation project, which began in September 2021, was completed by Daniele Rossi and Roberto Buda in an effort to stabilise the fragile panel and paint surface which was in a rather precarious state. Painted by the artist in 1521, the work was funded by Friends of Florence Foundation and further donations from John and Kathe Dyson and the Alexander Bodini Foundation.

Six Wives of Henry VIII Exhibition for the NPG in 2024

November 16 2023

Image of Six Wives of Henry VIII Exhibition for the NPG in 2024

Picture: NPG

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The National Portrait Gallery in London has recently announced that it will be putting on an exhibition next year entitled Six Lives: The Stories of Henry VIII’s Queens. Considering the never-ending contemporary interest in this subject, I can imagine it will be a hit.

According to the press release:

Tudor paintings by Hans Holbein the Younger and contemporary photography by Hiroshi Sugimoto meet in the National Portrait Gallery’s first exhibition of historic portraiture since reopening, presenting a study of the lives and afterlives of the six women who married Henry VIII.

Six Lives will chronicle the representation of Katherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, Katherine Howard and Katherine Parr throughout history and popular culture in the centuries since they lived. As a frequent source of fascination, the stories of the six women has repeatedly inspired writers and artists of all kinds to attempt to uncover the ‘truth’ of their lives: their characters, their appearance and their relationships. From historic paintings, drawings and ephemera, to contemporary photography, costume and film, the exhibition draws upon a wealth of factual and fictional materials to present the life, legacy and portrayal of six women who forever changed the landscape of English history.

The exhibition will open in June 2024.


As it happens, I find the photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto's portrait series used on the NPG website one of the most cynical forms of 'contemporary art' I've ever seen. I wonder how many people who view these 'artworks' know that the photographer quite simply took some snaps of Madame Tussaud's waxworks of the wives and King on display somewhere, edited out the background, and Voilà printed them out and now they are on display in the NPG? I happen to know this because as a set of them used to be on display at Warwick Castle (where I worked long long ago), a site owned by the same owners of Tussauds who were often handed old unwanted waxworks from the Baker Street museum. I find this sort of art, which anyone could have done with some holiday snaps, entirely hollow.

Venice's Sala Quattro Porte to be Conserved

November 13 2023

Image of Venice's Sala Quattro Porte to be Conserved

Picture: savevenice.org

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

News from Venice that the Palazzo Ducale's famous Sala Quattro Porte will undergoing a year-long restoration project which begins this month. This incredible space, which was designed by Palladio, contains famous works by Jacopo Tintoretto, Titian and Giambattista Tiepolo. The news report above explains that €710,000 has been set aside for the task, which seems suspiciously low to me for some reason.

Uffizi sends 50 Venetian Masterpieces to Hong Kong

November 7 2023

Image of Uffizi sends 50 Venetian Masterpieces to Hong Kong

Picture: hkcd.com

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Uffizi Gallery have sent 50 Venetian Masterpieces for a special loan exhibition to the Hong Kong Museum of Art. This special show, which opened last week, features important works by Titian, Giorgione, Tintoretto and Veronese, in a celebration of Venetian art of the sixteenth century.

However, one of my favourite aspects of the exhibition is a multimedia experience (or 'game') organised by the gallery called AI Titian. Using a rather fun-looking set of interactive screens and cameras, visitors are able to transform themselves into a Titian painting, which is then transferred into a screen-image amongst a small-gallery of Venetian works.

In fact, here is the Director of Leisure and Cultural Services Liu Ming-kwong's AI generated portrait:

It seems that AI is finally getting to grips with the complexities of Old Master Paintings.

The show will run until 28th February 2024.

Hidden Room of Michelangelo Sketches Opened in Florence

November 1 2023

Image of Hidden Room of Michelangelo Sketches Opened in Florence

Picture: The Guardian

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Guardian have reported on news that a 'tiny chamber' beneath the Medici Chapels in the Basilica of San Lorenzo have been opened to members of the public. These rooms contain sketches on the walls which Michelangelo made whilst in hiding there in 1530, escaping a death sentence ordered by Pope Clement VII. The sketches were uncovered in 1975 and contain drawings of his previous works, including the famous David.

Art Fund Pledges £200,000 to Save Tapestry

October 31 2023

Image of Art Fund Pledges £200,000 to Save Tapestry

Picture: uk.news.yahoo.com

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

A campaign to raise £4.1m to save Henry VIII's Burning of the Heathen Books Tapestry has received a generous pledge of £200,000 from the Art Fund. The campaign is being run by the Auckland Project, as it hopes to redisplay the work in its recently opened Faith Museum in Bishop Auckland.

According to the press report:

If the campaign is successful, visitors will be able to see the tapestry alongside artefacts closely associated with these tumultuous years - including a rare copy of Tyndale’s New Testament, and a portrait of Sir Thomas More in the last week of his life.

Auckland Castle itself has a historical link to Henry VIII via his advisors Cuthbert Tunstall and Cardinal Wolsey, both Prince Bishops of Durham.

Jenny Waldman, director of art fund, said: “This exquisitely detailed tapestry is the only surviving example of nine tapestries commissioned by Henry VIII. We have a unique opportunity to bring it back to the UK after being considered lost for almost 200 years.

“I can’t think of a better home for this monumental tapestry than The Auckland Project’s new Faith Museum, and I’m delighted we’ve been able to support their campaign to acquire it, building on a decade of support for the charity.

"This has only been possible thanks to Art Fund's generous donors and members, who I urge to visit The Auckland Project."

Reattributed Titian On Display in Warsaw

October 31 2023

Video: The Royal Castle Warsaw

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Royal Castle in Warsaw have put on a small exhibition dedicated to what they claim is a rediscovered portrait by Titian. The Portrait of a Young Man is on loan from a private collection and is said to have been created before 1515. The website, which gives a list of works it can be compared to, does not list which recognised scholars have supported the reattribution to the Venetian master.

Venezia500 at the Alte Pinakothek

October 27 2023

Image of Venezia500 at the Alte Pinakothek

Picture: Alte Pinakothek

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Munich's Alte Pinakothek latest exhibition opens today. VENEZIA 500:

THE GENTLE REVOLUTION OF VENETIAN PAINTING is a celebration of Venetian painting of the sixteenth century and will feature works by all the big names including Giovanni Bellini, Giorgione, Palma Vecchio, Lorenzo Lotto, Titian and Tintoretto.

According to the museum's website:

The exhibition is devoted to the groundbreaking innovations in Venetian Renaissance painting, with lasting effects that continued to resonate far into European modernism. It presents 15 masterpieces from the Munich collection and around 70 international loans, focusing on portraits and landscapes from the first half of the sixteenth century as the most eloquent examples of the characteristics and achievements of the flourishing Venetian school. The leading masters brought a previously unprecedented intensity to their explorations of the essence of humanity and nature and their interrelations. This explains the attraction and the relevance of these portraits and landscapes, which will be presented in themed groups and in juxtapositions of drawings and sculptures that address the contexts of their creative origins and contemporary readings.

This free (!) show will run until 4th February 2024.

Prado Acquires Paolo da San Leocadio

October 27 2023

Image of Prado Acquires Paolo da San Leocadio

Picture: Prado

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

News from Spain that the Prado Museum in Madrid have acquired an Agony in the Garden by Paolo da San Leocadio. Born in Italy in 1447, this master is most famous for his work during his stay in Valencia, which included producing frescos and works of art for the city's cathedral. Press reports have stated that the work was purchased for 600,000 from the Bernat Gallery, with the American Friends of the Prado Museum paying for half of the costs.

In anticipation of the upcoming Holbein exhibition...

October 26 2023

Image of In anticipation of the upcoming Holbein exhibition...

Picture: Royal Collection Trust

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Guardian have published its art critic Jonathan Jones's thoughts on a private tour of the Royal Library at Windsor Castle in anticipation of the upcoming Holbein Exhibition at the Queen's Gallery. It seems that he was impressed by the mastery of these artworks and it will be exciting to see how they are presented when the show opens in November!

Louvre Acquires Portuguese Resurrection

October 25 2023

Image of Louvre Acquires Portuguese Resurrection

Picture: Louvre

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

La Tribune de l'Art have reported on news that the Louvre have acquired a Portuguese painting depicting the Resurrection of Christ. Dated to around 1540, and connected to an unknown artist connected with the Royal Court of Lisbon, the painting was acquired from the dealer Philippe Mendes who had the work on their stand at TEFAF earlier this year.

Holbein and the Renaissance in the North

October 23 2023

Image of Holbein and the Renaissance in the North

Picture: staedelmuseum.de

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Admirers of the works of Hans Holbein will have major exhibitions in both London and Frankfurt this winter! The Städel Museum will be opening their latest show next week dedicated to Holbein and the Renaissance in the North

According to the museum's website:

It was a turning point in the history of art: Renaissance painting. What had begun in Italy developed into something completely new in Northern Europe in the works of the painters Hans Holbein the Elder (ca. 1464–1524) and Hans Burgkmair (1473–1531), pioneers of this singular art. Its centre was the free imperial and mercantile city of Augsburg, which became the capital of a German—but also an international—Renaissance within just a few decades. None other than Hans Holbein the Younger (1497–1543), one of the German Renaissance’s greatest painters, would ultimately make this art known throughout Europe.

The show will run from 2nd November 2023 until 18th February 2024.

€15m Leonardo Drawing to Leave France

October 23 2023

Image of €15m Leonardo Drawing to Leave France

Picture: Le Monde

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

News from France that the French State has finally been forced by a court to sign an export license for a drawing by Leonardo da Vinci, following on from a story posted here last May

Michelangelo, Leonardo, Raphael at the RA in 2024

October 23 2023

Image of Michelangelo, Leonardo, Raphael at the RA in 2024

Picture: The National Gallery, London

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

It seems like the Royal Academy in London will be putting on a remarkable Florentine extravaganza in November 2024. Their online calendar has recently published the dates for their upcoming exhibition entitled Michelangelo, Leonardo, Raphael: Florence, c. 1504

It's a little long way off yet, but the show will be scheduled from 9th November 2024 until 16th February 2025.

Mona Lisa Ground Layer given the Scientific Treatment

October 12 2023

Image of Mona Lisa Ground Layer given the Scientific Treatment

Picture: pubs.acs.org

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

There have been a few articles floating around this week regarding an article published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. The research paper focuses on some new analysis of the materials used in Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa, suggesting that 'a rare compound, plumbonacrite' was found in its ground layer. Its authors suggest that the artist had been experimenting whilst preparing this iconic portrait (I suppose the easier question should be, what did Leonardo not do during his lifetime).

Here's the abstract, in case any one would like to delve further:

An exceptional microsample from the ground layer of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa was analyzed by high-angular resolution synchrotron X-ray diffraction and micro Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, revealing a singular mixture of strongly saponified oil with high lead content and a cerussite (PbCO3)-depleted lead white pigment. The most remarkable signature in the sample is the presence of plumbonacrite (Pb5(CO3)3O(OH)2), a rare compound that is stable only in an alkaline environment. Leonardo probably endeavored to prepare a thick paint suitable for covering the wooden panel of the Mona Lisa by treating the oil with a high load of lead II oxide, PbO. The review of Leonardo’s manuscripts (original and latter translation) to track the mention of PbO gives ambiguous information. Conversely, the analysis of fragments from the Last Supper confirms that not only PbO was part of Leonardo’s palette, through the detection of both litharge (α-PbO) and massicot (β-PbO) but also plumbonacrite and shannonite (Pb2OCO3), the latter phase being detected for the first time in a historical painting.

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