16th Century

Gilded Figures: Wood and Clay Made Flesh

October 22 2021

Image of Gilded Figures: Wood and Clay Made Flesh

Picture: Time Out

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Hispanic Society Museum & Library in New York have recently opened a rather brilliant sounding exhibition entitled Gilded Figures: Wood and Clay Made Flesh.

According to their website:

This splendid exhibition will offer a rare glimpse of a major art form from the Hispanic World 1500–1800: polychrome sculpture. Building on the legacy which Archer M. Huntington left the museum, the institution has added to its holdings of this material so that today the HSM&L boasts the finest collection of these works outside Spain. Until recently, this vivid sculpture went largely unnoticed, but now it elicits enthusiastic responses. Even so, Gilded Figures is the first event in New York to feature this art form in the last 20 years. The over 20 sculptures exhibited will not only attest to the high level of artistic production, but they will also include major works by women artists and show how the stylistic conventions of Spain were adapted in the New World.

The exhibition will be accompanied by some rather interesting lectures and events and ultimately will run until 9th January 2022.

Half-cleaned Vasari on Display at Palazzo Barberini

October 22 2021

Image of Half-cleaned Vasari on Display at Palazzo Barberini

Picture: @BarberiniCorsin

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Palazzo Barberini in Rome have shared an interesting image on Twitter of a half-cleaned painting on display within their galleries. The Allegory of the Immaculate Conception by Giogio Vasari is in the progress of being cleaned. The various stages of dirt removal and varnishing are now very obvious to the eye.

The work will be on display for a few weeks until it heads back for conservation until is completion in April 2022.


I was wondering whether this was a brilliant idea or not. Obviously, it is a wonderful chance to show the public the various stages of conservation treatment. However, it is also somewhat visually frustrating to see something not quite there. The equivalent would be displaying a half-cleaned car in a forecourt, perhaps. Maybe readers of AHN have some interesting opinions on the matter.

Update - A reader has been in touch to remind me of the current exhibition Facelifts & Make-overs at the Mauritshuis. Amongst presenting a survey of recent conservation projects the exhibition also features an 'in-progress' conserved picture by Pieter de Hooch. Well worth visiting by the looks of it!

Update 2 - A reader has forwarded a photograph of a detail of the aforementioned Vasari. As you can see, the conservators have used white dashes to indicate the cleaned areas:

'Largest Ever' Paris Bordone Exhibition for 2022

October 21 2021

Image of 'Largest Ever' Paris Bordone Exhibition for 2022

Picture: KHM

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Exciting news from Italy that the Museum of Santa Caterina in Treviso will be hosting the 'largest monographic exhibition ever held' on the Paris Bordone (1500-1571). The exhibition will include loaned works from the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, the Pushkin Museum in Moscow, the National Gallery in London, the Louvre in Paris, the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, and also the Uffizi Galleries in Florence and the Vatican Museums. This spectacle will be curated by Arturo Galansino, director of the Palazzo Strozzi Foundation in Florence, and Simone Facchinetti, researcher at the University of Salento.

The exhibition will run from 25th February 2022 until 26th June 2022.

Getty Acquires Bassano

October 20 2021

Image of Getty Acquires Bassano

Picture: Getty Museum

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The J. Paul Getty Museum have acquired Jacopo Bassano's The Miracle of the Quails (pictured). This large-scale work dated to 1554 has rarely ever been on display to the public. 

According to the article linked above:

“This painting perfectly embodies the genre to which Bassano owed his fame during his lifetime: the depiction of biblical themes with a pastoral character, where realistic details from everyday life are incorporated into compositions of great formal sophistication. Black shadows prevail and deeply resonant colors gleam from thick layers of pigment. Precisely drawn surface details have blurred into roughly applied swaths of loose brushstrokes. This almost abrupt but highly calculated simplicity lends the picture a mysterious and poetic aura,” says Davide Gasparotto, senior curator of paintings at the Getty Museum.

The work will be on display for the public in early November 2021.

Spanish and Italian Drawings at the National Library of Spain

October 14 2021

Image of Spanish and Italian Drawings at the National Library of Spain

Picture: bne.es

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The National Library of Spain in Madrid are opening a new exhibition tomorrow on Spanish and Italian Drawings of the Sixteenth Century. Drawing from their own collections consisting of more that 77 folios, many of the works on display have never been exhibited to the public. Spanish artists represented in the exhibition include the likes of Damián Forment, Pietro Morone, Luis de Vargas (Angelino de Medoro); Gaspar Becerra, Blas de Prado, Francisco Pacheco and El Greco. The Italian drawings are represented by works by Niccolò Circignani, Ludovico Cigoli, Jacopo da Empoli, Alessandro Casolani, Pietro Sorri and newly attributed works to Orazio Samacchini, Nosadella, Camillo Procaccini and Bartolomeo Passerotti, Agostino Carracci and Guido Reni.

The show will run until 16th January 2022.

Holbein: Capturing Character

October 12 2021

Image of Holbein: Capturing Character

Picture: Getty Museum

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Getty Museum in Los Angeles will be opening their latest Old Masters exhibition next week. Holbein: Capturing Character has been co-organised in partnership with the Morgan Library and Museum in New York.

According to the exhibition's blurb:

Holbein: Capturing Character is the first major exhibition dedicated to the artist in the United States. Spanning Holbein’s entire career, it starts with his early years in Basel, where Holbein was active in the book trade and created iconic portraits of the great humanist scholar Erasmus of Rotterdam (1466–1536). Holbein stayed in England in 1526–1528 and moved there permanently in 1532, quickly becoming the most sought-after artist among the nobles, courtiers, and foreign merchants of the Hanseatic League. In addition to showcasing Holbein’s renowned drawn and painted likenesses of these sitters, the exhibition highlights the artist’s activities as a designer of prints, printed books, personal devices (emblems accompanied by mottos), and jewels. This varied presentation reveals the artist’s wide-ranging contributions to the practice of personal definition in the Renaissance. Works by Holbein’s famed contemporaries, such as Jan Gossaert (ca. 1478–1532) and Quentin Metsys (1466–1530), and a display of intricate period jewelry and book bindings offer further insights into new cultural interests in the representation of individual identity, and highlight the visual splendor of the art and culture of the time.

The exhibition catalogue, edited by  Anne T. Woollett, with contributions by Austėja Mackelaitė, John T. McQuillen, and others, is available here.

The show will run from 19th October 2021 - 9th January 2022 and will then move to the Morgan Library and Museum between 11th February 2022 - 15th May 2022.

Titian's Vision of Women in Vienna

October 8 2021

Video: KHM

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Kunsthistoriches Museum in Vienna opened their latest exhibition this week. Titian's Vision of Women: Beauty, Love, Poetry focuses on images of Venetian Women in the context of sixteenth century ideals and contemporary society.

One of the great successes of the exhibition is the reunion of three of Titian's most iconic images including "La Bella" from Florence, the Hermitage’s "Young Woman with a Plumed Hat" alongside the Kunsthistorisches Museum's "Young Woman in a Fur" :

The exhibition will run until 16th January 2022.

Old Master Drawings at the Museu Nacional Soares dos Reis

October 6 2021

Image of Old Master Drawings at the Museu Nacional Soares dos Reis

Picture: @museunacionalsoaresdosreis

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Museu Nacional Soares dos Reis in Porto, Portugal, has recently opened their latest exhibition Drawings by European Masters in Portuguese Collections. The exhibition contains 100 works loaned from private and national collections including 'the only Leonardo existing in Portugal'.

The show will run until 31st December 2021.

NGV Acquire Lavinia Fontana

September 27 2021

Image of NGV Acquire Lavinia Fontana

Picture: NGV

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) in Australia have acquired Lavinia Fontana's The Mystic Marriage of Saint Catherine. This painting, dating to c.1575, is the earliest painting by a woman in the gallery's collection. It is one of three paintings that Fontana made of this scene before her marriage in 1577, a period when she seemed to have favoured subjects of strong women from history and biblical tales. The work was previously with the dealers Callisto Fine Arts and was presented to the NGV by the Felton bequest.

Stolen Marco d'Oggiono returns to the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana

September 16 2021

Image of Stolen Marco d'Oggiono returns to the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana

Picture: finestresullarte.info

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

A reader has pointed out this story of a stolen Madonna and Child that has been returned to the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana. The painting by Marco d'Oggiono was stolen seventy years ago and had recently resurfaced with a Milanese art dealer. It seems that the work had been acquired from the private collection of a Milanese Lady, however, its history prior to this is currently unknown.

Callisto Piazza da Lodi Altarpiece Restored

September 7 2021

Image of Callisto Piazza da Lodi Altarpiece Restored

Picture: fsspx.news

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

A reader has kindly alerted me to news that an altarpiece by Callisto Piazza da Lodi (1523-1561) has been restored. The mid-sixteenth-century painting depicting the Assumption and Coronation of the Virgin was reportedly purchased from Sotheby's and will be heading back to Lugano, Switzerland, where the painting was kept until it was sold in c.1700. The conservation of the picture was undertaken in London.

Michelangelo's Shoes Suggest Artist was Short

September 7 2021

Image of Michelangelo's Shoes Suggest Artist was Short

Picture: livescience.com

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Here's a curious story that appeared in the press a few days ago.

A group of scientists from the Forensic Anthropology, Paleopathology and Bioarchaeology Research Center (FAPAB) in Avola, Italy, have been studying a set of shoes allegedly owned by Michelangelo surviving in Florence's Casa Buonarroti Museum. Using some clever analysis, the group has estimated that Michelangelo's must have been no taller than 5 feet 2 inches (1.6 meters).

According to the article:

While this is relatively short for a European adult man by today's standards, at the time Michelangelo was alive (1475 to 1564) that height would not have been unusual, said scientists with the Forensic Anthropology, Paleopathology and Bioarchaeology Research Center (FAPAB) in Avola, Italy. 

FAPAB researchers Francesco Galassi, a paleopathologist, and Elena Varotto, a forensic anthropologist, measured the shoes and then calculated the wearer's foot dimensions and height, and their results aligned with a description of Michelangelo by the 16th-century artist and writer Giorgio Vasari. Vasari wrote that Michelangelo was "broad in the shoulders" but the rest of his body was "somewhat slender in proportion" and his stature was average, according to the study.

Uffizi Acquire Tibaldi and Gnocchi Saint Paul

September 6 2021

Image of Uffizi Acquire Tibaldi and Gnocchi Saint Paul

Picture: Uffizi

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Uffizi Gallery in Florence have announced their acquisition of a full-length Saint Paul by Pellegrino Tibaldi and his Milanese pupil Giovanni Pietro Gnocchi. The work, dated to c.1585, was purchased after an export ban was placed on it by the authorities in Italy. Recent research undertaken by the scholar Agostino Allegri has established that the work was produced for the Milanese private chapel of the heirs of San Carlo Borromeo in 1585. Indeed, the painting was mentioned in a 1587 text by Giovanni Paolo Lomazzo and managed to survive the bombings of 1943 when the chapel was badly damaged.

La Cona dei Lani - Restored & Redisplayed

August 16 2021

Video: Direzione regionale Musei Campania

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Certosa e Museo di San Martino in Naples, Italy, reopened last week to visitors. Amongst their new displays this summer are a set of restored fragments of sixteenth century sculpture known as the Cona dei Lani. These monumental terracotta artworks, originally housed in the city's Sant’Eligio Maggiore church, were badly damaged after bombing during WWII. The video above gives a brief history of the artworks and their new display within the museum.

Restoring Titian's Europa

August 13 2021

Video: Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

A reader has very kindly drawn my attention to this very satisfying video providing an account of the recent restoration of Titian's The Rape of Europa in the Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum. The removal of thick dirty varnish seems to have been absolutely transformative in this example!

Furthermore, the latest leg of the travelling exhibition Titian: Women, Myth & Power opened yesterday at the museum in Boston. The show will run there until 2nd January 2022.

Update - And here's a review of the exhibiton from The New York Times.

The NGA Acquires Sustris Drawing

August 9 2021

Image of The NGA Acquires Sustris Drawing

Picture: NGA

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The National Gallery in Washington D.C. has acquired a drawing by Friedrich Sustris (c.1540-1599).

According to their press release:

Of Netherlandish origin but born in Padua, Italy, Sustris trained with his father, Lambert, a painter in Titian’s circle. He worked briefly in Rome and went on to spent four years in the painter Giorgio Vasari’s studio in Florence. His first decorative project was in the Fugger Palace (1568–1573) for a powerful banking family in Augsburg, Germany. 

One of the very few studies that can be directly connected to that project, the drawing depicts Euterpe, the muse of music, holding a lyre and organ pipes. Sustris combined Italianate iconography with a technique reminiscent of Vasari and an extreme refinement of form found in works by Parmigianino. This drawing provides evidence of the original appearance and rare beauty of the fresco cycle, which was badly damaged in World War II.

Recent Release: Polish XVI Century Portraits

August 9 2021

Image of Recent Release: Polish XVI Century Portraits

Picture: wilanow-palac.pl

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Professor Przemysław Mrozowski, a director of the Royal Castle in Warsaw, has recently published a new book on Portraits in Sixteenth Century Poland. The publication focuses on placing early Polish portraits within its European context, alongside catalogue notes of significant examples of the period.

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.

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