18th Century

Nationalmuseum Stockholm acquires La Tour Pastel

April 10 2022

Image of Nationalmuseum Stockholm acquires La Tour Pastel

Picture: La Gazette Drouot

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

News from La Gazette Drouot that the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm have acquired Quentin de La Tour's portrait of a Lady presumed to be Mrs. Catherine Massea. The work was acquired at auction last month for €60,536.

Tiepolo's Paintings in Verolanuova are being Restored

April 10 2022

Image of Tiepolo's Paintings in Verolanuova are being Restored

Picture: ansa.it

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Two large paintings by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo's, kept in the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament in the Basilica of San Lorenzo, Verolanuova, are to be restored. Work has recently begun on bringing the artist's monumental canvases of The Sacrifice of Melchizedek and The Collection of Manna back to life. The work is being supervised by conservator Davide Dotti.

Louis Gauffier in Italy

April 10 2022

Image of Louis Gauffier in Italy

Picture: Musée Fabre à Montpellier

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Musée Fabre in Montpellier will be opening their latest exhibition next month. As the title suggests, Le voyage en Italie de Louis Gauffier will be following the journey Louis Gauffier (1762-1801) made to Italy from 1783 onwards. The show features landscapes, portraits, biblical and mythological subjects with loans from the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Kenwood House in London, The National Gallery of Scotland in Edinburgh, The Nationalmuseum in Stockholm, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Minneapolis Art Institute, Fine Art Museums in San Francisco and The National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne.

The exhibition will run from 7th May 2022 until 4th September 2022.

Temporary Export Bar on £11m Bellotto

April 5 2022

Image of Temporary Export Bar on £11m Bellotto

Picture: Christie's

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The UK Government has placed a temporary export bar on Bernado Bellotto's View of Verona with the Ponte delle Navi. The picture was sold at Christie's last year, and any interested institution will have to find £11m to keep the work in the country.

According to Committee Member Christopher Baker: 

Bernardo Bellotto was one of the greatest vedute (view) painters of the eighteenth century and this ambitious work is among the towering achievements of his early career. 

A native of Venice and nephew of Canaletto, Bellotto sought novel subjects beyond his home and here created, when in his early twenties, a remarkably mature study of the heart of Verona, notable for its bold composition, unifying silvery light and architectural interest, as well as its lively anecdotal details. Painted for an as yet unidentified British patron, View of Verona with the Ponte delle Navi’ is first recorded in London in 1771 when it was consigned to auction. 

It was conceived as one of a pair of pictures (pendants); its companion explores a complementary view of the river Adige, looking in the opposite direction, and hangs in the collection of Powis Castle (National Trust). Because of the aesthetic pre-eminence of Bellotto’s work and its fascination in terms of future research around such paintings and their patronage, it would be highly desirable if this wonderful picture could find a permanent home in a British public collection.


Regular readers will know that there are quite a few pictures with temporary export bars on them at the moment. There is a £50m Reynolds, a £10m Cezanne, a £6m De Heem, a £1.5m pair of Kauffmans, all waiting for interested institutions to raise the money to keep them in the country.

I'm yet to hear if any institution stepped in to save this most interesting seventeenth century double portrait, whose export ban expired in March 2022. I could be wrong, but it seems to me that the aforementioned £7.5m Sargent too has slipped through the net too.

Quite a few of you often get in touch after I post such stories, pointing out how few of these paintings are eventually saved. As I posted last year, it seems that the UK export scheme is not particularly efficient in actually saving high value paintings.

One reader has recently contributed his own personal view:

Nothing about this scheme works. It may once have been to protect the nation's heritage, but its only purpose today is to allow the government to pretend it cares about the Nation's heritage - it would be better simply to abolish it. 

The US has generous tax incentives that result in hundreds of millions of dollars worth of art being donated annually and museums with billions in endowments. France and Holland fund their museums to but great artworks (150 million Euros for a Rembrandt this year - 180 million Euros between them for two others a few years ago). Most other countries - including Italy, Greece and Spain simply ban the export of important heritage items so that they remain in those countries even if they can't be purchased for public collections. 

If our Country has become so impoverished that adding anything approaching great art to our national collections is simply beyond our means, would it not be better just to do away with our wholly discredited heritage export scheme, and just ban the export of important items as many other countries do?

I suppose we might need to wait and see what happens with the current list of artworks at risk. If all are lost, then it might be a good time for the scheme to be reformed in some way (as has been suggested many times before).

Oh, and a pair of Kauffmans too!

April 1 2022

Image of Oh, and a pair of Kauffmans too!

Picture: gov.uk

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

They are coming thick and fast these days! Apologies, I forgot to spot last week's announcement that a pair of group portraits by Angelica Kauffman have also been subject to a temporary export bar by the UK Government.

The pair of Group Portraits of Mr and Mrs Joseph May and their Children have been valued at £1.5m. They were sold several times during the nineteenth-century and have descended with various families during the twentieth.

According to Committee Member Professor Mark Hallett:

Angelica Kauffman was one of the most important painters working in late eighteenth-century Britain and this is an especially interesting example of her output. Though the artist is justly celebrated for her subject pictures, Kauffman’s portraits are equivalently complex and ambitious in character. This double portrait of the May family, in which Mary May is pictured with her daughters, and Joseph May with his sons, is extremely unusual in splitting up its male and female subjects in such a direct way. At the same time, Kauffman’s adept handling of composition ensures that the two pictures elegantly complement each other. As well as having a powerful aesthetic appeal, the paintings offer a sensitive pictorial meditation on parental and sibling relationships, and on the different stages of childhood. For all these reasons, they make a powerful contribution to our understanding of Georgian portraiture.

Any interested institutions will have until 24th July 2022 to find £1.5m to keep the works in the country.

Louvre swoops in to block Chardin Sale

April 1 2022

Image of Louvre swoops in to block Chardin Sale

Picture: Artcurial

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The curious pre-emption system in France has once again swooped in to block the sale of a valuable work of art. The Art Newspaper has published news that the aforementioned €24.4m Chardin, purchased by New York dealer Adam Williams on behalf of an unknown client, has been blocked by a pre-emption from the Louvre. The French museum now has two and a half years to try and find the money to keep the painting in the country.

As it happens, the Louvre already has fourty paintings by the artist in its collection. A quick collections search shows that all of them, apart from four, are currently on public display. This is a most impressive statistic.

Magic of the Real: Bernardo Bellotto at the Saxon court

March 30 2022

Image of Magic of the Real: Bernardo Bellotto at the Saxon court

Picture: gemaeldegalerie.skd.museum

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister in Dresden will be opening an exhibition on Bellotto later in May. Magic of the Real: Bernardo Bellotto at the Saxon court will see the reunion of several large scale works by the painter made possible by several important international loans.

The show will run in Dresden from 21st May 2022 until 28th August 2022. It will then head across to the Royal Castle in Warsaw later in September.

Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco acquire a Marie-Guillemine Benoist

March 24 2022

Image of Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco acquire a Marie-Guillemine Benoist

Picture: artnews.com

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Fine Arts Musuems of San Francisco have announced their acquisition of the following Psyche Bidding Her Family Farewell (1791) by Marie-Guillemine Benoist (1768-1826). The painting had been sold for €292,000 at auction in 2020 and is now one of three works by the artist in US museum collections.

According to the article linked above:

“Having remained with the descendants of its first owner for over 200 years, the painting is magnificently preserved, allowing us to appreciate Benoist’s exquisite attention to detail,” Emily Beeny, the curator of European paintings, said in statement. “Note the tears that glisten on the queen’s cheek, the gleaming tendrils of Psyche’s hair, the flutter and weight of her draperies, the glow of pearls against flesh.”

Strawberry Hill need £25k to save this Hogarth (!)

March 24 2022

Image of Strawberry Hill need £25k to save this Hogarth (!)

Picture: Private Collection

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Strawberry Hill Trust have launched an appeal to raise £25,000 to complete their acquisition of William Hogarth's portrait of Horace Walpole.

Fortunately, the trust has already managed to raise the majority of the £230,000 required to purchase the work. They have until 14th April 2022 to scrape-together the remaining sum.

According to the trust's press release:

This portrait is of exceptional interest for two reasons - it is the earliest surviving oil portrait of Walpole, and a rare and significant example of Hogarth’s early mature pictorial work. It also is the earliest-known commissioned picture of an identifiable sitter by Hogarth and his first-known portrait of a child.


£230,000 really does seem like an absolute bargain for a painting this important and beautiful. Fingers crossed they will manage it!

Chardin's Strawberries make €24.4m

March 24 2022

Video: artcurial

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

A new auction record for Jean-Siméon Chardin and for an eighteenth-century French painting was set in Paris yesterday. The artist's aforementioned Basket of Strawberries achieved no less than €24.4m (inc. fees).

According to the write-up from The Art Newspaper:

The work was bought by the New York dealer Adam Williams, who was bidding in the room. This was confirmed by the Old Master paintings specialist Eric Turquin who advised on the sale and wrote the catalogue entry. He also tells The Art Newspaper that the underbidder was a London gallery bidding for a private American collector and Eric Coatalem, a Parisian dealer, whose interest "pushed the picture up to €15m". Turquin will receive a small percentage of the sale proceeds.

Export Ban on £50m Reynolds

March 11 2022

Image of Export Ban on £50m Reynolds

Picture: huffingtonpost.co.uk

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The UK Government have placed a temporary export ban on Sir Joshua Reynolds's Portrait of Omai. Regular readers will know (1, 2) that the painting was sold from Castle Howard in 2001 at Sotheby's for £9.4m (hammer price). There had been attempts to export the picture in 2002 and again 2012. Both of these resulted in refusals.

Interested parties will now have to find no less than £50m (?!) to keep the painting in the country.

Committee Member Christopher Baker has been quoted as saying:

This magnificent British portrait has a global resonance. It illustrates the connectivity of the world in the late eighteenth century through exploration and the spread of colonial ambitions, as well as the fascination that high profile cultural encounters inspired. Mai (c.1753-1779) (or ‘Omai’ as he was called in Britain) arrived in London from his home in Polynesia in July 1774, aboard HMS Adventure, which formed part of Captain James Cook’s second voyage. He was regarded as a celebrity and became the focus of written accounts and images, among which this sensational painting is undoubtedly the most potent. 

Reynolds’ picture was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1776, just after its subject returned to the Pacific. It is a highly romanticised image, illustrating European perceptions, and has a special status in the evolution of grand portraiture of the period. Securing it for a public collection would have profound benefits and allow the numerous and riveting historical and artistic narratives it embodies to be fully developed and shared.

The Palace of Versailles scoop up a Nattier from Auction

March 11 2022

Image of The Palace of Versailles scoop up a Nattier from Auction

Picture: @DaguerreSVV

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

It has been announced on Twitter that the Palace of Versailles have acquired (pre-empted at auction) Jean-Marc Nattier's Portrait of a Lady presumed to be Philippine Élisabeth d'Orléans known as Mademoiselle de Beaujolais. The painting was sold by the auction house Daguerre for €150,000.

For any of you who might be curious as to what this instrument might have sounded like, here's a rather fine Tombeau by François Campion (1685-1747) played on a historic baroque guitar.

One of Gainsborough's Earliest Portraits up for Sale

March 9 2022

Image of One of Gainsborough's Earliest Portraits up for Sale

Picture: Cheffins

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Interesting news that the auction house Cheffins will be auctioning off one of Thomas Gainsborough's earliest portraits later this month. The portrait of an unknown lady was discovered by the art historian James Innes-Mulraine in 2016 where it was purchased at a provincial auction house catalogued as 'Circle of Arthur Devis'. Fortunately, research proved otherwise and the painting was eventually accepted by Hugh Belsey, compiler of the artist's portrait catalogue raisonné, as an early Gainsborough dating to c.1742.

The portrait will be sold on 23rd March 2022 carrying an estimate of £30,000 - £50,000.

Zamek Królewski show off their newly acquired Kauffman

March 9 2022

Video: Zamek Królewski

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Zamek Królewski (the Royal Castle) in Warsaw have put on a small exhibition to highlight a new acquisition. In 2021 the castle acquired a version of Angelica Kauffman's Cornelia, Mother of the Gracchi, Pointing to Her Children as Her Treasures.

The Warsaw picture was commissioned by Prince Stanisław Poniatowski, who was a traveller in Rome during the year 1788. As nephew to the King of Poland, Prince Stanisław was known for being serious collector of art. Fans of Kauffman will know that another version of the picture is held by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

Upcoming Release: A Revolution on Canvas

March 8 2022

Image of Upcoming Release: A Revolution on Canvas

Picture: Yale University Press

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Here's an upcoming summer release that might be of interest. Yale University Press will be publishing Paris A. Spies Gans's new book A Revolution on Canvas: The Rise of Women Artists in Britain and France, 1760-1830 on 28th June 2022.

According to the publisher's blurb:

In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, hundreds of women in London and Paris became professional artists, exhibiting and selling their work in unprecedented numbers. Many rose to the top of their nations’ artistic spheres and earned substantial incomes from their work, regularly navigating institutional inequalities expressly designed to exclude members of their sex. In the first collective, critical history of women artists in Britain and France during the Revolutionary era, Paris Spies-Gans explores how they engaged with and influenced the mainstream cultural currents of their societies at pivotal moments of revolutionary change.   

Through an interdisciplinary analysis of the experiences of these narrative painters, portraitists, sculptors, and draughtswomen, this book challenges longstanding assumptions about women in the history of art. Importantly, it demonstrates that women built profitable artistic careers by creating works in nearly every genre practiced by men, in similar proportions and to aesthetic acclaim. It also reveals that hundreds of women studied with male artists, and even learned to draw from the nude. Where traditional histories have left a void, this generously illustrated book illuminates a lively world of artistic production.   

Featuring an extensive range of these artists’ paintings, drawings, sculptures, and writings, alongside contemporary prints, satires, and works by their male peers, A Revolution on Canvas transforms our understanding of the opportunities and identities of women artists of the past.

The National Gallery are cleaning Reynolds's Captain Robert Orme

March 2 2022

Video: The National Gallery

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The National Gallery in London have made this video regarding the conservation of Sir Joshua Reynolds's Portrait of Captain Robert Orme (1756). In particular, conservator Hayley Thomlinson explains why the artist's experimental techniques made his pictures so difficult to tricky to treat even in our modern age.

The Louvre acquires a Houdon Bronze

February 25 2022

Image of The Louvre acquires a Houdon Bronze

Picture: @MuseeLouvre

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Louvre in Paris seems to be on a sculpture buying spree at the moment.

It has been announced on Twitter (no full press release yet, alas) that the museum has acquired the following bronze of a muscular figure by Jean Antoine Houdon (1741–1828) (pictured). The bronze bears the signature of Houdon and was chased by sculptor Pierre Philippe Thomire (1751-1843).

Farinelli's Paintings up for Sale (?)

February 17 2022

Image of Farinelli's Paintings up for Sale (?)

Picture: diapasonmag.fr

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Interesting news from France that the auction house Aguttes will be offering two recently rediscovered pictures by Francesco Battaglioli (1725-1796) in March. The pictures have been identified by the scholar Mickaël Bouffard as opera stage sets for productions of Nitteti. This opera, with a libretto by Metastasis set to music by Nicola Conforto, was performed in 1756 at the Theatre of the Buen Retiro Palace on the occasion of the birthday of King Ferdinand VI.

Researchers have gone as far to suggest that the paintings might have belonged to the famous castrato Farinelli. The works have been linked to two others kept in Library-Museum of the Paris Opera, which were said to have been brought back by the singer as gifts from the Spanish court.

The pair will be sold on the 25th March 2022.

The Duke of Bedford's Canalettos head to Greenwich

February 16 2022

Image of The Duke of Bedford's Canalettos head to Greenwich

Picture: Woburn Abbey

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Brilliant news for those of us who didn't get the chance to visit Bath last year. The Duke of Bedford's Canalettos will be heading to the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich later in Spring. This outstanding set of 24 Venetian views by the artist will be exhibited for the public in gallery conditions whilst the Duke's ancestral home Woburn Abbey is being refurbished.

The exhibition will run from 1st April until 25th September 2022.

Lemoyne Annunciation returns to Winchester College

February 16 2022

Image of Lemoyne Annunciation returns to Winchester College

Picture: Winchester College

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

News from Hampshire that François Lemoyne’s Annunciation (1727) has returned to Winchester College after a ten-year loan to the National Gallery in London.

According to the school's website:

The Annunciation had been at the College since 1729 and originally hung above the altar in Chapel. It was a gift from John Burton, headmaster of Winchester from 1724 to 1766. The painting illustrates a passage in St Luke’s Gospel, where the archangel Gabriel announces to Mary that she will give birth to Jesus. This subject was particularly appropriate for Winchester College, which is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, but the choice of a Catholic artist was unusual at the time. Lemoyne’s work is probably the earliest example, after the Reformation, of a foreign painter being commissioned to produce an altarpiece for an English church.

Visitors will be able to see the picture in the school's museum which is open from 2pm- 4pm every afternoon.

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