19th Century

Free Blake Society Journal

November 28 2023

Image of Free Blake Society Journal

Picture: blakesociety.org

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

To celebrate William Blake's birthday on 29th November The Blake Society have made their most recent edition of their annual journal free and available online (along with the three past editions also). This edition's theme is War and Peace and contains no less than 26 articles (!)

Alexandre-Jean Dubois-Drahonet (1790-1834), a newfound talent

November 21 2023

Image of Alexandre-Jean Dubois-Drahonet (1790-1834), a newfound talent

Picture: Musée Lambinet

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Musée Lambinet in Versailles will be opening a new exhibition this week dedicated to the little-known portrait painter Alexandre-Jean Dubois-Drahonet (1790-1834). The exhibition, the first ever dedicated to the artist, will feature a wide range of his portraits including military figures and members of the Royal family.

The show will run from 25th November 2023 until 25th February 2024.

Art Institute of Chicago acquires Mélanie de Comoléra Still Life

November 16 2023

Image of Art Institute of Chicago acquires Mélanie de Comoléra Still Life

Picture: Potomack Company

Posted by Adam Busiakeiwicz:

The Art Institute of Chicago's curator of European Paintings Emerson Bowyer has posted news on his Instagram Account that the museum has just acquired the following still life by Mélanie de Comoléra (1789–1854). Known as the pupil of Cornelis van Spaendonck, and an artist who also painted onto porcelain, this example was sold at auction last year with provenance suggesting it had been painted for Duchess of Clarence (later Queen Adelaide wife of William IV of England).

Sleeper Alert!

November 10 2023

Image of Sleeper Alert!

Picture: Nagel Auktionen

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

News via @AuctionRadar on 'X' that the following painting catalogued as 'Manner of JMW Turner' realised €300,000 over its €2,000 - €3,000 estimate the other day at Nagel Auktionen in Stuttgart.

Regular followers of auctions will know how often pastiches of Turners turn up for sale. Whoever was bidding on this one must have (we hope) felt quite sure it was something important!

Carlotta Gargalli Exhibition in Bologna

November 2 2023

Image of Carlotta Gargalli Exhibition in Bologna

Picture: ansa.it

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Interesting news from Italy that an exhibition has just opened dedicated to the female artist Carlotta Gargalli (1788-1840). Carlotta was the first lady to be admitted to the Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna and painted portraits, mythological and religious works. The exhibition at the Museo Ottocento Bologna, which contains around twenty works or so, will be running until 7th January 2024.

Virtual Tour of Manet / Degas Exhibition

October 12 2023

Video: MET

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York have published this virtual tour of their current Manet / Degas exhibition (which runs until 7th January 2024). The tour is presented by Stephan Wolohojian, John Pope-Hennessy Curator in Charge, and Ashley Dunn, Associate Curator.

Fashioned by Sargent - in Boston

October 6 2023


Video: MFA Boston

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Here's an exhibition which is bound to be popular. The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston will be opening their latest fashion exhibition on Sunday dedicated to the clothing in the portraits of John Singer Sargent.

According to the museum's website:

In portraits by John Singer Sargent (1856–1925), sitters assume elegant stances, the fabric of their dress richly depicted in broad, sensuous strokes of paint. Sargent brought his subjects to life, but he did much more than simply record what appeared before him. He often chose what his sitters wore and, even if they arrived in his studio dressed in the latest fashions, he frequently simplified and altered the details. Exploiting dress was an integral part of his artistry.

Organized with Tate Britain, “Fashioned by Sargent” explores the artist’s complex relationship with his often-affluent clients and their clothes. The exhibition reveals Sargent’s power over his sitters’ images by considering the liberties he took with sartorial choices to express distinctive personalities, social positions, professions, gender identities, and nationalities. Alongside about 50 paintings by Sargent, over a dozen period garments and accessories shed new light on the relationship between fashion and this beloved artist’s creative practice.

The show will run in Boston until 15th January 2024 and will then open at Tate from 22nd February until 7th July 2024.

Last Few Weeks: Seeing the Light - Turner’s discovery of Italy in 1819

October 5 2023

Image of Last Few Weeks: Seeing the Light - Turner’s discovery of Italy in 1819

Picture: turnershouse.org

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

It's the last chance to see the Turner House's latest exhibition Seeing the Light - Turner’s discovery of Italy in 1819. The brilliance of having a house museum dedicated to a single artist is that focused subjects such as these can be explored in a such a comprehensive fashion.

According to the blurb on their website:

In the summer of 1819, the landscape artist J.M.W. Turner set off on a journey to Italy that would have a profound impact on his life and work. Visitors to Turner’s House this summer will be able to enjoy an exhibition of evocative watercolours capturing some of Turner’s first impressions of the place he was to later call the ‘land of all bliss’, and which provided inspiration for the rest of his career.

Seeing the Light represents an exciting opportunity for the public to see some of Italy’s most well known and loved sites – Venice, Rome, Naples – through Turner’s eyes, in the unique setting of his then rural retreat in Twickenham.  Visitors to this tightly-focussed exhibition will also be able to appreciate Turner’s evolving use of colour and light before and after 1819,  thanks to generous loans from Tate, the Guildhall Art Gallery and a private collection.

The show will close on Sunday 29th October 2023.

Delacroix's 'The Death of Sardanapalus' Restored

October 4 2023

Image of Delacroix's 'The Death of Sardanapalus' Restored

Picture: Louvre, Paris

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The European press, and many devotees to art and beauty on social media, have been sharing the news and details of the Louvre's freshly restored The Death of Sardanapalus by Delacroix. It seems that the transformation of this has been particularly striking (click here to compare the image above to its previous state), with many beautifully preserved painterly details found throughout.

Of particular excitement is news that the artist's iconic Liberty Leading the People will be the next large scale work to undergo conservation, a process which is excepted to be completed in Spring 2024.

Free Lecture on Emma Sandys

October 2 2023

Image of Free Lecture on Emma Sandys

Picture: Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

For anyone passing Birmingham this weekend, the Pre-Raphaelite Society is hosting its Founder's Day Lecture on Saturday 7th October. This free lecture will be about the female artist Emma Sandys: The Drama of Womanhood and will be delivered by Dr. Serena Trowbridge.

According to the blurb on the society's website:

Emma, sister of the more famous Frederick, is rarely the focus of study, but her portraits of women from literature, myth and history offer a way into considering her approach to Pre-Raphaelite painting. The women Sandys depicted seen to resist a conventional interpretation, their eyes evading the viewer not through modesty but disinterest or preoccupation, their expressions often enigmatic or even challenging. In many of her painting, Sandys offers covert clues to her women's identity (an issue often further confused by the different titles used for the works), using symbolism, setting and facial expression. This illustrated lecture offers new readings of some of her paintings, and a look at some rarely-seen works by Sandys.

Dr. Serena Trowbridge is Chair of the Pre-Raphaelite Society, Senior Vice-President of the Birmingham and Midland Institute, and Reader in Victorian Literature at Birmingham City University. She has published widely on Pre-Raphaelite art and literature, and is currently working on 'Forgotten Women Pre-Raphaelites' (university of Delaware Press, 2024) and 'Pre-Raphaelite Women's Writing' (Routledge, 2025).

Although the lecture is free to attend, booking is essential.

Ashmolean Pre-Raphaelites at the Watts Gallery

May 9 2022

Video: Watts Gallery

There's a new exhibition at the Watts Gallery, 'Pre-Raphaelite Treasures: Drawings and Watercolours on loan from The Ashmolean'. In the video above, curator Emily Burns give us a guided tour. Show till 12th June. More here.

Upcoming Release: Scented Visions

April 10 2022

Image of Upcoming Release: Scented Visions

Picture: Penn State University Press

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Here is a September release that will be worth keeping an eye out for. Scented Visions: Smells in Art 1850-1914 is the upcoming publication by Christina Bradstreet, Courses and Events Programmer at the National Gallery in London.

According to the book's blurb:

Smell loomed large in cultural discourse in the late nineteenth century, thanks to the midcentury fear of miasma, the drive for sanitation reform, and the rise in artificial perfumery. Meanwhile, the science of olfaction remained largely mysterious, prompting an impulse to “see smell” and inspiring some artists to picture scent in order to better know and control it. This book recovers the substantive role of the olfactory in Pre-Raphaelite art and Aestheticism.

Christina Bradstreet examines the iconography and symbolism of scent in nineteenth-century art and visual culture. Fragrant imagery in the work of John Everett Millais, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Simeon Solomon, George Frederic Watts, Edward Burne-Jones, and others set the trend for the preoccupation with scent that informed swaths of British, European, and American art and design. Bradstreet’s rich analyses of paintings, perfume posters, and other works of visual culture demonstrate how artworks mirrored the “period nose” and intersected with the most clamorous debates of the day, including evolution, civilization, race, urban morality, mental health, faith, and the “woman question.”

The book will be released in September 2022.

Musée des Beaux-Arts d'Orléans acquire Portrait of Princess Marie d'Orléans

April 7 2022

Image of Musée des Beaux-Arts d'Orléans acquire Portrait of Princess Marie d'Orléans

Picture: @OliviaVoisin

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Olivia Voisin, director of the Musée des Beaux-Arts d'Orléans, has announced that the museum have acquired Ary Scheffer's portrait of the sculptress Princess Marie d'Orléans. The Princess was the daughter of King Louis Philippe and a favoured pupil of Scheffer. There is another version of the painting in the Cleveland Museum of Art.

Temporary Export Bar on £10m Courtauld Cézanne

April 1 2022

Image of Temporary Export Bar on £10m Courtauld Cézanne

Picture: gov.uk

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The UK Goverment has placed a temporary export bar on a £10m Cézanne. The painting of Ferme Normande, Été (Hattenville) (1882) was acquired by Samuel Courtauld in 1937 for £2,500 and was later bequeathed to Christabel McLaren, Lady Aberconway. It seems that the work had been on loan to the gallery since the 1990s.

According to Committee Member Christopher Baker: 

“Paul Cézanne’s (1839-1906) status as a bridge between the traditions of 19th-century painting and modernism is unrivalled. In his delightful ‘Farm in Normandy, Summer (Hattenville)’ the artist employed intense, free brushstrokes to evoke the dappled light, shadows and myriad green hues of trees and a meadow, anticipating later, key developments in his artistic evolution, when the abstract structures underpinning nature were gradually given greater prominence. The picture is also significant in the context of the artist’s career, as the farm depicted was acquired in the year Cézanne painted it by Victor Chocquet (1821-1891), his first important patron and a key champion of impressionism. 

In addition to these themes, it forms part of the very important story of British taste for international art in the 20th century. Cézanne’s landscape was purchased in 1937 by Samuel Courtauld (1876-1947), as the last of a remarkable group of twelve paintings by the artist Courtauld acquired: he played a seminal role in establishing an enthusiasm for impressionist and post-impressionist painting in Britain both through his own collecting and generous funding of major pictures secured for the National Gallery in the 1920s. 

Because of its beauty, significance in the artist’s career, and role in the wider appreciation of such artistic achievements, it would be a profound misfortune if this beguiling work could not be retained in this country.”

Any interested institution will have until 31st July 2022 to find the £10m to keep it in the country.

Beckford's Deathbed Portrait purchased by Tower Museum

March 24 2022

Image of Beckford's Deathbed Portrait purchased by Tower Museum

Picture: Beckford's Tower and Museum

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Beckford's Tower and Museum on the edge of Bath have acquired its former owner's rather macabre Deathbed Portrait. The image of William Beckford (1760-1840), painted by Willes Maddox and dated to four years after his death, was purchased by the Bath Preservation Trust and will be put on display next month.

According to the accompanying press release:

The portrait, which has been in the same private collection for many years, is a gilt framed oval picture of William Beckford on his deathbed, surrounded by brass and giltwood decorations that match those used on his coffin.  It was made for Beckford’s daughter, Susan, Duchess of Hamilton following her father’s death in May 1844.

Boldini: Les plaisirs et les jours

March 9 2022

Image of Boldini: Les plaisirs et les jours

Picture: petitpalais.paris.fr

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Petit Palais in Paris are set to open what looks to be a sumptuous visual display of late nineteenth-century paintings at the end of this month. Boldini Les Plaisirs et les Jours is scheduled to run from 29th March 2022 until 24th July 2022.

According to the gallery's blurb:

This first retrospective is an opportunity for visitors to discover or to renew acquaintance with Giovanni Boldini, a virtuoso painter and figure on the social, artistic and literary scene of Belle Époque Paris.

Born in Ferrara, Italy in 1842, Boldini spent most of his career in Paris. He was a close friend of Degas and also of Proust, and moved in aristocratic and upper middle-class circles. During his lifetime, he enjoyed considerable success, becoming the favourite portraitist of a rich, international clientele. In Paris, the fashion capital of the world, he had no equal when it came to portraying princesses and rich heiresses – always wearing the most beautiful dresses. His inimitable style, which was modern but at odds with the avant-garde, has made his works captivating and moving testimonies of that lost era in Paris.

Rediscovered Gabriel Loppé Mountain Views up for Sale

March 9 2022

Video: Artcurial

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The French auction house Artcurial have made this video about a pair of monumental Mountain landscapes by Gabriel Loppé (1825-1913) in their upcoming sale. The canvases of The Matterhorn seen from the Gornergrat and The Mer de Glace and the Grands Charmoz, Chamonix both sent to London in 1874 where they were displayed in a gallery in Conduit Street. The paintings had been considered lost until they were rediscovered rolled up in cylindrical shipping boxes in 2014. The video features the independent expert William Mitchell who catalogued the pictures for auction.

They will be sold on 23rd March 2022 carrying estimates of €300k - €400k and €350k - €450k respectively.

Queen Victoria's Japanese Screens Rediscovered in the Royal Collection

March 8 2022

Image of Queen Victoria's Japanese Screens Rediscovered in the Royal Collection

Picture: The Evening Standard

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Evening Standard have shared news that several Japanese painted screens have been rediscovered in The Royal Collection. These large screens, which were part of a diplomatic gift received in 1860, will be put on display for the first time later in April.

According to the article:

Eight pairs of screen paintings were sent by the Japanese shogun Tokugawa Iemochi shortly after Japan’s reopening to the West, following more than two centuries of deliberate isolation. 

The opulent gift to Victoria marked a landmark treaty that reopened seven Japanese ports and cities to British trade and allowed a British diplomat to reside in Japan for the first time.

But the screens were wrongly catalogued as Japanese works by an unidentified artist when they arrived,  and their links to Shogun Iemochi and their historical significance were lost.

It was also found that the pieces – featuring two to three layers of paper rather than the usual six to nine – were hastily produced, probably due to a huge fire in Edo Castle in Tokyo which would have destroyed the original versions before they could be sent to Victoria.

The RCT's exhibition Japan: Courts and Culture will open at the Queen's Gallery on 8th April 2022 and run until 12th March 2023.

A pair of Turners returning to the UK for first time in 100 Years

March 8 2022

Image of A pair of Turners returning to the UK for first time in 100 Years

Picture: The Frick Collection

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Guardian have shared news that the Frick Collection in New York will be loaning two paintings by JMW Turner to the National Gallery which haven't been seen in the UK for 100 years. The temporary loan will include Cologne, the Arrival of a Packet-Boat: Evening (pictured) and Harbour of Dieppe: Changement de Domicile which were purchased by Henry Clay Frick in 1914. The free Turner on Tour exhibition will run from November 2022 until February 2023.


As it happens, the Cologne picture is the subject one of my favourite Ruskin anecdotes associated with the annual Royal Academy exhibitions. The following tale is said to have unfolded when the painting was hung in between two portraits by Sir Thomas Lawrence at the RA in 1826:

The sky of Turner's picture was exceedingly bright, but it had a most injurious effect on the colour of the two portraits. Lawrence naturally felt mortified... On the morning of the opening of the exhibition, at the private view, a friend of Turner's who had seen the Cologne in all its splendour, led a group of expectant critics up to the picture. He started back from it in consternation. The golden sky had changed to a dun colour. He ran up to Turner, who was in another part of the room. "Turner, what have you been doing to your picture?" "Oh," muttered Turner in a low voice, "poor Lawrence was so unhappy. It's only lamp-black. It'll all wash off after the exhibition" 

Gwrych Castle acquires Portrait

March 3 2022

Image of Gwrych Castle acquires Portrait

Picture: rhyljournal.co.uk

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Rhyl Journal in Wales have published news that the Gwrych Castle Preservation Trust has acquired a portrait which was previously thought to be lost. The picture depicts Marianne Jones-Bateman (1799-1874), a figure who played an important part in the local history of neighbouring Abergele.

According to the article:

Mark Baker, chairperson of the trust, said: “She was a force of nature locally and her diaries, which are in the National Library of Wales, are a great source for learning about life in Abergele nearly 200 years ago.

“This portrait hung at Gwrych Castle from 1902 and disappeared from the records in 1928. 

“We believe it dates to about 1825 and the time of Marianne's marriage. 

“In the 1870s, the house was said to house 'many interesting works of art, including several family portraits by Richard Wilson, and one by Beechey of Barbara Lisle Bowles, the great-great-great niece of Sir Isaac Newton'. 

“We believe Marianne's portrait is by an artist called Henry William Pickersgill RA (1782-1875), who was a noted painter, and his sitters were all the notables of the day.

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