Category: Exhibitions

National Gallery exhibitions 2014 - Rembrandt & Veronese

July 10 2013

Image of National Gallery exhibitions 2014 - Rembrandt & Veronese

Picture: NG

Here's the list, just announced:

Sainsbury Wing

Strange Beauty: Masters of the German Renaissance, 19 February – 11 May 2014

Colour, 18 June – 7 September 2014

Rembrandt: The Final Years, 15 October 2014 - 18 January 2015

Sunley Room

Building the Picture: Architecture in Italian Renaissance Painting, 30 April – 21 September 2014

Rooms 4-8 and 11-12

Veronese: Magnificence in Renaissance Venice 19 March – 15 June 2014

Late Rembrandt and Veronese will be the Big Ones, I guess. On the former:

'Rembrandt: The Final Years' is organised by the National Gallery in collaboration with the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. It is the first ever in-depth, focused exploration of Rembrandt’s late works across all media.

The exhibition will bring together approximately 40 paintings, 20 drawings and 30 prints by the master, to offer visitors a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience the passion and innovation of Rembrandt’s late works.

Far from diminishing as he aged, his creativity gathered new energy in the final years of his life: from the 1650s until his death in 1669 he consciously searched for a new style that was more expressive and more meaningful. He freely manipulated printing and painting techniques in order to give traditional subjects new and original interpretations – endowing his work with rare profundity that has influenced countless printmakers, painters and draftsmen in the generations that followed. The exhibition will highlight the formal and iconographic concerns that occupied Rembrandt during these years, and inspired unprecedented creativity. Soulful, honest and deeply moving, in many ways it is the art of these late years that indelibly defines our image of Rembrandt the man and the artist.

The exhibition will include key works lent by European and American museums (including the National Gallery of Art, Washington and the Mauritshuis, The Hague).

The exhibition will run in London from 15 October 2014 to 18 January 2015 and in Amsterdam from 12 February to 17 May 2015.

And on Veronese, which will be in seperate rooms in the main gallery:

Paolo Veronese (Verona, 1528 – Venice, 1588), is one of the most important painters of the Venetian Renaissance. His paintings are magnificent visions of the opulence and spectacle of 16th-century Venetian life. He created works ranging from complex fresco decorations of villas and palaces to large-scale altarpieces, smaller devotional paintings, mythological, allegorical and historical pictures, and portraits.

The National Gallery owns 10 paintings by Veronese, from a wide range of periods in the artist’s career, and including masterpieces such as the 'Family of Darius before Alexander' and the four 'Allegories of Love'.

This exhibition, the first monographic show on the artist ever held in the United Kingdom, will put these important works in context by displaying them next to other major paintings by the artist, lent by European and American museums (Musée du Louvre, Museo Nacional del Prado, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Chrysler Museum of Art, The State Art Museum of Florida). Visitors will be able to enjoy the monumental nature of these works as they are being displayed in the heart of the National Gallery.

In the 17th and 18th centuries, Veronese’s paintings were avidly bought by collectors and eagerly studied by artists. Carracci, Rubens, Tiepolo and Watteau are among the many artists who are heavily indebted to Veronese’s art.

New research on Veronese’s works is being carried out especially for the exhibition, and the catalogue is intended to become the key and most up-to-date publication in English on the artist.

This exhibition will provide a unique opportunity to admire about 45 key works by one of the most significant, influential and beautiful painters of the Italian Renaissance.

More here.

Prado goes LED, and unveils a new Ribera

July 9 2013

Image of Prado goes LED, and unveils a new Ribera

Picture: Museo Prado

The Prado Museum has announced that it is to convert its galleries to LED lighting. These give a much more natural sense of light, and as I've noted here before, it's probably as close to daylight as you can get. Mind you, there was that slightly alarming study into how LED lights cause some yellow pigments to go brown...

Still, basking happily for now in the Prado's new LEDs is a recently cleaned and newly attributed work by Jose de Ribera, Saint Jerome Writing. The picture was long thought to be by Esteban March, but recent restoration by the Prado has prompted a rethink. From the Prado's press release:

Formerly in the collection of Isabella Farnese, this work has been on deposit since 1940 at the Casa-Museo Colón in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. That loan agreement was cancelled last year in order for the work to be studied and restored.

Saint Jerome writing was in the Casa-Museo Colón in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria with an attribution to the Valencian painter Esteban March. The expert on Caravaggism, Gianni Papi, has, however, recently identified and published it as an early work by José de Ribera, basing his attribution on the work’s close stylistic and compositional similarities with various works painted by Ribera around 1615, including some of the paintings in his series on “The Senses”. The present painting shares their descriptive preciseness and markedly tenebrist use of light, the origins of which lie in Ribera’s highly personal interpretation of Caravaggio’s models. In the light of the painting’s importance, it has been brought to the Prado for restoration and display in the galleries devoted to naturalism and Ribera. To replace the painting, the Casa-Museo Colón has received the long-term deposit of Saint Andrew, also by Ribera. From the viewpoint of the Prado’s collections, this is an important addition, given that together with his painting of The Raising of Lazarus, it will allow the public to gain an idea of the originality and high quality of Ribera’s work during his early years, which is a unique period in his career and one not represented in the Prado’s collection until around twelve years ago.

The painting arrived at the Museum with problems around its edges due to damp and an old attack of woodworm. The pictorial surface was generally well preserved but had an abnormal appearance due to the oxidization of the varnishes, surface irregularities caused by an old lining and an earlier selective cleaning that had concentrated on some zones to the detriment of others. During the restoration process the edges have been consolidated and straightened, dirt and oxidized varnishes have been removed, some small losses have been replaced and the painting has been cleaned. The result is the recovery of numerous spatial planes and as a consequence, a sense of volume in the saint’s figure.

Lowry at Tate

June 24 2013

Video: Telegraph

Here's the Telegraph's art critic Richard Dorment and Tate's Helen Little on the new Lowry exhibition at Tate Britain, which opens on the 26th. Dorment comes away unconvinced that Lowry is 'in any way' a great artist. 

Update - a reader writes:

'Without Lowry we would lack an account in paint of the British working class,' says Helen Little. Time for a major William Roberts retrospective, methinks.

Fancy a trip to Vienna?

June 24 2013

Image of Fancy a trip to Vienna?

Picture: via

Then why not go on the art historical guided tour to end all guided tours, with Ben Street, who is a lecturer at, amongst other places, Tate Britain and the National Gallery. In November and December this year, he's running tours that will:

[...] coincide with the first ever museum show there of Lucian Freud. The show, the last to be curated in collaboration with the artist (who died in 2011), features ‘Freud’s Freuds’ – the artist’s favourites from his own body of work. The exhibition will be displayed within the Old Master galleries of the Kunsthistorisches Museum, one of the world’s greatest collections of western painting, featuring masterpieces by Raphael, Caravaggio, Vermeer, Breughel, Titian, Rubens and Velazquez, many of whom were direct influences on Freud’s work. We will see these works first hand, and will meet with Jasper Sharp, the curator of the exhibition, who will give us an exclusive introduction to the show and an insight into working with Freud and putting together a major museum show.

We will also visit some of the other treasures the city has to offer, including the museum’s Kunstkammer (hundreds of unusual, intriguing and often bizarre objects collected by the Hapsburgs, which has just gone on display after ten years of restoration), the Secession (featuring Gustav Klimt’s famous Beethoven Frieze), the MUMOK Museum of Modern Art, the world’s best collection of Egon Schiele and Gustav Klimt at the Leopold Museum, and a major exhibition of Matisse and Fauvism at the Albertina, featuring some of the best known works from that period. Oh, and the occasional smaller gallery along the way. Along with stops for coffee, Sachertorte and Wienerschnitzel in Vienna’s famous coffee houses.

You pay your own way for travel and accomodation, and the guided bit is £250.

Shock! The Great Brian likes something

June 23 2013

Image of Shock! The Great Brian likes something

Picture: Evening Standard

Brian Sewell liked the new 'Crisis of Brilliance 1908-22' exhibition at Dulwich Picture Gallery so much that he began his review with the word 'wow'. 

Fret not, however, for he was back on usual disapproving form with scathing reviews of two exhibitions at the National Gallery; the Michael Landy saints thingy, and the display of early additions to the Barber Collection.

They don't do restitution in Russia

June 23 2013

Image of They don't do restitution in Russia

Picture: Wikipedia

German Chancellor Angela Merkel was forced to abandon plans to open a new exhibition in Moscow, after the Russian government found out that she was going to use the occasion to ask for the return of a star exhibit. The Eberswalde Hoard of gold objects was taken by the Soviets from Berlin in 1945, as war loot, and, like thousands of similar objects, has never been handed back. 

Who was Frank Holl?

June 19 2013

Video: Watts Gallery

Answer, one of the many good late Victorian painters you've probably never heard of. Now, the Watts Gallery in Surrey is hosting an exhibition of his work, the first for over 100 years. A review in The Guardian says:

When the last major exhibition of the work of Frank Holl was held, his paintings were shown beside those of JMW Turner and both were described as "deceased masters of the British School".

As it turned out, that exhibition at the Royal Academy in 1889, the year after the artist worked himself to death at the age of 43, was almost the last the world heard of Holl – until this week, when Watts Gallery in Surrey attempts to drag him back into the light.

The collapse of Holl's reputation was swift and spectacular. Soon after his death in July 1888 of heart failure, a memorial fund was set up with the intention of buying a major work for the national collection and building an imposing monument in St Paul's Cathedral. The appeal was abandoned after just six months when only £600 had been collected – though it did pay for a modest memorial at St Paul's, with a fine portrait bust by Alfred Gilbert.

Mauritshuis at the Frick

June 19 2013

Image of Mauritshuis at the Frick

Picture: Mauritshuis

Double plus fun in New York this autumn. From the Frick Collection:

This fall and winter, The Frick Collection will be the final venue of an American tour of paintings from the Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis, The Hague. This prestigious Dutch museum, which has not lent a large body of works from its holdings in nearly thirty years, is undergoing an extensive two-year renovation that makes this opportunity possible. Vermeer, Rembrandt, and Hals: Masterpieces of Dutch Painting from the Mauritshuis will be on view in New York from October 22, 2013, through January 19, 2014. Among the paintings featured are the famous Girl with a Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer and The Goldfinch by Carel Fabritius, neither of which will have been seen by American audiences in ten years. The exhibition in New York-- which will be accompanied by a catalogue and a series of public programs and select evening hours-- is coordinated by Margaret Iacono, Assistant Curator at the Frick.  The works were selected by Edwin Buijsen, Head of Collections at the Mauritshuis and former Frick Deputy Director and Peter Jay Sharp Chief Curator Colin B. Bailey.

Annoyingly, it looks like the exhibition closes just as I'll be heading out for the January Old Master sales. 

'Finding Van Dyck'

June 19 2013

Image of 'Finding Van Dyck'

Picture: Philip Mould & Co.

If you want to know all about how to tell the difference between a real Van Dyck and a copy, or indeed a studio work, then the catalogue for our 2011 Van Dyck exhibition is now online

Update - a reader writes:

I like your blog and your wit

I have nothing against an internet catalogue, but why publish an e-catalogue for your new exhibition "Rediscovering Van Dyck" if nearly half of the photographs when you browse it online are missing due to copyright problems?

The exhibition was in 2011. All the photos were of course published in the original printed catalogue. This sold out promptly, and we felt that it might be useful to put the catalogue online. However, although we had paid handsomely for the right to reproduce photos in the printed catalogue, many institutions wanted an eye-waterginly high additional fee for publishing online, even in low resolution. Some refused altogether. So there are some gaps. Quick Googling will take you to the images in question (which shows how daft much of this rights and permission businesss is.)

'It's deeper than you think'

June 19 2013

Video: ICA

'Keep your Timber Limber' is the title of a new exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, which opens today. It includes 'F****d by Numbers', a drawing of a giant penis by Judith Bernstein, which, she says in the above video, is 'deeper than you think', and a profound reflection on the Iraq war.

Curator Sarah McCrory says of the exhibits, including Bernstein's:

One common aspect [...] is a high level of technical skill - these are artists who often confounded critics of their subject matter unable to condemn their technique.

So you can't dislike 'F****d by Numbers', because it is so exquisitely drawn.

Plug! New Lely exhibition

June 14 2013

Image of Plug! New Lely exhibition

Picture: Philip Mould & Company

Please indulge me while I plug a forthcoming selling exhibition at Philip Mould & Co. of works by Sir Peter Lely and his circle. The exhibition will coincide with Master Paintings Week (28th June-5th July) here in London, which is when London's best Old Master dealers show off their wares with exhibitions and extended opening times.  

We'll be announcing more details nearer the time, including an exciting royal discovery. Here for now though is a newly discovered portrait by Lely from very early in his career. In fact, given the Dutch fashion and handling of the drapery, it was probably painted before he came to England (where he was by 1643). The sitter is unknown, but the picture's unfinished state and overall intimacy make me think that it might show a member of his family. The picture isn't, you might say, the most commercial picture, but sometimes Philip and I can't bear to let a miscatalogued picture by a favourite artist slip by, and feel that we have to rescue them. 

We will also display newly found works by Lely's contemporaries, including John Michael Wright and Mary Beale. 

Masterpieces at Christie's

June 13 2013

Video: Christie's

I'm annoyed to have missed the 'Masterpieces' exhibition at Christie's, which was on last week. The Grumpy Art Historian liked it, though as he says:

It was billed as a 'curated exhibition', but was mostly just the most expensive upcoming lots from the major summer sales.

Still, there's no better way of demonstrating the extraordinary quality of some of things you can buy this summer in London, many of which are museum standard. The snappy, if slightly effusive video above gives you an idea of what was on show, and I look forward to next year's offering. Full marks to Christie's for coming up with the idea for an exhibition like this. 

How do you get into the RA Summer Exhibition?

June 13 2013

Image of How do you get into the RA Summer Exhibition?

Picture: Getty/BBC

If you didn't see it, there was a splendidly crafted Culture Show programme on the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, still available on iPlayer. It shows how the Academicians select works from the thousands on offer - each work gets, it seems, a glance of seconds and, if rejected, is marked on the back with a crushing 'x' in chalk. There are moving sequences with three artists submitting works, including a delightful old lady called Nancy Thomas. 

Apparently anyone can have a go, and, intriguingly, presenter Alastair Sooke reveals himself to be a closet artist - at the beginning of the show he says he has submitted work to the RA himself. I wonder, should AHN submit something? Difficult, seeing as I struggle to draw even a smiley face.

Mary Beale discoveries at Tate Britain (ctd.)

June 12 2013

Image of Mary Beale discoveries at Tate Britain (ctd.)

Picture: Telegraph

I mentioned earlier the exciting discovery of two oil sketches by Mary Beale, which have gone on display at Tate Britain. The sleuth who found them (in a Paris antiques shop) is art historian and connoisseur extraordinaire James Mulraine, and he has sent AHN some further insights on the pictures:

Bendor has very kindly invited me, as the guy who discovered them, to say something about Mary Beale’s two sketches of the painter’s son Bartholomew c.1660, unveiled in Tate Britain’s BP Walk Through British Art. I am honoured, tho Tabitha Barber’s brilliant online catalogue entry could not be bettered.

They hang with Tate Britain’s other Beale, Young woman in profile, perhaps the studio assistant Keaty Trioche c.1681. These pieces that Beale painted for herself and her family have in Bendor’s words a ‘casual familiarity not often seen in seventeenth century English portraiture.’ Tate Britain visitors described them to me as ‘everyday,’ ‘real’ and ‘modern’. 

How influential were they though? They were largely unknown outside the Beales’ circle and dispersed after their deaths. In the next gallery William Hogarth’s Heads of Six of the Artist’s Servants c.1750 – 55 has the same unpretentious humanity. Hogarth would have seen a set of Beale’s private work. His friend and patron Bishop Benjamin Hoadly married Mary Beale’s star pupil, Hogarth’s friend, the portraitist Sarah Curtis. Sarah brought nine Beales with her including a self-portrait, a portrait of Charles Beale Sr and ‘Two Children in a Landscape’, perhaps Bartholomew and Charles Jr.

Did Beale make an impression on Hogarth? If more of his work c.1740 was like the Stuart-retro Portrait of the Actor James Quin 1739 (Tate Britain) you’d say yes, quite probably. It’s not that simple. But there is an affinity of mood. The ‘sobriety, energy, directness and sincerity’ that Mark Hallet sees in Hogarth’s mature portraits describes Mary Beale’s as well. Perhaps his visits to the Hoadlys nourished him when he was trying to create a distinctly ‘English’ portraiture. Their godly good cheer must have had a flavour of Charles and Mary Beale’s household, and Sarah Hoadly would have preserved Beale’s memory as well as her painting.

A Turner for Bristol

June 10 2013

Image of A Turner for Bristol

Picture: Bristol Art Gallery

Congratulations to Bristol Art Gallery, who have acquired a Turner watercolour of Avon Gorge. More details here in the Bristol Post, which delights in the fact that the city of Bristol has acquired the picture 'without paying a penny' (all the funding came from charitable sources). 

Guffwatch - Biennale 2013

June 10 2013

Video: Biennale Channel

Here's a video about the US pavilion at the Biennale, which I found to be one of the more pointless ones. Note how all the usual Guff genericisms trip off the tongue, especially the use of opposites, which are useful because they allow you to say pretty much anything:

...this experiance of intimacy in a very public space seems like it's an accumulation of found objects and random, but in fact it's carefully studied, it's almost like a poem on many levels...'s about the organic growth of things, and also their detrioration...

...there's this mesmeric beauty that is inevitable with a pendulum, but there's this constant anxiety of the potential for something to go wrong...

Regular readers may be surprised to hear that there were a number of pavilions I liked very much, such as those of Belgium, Spain and Germany. More on my trip to Venice soon...

Update - a reader says the above approach is not dissimilar to the fashionista inteviewed by Sacha Baron Cohen here

Sewell on the Royal Academy Summer Show

June 9 2013

Image of Sewell on the Royal Academy Summer Show


He doesn't like it:

In the past I have occasionally discussed the 10 best exhibits and ignored the other 1,200 or so; this year, as there are no best, I thought to choose the 10 worst, but in so universally dismal a gathering, even that has proved impossible and I have only three to offer, all in their own ways so ghastly that I must award them Equal First. They are Lorry Art, by Rose Wylie [above], a daub worthy of a child of four; Sudden Rain in Mombasa, by Mohammed Abdullah Ariba Khan, who has the impertinence to ask £1,400 for a seascape (in an ornate sham gold frame) of the kind to be expected in a Margate B&B; and The Vanity of Small Differences, Perry’s six tapestries in hideous homage to Hogarth, visually raucous and machine-made offences to all for whom the word tapestry conjures the glories of Mortlake and Brussels.

Britain at the Venice Biennale

May 30 2013

Video: Telegraph

Alastair Sooke in The Telegraph gives Jeremy Deller's exhibition in the British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, called English Magic, four stars out of five:

Does English Magic work as “art”? In a sense, that’s almost beside the point. Here is a sequence of tough and uncompromising statements skewering the forces that Deller feels are blighting Britain. You could interpret the exhibition as an indictment of our entertainment-obsessed media culture, which, in the artist’s book, does not sufficiently hold Britain’s rich and powerful to account.

Whether or not that’s the case, English Magic contains some uncomfortable home truths that need to be expressed. You don’t come to Deller looking for life-changing aesthetic experiences. But it's hard to resist the strength of his ideas, or the persuasive nature of his democratic politics.

Houghton Revisited (ctd.)

May 22 2013

Image of Houghton Revisited (ctd.)

Pictures: BG

If you're in the UK this summer, you must visit the new exhibition at Houghton Hall in Norfolk. To recap, Houghton Revisited sees a large number of the Old Masters amassed by Britain's first Prime Minister, Sir Robert Walpole, return to the house from the Hermitage in St Petersburg, where they have been, more or less, since 1779, when the whole collection was sold to Catherine the Great. On display are works by Rubens, Rembrandt, Bordone, Jordaens, Murillo, and, best of all from my point of view, four exquisite English-period Van Dycks.

I went to Houghton last week, and there aren't superlatives enough to describe my admiration for those behind the exhibition. What an ambitious thing to do. A hefty AHN pat on the back to all involved. 

What struck me most about the Hermitage pictures was their extraordinary condition. I don't think I have never seen a Van Dyck in as good a condition as his Portrait of Henry Danvers, Earl of Danby (below, which must be one of the best British portraits ever painted). It seemed that every stroke, detail, and glaze was exactly as the artist left it. The picture's untouched state means there is a great deal to be said for perennially cash-strapped museums - that is, ones which could not, in the old days of scrubbing, afford to constantly clean their paintings.

My tip for visitors to Houghton Revisited is to take a pair of binoculars. There's a lot of roping off, and it's hard to get close to the paintings. Many are hung high, in the places they used to be. It's also quite dark in there.

Update - Brian Sewell also, though more lucidly, says that you must go and see this excellent show.

Cleaning Sir Joshua

May 21 2013

Image of Cleaning Sir Joshua

Picture: Kathleen Soriano

Kathleen Soriano, Director of Exhibitions at the Royal Academy, has tweeted this picture of Sir Joshua Reynolds' statue getting a spring clean.

Update: Dr Ben Thomas alerts me to his excellent blog entry on the statue, which is by Alfred Drury.

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