Category: Research

Latest Issue: RKD Bulletin

June 16 2021

Image of Latest Issue: RKD Bulletin

Picture: RKD

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The latest online issue of the RKD bulletin features an interesting article by Angela Jager on A reconstruction of The Five Senses by Karel van Mander III. The article and research was made possible by the recent addition, to the RKD image database, of hundreds of digitised images from a Danish private collection.

The bulletin is absolutely free to access and contains several other articles that may be of interest to readers.

Dürer Attribution Debate Reopens in Germany

June 16 2021

Image of Dürer Attribution Debate Reopens in Germany


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz: have published an article on the reopening of a debate surrounding the authorship of the outer panels of an altarpiece in the Johanneskirche church in Crailsheim, Germany. Although the interior has long been considered to have emanated from the workshop of Michael Wolgemut in 1490, experts from the Bavarian National Museum in Munich are suggesting that a revaluation of the exterior panels should be undertaken. In particular, upcoming research will investigate whether these might be the work of Albrecht Dürer, an attribution which has been debated amongst scholars since 1928.

Lecture: Rubens and his Landscape Drawings: Sketching en Plein Air

June 14 2021

Image of Lecture: Rubens and his Landscape Drawings: Sketching en Plein Air

Picture: Ashmolean

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Wallace Collection in London are hosting a lecture on Rubens and his Landscape Drawings: Sketching en Plein Air. The talk will be delivered by An Van Camp, the Christopher Brown Curator of Northern European Art at the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology (University of Oxford).

According to the talk's blurb:

Rubens expressed his love and fascination for nature not only through paintings but also a range of superb drawings, which in turn informed his painted oeuvre. In this talk, An van Camp will unravel Rubens as a superb draughtsman of nature by exploring his plein-air sketches, which include delicate landscape compositions as well as sensitive studies of trees and shrubs. By focusing on works kept in British public collections, Rubens will emerge as a great lover of nature. 

The lecture will be broadcast on Zoom on 16th June 2021 at 19.00 (BST) and will cost £4 to attend.

Lecture: Mildred Cooke Cecil: Pregnancy Portrayed in Elizabethan England

May 28 2021

Image of Lecture: Mildred Cooke Cecil: Pregnancy Portrayed in Elizabethan England

Picture: Hatfield House

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The University of Hertfordshire's 2021 Chancellor's Lecture is being given by Dr Karen Hearn on Mildred Cooke Cecil's portrait. This painting, from Lord Salisbury's collection at Hatfield House, is a rare depiction of a obviously pregnant Elizabethan Lady. The lecture will be broadcast on 3rd June 2021 at 7pm (GMT) and is completely free to watch (although registration is required).

According to the blurb shared by the University:

The lecture will focus on Mildred Cooke, Lady Cecil (1526-89) who was one of the most learned women of her time. Her marriage to William Cecil, Lord Burghley, Elizabeth I’s trusted chief minister, was clearly companionate and successful. 

In about 1563, Mildred was painted as visibly with child – one of the earliest examples of an English ‘pregnancy portrait’. This lecture will discuss Mildred’s unusual portrait in its Elizabethan context, and suggest a number of reasons why her portrait looks the way it does.

Free Online Van Dyck Event

May 28 2021

Image of Free Online Van Dyck Event

Picture: MFA Boston

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Center for Netherlandish Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, are running a free online event on 8th June 2021 to celebrate the aforementioned Van Dyck's Self Portrait as Icarus with Daedalus.

According to their website:

Flemish painter Anthony van Dyck was not yet 20 years old when he painted Self-Portrait as Icarus with Daedalus in about 1618. The artist announced his abilities and ambitions in the painting, depicting himself as a classical symbol of youthful transgression. 

In this virtual program organized by the Center for Netherlandish Art, join leading experts on Flemish art to take a closer look at the recently rediscovered work, which is a promised gift to the MFA from the Van Otterloo Collection. Explore Van Dyck’s motivations behind the painting and the pictorial traditions from which it emerged. Also learn about other paintings by Van Dyck at the MFA—including Portrait of a Senator, a promised gift from the Weatherbie Collection—and preview the Museum’s plans for displaying works by Van Dyck and other Flemish masters in the new galleries of Dutch and Flemish art, opening fall 2021.

The RKD are hiring a Curator of Old Dutch Art

May 28 2021

Image of The RKD are hiring a Curator of Old Dutch Art

Picture: NGA

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The RKD (Netherlands Institute for Art History) are hiring a Curator of Old Dutch Art. The 32 hour per week role will play a significant role in helping promote the RKD as a 'global knowledge centre' and in particular for Dutch Art and Paintings between the years 1600-1750.

Applications must be in by 27th June 2021.

Good luck if you're applying!

Jacobus Vrel Catalogue Raisonné

May 25 2021

Image of Jacobus Vrel Catalogue Raisonné

Picture: Hirmer

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Exciting news today regarding the publication of a new monograph and catalogue raisonné dedicated to the elusive Dutch Golden Age painter Jacobus Vrel (fl. 1654-1662). The publication has been edited by scholars Bernd Ebert, Cécile Tainturier and Quentin Buvelot and was originally planned to coincide with an exhibition which has been pushed back to 2023.

According to the write up from CODART:

His pictures look rather odd, his figures introverted and his street scenes curiously stage-like. Jacobus Vrel appears to record everyday life in the Dutch Republic during the 17th century, yet creates miraculous worlds at the same time. The painter himself is like a phantom. In spite of years of research, the mystery surrounding his identity remains unsolved. We only know his name from a single contemporary inventory and from the signatures on his 50-surviving works, which can scarcely be compared with those of his contemporaries. Vrel was a pioneer in his field. In their austerity and sometimes oppressive silence, his paintings seem unexpectedly modern, and it is for that reason that they are compared with the work of Vilhelm Hammershøi. 

With detective-like investigations from the authors, and extensive technical examinations of the paintings, this monograph explores the enigmatic pictures of an artist whose works were once thought to have been created by Vermeer. The volume’s three editors, Bernd Ebert, Cécile Tainturier and Quentin Buvelot (all CODART members) present a monograph-cum-catalogue raisonné that examines Vrel’s oeuvre from different angles and contributes significantly to our understanding of this elusive painter. The present publication is the result of an international research project that brought together the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen in Munich, the Fondation Custodia, Frits Lugt Collection in Paris and the Mauritshuis in The Hague, working in close cooperation with numerous international specialists from a variety of disciplines.

As is the custom on AHN, the publication of a new catalogue raisonné will earn Ebert, Tainturier and Buvelot a place in the highly coveted Heroes of Art History section of this blog.

A Dubious 'Rembrandt' in South Africa

May 21 2021

Image of A Dubious 'Rembrandt' in South Africa


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Scholar Gerard de Kamper and Conservator Isabelle McGinn of the University of Pretoria, South Africa, have penned a short blog giving an account of their recent research into a painting owned by the University. Indeed, the painting was gifted to the institution in 1976 and bore a traditional attribution to Rembrandt. The picture's provenance too, which could be traced in publications by the likes of Hofstede de Groot, seemed to suggest that the painting was taken seriously in the past. However, all of this was dashed after zinc white and barium sulphate were found in the work, materials which were only started to being produced in the mid nineteenth-century.

Update - A reader has pointed out that they could have saved themselves a lot of bother if they had simply spotted the work was a much later copy of this picture in the Leiden Collection.

Upcoming Release: Illuminating Natural History

May 21 2021

Image of Upcoming Release: Illuminating Natural History

Picture: Yale University Press

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Paul Mellon Centre have announced next month's new release written by the scholar Henrietta McBurney entitled Illuminating Natural History: The Art and Science of Mark Catesby.

According to the publication's blurb:

This book explores the life and work of the celebrated eighteenth-century English naturalist, explorer, artist and author Mark Catesby (1683–1749). During Catesby’s lifetime, science was poised to shift from a world of amateur virtuosi to one of professional experts. Working against a backdrop of global travel that incorporated collecting and direct observation of nature, Catesby spent two prolonged periods in the New World – in Virginia (1712–19) and South Carolina and the Bahamas (1722–6). In his majestic two-volume Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands (1731–43), esteemed by his contemporary John Bartram as ‘an ornament for the finest library in the world’, he reflected the excitement, drama and beauty of the natural world. Interweaving elements of art history, history of science, natural history illustration, painting materials, book history, paper studies, garden history and colonial history, this meticulously researched volume brings together a wealth of unpublished images as well as newly discovered letters by Catesby, which, with their first-hand accounts of his collecting and encounters in the wild, bring the story of this extraordinary pioneer naturalist vividly to life.

'Fierce Looking Woman' on Display after 60 Years in Storage

May 21 2021

Image of 'Fierce Looking Woman' on Display after 60 Years in Storage

Picture: Barber Institute of Fine Arts

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Barber Institute of Fine Arts in Birmingham have announced that they have redisplayed a Portrait of an Unknown Lady, a picture which has been in storage for the past sixty years. The work was originally purchased in the 1940s as a work by Francisco Goya. However, recent research has revealed that it might be a rare work by the Puerto Rican artist José Campeche (1751-1809).

According to the museum's catalogue entry online:

Acquired in 1940 as a portrait by the great Spanish artist Francisco Goya of his mother, this attribution has long been dismissed – along with the authenticity of two accompanying letters, also supposedly by Goya, that mention the painting. Recently, several specialists have suggested it is by José Campeche. A Puertorican artist whose father was a freed Black slave, Campeche is now acclaimed as the finest painter working in central America in the 18th century. The identity of the sitter remains unknown, but her brooch represents the Virgin of Solitude: she may have been a member of a specific lay religious society in Puerto Rico.

Old Masters Worldwide

May 18 2021

Image of Old Masters Worldwide

Picture: Bloomsbury

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Here's an interesting publication whose release I missed in October last year. Old Masters Worldwide, Markets, Movement and Museums, 1789-1939 is one of the latest histories of the art market to specifically deal with old master paintings. The volume was edited by Susanna Avery-Quash and Barbara Pezzini and contains contributions from scholars based in institutions all over the world.

According to the book's blurb:

As a result of the Napoleonic wars, vast numbers of Old Master paintings were released on to the market from public and private collections across continental Europe. The knock-on effect was the growth of the market for Old Masters from the 1790s up to the early 1930s, when the Great Depression put an end to its expansion. 

This book explores the global movement of Old Master paintings and investigates some of the changes in the art market that took place as a result of this new interest. Arguably, the most important phenomenon was the diminishing of the traditional figure of the art agent and the rise of more visible, increasingly professional, dealerships; firms such as Colnaghi and Agnew's in Britain, Goupil in France and Knoedler in the USA, came into existence. Old Masters Worldwide explores the ways in which the pioneering practices of such businesses contributed to shape a changing market.

The Bruegel Success Story

May 18 2021

Image of The Bruegel Success Story

Picture: Peeters

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

My attention has been drawn to this recent and extensive publication from Peeters entitled The Bruegel Success Story. The volume is a collection of papers presented at Symposium XXI for the Study of Underdrawing and Technology in Painting, Brussels, which happened in September 2018. The conference contained some of the most up-to-date research on the processes used by the prolific Bruegel family to copy out their most celebrated paintings.

In case you'd like to know more, here's an in-depth review and full list of contents.

New Lorenzo Ghiberti Database

May 12 2021

Image of New Lorenzo Ghiberti Database


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

A new online database containing documents and research relating to the artist Lorenzo Ghiberti (1378-1455) has been set up by the Sistema Bibliotecario di Ateneo in Florence (SBA). The database appears to be a treasure trove for any scholar interested in Italian Renaissance bronzes and art from that period.

Plunder: Napoleon’s Theft of Veronese’s Feast

May 12 2021

Image of Plunder: Napoleon’s Theft of Veronese’s Feast


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz: have penned a rather nice summary of Cynthia Saltzman's new book Plunder: Napoleon’s Theft of Veronese’s Feast. The book focuses on the highly political nature of Napoleon's requisition of Veronese's masterpiece from the refectory of the San Giorgio Monastery, Venice, in May 1797. Indeed, after the fall of Napoleon's Empire a deal was eventually struck with the Austrian occupiers of Venice so that the enormous picture would remain in the Louvre, the location where it has been ever since.

The final paragraph of the piece finishes:

[The retention of Veronese's painting] would seem to have been a victory for the Louvre, but its leadership was still irate over all the other treasures soon to leave France’s borders. Just a few days after the Veronese deal was completed, Vivant Denon, the Louvre’s first director, resigned. Before he left, he penned an angry account of what had transpired at the museum. In it he wrote, “Europe had had to be conquered in order to fashion this, Europe had had to join together to destroy it.” Today, the wing of the Louvre where the Veronese painting hangs bears Denon’s name.

Coincidentally, some Italians have turned Veronese's painting into a popular 'meme' to celebrate the country's 'reopenings' from lockdown:

New Release: Visualising Protestant Monarchy

May 11 2021

Image of New Release: Visualising Protestant Monarchy

Picture: Boydell Press

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Boydell Press have a new book out this month entitled Visualising Protestant Monarchy Ceremony, Art and Politics after the Glorious Revolution (1689-1714). The publication is the work of Julie Farguson, College Lecturer at St Hilda's College, Oxford.

According to the book's blurb:

This book provides the first comprehensive, comparative study of the visual culture of monarchy in the reigns of William and Mary and Queen Anne. It makes innovative use of material evidence and new primary sources to re-evaluate the practice of kingship and queenship to produce an original interpretation of the British monarchy during a period of vital transformation. The quarter century between the Glorious Revolution and the Georgian era witnessed prolonged military conflict with France and the birth of what we now call Great Britain. This book argues that a new style of monarchy likewise emerged in this period and that its survival largely depended on the efforts of the royal family: two English queens, a Dutch king and a Danish prince.

Through a study of art and material culture (paintings, prints, the decorative arts, architecture, dress and royal insignia) within the broader political context, the book explores how the English people were persuaded to transfer their loyalties from a traditional style of kingship, centred on ideas of divinely appointed rule and hereditary right, to one rooted in Protestantism and Parliament. 

Center for Netherlandish Art to Celebrate Van Dyck's Icarus

May 7 2021

Image of Center for Netherlandish Art to Celebrate Van Dyck's Icarus

Picture: Van Otterloo Collection

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Center for Netherlandish Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, are running a special program of online lectures to celebrate Van Dyck's Self-Portrait as Icarus with Daedalus. The painting, dating to 1618, is a promised gift from the Van Otterloo Collection to the gallery.

The program of lectures will be broadcast online on 8th July 2021 12.00pm - 13.30pm EDT.

Here's the program in full:

Opening remarks: Yves Wantens, General Delegate of Flanders to the USA 

Introduction to the art of Anthony van Dyck at the MFA: Christopher Atkins, Van Otterloo-Weatherbie Director, Center for Netherlandish Art

In-depth investigation of Anthony van Dyck’s Self-portrait as Icarus: Katlijne Van der Stighelen, professor of Early Modern Art History, KU Leuven (University of Leuven), Belgium 

Icarus as a subject in Flemish art, from Bruegel to Van Dyck and beyond: Larry Silver, James and Nan Wagner Farquhar Professor Emeritus, University of Pennsylvania 

Roundtable conversation: Moderated by Antien Knaap, assistant curator, Art of Europe, MFA

Lecture: Mathematics and Art Conservation

May 6 2021

Image of Lecture: Mathematics and Art Conservation


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

A reader has kindly informed me of this rather intriguing free online lecture being broadcast by St Cross College at the University of Oxford. Professor Ingrid Daubechies of Duke University will be giving The 7th Lorna Casselton Memorial Lecture on the subject of Mathematics and Art Conservation. Prof. Daubechies has previously been involved in using image-processing algorithms to digitally restore paintings and has also worked with the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam to create digital processes to identify forgeries.

The lecture will be broadcast on 13th May 2021 at 17.00 GMT. The lecture is free to attend but you'll have to register with the University of Oxford's online system first.

John Russell's Female Portraits

May 5 2021

Video: The National Portrait Gallery

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The National Portrait Gallery in London have released the following video discussing artist John Russell's (1745-1806) Female Portraits. More specifically, the video features research presented by Gemma Haigh, Curatorial Assistant at Guildford Heritage Service and Understanding British Portraits Fellow (2021). It also features an interview with the pastels maestro Neil Jeffares.

The Neapolitan Lives and Careers of Netherlandish Immigrant Painters

May 5 2021

Image of The Neapolitan Lives and Careers of Netherlandish Immigrant Painters

Picture: Amsterdam University Press

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Diplomatic Delegation of Flanders in Italy are hosting a free talk with the art historian Dr. Marije Osnabrugge to discuss her new book The Neapolitan Lives and Careers of Netherlandish Immigrant Painters (1575–1655).

Here's a blurb discussing the content of the publication:

The seventeenth century was a time of exceptional mobility for Netherlandish artists. This mobility had a profound impact on artistic developments, stimulating innovation and creativity in the Netherlands as well as abroad. Whereas most artists undertook a relatively short study trip, others decided to settle down and shape their life in a new environment. This study traces the integration process — as artists and as migrants in general — of Aert Mytens, Louis Finson, Abraham Vinck, Hendrick De Somer and Matthias Stom in Naples between 1575 and 1655. Departing from the idea that the experience of every migrant is specific to their background and skills, The Neapolitan Lives and Careers of Netherlandish Immigrant Painters (1575-1655) examines the challenges each of these five artists faced, the choices they made and the opportunities they grasped. The dynamics of art and society in Naples, the bustling capital of the Spanish viceroyalty, forms the context for their lives and careers.

The talk will be broadcast on 6th May 2021 at 6 pm CET / 12 pm EDT. It is free to attend with registration.

Titian's Pietro Aretino

May 4 2021

Image of Titian's Pietro Aretino

Picture: The Frick Collection

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Frick Collection in New York have announced the publication of a new book in their Diptych series entitled Titian's Pietro Aretino.

According to the book's blurb:

Written by Xavier F. Salomon, Deputy Director and Peter Jay Sharp Chief Curator, and acclaimed author Francine Prose, this new book takes as its subject the celebrated and notorious figure who earned the nickname the “scourge of princes” for his satirical writings on the rich and powerful. After moving to Venice in 1527, Aretino befriended Titian, who went on to paint three portraits of the writer and included his likeness in two other larger works. The portrait in the Frick’s collection, apparently painted in just three days, conveys Aretino’s intellectual power and presents him as a richly robed figure wearing a gold chain given to him as a gift from a patron. Salomon’s essay delves into the complex relationship between the artist and the sitter as well as publisher Francesco Marcolini, who commissioned the portrait as a testament to his friendship with Aretino. A lyrical text by Prose addresses the virtues and vices of Aretino as a sharp-tongued Venetian, known to be a blackmailer.

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