Category: Research

'A Photo Archive Changed my Life'

December 31 2021

Image of 'A Photo Archive Changed my Life'

Picture: PMC

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Bendor has written a short piece for the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art on how a photo archive changed his life. In short, the article celebrates how important photo archives are for art history and connoisseurship in general. Brilliant resources such as the recently published online Paul Mellon Centre Photo Archive makes the process of research easier than ever before.


Indeed, instead of shedding tears of frustration into the stacks and boxes often held within London basements, we can now do so from the comfort of our own armchairs at home. Is this progress? I think so.

Recent Release: Thomas Robins and the Art of the Georgian Garden

December 30 2021

Image of Recent Release: Thomas Robins and the Art of the Georgian Garden

Picture: Stephen Morris

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Here's a recent release that I missed a month ago. Cathryn Spence's latest book entitled Nature’s Favourite Child: Thomas Robins and the Art of the Georgian Garden has recently been released by Stephen Morris.

According to the blurb published by

Thomas Robins the Elder (1716-1770) recorded the country estates of the Georgian gentry – their orchards, Rococo gardens and potagers – like no other, with both topographical accuracy and delightful artistry, often bordering his gouaches with entrancing tendrils, shells, leaves and birds. His skill was honed by the delicacy required for his early career as a fan painter and is shown too in his exquisite paintings of butterflies, flowers and birds. This ravishing and scholarly study emerges from many years’ research by Dr Cathryn Spence, the curator and archivist at Bowood House who has also worked for the V&A, the American Museum, the Bath Preservation Trust and the National Trust. This is the first full study of Thomas Robins since John Harris’s Gardens of Delight, published in 2 vols in 1978; Harris in fact made over all his research notes to Spence in 2005 when she embarked on her work. Chinoiserie is everywhere – a wooden bridge over the Thames, delicious kiosks in a garden, a view of Bath with sampans and Chinese fishermen on the river. There are also fascinating views of Sudeley Castle and other great houses that incorporated more or less ruined monastic structures, destroyed in the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Spence has tracked down many previously unknown paintings by Robins, and sets his elusive life and work in the framework of his patrons.

Recent Release: Rembrandt, Vermeer, and the Gift in Seventeenth-Century Dutch Art

December 27 2021

Image of Recent Release: Rembrandt, Vermeer, and the Gift in Seventeenth-Century Dutch Art

Picture: Amsterdam University Press

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Since it is the time of gift-giving, here's a recent release from the Amsterdam University Press that I missed earlier in the Autumn. Rembrandt, Vermeer, and the Gift in Seventeenth-Century Dutch Art is the latest book by Michael Zell.

According to the blurb:

Rembrandt, Vermeer, and the Gift in Seventeenth-Century Dutch Art offers a new perspective on the art of the Dutch Golden Age by exploring the interaction between the gift's symbolic economy of reciprocity and obligation and the artistic culture of early modern Holland. Gifts of art were pervasive in seventeenth-century Europe, and many Dutch artists, like their counterparts elsewhere, embraced gift giving to cultivate relations with patrons, art lovers, and other members of their social networks. Rembrandt also created distinctive works to function within a context of gift exchange, and both Rembrandt and Vermeer engaged the ethics of the gift to identify their creative labor as motivated by what contemporaries called a "love of art," not materialistic gain. In the merchant republic’s vibrant market for art, networks of gift relations and the anti-economic rhetoric of the gift mingled with the growing dimension of commerce, revealing a unique chapter in the interconnected history of gift giving and art making.

New Release: Pre-Raphaelites in the Spirit World

December 24 2021

Image of New Release: Pre-Raphaelites in the Spirit World

Picture: Peter Lang

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Here's a curious new release for December 2021. Peter Lang have just published a scholarly book entitled Pre-Raphaelites in the Spirit World. In particular, the edition focuses on a séance diary kept by William Michael Rossetti, one of the founding members of the Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood.

According to the blurb:

William Michael Rossetti’s séance diary is a remarkable document in both the history of Pre-Raphaelitism and nineteenth-century spiritualism. In this previously unpublished manuscript, Rossetti meticulously recorded twenty séances between 1865 and 1868. The original motive was the death, in 1862, of Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s wife, Elizabeth Siddal. He felt a profound sense of guilt about her and began these séances to reassure himself that she was happy in the afterlife. Messages came from many spirits within the Pre-Raphaelite circle and provide an unprecedented record of spiritualist activity in the late nineteenth century. Questions and answers fill the pages of the diary, many of them communicating uncannily accurate information or details that could be known only to the participants.


As it happens, I accidentally rediscovered some transcripts of Victorian séances while researching for my PhD (click the link to watch a short video if you'd like to hear more about that). The short stories of M.R. James have proved that Christmas and Ghost Stories really do go together.

Symposium for the Study of Underdrawing and Technology in Painting - March 2022

December 23 2021

Image of Symposium for the Study of Underdrawing and Technology in Painting - March 2022


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

CODART (Curators Network for Dutch and Flemish Art) have drawn attention to the upcoming Symposium for the Study of Underdrawing and Technology in Painting held in Bruges in March 2022.

According to the website:

The theme of next year’s symposium is ‘Alla Maniera: technical art history and the meaning of style in fifteenth to seventeenth century painting’. The symposium focuses on how technical research can provide additional insights or challenges concerning the style of an individual painter, a workshop or a group of painters. Stylistic similarities might indicate cultural, social, geographical or chronological connections in paintings, drawings, prints, applied arts, etc. as well as across artistic media.

The symposium will be held in the English language.

2022 Release: Sebastiano and Michelangelo

December 15 2021

Image of 2022 Release: Sebastiano and Michelangelo


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Here's an upcoming release that will surely be interesting. Following on from the National Gallery's 2017 exhibition on Michelangelo and Sebastiano del Piombo, curator Matthias Wivel has edited a collection of essays reflecting on the themes of the show. The edition will be published by Brepols in January 2022.

Here is a list of the essays that will be included:

Matthias Wivel — The Compass and the Mirror 

Elena Calvillo — Friendship, Medium and the Diverging Lives of Sebastiano del Piombo and Michelangelo   

Piers Baker-Bates — Copies and Versions in Sebastiano’s Art? The Christ Carrying the Cross 

Sheryl E. Reiss — A Word Portrait of a Medici Maecenas: Giulio de’ Medici (Pope Clement VII) as Patron of Art 

Arnold Nesselrath — Raphael: Of Heirs and Pretenders 

Matthias Wivel and Rachel Billinge — Sebastiano’s Vich Triptych 

Carlo Piga — Da Michelangelo a Sebastiano: antiche suggestioni e moderne invenzioni nel ciclo decorativo della Cappella Borgherini in San Pietro in Montorio a Roma 

Stefania Pasti — Aperietur in tempore: Sebastiano del Piombo and the Borgherini Chapel in the Light of Prophetic Readings 

Paul Joannides — A New Drawing by Sebastiano del Piombo for the Semi-Dome of the Borgherini Chapel 

Costanza Barbieri — Sebastiano as Portraitist and a Case Study: The Portrait of Michelangelo Pointing at His Drawings 

Oriana Sartiani — A Portrait of Michelangelo Attributed to Sebastiano del Piombo: Technical Examination, Discoveries, and Treatment 

Simonetta Antellini — L’originalità compositiva della Nascita della Vergine di Sebastiano del Piombo 

Daniela Luzi — ‘Il bel secreto’: La pittura sperimentale sulla pietra di Sebastiano nella Cappella Chigi 

Morten Steen Hansen — The Readings of Angels: Sebastiano del Piombo and the Politics of the Immaculate Conception 

Andrea Donati — Marcello Venusti, Michelangelo and the Legacy of Sebastiano del Piombo 

Charles Robertson — Michelangelo’s Last Judgement: Sebastiano del Piombo’s Contribution

Latest Edition: Jordaens Van Dyck Journal

December 13 2021

Image of Latest Edition: Jordaens Van Dyck Journal

Picture: JVDPPP

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Jordaens Van Dyck Panel Paintings Project (JVDPPP) have published the latest edition of their journal for free online. As you'll see, this particular edition is filled with some fascinating new research by the group including several discoveries.

Here are the contents:

Ingrid Moortgat: Close family and guild ties: the Gabron dynasty of panel makers in seventeenth-century Antwerp

Justin Davies: Van Dyck’s use of panels made by the Gabron family: occurrences and new findings

Joost Vander Auwera: The 1660–1661 Antwerp court case about a series of Van Dyck’s Apostles: two new documents and some reflections on the course of justice and the potential for new discoveries

Joost Vander Auwera: The 1660–1661 court case on the Apostles series by Van Dyck: A Who’s Who of the Antwerp artistic scene in the post-Rubens and post-Van Dyck era

Andrea Seim: The Remigius van Leemput series in the Royal Collection: its importance for dating small panels

Justin Davies: The impact of JVDPPP’s dendrochronological findings for the dating and attribution of the small panels related to Van Dyck’s Iconography

Justin Davies: Anthony Van Dyck, his panels and panel makers: identifications and patterns

Joost Vander Auwera: Jordaens’s re-use and enlargement of panels in light of the studio practices and art theory of his day: the example of The Adoration of the Shepherds in Bristol

Justin Davies: The Adoration of the Shepherds: now found to have hung in Jordaens’s house in Antwerp

Alexis Merle du Bourg & Rafaella Besta: Reflections on the history of Van Dyck’s “Böhler Apostles”

Joost Vander Auwera: An Old Woman in the Fitzwilliam Museum: Jordaens not Van Dyck

Lead White to help Date Dutch Paintings?

December 13 2021

Image of Lead White to help Date Dutch Paintings?

Picture: Rijksmuseum

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

For those who love the scientific geekery of art history, then here's another interesting article which has appeared this month. The journal Science Advances have just published an article penned by Paolo D’Imporzano, Katrien Keune,  Janne M. Koornneef, Erma Hermens, Petria Noble, A. L. S. Vandivere and Gareth R. Davies entitled Time-dependent variation of lead isotopes of lead white in 17th century Dutch paintings.

Here's the abstract:

This study investigates how lead isotopes in lead white pigment can be used as an additional diagnostic tool to constrain the production time of 17th century Dutch paintings. Analysis of 77 well-dated paintings from 27 different Dutch artists reveal significant change in the source of lead used in lead white at the start, middle, and end of the 17th century. Isotopic shifts are related to major historical and socioeconomical events such as the English Civil War and Anglo-Dutch-French conflicts. These observations offer the prospect that lead isotope analysis of lead white could aid attribution and authentication of Dutch 17th century paintings and provide insights into artists’ international travels as well as lead production and trading.

New Release: Rembrandt's Hundred Guilder Print

December 6 2021

Image of New Release: Rembrandt's Hundred Guilder Print

Picture: Lund Humphries

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Lund Humphries will be releasing Amy Golahny's latest book later this month entitled Rembrandt's Hundred Guilder Print: His Master Etching.

According to the book's blurb:

Always recognised as a master print from the moment of its appearance around 1649, the Hundred Guilder Print is one of Rembrandt's most compositionally complex and visually beautiful works. 

This book gives a full overview of the fascinating story surrounding this print, from its genesis and market value to attitudes towards it in the present day. Focusing on the tradition of printmaking as well as the reception of the print in Rembrandt's time, Golahny explores the ways the artist made visual references to the work of such masters as Michelangelo, Raphael and Leonardo da Vinci, while uniquely combining aspects of Christ's ministry.

CFP: Fat Bodies in the Early Modern World

December 6 2021

Image of CFP: Fat Bodies in the Early Modern World

Picture: @hrfletcher_

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Here's an interesting summer conference which is taking shape for Summer 2022. A group of scholars from the University of Edinburgh, the University of Manchester and the Goethe-Universität, Frankfurt, are putting together a conference on Fat Bodies in the Early Modern World. A call for papers has been published with lots of possibilities for art historians too it seems.

According to the CFP:

In the emerging field of Fat Studies, historical overviews about the perception and  representation of fat and dieting tend to focus on the 19th and 21st centuries. An early exception was Elena Levy-Navarro’s The Culture of Obesity in Early and Late  Modernity (2008) which sought to situate the beginnings of ‘modern’ fat hatred in the early modern period. Inspired by Mikhail Bakthin and Norbert Elias, Levy-Navarro  argued that the premodern period was a ‘time before fat’, as she suggested it was only with the development of a ‘civilized elite’ that the individualized, self-contained body  could be ‘violated by fat flesh’.

More recent studies, however, such as Georges Vigarello’s Les  métamorphoses du gras. Histoire de l’obésité du Moyen Âge au  XXe siècle (2010) or Christopher E. Forth’s Fat. A Cultural  History of the Stuff of life (2019) have demonstrated that the slim silhouette could already be an ideal for European elites in the Medieval period and that the fat body could be viewed as socially  inferior from Roman Antiquity onwards. Moreover, scholars such as Michael Stolberg and Maria-Carla Gadebusch Bondio, have shown how physicians’ advice manuals containing instructions on how to avoid fatness were printed as early as the 1480s, and that the treatment of obesity became part of the university medical curriculum in the later sixteenth century.

Abstracts should be submitted by 15th January 2022.

Rubens and His Global Enterprise

December 3 2021

Video: Getty Museum

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Here's a video I'll be trying to catch up with later (after I go and view some of the London OMP sales this afternoon). The Getty Museum have published this online lecture by curator Stephanie Schrader on Peter Paul Rubens and His Global Enterprise.

According to the blurb:

The 17th-century Flemish artist Peter Paul Rubens worked in Antwerp, a bustling center of global trade where various cultures came into contact. To understand how this impacted his work, curator Stephanie Schrader investigates two of his drawings in the Getty Museum’s collection: Man in Korean Costume and Head Study for Balthazar. Both artworks provide important examples of the various misunderstandings that arose when Rubens depicted people of African and Korean descent. By viewing these works from religious, mercantile, and political perspectives, Schrader provides a nuanced examination of appropriation and cultural translation.

Burlington Magazine - Photography

December 1 2021

Image of Burlington Magazine - Photography

Picture: Private Collection via. The Burlington Magazine

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

December's edition of the The Burlington Magazine focuses on the art of Photography. As usual, there are many interesting pieces to be found, including articles on on the museum photographer Isabel Agnes Cowper, Maria Ponti Pasolini’s photographic archive, Nicéphore Niépce and the industry of photographic replication and Ilse Bing at Glyndebourne.

In fact, this month's edition contains my debut article for the magazine (please forgive the shameless plug). The article focuses on a photograph which fell out of a book whilst I was scouring through a private library. It turned out to be an unrecorded photograph of Ellen Terry by the Victorian photographer Julia Margaret Cameron (pictured). Furthermore, it shows Terry in her wedding dress which was designed by William Holman Hunt. The photograph is, I believe, connected to George Frederic Watt's 1864 painting of Terry known as Choosing (NPG), which shows her in the same dress, necklace and profile pose. Find yourself a copy to read more.

New Release: François Boucher and the Art of Collecting

December 1 2021

Image of New Release: François Boucher and the Art of Collecting

Picture: Routledge

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Here's an interesting new release that I missed last month. Routledge have recently published a book entitled François Boucher and the Art of Collecting in Eighteenth-Century France by Jessica Priebe from the Department of Art History and Theory at the National Art School, Australia.

According to the blurb:

While earlier studies have focused predominantly on artist François Boucher’s artistic style and identity, this book presents the first full-length interdisciplinary study of Boucher’s prolific collection of around 13,500 objects including paintings, sculpture, prints, drawings, porcelain, shells, minerals, and other imported curios. 

It discusses the types of objects he collected, the networks through which he acquired them, and their spectacular display in his custom-designed studio at the Louvre, where he lived and worked for nearly two decades. This book explores the role his collection played in the development of his art, his studio, his friendships, and the burgeoning market for luxury goods in mid-eighteenth-century France. In doing so, it sheds new light on the relationship between Boucher’s artistic and collecting practices, which attracted both praise and criticism from period observers.

Crack the code of egg-tempera paints

November 29 2021

Image of Crack the code of egg-tempera paints

Picture: Angewandte Chemie

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

For those readers who like an in-depth scientific analysis of painting materials, here's a recently published article that might be of interest.

This month's edition of the scientific journal Angewandte Chemie has an article on Connecting Rheological Properties and Molecular Dynamics of Egg-Tempera Paints based on Egg Yolk (paywall, unfortunately) penned by Dr. Agathe Fanost, Dr. Laurence de Viguerie, Dr. Guylaine Ducouret, Prof. Guillaume Mériguet, Dr. Philippe Walter, Helen Glanville, Dr. Anne-Laure Rollet, Prof. Maguy Jaber.

Confused by the title? According to the abstract:

Egg-tempera painting is a pictorial technique widely used in the Middle Ages, although poorly studied in its physico-chemical aspects until now. Here we show how NMR relaxometry and rheology can be combined to probe egg-tempera paints and shed new light on their structure and behavior. Based on recipes of the 15th century, model formulations with egg yolk and green earth have been reproduced to characterize the physicochemical properties of this paint at the mesoscopic and macroscopic scales. The rheological measurements highlight a synergetic effect between green earth and egg yolk, induced by the interactions between them and the structural organisation of the system. 1H NMR relaxometry emphasizes the presence and the structure of a network formed by the yolk and the pigment.

New Release: A Biographical Dictionary of British and Irish Engravers, 1714–1820

November 24 2021

Image of New Release: A Biographical Dictionary of British and Irish Engravers, 1714–1820

Picture: Yale University Press

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Paul Mellon Centre have shared news of a new Biographical Dictionary of British and Irish Engravers 1714-1820 by David Alexander published by Yale University Press.

In case the title doesn't sell itself:

This biographical dictionary of engravers working on copper encompasses both those who produced fine art prints, and also those who engraved book illustrations for medical, technical and literary works, all of which played a more important part than is usually realised in spreading information in the age of Enlightenment. Some 4,000 biographical entries draw on much unpublished information, researched over four decades, notably records of apprenticeship, genealogy, insurance and bankruptcy as well as newspaper advertisements and contemporary accounts.

New Release: Peintures francaises - La collection du musée des Beaux-Arts de Rennes

November 22 2021

Image of New Release: Peintures francaises - La collection du musée des Beaux-Arts de Rennes

Picture: Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rennes

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rennes have this month released their latest complete catalogue of their collection of French paintings from the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries.

The catalogue was edited by curator Guillaume Kazerouni and features works by the likes of Boucher, Chardin, Vincent, Lagrenée, Amand, Doyen, Suvée, Varin, Lallemant, Tassel, La Hyre, Le Nain, La Tour, Vouet, Senelle, Blanchard, Baugin, Vignon, Stella, Corneille, Loir, Le Brun, Verdier, Coypel, La Fosse, Jouvenet, Boullogne and others.

Hermitage Recreates Sounds of the Master of the Female Half-Lengths

November 22 2021

Video: State Hermitage Museum

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

As today is Saint Cecilia's Day, it seems only right that I share this brilliant new video produced by the State Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia. The video (featuring English subtitles) shows a recreation of the music found in a painting by the Master of the Female Half-Lengths.


This painting and composition has intrigued me for many years, especially as there are a few known versions that have survived. I've always been intrigued by the open and empty lute case that is found hanging on the wall behind the players. It is so purposefully placed there one imagines it had a specific meaning. A suggestion perhaps that these women were unmarried (?) Other suggestions I've heard are far too graphic to be retold here.

'Rembrandt made a mess of his legal and financial life'

November 18 2021

Image of 'Rembrandt made a mess of his legal and financial life'


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

'Rembrandt made a mess of his legal and financial life' is but one of the claims made in a new book by the Dutch Emeritus Professor of Private Law Bob Wessels. I'm sure this fact won't be too surprising to many readers of AHN.

The University of Leiden have published a rather interesting interview with Wessels which explains more about his research into Rembrandt's legal and financial dealings. The book also claims that ‘Rembrandt was a stubborn, socially inept shopaholic.'

Rembrandt's Money is out this month.

New Release: Rubens in Repeat

November 12 2021

Image of New Release: Rubens in Repeat

Picture: Getty Publications

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Getty Publication's latest November release is Aaron M. Hyman's book Rubens in Repeat: The Logic of the Copy in Colonial Latin America.

According to the book's blurb:

This book examines the reception in Latin America of prints designed by the Flemish artist Peter Paul Rubens, showing how colonial artists used such designs to create all manner of artworks and, in the process, forged new frameworks for artistic creativity. Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) never crossed the Atlantic himself, but his impact in colonial Latin America was profound. Prints made after the Flemish artist's designs were routinely sent from Europe to the Spanish Americas, where artists used them to make all manner of objects. Rubens in Repeat is the first comprehensive study of this transatlantic phenomenon, despite broad recognition that it was one of the most important forces to shape the artistic landscapes of the region. Copying, particularly in colonial contexts, has traditionally held negative implications that have discouraged its serious exploration. Yet analyzing the interpretation of printed sources and recontextualizing the resulting works within period discourse and their original spaces of display allow a new critical reassessment of this broad category of art produced in colonial Latin America-art that has all too easily been dismissed as derivative and thus unworthy of sustained interest and investigation. This book takes a new approach to the paradigms of artistic authorship that emerged alongside these complex creative responses, focusing on the viceroyalties of New Spain and Peru in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. It argues that the use of European prints was an essential component of the very framework in which colonial artists forged ideas about what it meant to be a creator.

New Catalogue: German Paintings in the Städel Museum

November 12 2021

Image of New Catalogue: German Paintings in the Städel Museum

Picture: Städel Museum

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

CODART (International Network of Curators of Dutch and Flemish Art) have shared news that the Städel Museum have published a new two volume catalogue of their German Paintings. The catalogue covers the period of 1550-1725 and was edited by Almut Pollmer-Schmidt with Christiane Weber and Fabian Wolf.

According to the brief write-up:

 The two-volume catalogue includes new research on paintings by Adam Elsheimer, Georg Flegel, Johann Heinrich Roos and others who are closely related to their Dutch contemporaries. In addition, several paintings have been re-attributed to Dutch artists, including a self-portrait by Wallerant Vaillant (1623-1677). 

All the works have been examined in detail from the perspective of both art history and painting technology based on the most recent scientific methods. The incorporation of the respective cultural-historical background gives rise to new insights regarding the creation, attribution, identification, or interpretation of the individual paintings. The overview provides insights into the history of the collection, exhibitions, and research, and opens up a panorama of multi-layered art production in early modern Germany.

Notice to "Internet Explorer" Users

You are seeing this notice because you are using Internet Explorer 6.0 (or older version). IE6 is now a deprecated browser which this website no longer supports. To view the Art History News website, you can easily do so by downloading one of the following, freely available browsers:

Once you have upgraded your browser, you can return to this page using the new application, whereupon this notice will have been replaced by the full website and its content.