Category: Research

The Art Loss Register are Hiring!

July 27 2021

Image of The Art Loss Register are Hiring!

Picture: @artlossreg

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Art Loss Register in London are looking for a Researcher.

According to the job description posted online:

The role includes work in due diligence and on research projects related to the dispossession of art and cultural objects due to Nazi persecution and WWII, as well as management duties related to our clients such as international auction houses and dealers worldwide. 

Fluency in German is required, and some experience in or knowledge of provenance research is helpful. A clear interest in building and strengthening relationships with clients is vital. Knowledge of a third language and office experience in a commercial art environment would be an advantage but are not essential.

No salary is indicated, and applications must be in by 6th August 2021.

Good luck if you're applying!

Online Conference: The cultural dimension of Dutch overseas expansion

July 26 2021

Image of Online Conference: The cultural dimension of Dutch overseas expansion


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The University of Utrecht's program Histories of Global Netherlandish Art, 1550-1750 are running a free online conference at the end of August entitled The cultural dimension of Dutch overseas expansion.

The conference asks the question of:

But what, if any, was its impact [Dutch expansion] on culture and the humanities? This conference brings together historians of culture, art, books, and literature to arrive at a fuller picture of the cultural dimensions of Dutch overseas expansion.

The conference will be run on 27th August 2021. Attendance is free although registration is required.

New Jordaens Van Dyck Journal Out Next Week!

July 23 2021

Image of New Jordaens Van Dyck Journal Out Next Week!

Picture: JVDPPP

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Exciting news that the Jordaens Van Dyck Panel Paintings Project's new Journal will be out next week. This open-access journal will be made available online and print on demand.

I'll post a link as soon as it is published!

Future Release: 17th cent. French Paintings in the Louvre

July 23 2021

Image of Future Release: 17th cent. French Paintings in the Louvre

Picture: Gallimard

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Here's a future release that might be of interest to some readers. A new catalogue of French Seventeenth Century Paintings in the Louvre will be published and released on 7th October 2021. This new scholarly catalogue was edited by curator Nicolas Milovanovic.

Observing Weather Patterns in Art

July 19 2021

Image of Observing Weather Patterns in Art

Picture: The Washington Post

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Washington Post have published an interesting full-length article on observing weather patterns in art. The piece is written by the art critic Philip Kennicott and meteorologist Matthew Cappucci as they look at the weather depicted in several paintings throughout the centuries.

As the piece explains:

Weather is more than incidental to art, especially in the past few centuries, as scientists, poets and painters have squabbled over how best to process and make sense of the natural world. But look at art with a meteorologist, and you quickly learn that the clues to making atmospheric sense of an image go far beyond vapor in the air. What direction is the sun coming from? Is the grass wet? What do the trees tell us about the season, or the larger climate conditions? From what direction is the wind coming, and how are people dressed?

It seems that the piece eventually comes to realise that paintings are not photographs, as my favourite line explains:

Some images didn’t seem to make much sense, meteorologically.

New Château de Chantilly Online Database

July 5 2021

Image of New Château de Chantilly Online Database

Picture: Château de Chantilly

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Château de Chantilly in France has launched a new online database for its rich collection fine and decorative arts. Although it doesn't quite match up to the experience of those by other museums, it is rather good fun to have a rummage around a collection as fine as this one from the comfort of your armchair!

New Release: Memorable Dog Portraits

July 2 2021

Image of New Release: Memorable Dog Portraits


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Italian readers are in for a treat this month. The Italian publisher NFC have released the following book entitled LA MIA STORIA NELL'ARTE. RITRATTI DI CANI MEMORABILI. In other words, a book dedicated to memorable dog portraits. The publication is edited by Sabrina Foschini and contains essays by several other scholars.

Artists featured within the publication include Piero della Francesca, Titian, Bronzino, Guercino, Andrea Lilio, William Hogarth, Joshua Reynolds, Edwin Henry Landseer, Gustave Courbet, Édouard Manet, Giovanni Boldini, Frida Kahlo, Felice Casorati,Andy Warhol, Lucian Freud, David Hockney.

Let's hope they produce a version in English. I have a feeling that it would do rather well.

Conference: Artists and the Garden

July 2 2021

Image of Conference: Artists and the Garden

Picture: Hestercombe

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Gardens and art go together perfectly, don't they? If you agree, then this interesting sounding conference in September may be of interest.

Artists and the Garden: New Perspectives will explore the relationship between cultural production and the garden, across creative disciplines and media, from the 18th century until the present day.

According to the blurb:

In this historical setting [Hestercombe in Taunton, Somerset], ‘Artists and the Garden: New Perspectives’ draws together artists, art historians, critics and curators who reflect on the multifaceted web of relations and influences between cultural creativity and the garden. Illustrated papers will explore the historical, contemporary and experiential role of the garden through disciplines as diverse as painting, interior architecture, installation art, literature, garden design and drawing.

This live conference, held in Somerset, will take place between 27 - 28 September 2021. Registration is £120.

Art Libraries in the Age of Covid-19

July 1 2021

Image of Art Libraries in the Age of Covid-19

Picture: Courtauld Institute of Arts

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

I thought that it might be worth drawing attention to the difficulties in accessing the London libraries at the moment. This is particularly the case with art history related materials, which are essential for both academia and the art market.

The National Art Library in the Victoria and Albert Museum, the go-to for nearly all art related printed materials and auction records, is closed until December 2021 for updates. The Heinz Library and Archive at the National Portrait Gallery is also currently closed due to Covid restrictions. This leaves just the British Library which is running an online booking system (full of bugs in my experience) with a very long waiting time to book a desk. Pre-ordering of materials, 48+ hours in advance, is also mandatory. This process, which was already tricky at times, has become even more user un-friendly than before.

I know that many of you will be thinking – ‘why doesn’t Adam just get his act together and organise himself properly?’ All picture researchers will know that visits to libraries often require a certain degree of spontaneity with quick and light-footed work. Intriguing references can take you to all sorts of places, many of which are quickly accessible when one has the ability to request materials on the day. This sort of work will now take multiple days, if not weeks, to complete. In particular, I have no idea how auction houses and art dealers have managed to cope in preparation for the upcoming sales and fairs. There are only so many books that can be purchased for their private libraries, hence why resources of rare sales catalogues, image archives, exhibition catalogues and book libraries are so important for due diligence.

University libraries, including the Courtauld Institute of Art in London, are also currently barring visitors access to their resources due to the ‘need to prioritise our internal students and staff who have been without library access for the majority of this year’. In recent correspondence with the Courtauld Library they explained to me that they ‘would be unable to say when we will open to visitors.’

Art historians in New York are also relaying the same issues. The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Library is running a limited strictly appointment only service, with pre-ordering required, that is booked out weeks in advance. The Frick Collection Library, already reduced due to ongoing renovations, are also booked up until September.

In London’s case, one hopes that the UK's planned wide lifting of restrictions on 19th July will help the situation greatly. I’m sure many art historians are hoping that these libraries have a plan to get things back to normal as quickly as possible with the resources they need to do so smoothly and efficiently.

Comments from readers are always welcome and will, as ever, be treated anonymously.

Update - A reader writes:

I too have a list as long as my arm of archives I need access. In contrast to the terrible service from the BL, NAL and RIBA, the local libraries and archives have been so helpful and prompt in offering their services over the past year or so that they are really showing up the big boys.

Another reader writes:

Thank you for drawing attention to this extremely trying situation. You are absolutely right that research has become very difficult with these libraries staying closed. Far from thinking ‘why doesn’t Adam just get his act together and organise himself properly?’, I am thinking why on earth is the Heinz Archive, the National Art Library and the Witt staying closed when so much else is doing its utmost to re-open? What possible justification can there be for the NAL to be closed for the whole of the rest of this year other than the fact that they recently proposed closing permanently and Covid is an excuse to effectively do so by the back door. Disgraceful.

Another reader has pointed out some of the alternative libraries available:

I quite agree that the closure of the National Art Library is highly disappointing.  On a positive note, the London Library has been brilliant: careful, with a straightforward booking system, opening promptly and flexibly.  Elsewhere things are getting better.  The British Library and the National Archives have systems that can be navigated with experience!  The Tate library and the Paul Mellon Centre library have responded positively.  Not all doom and gloom!

Another reader gives their experience of regional archives:

This is most certainly not restricted to London. I am booked tomorrow to visit my third regional archive since they have reopened, and it hasn't been easy. This particular archive is only open two days a week, and you are only able to book a three hour slot for either the morning or afternoon, and only 8 documents in advance can be ordered. I'm impressed with how helpful they have tried to be in the face of this. I visited another archive who had similar restrictions last week, and was told that two thirds of the staff have been made redundant owing to the pandemic, and there were no plans to hire additional staff because of cuts. This is definitely going to have a knock on effect upon the art market and art research. I also can't see this being rectified any time soon. 

CFP: The Art of Copying in Early Modern Europe

June 22 2021

Image of CFP: The Art of Copying in Early Modern Europe


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Here's an upcoming conference that might interest some readers. The Medici Archive Project has put out a Call for Papers for an upcoming conference on The Art of Copying in Early Modern Europe. This conference is scheduled to take place in Florence on 21st January 2022.

According to their website:

In recent years, attention has been directed towards copies, with a particular emphasis on their meaning, function, provenance, production, patronage, collecting and dating. The aesthetic and conceptual tenets underlying this corpus of scholarly research focused primarily on works of art. However, this impulse to recreate images has also been transferred to other artistic and intellectual media. As such, the copy carries within itself a great number of intrinsic nuances, depending on the cultural context and the historical moment. The organizers of this workshop (Maddalena Bellavitis and Alessio Assonitis) invite papers that address issues that can shed new light and provide new interdisciplinary research trajectories on the mechanisms that regulate the practice and reception of copies. For this reason, we encourage submission for presentation proposals from disciplines such as book history, media history, history of science, history of medicine, history of food and history of diplomacy.

The deadline for the submission of papers is 1st September 2021.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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