Category: Research

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

Separated Balthasar van Ast Stitched Back Together

April 30 2021

Image of Separated Balthasar van Ast Stitched Back Together


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Cynthia Osiecki, Curator of Old Masters, Nasjonalmuseet for Kunst, Arkitektur og Design in Oslo, Norway, has penned an article for CODART.NL giving an introduction to the collection of paintings at the museum.

Amongst the most interesting sections discusses research undertaken on the museum's Balthasar van Ast's (1593/1594-1657) Still Life with Fruit and Shells created between 1620 and 1632 (left). Conservation of the work had revealed "traces of flowers and cherries at the edge of the painting, indicating that this basket of fruit must once have been larger."

According to Osiecki's article:

The examination made it clear that the work had once been one of Van der Ast’s larger horizontal paintings that display fruit and flowers on a table. An initial search into its provenance revealed that the painting’s previous owner, Frederick Conrad Bugge, bought it in its current state as ‘anonymous’ at some point between 1824 and 1829. But that other paintings by Van der Ast had fallen victim to being split up in this way only became clear to me when I studied the Aachen exhibition catalogue Die Stillleben des Balthasar van der Ast (1593/94–1657) from 2016. It was there that I found a painting marked as a fragment which matched the traces on our panel.

With the help of the director of the Suermondt-Ludwig Museum and CODART member Peter van den Brink I managed to track down the private owner and confirm with our conservator that the paintings had most likely once belonged together. In the near future, we hope to confirm this by non-invasive research and display the works side by side after they have spent more than 200 years apart.

New Release: Copley and West in England 1775-1815

April 30 2021

Image of New Release: Copley and West in England 1775-1815

Picture: The Burlington Press

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Burlington Press will be publishing Allen Staley's new book Copley and West in England 1775-1815 next month.

According to the book's blurb:

West and Copley have always and properly been viewed as the two pre-eminent eighteenth-century American artists, despite the fact that, at the age of twenty-one, West left his native shores in 1760, never to return. He went on to become immensely successful in England, becoming, among other things, the second president of the Royal Academy of Arts. Copley spent half his working life also in England. However, before making the move across the Atlantic, he made his mark as an exceptionally talented artist, who, without any real training, painted likenesses of fellow Bostonians, including ones of figures such as John Hancock and Paul Revere, that have become icons of American history. While those portraits remain his most widely admired works, after 1775 and his resettling in England, he started painting distinctly different types of pictures, initially showing modern historical subjects in emulation of the model provided him by West, following, for example, West's celebrated Death of General Wolfe, exhibited in 1771, with his own Death of the Earl of Chatham, begun in 1779. For a brief span of time, the two expatriate Americans had a close working relationship, that we can see substantially reflected in both the formal language and the subject matter of many of their best works, but it eventually and inevitably turned into rivalry. 

The book begins with a brief prologue discussing the earliest of West's depictions of recent historical events and of subjects set in America, painted prior to Copley's arrival in England. It then follows the year-by-year evolution of Copley's painting from 1775 to his death in 1815, with an underlying focus upon his ongoing give-and-take with West, and it ends with examination of hitherto little-known and unstudied major late paintings, from after 1800, by both artists.

Recent Release: Enlightened Animals in Eighteenth-Century Art

April 28 2021

Image of Recent Release: Enlightened Animals in Eighteenth-Century Art

Picture: Bloomsbury

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

You know a book is going to be a good read when it contains a chapter entitled 'Monkey Artists'.

Earlier this year Bloomsbury published Prof. Sarah Cohen of the University at Albany's new book entitled Enlightened Animals in Eighteenth-Century Art.

According to the publication's blurb:

How do our senses help us to understand the world? This question, which preoccupied Enlightenment thinkers, also emerged as a key theme in depictions of animals in eighteenth-century art. This book examines the ways in which painters such as Chardin, as well as sculptors, porcelain modelers, and other decorative designers portrayed animals as sensing subjects who physically confirmed the value of material experience. 

The sensual style known today as the Rococo encouraged the proliferation of animals as exemplars of empirical inquiry, ranging from the popular subject of the monkey artist to the alchemical wonders of the life-sized porcelain animals created for the Saxon court. Examining writings on sensory knowledge by La Mettrie, Condillac, Diderot and other philosophers side by side with depictions of the animal in art, Cohen argues that artists promoted the animal as a sensory subject while also validating the material basis of their own professional practice.

Hans Holbein the Younger's Earliest Portrait?

April 27 2021

Image of Hans Holbein the Younger's Earliest Portrait?

Picture: The Telegraph

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Telegraph have published an article by Franny Moyle who might well have found the earliest portrait of Hans Holbein the Younger (c.1497-1543) hiding in plain sight. Her article describes a visit she made to the Staatsgallerie in Augsburg, where she noticed a prominent boy featured in Holbein the Elder's memorial to the Walther Family (pictured). Famously, the gallery features another work by Holbein the Elder showing two blonde haired boys who have long been identified as Hans (the Younger) and his brother Ambrosius (see below). Many readers will undoubtedly know of the drawing of the pair in Berlin. The Walther family memorial was created when Hans was five years old.

The comparison between these figures encouraged Moyle to get in touch with several scholars to see if anyone else had spotted him. It seems that no one else had. Indeed, her theory has since been endorsed by Dr Bodo Brinkman, curator of Old Masters at Basel's Kunstmuseum, which houses a major collection of Holbein's works.

New Release: A Cultural History of Color

April 27 2021

Image of New Release: A Cultural History of Color


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Bloomsbury have recently published what seems to be a rather epic six-volume edition entitled A Cultural History of Colour. The whole series was edited by Carole P. Biggam and Kirsten Wolf. Furthermore, it contains contributions from multiple scholars each focusing on different time periods.

As the publisher's blurb explains:

A Cultural History of Color presents a history of 5000 years of color in western culture. The first systematic and comprehensive history, the work examines how color has been perceived, developed, produced and traded, and how it has been used in all aspects of performance - from the political to the religious to the artistic - and how it shapes all we see, from food and nature to interiors and architecture, to objects and art, to fashion and adornment, to the color of the naked human body, and to the way our minds work and our languages are created. 

Chapter titles are identical across each of the volumes. This gives the choice of reading about a specific period in one of the volumes, or following a theme across history by reading the relevant chapter in each of the six.

The themes (and chapter titles) are: Color Philosophy and Science; Color Technology and Trade; Power and Identity; Religion and Ritual; Body and Clothing; Language and Psychology; Literature and the Performing Arts; Art; Architecture and Interiors; Artefacts.  The six volumes cover: 1 – Antiquity (3,000 BCE to 500 CE); 2 – Medieval Age (500 to 1400); 3 – Renaissance (1400 to 1650); 4 – Age of Enlightenment (1650 to 1800); 5 – Age of Industry (1800 to 1920); 6 – Modern Age (1920 to the present).

The whole set will cost £395, which seems rather reasonable compared to the prices of some second-hand catalogue raisonnés I've had my eyes on recently.

Borghese Gallery's Titian X-rayed

April 26 2021

Image of Borghese Gallery's Titian X-rayed


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Galleria Borghese's Venus Blindfolding Cupid by Titian has undergone an interesting conservation project in recent months.

Indeed, recent x-rays of the painting have revealed more details concerning the additional figure that Titian decided to paint out of the scene. The pentimento suggests that the painter had initially included Euphrosyne (good cheer and joy) within the composition. Therefore, it is likely that the other two figures would have originally represented Aglaea (splendour) and Thalia (prosperity) to complete the set of 'Three Graces'. The painting received its current title in 1870, when it was suggested by the art historian Giovanni Battista Cavalcaselle.

The work will be exhibited in Mantua later this year for their set of exhibitions on Venus.

Portland Collection Miniatures Lecture

April 23 2021

Video: The Harley Gallery

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

For those who weren't able to attend February's lecture on miniatures in The Portland Collection, the Harley Gallery have uploaded the lecture online! The lecture was given by early modern art specialist Dr Karen Hearn and includes a Q&A session at the end.

Why are there so many Smoking Dogs in Old Masters?

April 22 2021

Image of Why are there so many Smoking Dogs in Old Masters?


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Ben Davis of has answered the question we've all been asking ourselves for many years - exactly why are there so many smoking dogs found in old master paintings?

Well, as Ben explains in his article, it turns out that it has a lot to do with the iconography of Saint Jane (or Santa Juana) of Aza:

The woman often depicted with the dog is Saint Jane (or Santa Juana) of Aza, and it is a reference to a vision she had (hence the daydreaming posture). Blessed Jane is said to have dreamed that she was carrying a small black-and-white dog with a blazing torch in its mouth in her womb. When she gave birth to it, the dog ran out and set everything on fire. This vision was interpreted to mean that Jane’s son was going to have an influence that would spread over the whole world.


In any case: long story short, the Smoking Dog is not a smoking dog.

I'm glad we've cleared that up.

New Release: Giovanni Bellini - an Introduction

April 21 2021

Image of New Release: Giovanni Bellini - an Introduction


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Marsilio Editori in Italy have announced their upcoming publication Giovanni Bellini - An Introduction by Prof. emeritus Peter Humfrey of the University of Saint Andrews.

According to the book's blurb:

The art of Giovanni Bellini has been a passion for half a century…” Peter Humfrey accompanies us through the work of Italian Renaissance artist Giovanni Bellini, considered the most important practitioner of Venetian painting in the latter half of the fifteenth century.

Born into a family of painters, Bellini began studying art at a young age, painting primarily in the then dominant Gothic style of the early Renaissance. As time passed and he evolved as an artist, Bellini’s wide-reaching influence came to inform the maniera moderna, or modern manner, inherited by Giorgione and Titian. His unparalleled ability to both harness the expressive power of light and recreate the poetry of natural landscapes became the foundational tenets of the Venetian school of painting for centuries to come.

This volume provides an accessible guide to Bellini’s work and the lasting influence of his career on Western European painting. Organized chronologically, the book maps the development of Bellini’s own craft alongside the greater technical experimentation of the Quattrocento, detailing the artist’s rejection of traditional egg tempera technique for oil on canvas and taking into account the influence of contemporaries Andrea Mantegna and Antonello da Messina.

Concise and up to date, this book effectively conveys the scale of Bellini’s contributions to Western European painting in the wider context of the era. 

There's no exact release date to be found on the website, but other sources suggest that shipping will be available from June.

Update - A reader has been in touch to share the details that the book will be available in the UK on 28th April, but buyers in the US will have to wait until 8th June.

Online Lecture: Rembrandt's Orient

April 16 2021

Image of Online Lecture: Rembrandt's Orient


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

A reader has kindly alerted me to a very interesting free online lecture on Rembrandt's Orient given by the exhibition's co-curator Gary Schwartz. Unfortunately I'm not able to post the video on here directly, so you'll have to scroll down the bottom of the page via. the link above to watch it.

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