Previous Posts: March 2010

Blog on

March 16 2010

Video: Handmade Films

Well, bless you all for putting up with my moment of introspection. It has been an extraordinary privilege to receive so many kind emails. Thank you. I don't want to sound boastful, but I was amazed to hear what AHN means to some of you. 

AHN must and will therefore continue. In any case, as one reader wrote:

[...] I do not think that you are entitled to resign without asking [your readers'] prior permission.

And as you imagine they have already definitely decided that (un-) fortunately your resignation has not been accepted.

I was also honoured to meet so many readers at TEFAF in Maastricht, where I went last Saturday.  

In fact, after reflecting on events over the last week or so, I've decided that AHN will not only continue, but be bigger and better. AHN2.0 will take me a while to implement, so bear with me. I want to refresh the site so that it's easier to search, have zoomable images, and also be easier for me to upload (especially on the move). I'd like to hire an Assistant Deputy Editor to help me keep things ticking over whenever I'm on the road (which - for reasons I'm not able to yet discuss - I will be a great deal over the next six months). And I'd be glad to hear from AHNers about any other improvements you want to see.

I was touched that many of you offered to make donations to help maintain the site. Happily, that's not necessary at the moment. But it got me thinking that AHNers who were so minded could be persuaded to support various good causes. So AHN2.0 will have a monthly good cause that readers can chose to donate towards. Of course, it's won't at all be compulsory. But between us we may be able help the odd museum or two.

I must admit to being slightly anxious entering TEFAF last week. Into the Lion's Den, and all that. It looked as classy and well organised as ever. But there were few masterpieces, and it seems not a great deal of business is being done this year. Many participants were, as a result, dealing mainly in gossip. Every third conversation seemed to begin, 'I heard...', and it was surreal hearing rumours which I absolutely knew not to be true. It reminded me of being at boarding school. Such behaviour doesn't reflect well on the trade. 

That said, I sensed more than ever a passing of the baton (albeit perhaps reluctantly) between what we might call 'the old guard', and a newer, more positive, engaging and frankly nicer generation of younger dealers. There was a palpable dismay among this group that so little was being done about the latest fake scandal. So I left TEFAF feeling optimistic about the longer term health of the Old Master market. 

Forgive the language in the above clip from one of my favourite films, but there's a Withnail & I quote for every occasion in life. See if you can guess which line I am particularly thinking of at the moment. 

Thank you again. Onwards!

Blog off

March 7 2010

Some readers may have noticed that AHN has been rather 'feast or famine' of late. I can only apologise. Partly this is because I've been traveling a lot, in connection with some new television work. But it's also partly because I've been trying to navigate some rather stressful circumstances to do with what we might call my day job. I'm not at all seeking any sympathy by writing this. But it's best to be straightforward, and since my relationship with AHNers is something I value greatly, I wanted to explain (at least to the extent that I am able to) what has been going on. 

Ever since I started writing this blog, my aims have been as follows: to make the history of art as welcoming and accessible to new audiences as possible; to share my passion for Old Masters and the stories behind them; and to be as frank and fair in adding my own opinions where relevant. Since the blog went live in December 2010 there have been 4,452 posts, which have been viewed over 2m times. All AHN content is free, and I have never taken advertising. It takes quite up quite a lot of time. But I do it for pleasure, for the pictures, and for anyone who cares to take an interest. I am grateful every day to those of you who come along for the ride.

However, AHN pays neither the mortgage nor the school fees. The day job is my work as a dealer, or rather, as someone who tries to unearth lost and interesting pictures, and to occasionally sell them on for a profit. A difficulty arises, therefore, if AHN impacts on my ability to do the day job.  

The problem comes in part because what we might call 'the art world' is quite small, at least in my Old Master niche. In writing AHN, I am delighted and flattered by the number of people who appreciate the result. It's really very heartening. But at the same time AHN also makes me a significant number of, well, 'enemies' is not too strong a term. Every walk of life has its Salieris, but in the art market there are an awful lot of them. And recently they have been out in force, eager to cut me down to size. I don't mind admitting that I have found it all quite distressing. 

So I'm afraid I need to reassess whether I can continue to do AHN justice. And this requires a time out. I hope you'll understand that I must put my family first. Probably in a day or two I'll delete this post and carry on with renewed vigour. But until then, adieu.

Update: The Deputy Editor says thank you very much for all your emails.

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.