Previous Posts: July 2011

New Correggio discovery

July 4 2011


A Vatican painting previously thought to be a copy after Correggio has been cleaned. Now, it is believed to be by him.

The 'most seductive image in British Art'?

July 4 2011

Image of The 'most seductive image in British Art'?

Picture: Sotheby's

It's a good line to spin, but I'm not sure I find Lely's portrait of Nell Gwyn (on sale this week at Sotheby's) that seductive. I don't think Lely could really do seductive...

'Fake or Fortune?' - The final verdict

July 3 2011

Image of 'Fake or Fortune?' - The final verdict

Above is my favourite Tweet in response to last night's programme.

Mizzoryguts, if you're still chuckling, think of my Dad: he's been laughing his nuts off for 33 years...

Connoisseurship in Crisis?

July 3 2011

Image of Connoisseurship in Crisis?

Picture: Courtauld Institute

The picture above, The Procuress after Dirck van Baburen (see the original here), belongs to the Courtauld Institute in London. It was donated to them in 1960 as a work by the notorious forger Hans van Meegeren. However, two years ago, the Courtauld's investigations revealed that it was in fact not a fake, but a 17thC copy. It was even suggested that the picture belonged to Vermeer, for the same subject appears in the background of two of his paintings.

The Courtauld's findings were first published in the Art Newspaper in September 2009:

A “fake” in the Courtauld Gallery, believed to be by the master forger Han van Meegeren (1889-1947), is a genuine Dutch Golden Age painting, new research has revealed. It is a version of The Procuress, a 1622 brothel scene by Dirck van Baburen, which is also depicted in the background of two works by Vermeer. It is now believed that the Courtauld’s painting may, in fact, be the work that Vermeer once had.

None of this sounded quite right to me, so we decided to investigate further for a possible episode of 'Fake or Fortune?'. The Courtauld kindly allowed us to see the picture in their conservation studio. It not only looked to me straight away like a fake, but a fake by van Meegeren. His style is distinctive, particularly in the way he constructs faces. 

The picture has now been conclusively proved to be by van Meegeren on 'Fake or Fortune?'. There is no doubting van Meegeren was a rogue and a wrong'un, but I feel rather drawn to him. I like to imagine him laughing with incredulity at the sight of leading art historians declaring his paintings to be originals, decades after his death. The intriguing thing is that although van Meegeren conceded he had owned The Procuress, he denied repeatedly that he painted it, claiming his wife bought it in an antique shop. The question is, therefore, how many more of his fakes are still out there?

Lucky Dave...

July 2 2011

Image of Lucky Dave...

Picture: Daily Mail/Getty

David Cameron has been given a portrait of himself with Samantha and their new baby, Florence, by Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari. It is taken from a press photograph.

As the Daily Mail says, one for the downstairs loo...

Agustus John's house...

July 2 2011

Image of Agustus John's house...

Picture: Bournemouth Echo

...has been badly damaged by fire. John lived there from 1927 until his death in 1961.


July 1 2011

Image of Sauce

Picture: Philip Mould Ltd

Behold – a newly discovered portrait of Nell Gwyn, Charles II’s most famous mistress. 

You might think that portraits of Nell abound, but in fact she’s a rare sitter. The vast majority of ‘Nell Gwyns’ you see are usually someone’s dull great-granny spiced up with a false label. 

This picture has not previously been known. It is the most sexually suggestive portrait of her, indeed probably of any English late 17th Century court figure. The likeness is taken from Samuel Cooper’s now lost miniature, which is recorded in a number of engravings (see an example at the NPG). Here, Nell is shown washing sausages, an act which would immediately have been known to a contemporary viewer as rather naughty (the allusion goes back to Brueghel). To add to the satirical raunchiness of the image, Nell is shown in virginal white. The portrait is the Stuart equivalent of a saucy postcard. It has, until now, been in the collection of her descendants.

'I would have liked to have been Poussin...'

July 1 2011

Image of 'I would have liked to have been Poussin...'

Picture: Dulwich Picture Gallery

So says Cy Twombly, the subject of a new exhibition at the Dulwich Picture Gallery, 'Twombly and Poussin: Arcadian Painters' (until 25th Sept). The show has good reviews so far: The Guardian gives it 4/5. See a selection of exhibits here.

Luke Syson, off to the Met

July 1 2011

The National Gallery's current curator of Italian Paintings pre-1500, Luke Syson, has been appointed Curator of the Department of Sculpture and Decorative Arts at the Metropolitan Museum, New York.

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