Previous Posts: February 2019

Sotheby's 'Anatomy of an Artwork'

February 5 2019

Video: Sotheby's

I like this series of videos by Sotheby's on some of the world's most famous Old Masters. They're simply made, but informative and accessible. It's also good to see the art market doing its bit to build new audiences for Old Masters. 

'The year of Rembrandt'

February 5 2019

Image of 'The year of Rembrandt'


It's the 350th anniversary of Rembrandt's death. As a year of shows and events begins in Holland, Simon Schama writes about the artist's impact on him;

Yet another commemoration and yet another mega-show at the Rijksmuseum. Is it possible to have too much Rembrandt? Can you have too much love, wisdom, fine weather? No, you can’t.

His was the first art that properly caught my eye; or rather his eyes caught mine and wouldn’t let go. Those eyes, one lit, the other in shadow, belonged to the late self-portrait at Kenwood House. I was, I think, just nine years old, but even then I registered the transfer of the artist’s intense observation of himself as somehow a scrutiny of my own attentiveness. It was a gaze a small boy dared not break.

For more on the year's Rembrandt-ian events in Holland, see here. I love the way the Dutch make art central stage in their national narrative. In Britain we're too afraid of 'art' to do such a thing. Although in this year of Brexit, perhaps we should adopt that old curmudgeon Hogarth as our national figure.

Codart 22

February 5 2019

Image of Codart 22

Picture: Codart

I'm honoured to be chairing the annual Codart conference this year, in Berlin, 2nd - 4th June. Among the places we'll be visiting are the Gemaldegalerie. The theme is; 'What it means to be a curator'. The full programme is here. I hope to see some of you there!

TAN podcast; 'female Old Masters'

February 5 2019

Sound: TAN

Here's another good Art Newspaper podcast, this time on female Old Masters (can we come up with a better term? Surely), and how the art market tried to pretend their paintings were by men. 

White glove shot (ctd.)

February 5 2019

Image of White glove shot (ctd.)

Picture: Sky News

The Banksy that did the thing with the thing has gone on display on Germany. More here, if you can bear it. 

'Diary of an Art Historian' (ctd.)

February 4 2019

Image of 'Diary of an Art Historian' (ctd.)

Picture: Christie's

Here's my latest 'Diary' piece from The Art Newspaper, and also here's one from last month, when the blog was on airplane mode. 

Is this a fake??

February 4 2019

Image of Is this a fake??

Picture: National Gallery

Almost certainly not, but The Guardian had a big splash on the suggestion it is by the art historian Christopher Wright. He produces not much evidence, save the haircut of the sitter, which is apparently from the 1960s. Judge for yourself on the high-res image here. Wright is best known for seeing fakes in many places, especially works claiming to be by Georges De La Tour (for example this picture in The Met). 

Update - a sharp-eyed reader makes this point:

I am puzzled by the wooden shutter with its studded nails that, totally by coincidence, form the monogram EH. 


Battle for the Battle of Anghiari

February 1 2019

Image of Battle for the Battle of Anghiari

Picture: Sotheby's

There was a fierce bidding battle for a drawing copy of Leonardo's Battle of Anghiari at Sotheby's drawing sale in New York. It made $795k against an estimate of $25k-$35k. The drawing had once been thought to be by Rubens, and had belonged to Sir Thomas Lawrence before entering the Dutch royal collection. But a long line of current Rubens scholars have said it's certainly not by Rubens. Does the market think it knows something else? Or was it just a combination of Leonardo's lure, some royal provenance, and a dash of speculation? See a high res of the drawing here

An undoubted Rubens drawing from the same Dutch royal collection made $8.2m at Sotheby's, a new record. 

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