Previous Posts: October 2019

'Britain's Lost Masterpieces' (ctd.)

October 30 2019

Video: BBC

Hello everyone. I'm very sorry the blog has gone into abeyance. The new series of Britain's Lost Masterpieces starts tonight on BBC4 at 9pm. Above is a trailer. There are three episodes, the first looking at a potential Batoni. We've found that more than three is quite difficult - these aren't like making usual programmes, as the conservation and research can take months, and can also be quite unpredictable. But this week we've started filming for the fifth series, which all being well will be shown about this time next year. I hope you enjoy them!

My regular Diary column in The Art Newspaper should keep you up to date with most things I'm doing. Or at least, most things I want to have a rant about. I've recently written about the National Gallery's treatment of its lecturers, the National Portrait Gallery's ill-advised Michael Jackson show, the fact that Scotland doesn't do very well out of 'the nation's' art collection, and of course the Salvator Mundi

You'll know that the latest on that picture is that it hasn't appeared in the Louvre's Leonardo exhibition. What a shame. First, it seems the Louvre really did want to borrow, contrary to all manner of false early reports. They even left a space for it on the walls, and it was shown in various exhibition plans. It seems negotiations with the owners went down to the wire. So we can deduce that the Louvre wanted the picture, and the owners were willing to lend it, but something happened. And of course we must suspect that this likely comes down to attribution. Did the Louvre refuse to commit to displaying it as 'a Leonardo' or did they reserve the right to call it 'Leonardo & Workshop'? The catalogue as published is unclear, and refers cryptically to the picture's attribution. Probably, politics got in the way. The new book on the painting by Robert Simon, Martin Kemp and Margaret Dalivalle is out, and available here

Other developing stories that have been featured on AHN include the Old Master fakes scandal, involving paintings said to be by Frans Hals and Parmigianino. The English High Court case between Sotheby's, the dealer Mark Weiss and the collector David Kowitz has ended, but there's been no judgement yet. It was suggested the judgement would have been given in the Summer. In Italy, an arrest has been made - of the artist Lino Frongia. A warrant has also been issued for the arrest of the collector Giulano Ruffini. Vincent Noce in The Art Newspaper has the most detail, here. Longstanding readers of AHN might remember Lino Frongia's name appearing on the blog, back in 2016.

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