Previous Posts: December 2020

New Joslyn Art Museum Book

December 30 2020

Image of New Joslyn Art Museum Book

Picture: Joslyn Art Museum

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha, Nebraska, has published a new book on their collection of European Art. The collection features a rather impressive collection of paintings, including works by Rembrandt, Veronese, Titian, El Greco and Claude. This new publication was edited by the museum's curator Dr Taylor J Acosta and features contributions from other scholars and experts.

In anticipation of this post, Bendor and I exchanged a few thoughts about this rather nice portrait currently catalogued as 'Unknown Artist (Flemish, 17th century)'. Bendor had cautiously suggested Erasmus Quellinus, who had worked alongside Rubens and knew his manner intimately. The portrait had formerly appeared as a Van Dyck in Eric Larsen's very flawed 1988 catalogue raisonné of the artist. It definitely looks as if some name might be given to it! Here's the painting's entry on the RKD.

For those who haven't heard of the collection, the museum's website features a rather comprehensive list of their European paintings highlights online.

Cleaning Rubens at the National Gallery

December 30 2020

Video: The National Gallery

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The National Gallery in London posted this very informative video last week regarding the conservation of Rubens's Het Steen. Head of Conservation Larry Keith talks us through the various processes behind cleaning and conserving this enormous landscape, which coincidentally Rubens had painted for himself.

Goya Portrait Conserved

December 29 2020

Video: Prado

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz;

The Prado in Madrid have posted a rather nice video to celebrate the recent conservation of Goya's portrait of The Countess of Chinchón. The work had not undergone any treatment since entering the museum's collection from the Countess's descendants in 2000.

Sotheby's NY Evening Sale

December 29 2020

Image of Sotheby's NY Evening Sale

Picture: Sotheby's

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Sotheby's have uploaded their upcoming NY Old Master Paintings Evening Sale online. The sale will take place on 28th January 2021.

Alongside the aforementioned $80m Botticelli Portrait and $20m-30m Rembrandt are some other rather fine pictures that are worth pointing out. Firstly, a rare Descent from the cross by Hugo van der Goes carrying an estimate of $3m - $5m; an Ecce Homo by Guido Reni carrying an estimate of £1.2 - £1.8m; a marvellous still life by Willem Claesz Heda carrying an estimate of $2.5m - $3.5m; a beautifully preserved still life by Rachel Ruysch estimated at $1m - $1.5m; and two fine Wright of Derby works including a double portrait of Mr and Mrs Chase estimated at $300k - $500k and a Cottage on Fire estimated at $100k - $150k.

Also included is this rather interesting upgraded portrait of the Earl of Strafford by Sir Anthony Van Dyck estimated at $700k - $1m. It had sold at Christie's in 2012 for £15,000 (inc. commission) where it was catalogued as by a 'Follower of Van Dyck'. They have supplied some interesting infra-red images which shows the pentimenti in the positioning of the figure.


One imagines that this sale will really draw a great deal of attention. How high will the Botticelli go for, and will the uncertainty of the current global events have any effect on prices? We'll wait and see.

Guido Reni Country Dance Back in Rome

December 29 2020

Image of Guido Reni Country Dance Back in Rome

Picture: Galleria Borghese

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Galleria Borghese in Rome has acquired the above Country Dance attributed to the Bolognese Baroque painter Guido Reni.

The work had been in the collection of  Cardinal Scipione Borghese before it was sold in 1892. It appeared for sale at Bonhams in 2008 which lead to an investigation as to the painting's provenance and attribution. Having been accepted by Reni scholars and identified in an 1693 inventory, the painting was offered at this year's TEFAF by Galleria Fondantico from whom it was acquired by the gallery.

This rare landscape by Reni will be on display when the museum reopens after lockdown.

Christmas Greetings

December 23 2020

Video: Adam Busiakiewicz (w/ images from The National Gallery, London; Sotheby's; Christie's).

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

In case no big stories over next few days, I want to wish all readers of AHN a very Merry Christmas. I do hope you and your families are keeping safe and well during these strange times, wherever you may be.

To celebrate this yuletide season, my brother, sister-in-law and myself (on lute) decided to present this rather lovely medieval Christmas song entitled 'There is no rose'. This fifteenth century setting is found in a manuscript in Trinity College Cambridge. Do pat yourself on the back if you can identify all the paintings within!

Update - and a very happy Christmas to you all from me, Bendor; rather absent these last few months, but Adam has been doing a fantastic job keeping us all informed of what's been going on in our world. I am most grateful to him! What an extraordinary year it has been - here's hoping 2021 is a little calmer. 

US Congress Approves $15bn for Arts Venues

December 23 2020

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The US Congress has approved a $15bn stimulus package for arts venues a few days ago. This is part of a wider $900bn stimulus package which will benefit the entire nation's economy.

It seems that museums and art galleries will be also be eligible for this support. Earlier this year many US regional museums and galleries had explained that many might face closure if support was not forthcoming in the face of lockdowns. Organisations will have to show that they have lost at least 25% of their income to qualify. Those who have lost 90% of income are said to be first in line.

Queen Pulls Plug on 'Surveyor of Pictures' Position

December 23 2020

Image of Queen Pulls Plug on 'Surveyor of Pictures' Position

Picture: The Times

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Times have reported on rather shocking news that the Royal Collection Trust is abolishing the post of 'Surveyor of the Queen's Pictures'. This cull is part of a 'wider restructuring plan' and has meant that the current holder Desmond Shawe-Taylor has been made redundant. The position of Surveyor of the Queen's Works of Art, currently held by Rufus Bird, has also been axed.

This integral position for one of the world's greatest collections of art has existed since 1625. More recent holders of the role include the likes of Anthony Blunt and Kenneth Clark (pictured above).

The Royal Collection have been quoted:

The posts of surveyor of the Queen’s pictures and surveyor of the Queen’s works of art will, for the time being, be lost and held in abeyance. The director of the Royal Collection, Tim Knox, will assume overall responsibility for the curatorial sections, supported by the deputy surveyors of pictures and works of art.

The article suggests that the loss of revenue to the virus crisis is to blame. It is expected that the Royal Collection Trust will have a £64m drop in incoming between 2020-21.

Sleepy Sleeper Alert!

December 22 2020

Image of Sleepy Sleeper Alert!

Picture: Wannenes

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Here's a drawing that swept through social media yesterday (via. @auctionradar / @jansixxi and others). The drawing on parchment catalogued as 'Follower of Cornelis Visscher' made €160,000 (hammer) over its €800 - €1,200 estimate at the auction house Wannenes in Italy.

The Royal Academy is Hiring!

December 22 2020

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Royal Academy in London is hiring a Curator of Paintings & Sculpture (RA Collections).

According to their job description:

The Curator of Paintings and Sculpture has overall responsibility for all paintings, sculptures, including medals, dies, cameos, and intaglio gems, plaster casts (including pastes of gems), historic skeletons relating to teaching in the Schools, objects of memorabilia, including artists’ tools and materials, historic silver and silverplate, historic items of furniture, picture frames and certain fittings and fixtures within Burlington House. The objects under the care of this Curator which are not on display are stored at both the Royal Academy and an offsite store.

The position carries a salary of £35,000 - £38,000 depending on experience. Applications must be in by 21st January 2021.

Good luck if you're applying!


Let's hope the position doesn't include the brief of working out how to sell off their Michelangelo tondo...

NPG Acquires Gainsborough Portrait

December 21 2020

Image of NPG Acquires Gainsborough Portrait

Picture: NPG

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The National Portrait Gallery in London has announced it has acquired a portrait of Gaetan Apolline Balthazar Vestris by Thomas Gainsborough. Vestris was a famous dancer who came to perform at the King's Theatre in London during 1780-1. Indeed, I've dug this quote by Horace Walpole describing the applause after one of his performances:

the men thundered, the ladies forgetting their delicacy and weakness, clapped with such vehemence, that seventeen broke their arms, sixty-nine sprained their wrists, and three cried bravo! bravissimo! so rashly, that they have not been able to utter so much as no since, any more than both Houses of Parliament.

The picture was acquired through the acceptance in lieu scheme from the collection of the late George Pinto.

Coincidentally, here's an article by the scholar Martin Postle on another portrait of Vestris identified in the Tate's collection back in 2004 (where I lifted the above quote from, I should add).

Botticelli Exhibition at Musée Jacquemart-André for Autumn 2021

December 21 2020

Image of Botticelli Exhibition at Musée Jacquemart-André for Autumn 2021

Picture: Cincinatti Art Museum

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Art Newspaper has published an article on news that the Musée Jacquemart-André in Paris will be putting on a Botticelli exhibition next Autumn. The show will include loans from across the globe including some works from private collections.

It seems that the focus will be on Botticelli as the head of a workshop. The article quotes co-curator Pierre Currie:

"[The Exhibition] will present Botticelli in his role as a creative artist and also as a businessman and master known as a capobottega [workshop head]”. Botticelli will be presented as a "designer, the head of a major studio in Florence producing paintings, of course, but also drawings for embroideries, marquetry, prints and illuminations."

The exhibition is due to run from 10th September 2021 - 24th January 2022.

£65m of Objects Accepted in Lieu of Tax

December 21 2020

Image of £65m of Objects Accepted in Lieu of Tax

Picture: North Hertfordshire Museum

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Antiques Trade Gazette have published an article on the bumper year for art entering public collections as part of the acceptance in lieu scheme. In 2020 £65m worth of objects were accepted settling £40m in tax. This includes works by the likes of William Blake, Marc Chagall, Frank Auerbach and Spencer Gore (pictured).

The Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp is Hiring!

December 21 2020

Image of The Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp is Hiring!

Picture: via.

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp is looking to hire an Artistic Director.

The role will work closely alongside the museum's General Director in developing an artistic approach to exhibitions, research, publications and public relations. You'll need at least a Master's Degree, relevant work experience, and language skills in Flemish, Dutch, English and French. No salary is indicated.

Applications must be in by 17th January 2021. Good luck if you're applying!

New Rules for Saving UK Cultural Treasures

December 21 2020

Image of New Rules for Saving UK Cultural Treasures

Picture: The Guardian

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The UK Government has announced new rules to help save cultural treasures for UK Museums.

Owners of culturally significant objects, which are subject to a temporary export ban, will now be subject to a legally binding clause to accept an offer from an institution who matches the sale price. Surprisingly, this was previously only covered by a 'gentleman's agreement' which meant owners could pull out at the last minute if they so desired.

The aborted bid by the National Gallery to save the above portrait by Pontormo in 2017 is quoted as one of the examples where the previous system had failed.

The National Gallery's director Gabriele Finaldi is quoted as saying:

I welcome the new rules that remove the ambiguities that have led to major works of art being lost to the nation. The clarity will be beneficial to museums and vendors alike.

We'll wait and see what consequences these new rules have for future bids.

Courtauld Gallery Receives £10m for Refurbishment

December 17 2020

Image of Courtauld Gallery Receives £10m for Refurbishment

Picture: The Art Newspaper

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Art Newspaper has reported on news that the Courtauld Institute of Art has received a £10m donation from the Ukrainian magnate Leonard Blavatnik. The donation will go towards the refurbishment of the institute's Great Room in Somerset House which is currently undergoing an extensive refurbishment. This newly decorated space will house Samuel Courtauld's famous collection of Impressionist and Neo-Impressionist masterpieces (the image above is an architect's rendering).

The refurbished galleries should reopen later in 2021.

Read More

National Museum of Wales Acquires Two French Pictures

December 17 2020

Image of National Museum of Wales Acquires Two French Pictures

Picture: National Museum of Wales

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The National Museum of Wales in Cardiff is having a bumper year for acquisitions so it seems. They recently acquired two important nineteenth century French pictures as part of the lieu in tax scheme. The first is the above landscape by Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot of La Route aux Boucherons, Arleux-du-Nord. The second is a Portrait of Monsieur Jules Dejouy by Edouard Manet dating to 1879.

Andrew Renton, Keeper of Art at Amgueddfa Cymru, is quoted as saying:

It’s well known that Amgueddfa Cymru houses one of the world’s great collections of 19th- and early 20th-century French art, thanks to the generous bequests of the sisters Gwendoline and Margaret Davies, so Manet’s portrait of Jules Dejouy will be very much at home here. l’m sure visitors to the Museum will be thrilled to see it, and I’m really looking forward to it hanging on the wall next to other paintings by Manet and his contemporaries.

Murillo Attribution Dispute

December 15 2020

Image of Murillo Attribution Dispute


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz: have reported on a public dispute that is unfolding in Seville, Spain, over the attribution of a painting found in the city's San Vicente Mártir parish Church.

The above Immaculate Conception underwent a large conservation project in 2019 where experts were consulted in regards to who might have painted it. Ignacio Cano, curator of the Museum of Fine Arts in Seville, had claimed that the work was in fact by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo and dating from 1640-45. However, Enrique Valdivieso, Professor of art history at the Hispalense University and Murillo expert, has disagreed.

The article goes on to quote Valdivieso:

“It doesn’t seem to me that this Immaculate Conception belongs to Murillo. It lacks the characteristics that are present in youthful works by Murillo.” He also claimed not to have noticed the “inescapable influence” of Murillo’s early teacher, Juan del Castillo, in the work.

Here is a story from July of this year about another contested work by Murillo.

Sotheby's vs. Christie's

December 15 2020

Image of Sotheby's vs. Christie's


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:, via., have presented an interesting report on the comparison between Sotheby's and Christie's as of this year. According to their graphs it shows that Sotheby's has opened up a large lead against their rivals in 2020. Albeit, this year was quite an unusual one for both companies as the graph also shows.

The article quotes Thierry Ehrmann, President and Founder of, who says:

The global supremacy of Sotheby's and Christie's on the international art market should not make us forget that the two houses only handle 6% of the fine art lots offered at auction. The two houses have however acquired a virtual monopoly on results above $20 million in the West. Their rivalry is historic and has been reflected in the closely correlated development of their respective revenues over the past 30 years.

Dorotheum Sleeper!

December 15 2020

Image of Dorotheum Sleeper!

Picture: Dorotheum

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Imagine the shock of the staff at the Dorotheum auction house in Vienna today, after this painting catalogued as 'Follower of Govaert Flinck' made 320,500 (inc. commission) over its 8k - 12k estimate.

I remember trying to zoom into the faded signature on their website last week and wondering whether it was much better than the work of a follower. I do recommend zooming right into the details of the face and beard, which seem to be rather finely painted to me!

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