Previous Posts: July 2020

Michael Jaffé Paintings at Christie's

July 23 2020

Image of Michael Jaffé Paintings at Christie's

Picture: Christie's

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Christie's will be auctioning off several paintings that belonged to the late Michael Jaffé (1923-1997) later this month. Jaffé was one of the great scholars on the Flemish School. His published works on artists such as Rubens and Van Dyck are widely used by art historians to this day.

Two panels which are of interest are the above, which are catalogued as 'Circle of Van Dyck' (LEFT) and 'Circle of Rubens' (RIGHT) respectively. You'll be able to see from the catalogue notes that the attribution of these two sketches has changed a lot over the years. In regards to the 'Rubens' panel, it seems that Jaffé had actually published the picture as a Rubens in full in 1989. The 'Van Dyck' sketch was exhibited at Agnew's in 1968 and given to the artist in full. It seems that scholarship has since downgraded both of these works.

Obviously, we cannot expect scholars to be infallible with their judgements. Attributions have the ability to change over time and it is sometimes difficult to be entirely objective about a picture that you're attached to. It would be interesting to read exactly what he thought about the quality of the paintings. I'm sure a description is given in his 1989 publication (which I don't have access to at the moment).

Another of his paintings in the sale is this very fine Guercino of Saint Alexius, which carries an estimate of £50k - £80k.

Vermeer Milkmaid Examined

July 22 2020

Image of Vermeer Milkmaid Examined

Picture: @Rijksmuseum

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam shared the above photograph on their Twitter account yesterday. It shows Vermeer's Milkmaid undergoing an examination by the museum's 'Macro XRPD Scanner'. This will allow the conservation and science department to understand more about which materials and techniques went into making this work of art.

Famously, Vermeer is known to have used costly lapis lazuli in his shadows, which has become one of the unique markers of his method. This proved crucial in supporting the attribution to Vermeer which sold at Sotheby's in 2004.

Let's hope the museum will make a nice video explaining the results of this study.

Rohatyn Canaletto Preview

July 22 2020

Image of Rohatyn Canaletto Preview

Picture: Sotheby's

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

This very fine Canaletto of the Rialto Bridge in Venice is currently on view at Sotheby's in London until 28th July. The painting will be offered up for sale in New York later this autumn alongside many other works from the collection of Ambassador and Mrs Felix Rohatyn. The artwork will carry an estimate of $3m - $5m.

Other artists represented in the sale include Bernardo Bellotto, Francois Boucher, Jean Antoine Watteau, Marco Ricci, Jean-Baptiste Greuze and many others.

Sleeper Alert!

July 22 2020

Image of Sleeper Alert!

Picture: Sworders

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

News on Twitter (via. @Mcewangallery) that two drawings of soldiers 'Attributed to Jacob de Gheyn the Younger' just realised £125,000 over an estimate of £200 - £300 at Sworders in Essex.

Update - It's been pointed out on Twitter (via. @RembrandtsRoom) that the works on paper are preparatory drawings for etchings in a weapons instruction manual produced by De Gheyn for Prince Maurits in 1607.

Despite their significance, this is still a princely sum!

The Courtauld are Hiring!

July 22 2020

Image of The Courtauld are Hiring!

Picture: The Courtauld Institute of Art

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Courtauld Institute of Art in London are hiring a Lecturer in Conservation of Easel Paintings. The post will focus on teaching postgraduate students. This part-time role carries a salary of £30,734 per annum.

The closing date for applications in 19th August 2020. Good luck if you're applying!

El Greco Loan from In-Laws Causes Controversy

July 21 2020

Image of El Greco Loan from In-Laws Causes Controversy

Picture: The New York Times

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The New York Times have reported on complaints from a whistleblower regarding the loan of a painting of St Francis by El Greco by the Detriot Institute of Arts. The complaint revolves around the fact that the painting was loaned from the father-in-law of the Institute's Director Salvador Salort-Pons. 

The article puts forward the case levelled at the Institute's director:

“A museum official (or close relative) who loans an object to the museum for display then sells it after exhibition would likely earn an enhanced price for the object,” said Greg Stevens, director of the Institute of Museum Ethics at Seton Hall University. “And it would also cause the appearance of impropriety to arise — namely, that the museum used its prestige, resources, and reach to enrich the official.”

Salort-Pons asserts that his family connections to the loan were fully disclosed and that the loan was approved by the institute's chairman. The institute's own guidelines explain that family loans are possible and that "care should be used to achieve objectivity in such cases." The Institute has employed a Washington Law firm to review their loan procedures and policies to ensure they had been followed.

Sleeper Alert!

July 21 2020

Image of Sleeper Alert!

Picture: Antiquesandthearts.com

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The sale of a reverse glass painting in the USA last week has attracted some interest online. The intriguing colonial era painting, described as being by Mather Brown, was sold for $84,000 to an online bidder over an estimate of $6,000 - $8,000. The work bears an inscription explaining that it represents the Delivery of the Definitive Treaty by the Hostage Princes into the hands of Lord Cornwallis.

Update - A surviving fragment of Mather Brown's original painting survives in the Bowes Musuem.

 

French Appeal to Acquire Louis XIV Bronze

July 21 2020

Image of French Appeal to Acquire Louis XIV Bronze

Picture: La Tribune de l'Art

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Le Musée des Beaux-Arts in Rennes are making an appeal for corporate sponsorship to acquire the above bronze of Louis XIV. The work is a reduced model of a statue by Antoine Coysevox (1640-1720) which sat outside the Parliament building in Rennes before the Revolution. The museum began the appeal last autumn to raise the €2,370,000 required to purchase the work from a private collection in Britain (which one, I wonder?). Sponsors are offered a 90% tax rebate on the work by the French State, so it seems.

York Art Gallery Exhibition by Vote

July 21 2020

Image of York Art Gallery Exhibition by Vote

Picture: York Art Gallery

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The York Art Gallery is reopening to the public on Saturday 1st August. In celebration of this occasion they are running a public vote for their new exhibition entitled Your Art Gallery which opens on 20th August.

The public are being asked to vote on 20 artworks selected from their collection and are given the opportunity to write labels for their favourite pieces. There are only 2 / 3 Old Master Paintings to choose from, which is a bit disappointing for us.

Voting ends on 29th July 2020.

Titian in Basel

July 21 2020

Image of Titian in Basel

Picture: Kunstmuseum Basel

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Here's a story that AHN seems to have missed last September. Xavier F Salomon, Deputy Director of the Frick Collection, penned a interesting article regarding his involvement in the rediscovery of Titian's 1527 portrait of the poet Pietro Aretino (pictured). The attribution of this painting had been the subject of much conjecture during the twentieth century.

Last June Salomon had gone to the Kunstmuseum in Basel to inspect the painting alongside recently commissioned x-ray images. Detailed examination revealed that painting suffered from poor restoration in the past including having been cut down. It is the opinion of Salomon that this fragment may well have been the original painting that Titian had sent to Federico Gonzaga in the 1520s.

Here is a link to the museum's website where high-resolution images can be viewed online.

Hever Castle Stolen Miniatures

July 20 2020

Image of Hever Castle Stolen Miniatures

Picture: Hever Castle

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Dr Owen Emmerson, resident historian of Hever Castle in Kent, has renewed a public appeal on Twitter to find three portrait miniatures stolen from the castle in 2003. The three miniatures in question are of Thomas Cromwell, Mary Queen of Scots and Anne of Austria (pictured). They were stolen after thieves forced open a glass display cabinet.

Nantes Cathedral Fire

July 20 2020

Image of Nantes Cathedral Fire

Picture: La Tribune de l'Art

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

France awoke to the tragic news on Saturday morning that Nantes Cathedral was on fire. Despite the shocking photos and videos of the destruction it seems that the damage wasn't as devastating in comparison to the 2019 fire at Notre Dame in Paris.

One of the casualties of the Nantes fire was Hippolyte Flandrin's 1836 painting of St Clair Healing the Blind (pictured). Flandrin, one of Ingres's most celebrated pupils, completed the work whilst in Rome. A copy of the picture by Hippolyte's brother Paul survives in the Louvre. The fire narrowly missed a marvellous and important tomb of François II and Marguerite de Foix. The cathedral's organ, the core of which dated to the early seventeenth century with later additions made in 1784, has perished in the flames. Investigations are ongoing in the causes of the fire, but it seems that malfunctioning electrical equipment might be to blame.

Here's a full write up of the damage in La Tribune de l'Art.

Sleeper Alert!

July 20 2020

Image of Sleeper Alert!

Picture: Vassy-Jalenques

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

News on Twitter (via. @auctionradar) that the above portrait of Portrait d'un jeune artiste dessinant devant le buste de Winckelmann 'attributed to Domenico Dupra' made 40,000 over an estimate of 6,000 last week. I wouldn't be surprised if the portrait reappears somewhere with a firm identification and attribution.

Where is Holbein Buried?

July 20 2020

Image of Where is Holbein Buried?

Picture: The Guardian

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Guardian's art critic Jonathan Jones published a piece over the weekend regarding his search for Holbein's bones. As readers will know, Holbein is said to have died of the plague in 1543. He was working for the court of Henry VIII at the time and lived in London. His body is said to have been laid to rest in common burial pits, the exact same fate of Mozart's earthly remains hundreds of years later.

Bulletin of Royal Museums Belgium Online

July 17 2020

Image of Bulletin of Royal Museums Belgium Online

Picture: Bulletin of the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Good news that past editions of the Bulletin of the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium have been published online and are free to access. Editions available run from 1928-1929, 1938-1943/44, 1952-1994/95, 2010. This publication represents a wealth of scholarship relating to Flemish Art as well as many other subjects.

Belarus Authorities Seize Bank's Art Collection

July 17 2020

Image of Belarus Authorities Seize Bank's Art Collection

Picture: BelarusFeed

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

My attention has been drawn to a story that unfolded in Belarus last month and went unnoticed by most of the art press here. In June the authorities of Belarus seized $20 million worth of art collected by the Belgazprom Bank. It is claimed that this action was due to alleged criminal activities undertaken by the organisation. Among the 150 works seized are paintings by Marc Chagall, Chaim Soutine (pictured) and Ossip Zadkine. The majority had been on loan to Galereya Art Belarus in Minsk.

The seizure has also led to many amusing photoshop edits on social media featuring Soutine's Eva by artists and cultural directors in the country.

Museums Revenue Drop Bigger Than Reported

July 17 2020

Image of Museums Revenue Drop Bigger Than Reported

Picture: The Art Newspaper

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Martin Bailey for the Art Newspaper reported yesterday that the Creative Industries Federation have admitted to underestimating the drop in revenue faced by museums in the UK. They had initially reported that museums faced a 9% drop in revenue (down c.£743m) for 2020. However, their recently revised figures show a drop of around 45% (down c.£3,887m). This is compared with figures from 2019 where the total revenue of museums, galleries and libraries was £8,559m. The job losses in the sector was also revised from 4,000 to 7,000.

This all makes for very grim reading. One hopes that the large London museums will be able to weather the storm. The situation for the regional museums looks more precarious. The Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery's public appeal has raised just shy of £20,000 thus far, which is encouraging.

Prussian Museums Shake-Up

July 16 2020

Image of Prussian Museums Shake-Up

Picture: InExhibit

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Press reports are suggesting that the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation is due to be broken up. This comes after criticisms from its own leaders that the organisation is too large and tied up in bureaucracy. The foundation includes 27 organisations includes Berlin's Altes Museum, Neues Musuem, Gemäldegalerie and State Libraries. It seems that proposals include keeping the major art museums together in a separate foundation.

As the above article explains:

A government-commissioned report by a panel of academic advisors published on 13 July found that the foundation, with 2,000 employees, is “structurally overwhelmed” with “a multi-layered hierarchy and unclear decision-making procedures that mask responsibilities and make processes drawn-out and opaque.”

The report in the Art Newspaper also explains that Berlin's State museums brought in a mere 4 million visitors in 2019, which is far less than the numbers visiting comparative institutions in London, Paris and New York.

Astronomers Time & Date Vermeer's Delft

July 16 2020

Image of Astronomers Time & Date Vermeer's Delft

Picture: IFLScience

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Astronomers from Texas State University are claiming to have solved one of "the burning questions in the arts scene". Professor Donald Olson and his team have been studying the light and shadows in Vermeer's View of Delft in the Mauritshuis to try and work out exactly when it was painted. Art historians have failed to agree on these questions.

As the article explains:

"The students and I worked for about a year on this project,” Olson said in a statement. “We spent a lot of time studying the topography of the town, using maps from the 17th and 19th centuries and Google Earth.”

Central to the evidence was the light and shadow falling on the tower of Delft's Nieuwe Kerk. This narrowed down the time frame to two frames of time in either April or September.

But as they finally concluded:

As with all good detective stories, there was one last obscure piece to this puzzle – the leafy trees. In Delft’s northern climate, the trees lay bare until the end of April, ruling out the spring date. Ultimately this closed the case – Vermeer’s View of Delft was likely inspired by the scene observed on or near September 3, 1659 (or an earlier year) at 8am local mean time.

This is all interesting stuff. But, should and can paintings be interpreted as photographs are?

Spanish Tax Authority to Auction off Murillo

July 16 2020

Image of Spanish Tax Authority to Auction off Murillo

Picture: Arsmagazine

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Spanish Tax authorities will be auctioning off an Ecce Homo by Murillo from 20 July 2020. It seems that this is the procedure taken by authorities there when art is accepted in lieu of tax.

The painting, which relates to another composition in the collection of the Dukes of Villahermosa, has a starting price of €900,000. ARS Magazine also claim that the work has been authenticated by Murillo scholar Enrique Valdivieso.

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