Previous Posts: June 2020

'Proof of Life' for Stolen Van Gogh

June 19 2020

Image of 'Proof of Life' for Stolen Van Gogh

Picture: BBC

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

An art detective looking into the fate of a Van Gogh, stolen from the Singer Laren Museum earlier this year, has received the following pictures from individuals purporting to be in possession of the work.

The photograph features a copy of the New York Times, dated 30 May, and a copy of a book on the convicted art thief Octave 'Okkie' Durham.

This is a sign, it is claimed, that the work has not been destroyed as often happens when offloading stolen artworks doesn't prove as easy as hoped. The work is believed to be valued around €6m.

Picasso's Palette

June 19 2020

Image of Picasso's Palette

Picture: Sotheby's

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

A palette used by Pablo Picasso made £56,250 (inc. fees) yesterday at Sotheby's. The reverse of the palette bears the date of 17th June 1961 and had descended with the artist's granddaughter.

Study for Versailles Painting up for Auction

June 19 2020

Image of Study for Versailles Painting up for Auction

Picture: Millon

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

This very fine unpublished head study by François Lemoyne (1688-1737) is coming up for sale at Millon in France on 1st July. It relates Lemoyne's masterpiece The Apotheosis of Hercules (1731-6) which graces the ceiling of the Hercules Room at the Palace of Versailles. There is another related head study by the artist in the British Museum.

The estimate for this work on paper is €40,000 - €60,000, and has been given its own sale by the looks of it. One to keep your eye on!

The Wallace Collection turns 120

June 19 2020

Image of The Wallace Collection turns 120

Picture: The Wallace Collection

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Wallace Collection in London turns 120 next week. To celebrate this anniversary the museum's director Dr Xavier Bray will be giving a free online talk charting how the Collection transformed from one of the most enviable private collections in the world into a public collection.

The talk is on 25th June 2020 at 3.00pm (BST). Attendance is free but registration is required.

History of Dyes and Pigments Webinar

June 18 2020

Image of History of Dyes and Pigments Webinar

Picture: SDC

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Society of Dyers and Colourists (SDC) are running two interesting webinars on the history of dyes and pigments in art from ancient history to the present day.

A History of Dyes: from Ancient Egypt to modern times will take place on Tuesday 23rd June and A History of Pigments: from cave paintings to the present day will take place on Tuesday 30th June. Both webinars will take place at 2.00pm (UK time). Both are led by the pigment scholar Dr Christine Holdstock, formerly of the University of Leeds.

The webinars cost £5 to attend for non-members of the SDC.

Rijksmuseum Reidentify Isabella

June 18 2020

Image of Rijksmuseum Reidentify Isabella

Picture: Rijksmuseum

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Rijksmuseum have shared some new research into a portrait by the Dutch Neo-Impressionist Simon Maris (1873-1935) in their collection. For many years the portrait, dated to 1906, was labelled by the museum as 'Young Woman with a Fan'. However, a photograph has been found in the painter's archive which records the young girl's name as Isabella. The museum are still trying to find more details about the family name and life of this young sitter.

Sleeper Alert!

June 18 2020

Image of Sleeper Alert!

Picture: Aguttes

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

News on Twitter (via @AuctionRadar) that this portrait catalogued as 'Workshop of Rembrandt' just made €350,000 over an estimate of €12,000 - €15,000 at the auction house Aguttes in France.

Fourteenth Century Sculpture Found in River

June 18 2020

Image of Fourteenth Century Sculpture Found in River

Picture: Artnetnews

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

A sculpture of the Virgin Mary has been pulled out a river on the outskirts of Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Some experts believe the sculpture to date to the fourteenth century.

The fisherman who found the sculpture gave the following interview:

“I noticed the stone was square—which is odd in a river,” the fisherman, Fernando Brey, told local newspaper La Voz de Galicia. “And then I looked at its lines, at the cape and at the shape of the head. And I said to myself: ‘There’s something here.’”

Curiously, lots of medieval swords end up being discovered in river beds either due to ferry accidents or ritualistic offerings. Mud and silt help preserve them in relatively good condition.

Historic Royal Palaces Need Help

June 17 2020

Image of Historic Royal Palaces Need Help

Picture: @HRP_Palaces

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Historic Royal Palaces (HRP), the independent charity who look after six historic properties on behalf of the Crown, have made a rather unprecedented public appeal for help.

Their recent posts on Twitter explain that the lockdown has left them with a £95m shortfall. They are encouraging public support in the form of buying membership and making purchases from their online shop. Several of the grounds and gardens of their properties will soon be reopened for members of the public to enjoy once more.

There have been some interesting questions raised online as to who exactly should dip into their pockets to help bail them out. To give a bit of background, the HRP was established by the British government in 1989 in order to care for five royal palaces. As an independent charity (as of 1998) it receives no state money with all funds being raised by visitors. The charity have a statutory obligation to care for the properties, which are in fact still owned by the Queen 'in Right of Crown'. 

The model has worked very well up until now and been entirely self-sufficient. Yet, it seems possible that the current lockdown crisis is the first true test the organisation has had to undergo.

Hampton Court, for example, is very clearly run as an entirely independent venture. Although, all of the properties rely on vast loans of objects and artworks from the Royal Collection Trust. The charity's independence this is not so straight forward with all properties such as the Tower of London, which has a Governor and Chaplain* directly appointed by the Queen.

* - Hampton Court also has a Chaplain appointed by the monarch.

Masterpiece Online

June 17 2020

Image of Masterpiece Online

Picture: Masterpiece Online

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Masterpiece 2020, London's luxury art fair that takes place each year in the grounds of The Royal Hospital, Chelsea, was cancelled earlier this year due to the COVID crisis.

Despite this, the fair has rebranded itself as Masterpiece Online. Its website will be hosting a wide variety of online panel discussions, virtual tours and the facilitation of private views over the period 22 - 28 June. The programme of panel discussions is very impressive, and well worth looking through.

BA to Sell Off Art Collection

June 17 2020

Image of BA to Sell Off Art Collection

Picture: Artwise Curators

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

My attention has been drawn to the news that British Airways have announced plans to sell off the company's art collection. The collection includes art by Damien Hirst, Bridget Riley and Peter Doig. Ten works have been identified for sale, in order to raise a seven figure sum, presumably intended to help plug the gap in the airline's finances due to the COVID crisis.

The picture above shows a silk tapestry by Gary Hume (1998) which hangs in BA's Lounge at Heathrow Airport. I can hardly imagine a less inspiring place.

I'm sure a fine old master painting or two would enhance their lounges!

Looted Painting Returns to Warsaw

June 17 2020

Image of Looted Painting Returns to Warsaw


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

A looted painting has returned to the National Museum in Warsaw. Jacek Malczewski's The Piano Lesson (1877) disappeared from the museum after the 1944 Warsaw Uprising.

The picture was spotted when it was offered for sale at Roseberry's London last November, where it was spotted by experts and withdrawn. Furthermore, the back of the painting still bears the mark 'MN', the marking made when it was in the museum's collection before the outbreak of the war.

Women in Art Symposium

June 16 2020

Image of Women in Art Symposium

Picture: The Heong Gallery

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Heong Gallery, connected to Downing College, Cambridge, are running a rather fascinating and entirely free online symposium on WE ARE HERE: Women in Art. Spread over 22 - 26 June 2020 the schedule of lectures focuses on, but is not limited to, subjects relating to the Women in Art at Cambridge Colleges from the past to the present day. The impressive full programme is listed through the link above.

This promotional YouTube video explains a bit more behind the history of Downing College's portrait of Lady Margaret Downing by Thomas Gainsborough (pictured), and why students made it the subject of food throwing when it used to hang in the college's hall.

The venture is supported by the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art.

The online symposium is free to attend but registration is required via Eventbrite.

London Art Week goes Digital

June 16 2020

Image of London Art Week goes Digital

Picture: LAW

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

London Art Week 2020 has announced that it is launching a new digital platform called LAW DIGITAL. The event, which includes many of London's leading dealers and galleries, will run from 3 - 10 July and be online-only.

Several dealers and galleries reopened their doors yesterday as part of the UK's exit from lockdown, with many offering appointment only visits. One imagines that pre-arranged visits and viewings will be possible during these July dates.

In addition, they have organised a rather interesting live panel discussion tomorrow on the subject of our fascination for portraiture. Face to Face will include contributions from An Van Camp (Ashmolean Museum), Andreas Pampoulides (Lullo Pampoulides), Olivia Ghosh (Christie's) and Matthew Reeves (Sam Fogg). The event will be broadcast on Wednesday 17 June 2020 at 17.00pm (BST). The online discussion is free to join but registration is required.

Prado Extension Given Green Light

June 16 2020

Image of Prado Extension Given Green Light

Picture: El Pais

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

There is news emerging from Spain that the long awaited extension to the Prado Museum has been given the green light by authorities. The expansion will add 2,500 square metres of space and cost in the region of €42m. Tied in with the plans is an additional extension to the Museo Sorolla. The winning architect overseeing the project is the British firm Foster + Partners.

It seems that contemporary architects enjoy taking old beautiful museum buildings and placing metal bricks on top of them. Click here for other examples with the AGO in Toronto and the new Western Australia Museum in Perth. Do I spot a trend?

Barber Institute Tuesday Talks

June 16 2020

Image of Barber Institute Tuesday Talks

Picture: The Barber Institute, Birmingham

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Barber Institute of Fine Arts in Birmingham has been uploading a series of short recorded presentations entitled 'Tuesday Talks' onto their website. Each talk examines some particular object or theme from their collection.

This week's talk examines a c.1500 English alabaster statue of St James acquired by the institute in 2019 (pictured). Other previous talks focus on works by Cezanne, Ostade, Rossetti and 'Attitudes to female labour in 19th century art'.

Open Courtauld Hour

June 16 2020

Image of Open Courtauld Hour

Picture: Open Courtauld Hour

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Due to the successful launch of the 'Open Courtauld Hour' a few other talks have been lined up on the online portal of the Courtauld Institute of Art.

The next digital instalment will focus on 'The Art of Feasting' hosted by Tasha Marks on 18th June 2020 beginning at 8.05pm (BST). It is free to join but registration is required.

CFP: Hidden Gems

June 15 2020

Image of CFP: Hidden Gems

Picture: ICOM

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

As this blog celebrates new research into overlooked works of art, it seems only right that I share this rather interesting call for papers advert.

ICOM, International Committee for Museums and Collections of Decorative Arts and Design, are putting on a conference on the theme 'Hidden Gems'. Accepted papers will be examining objects in decorative arts collections that speakers feel should receive more scholarly and public attention. The conference will be held digitally on 15-16 October 2020.

As their call for papers document explains:

Does your collection have objects that you wish scholars and visitors knew more about? What is the subject on which you have always wanted to present an exhibition or essay, or a small yet significant story that has not yet been highlighted at your institution? If you work with a private collection, what in your holdings would you most like to see made accessible to the wider design community?

The deadline for submissions, consisting of 250-300 word abstracts, is 1st July 2020.

National Gallery Masterpieces on Tour

June 15 2020

Image of National Gallery Masterpieces on Tour

Picture: British Council & The National Gallery

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Great news for the residents of Japan. The National Gallery in London has announced that it is 61 masterpieces from its collection will go on a tour of the country. The initiative is a part of the British Council's UK in Japan 2019-2020 festival. The Tokyo leg of the exhibition will run from 18 June 2020 - 18 October 2020, and afterwards will head to Osaka from 3 November 2020 - 31 January 2021. This will include works by the likes of Vermeer, Canaletto, Van Dyck, Goya, Turner and Van Gogh's famous Sunflowers (pictured).

Some opponents have pointed out that some of the gallery's favourites will be missing when it eventually reopens to the public later this summer. The timing is a shame, but one imagines this loan was signed off and promised quite some time ago.

A brief aside...

June 12 2020

Image of A brief aside...

Picture: Wannenes Auctions

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

As I am about to contribute my 150th post on AHN, I wanted to thank you all for sticking with the blog and especially those who have been in contact with kind words and encouragement. I am especially grateful for your patience, especially with any grammatical errors and the like. As usual, do get in touch if there are any stories or research that deserve some attention on the blog.

Wishing you all a very pleasant weekend!

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