Previous Posts: May 2020

Louvre Acquires Vouet Drawing at Christie's

May 28 2020

Image of Louvre Acquires Vouet Drawing at Christie's

Picture: Christie's

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

La Tribune de l'Art has reported that the Louvre has acquired Simon Vouet's drawing of Cardinal Mazarin that sold at Christie's Paris yesterday. The drawing was purchased for €165,000 (without fees).

The auction house published a rather interesting article to accompany the three Vouet drawings that were included in the sale. It explains that the portraits were completed for the young Louis XIII, who wanted to become an artist himself.

As their works on paper expert mused:

‘It is easy to imagine Louis inquisitively watching Vouet over his shoulder, as the artist sketched away in his court,’ suggests Christie’s Old Master drawings specialist Hélène Rihal. ‘Maybe Louis even studied alongside him, pastel in hand.’

Danny Katz Sale at Sotheby's

May 28 2020

Image of Danny Katz Sale at Sotheby's

Picture: Sotheby's

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Yesterday's online sale at Sotheby's in collaboration with the dealer Danny Katz achieved an impressive £2.26m (inc. fees). 92.2% of the lots on offer were sold. Further proof that online sales are producing strong results in these uncertain times.

The sale consisted of a mixture of sculpture, modern pictures and some fine British works on paper. This included a fine selection of Zoffany drawings that were only recently unveiled by fellow dealer Andrew Clayton-Payne. Quite a few pieces soared above their estimates, including this Roman arm which sold for £175,000 over £30,000 - £50,000.

My favourite picture in the sale was the Sickert pictured above, which sold for £22,500 over an estimate of £8,000 - £12,000.

Quiz: Find the Original

May 27 2020

Image of Quiz: Find the Original

Picture: Cambi Auction House

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Here's a painting that is coming up for sale in Cambi Auction House in Italy catalogued as 'French School Eighteenth Century'. Can you find the original picture on which this is based?

No prizes, just for fun.

Update - Congratulations to reader Richard Rand who spotted that this picture is a mixture between Greuze's L'Enfant Gaté (The Spoiled Child) in the Hermitage and featuring the child in Silence! in the Royal Collection.

Art Dealer Gifts Spranger to Rijksmuseum

May 27 2020

Image of Art Dealer Gifts Spranger to Rijksmuseum

Picture: Rijksmuseum

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

New York art dealer Bob Haboldt has gifted a painting by Bartholomeus Spranger (1546-1611) to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. The Angel Pietà (pictured), dated to c.1587, is described by the museum as a powerful and poignant image of compassion.

The accompanying press release on the Rijksmuseum website contains a quote from Haboldt explaining this generous gift:

Coronavirus has affected me, in the first place emotionally. It gave me occasion to reflect on how I could make a contribution, and on how we could best memorialise this period. What is wonderful about paintings is that they are eternal and can serve as monuments to the difficult times in which we find ourselves. With this thought in mind, I came to the decision that I would donate this exceptional work by Bartholomeus Spranger to the Rijksmuseum. In the first place, it is a gift to everyone to commemorate the victims of COVID-19; it also serves as an example, encouraging everyone to do good for museums. I hope that others will follow.

BMAG is Hiring!

May 27 2020

Image of BMAG is Hiring!

Picture: BMAG

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery is looking for a new Chief Executive.

As their advert in The Guardian explains:

The CEO will lead the development of a post Covid19 transformation vision for Birmingham Museums, whilst driving through the implementation of one of the most exciting museum capital development projects anywhere in the UK over the next decade.  The opportunity is to transform what is already one of the country’s premier museum trusts into a modern, inspirational, globally relevant visitor experience.

Applications close on 8th July 2020. The salary is not disclosed.

The Future of Blockbuster Exhibitions

May 27 2020

Image of The Future of Blockbuster Exhibitions

Picture: CODART

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

CODART, the international network of curators of Dutch and Flemish art, have published an interesting article on the future of blockbuster exhibitions in the age of COVID. The article comprises of three views given by curators Christi M. Klinkert (Stedelijk Museum Alkmaar), Marjorie E. Wieseman (National Gallery of Art in Washington) and Aleksandra Janiszewska (National Museum in Warsaw).

Titian Show Extended

May 27 2020

Image of Titian Show Extended

Picture: The National Gallery

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Good news to report. The National Gallery in London has announced on their website that their exhibition Titian: Love, Desire, Death will be extended. They haven't given the precise details yet so we must wait to see how generous they will be. The show was due to run till 14th June 2020.

The gallery's director Gabriele Finaldi posted a video on YouTube a few days ago regarding a short visit he made to the closed galleries.

Update - The gallery's upcoming Raphael exhibition has been pushed back to 2022.

Update 2 - Disappointing news that the exhibition will no longer be travelling to The National Galleries of Scotland in Edinburgh.

As their recent posts on Twitter explain:

We regret to announce that the National Galleries of Scotland exhibition  Titian: Love, Desire, Death  will no longer take place in Edinburgh. We are however pleased to support our partners with our loans to the remainder of this tour.

The show was planned as a highlight of our summer programme at the busiest time of the year during the Edinburgh Festival but without that context, against a backdrop of uncertainty around scheduling & visitor numbers, this project was no longer a viable proposition for us.

We understand that many will be disappointed and we are very sorry for this unfortunate cancellation. We will be in touch with those who had pre-booked tickets.

Van Dijk Restituted to Schloss Friedenstein

May 26 2020

Image of Van Dijk Restituted to Schloss Friedenstein

Picture: Van Ham Auctions

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

An eighteenth century painting by Philip Van Dijk of Venus and Cupid has been restituted to Schloss Friedenstein in Gotha, Germany. The last inhabitant of this palace was actually the grandson of Queen Victoria; the murky Prince Charles Edward (d.1954), son of Prince Leopold Duke of Albany. The picture was due to come up for sale in Van Ham Kunstauktionen's upcoming sale with an estimate of €5,000 - €8,000.

Curiously, is seems that the painting was catalogued and ready to be sold with this inclusion in the note;

According to a writing from 22.2.2005 the Foundation Schloss Friedenstein Gotha and the Federal Republic of Germany confirmed, that they will make no further claims on this work.

I wonder when they changed their mind?

Paint Roller Punches Through Picasso

May 26 2020

Image of Paint Roller Punches Through Picasso

Picture: ArtNet

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

ArtNet has reported on an expensive accident in which a Picasso worth $100m was damaged by a paint roller. Picasso's Le Marin (pictured), owned by casino mogul Steve Wynn, was due to come up for sale at Christie's in 2018. However, before the sale an employee from the decorators T F Nugent left out a paint rod extension that came crashing down on the work which was waiting on foam pads ready to be installed. The auction house's insurers Steadfast Insurance Co. is suing T F Nugent for $18.4m in damages.

Bizarrely, the article reports that an enormous sum was spent on restoring the picture;

Following the incident, Christie’s had the work restored, spending $487,625 to close the gaping hole and the surrounding damage, a total area of seven inches long and two inches wide.

Steadfast hired two art experts to appraise the restored work and assess how much the accident had impacted its value. The lawsuit contends that the appraisers found that the painting had previously been worth up to $100 million, but that the accident had lowered its worth by 20 percent, or $20 million, “given the extent of the physical damage to the Le Marin, and the accompanying reputational damage.”


Early Ribera at Daguerre

May 26 2020

Image of Early Ribera at Daguerre

Picture: Daguerre

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

A newly discovered painting by Jusepe de Ribera (1588-1656) is coming up for sale at the Parisian auction house Daguerre on 16th June. This painting, said to depict an ancient philosopher, was uncovered in a house in the west of France last year. The artwork was unveiled in January as a rare early canvas by Ribera painted in Rome between the years 1610 - 1615. It was due to be sold in March before the lockdown delayed the sale.

The picture carries as estimate of €200,000 - €300,000. In January the French press speculated that several museums are eyeing up the painting. I wonder if this is still the case?

MET Reopening in August

May 24 2020

Image of MET Reopening in August

Picture: MET

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Arts Newspaper has reported that the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has deferred its reopening schedule from July to August at the earliest. There is also news that the museum has laid off 81 members of staff and is excepting a shortfall of $150m by the next fiscal year.

This is rather concerning news from one of the largest and most important museums in the world, which begs the question of how smaller museums in the US will cope. Let's hope it doesn't result in the reawakening of schemes such as the Detroit Institute of Arts adopted in 2013 to evaluate their collection for sale. 

The MET's president and CEO Daniel H Weiss is quoted in the article;

This museum is also a profound reminder of the strength of the human spirit and the power of art to offer comfort, inspiration, and community. As we endure these challenging and uncertain times, we are encouraged by looking forward to the day when we can once again welcome all to enjoy the Met's collection and exhibitions.

What Connects Georges de La Tour to Tennis?

May 21 2020


Video: via. YouTube Nicolas Milovanovic

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Nicolas Milovanovic, curator at the Louvre in Paris, has made this rather nice video describing the museum's The Card Sharp with the Ace of Diamonds by Georges de La Tour.

Included is an appeal to tennis star Novak Djokovic to follow in the footsteps of the player and art collector Pierre Landry (1898-1990), who helped bring back La Tour from relative obscurity and sold The Card Sharp to the Louvre.

Non-French speakers can use the auto-translate function at the bottom of the screen.

Christiana Herringham at Royal Holloway

May 21 2020


Video: Royal Holloway

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Royal Holloway, University of London, have produced a beautifully illustrated video drawing attention to their recent exhibition on female artist, patron, campaigner and collector Christiana Herringham (1852-1929). Herringham's bequest represents a third of Royal Holloway's collection of art and has been overlooked in recent times.

Seeing Double at Bukowski's

May 21 2020

Image of Seeing Double at Bukowski's

Picture: Bukowskis

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Swedish auction house Bukowskis's upcoming Important Spring Sale has been uploaded online. As usual it is filled with many interesting pictures.

I had to do a double take at lot 383, given to the 'Circle of Mierevelt'. It is another version of an obscure picture in the former collection of the Earls of Warwick (one of my unhealthy obsessions, I must disclose).

What is the connection between the two pictures? Which one might have come first?

The Warwick picture had been traditionally identified as a daughter of one of the family's seventeenth century descendants. In fact, just over the past few weeks I had been discussing this very painting with a colleague who had recently found many payments to the artist and dealer George Geldorp (c.1595-1665) in the family's account books of this period. But the appearance of the Bukowski picture probably suggests that this connection might be entirely false.

I wonder who this young girl was?

A Curated Look at Kindness

May 21 2020

Video: The National Gallery

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The National Gallery's head of curatorial department Christine Riding will be giving a live lecture today on the theme of kindness in paintings. The talk will include pictures by Bassano, Reynolds, Van Dyck and Seurat.

The lecture will begin at 1pm (BST) today, and should be available to watch via the above link after the lecture.

Clark-Getty Curatorial Fellowship

May 20 2020

Image of Clark-Getty Curatorial Fellowship

Picture: The Clark

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Clark Art Institute in Massachusetts is looking for a Curatorial Fellow to engage specifically with works on paper. The two year position is funded by the Getty Paper Project, and will culminate in a large exhibition in collaboration with the Bibliothèque nationale de France.

Applicants must have a PhD in Art History and have French language skills. Physical requirements are also listed, which include: "Ability to stand for up to four hours. Ability to physically move and handle artwork, which requires being able to lift up to 30 pounds occasionally." Most curious.

Good luck if you're applying!

National Gallery Acquires Three Eighteenth Century Pictures

May 20 2020

Image of National Gallery Acquires Three Eighteenth Century Pictures

Picture: The National Gallery, London

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The National Gallery have announced the recent acquisition of three outstanding eighteenth century pictures. This includes Jean-Etienne Liotard’s 'The Lavergne Family Breakfast'; Thomas Gainsborough’s 'Portrait of Margaret Gainsborough holding a Theorbo' and Sir Thomas Lawrence’s 'Portrait of the Hon. Peniston Lamb'. All three pictures have come from the estate of the art collector George Pinto (1929-2018) under the Acceptance in Lieu scheme.

On a personal note, I'm thrilled about the acquisition of the Gainsborough painting. The picture had been rediscovered in a private collection after an appeal from the NPG in preparation for their exhibition in 2018. I had written a blog at the time giving the background of Gainsborough's connections with the lute, including the fact that he pressurised the German lutenist Rudolf Straube to sell his instrument to him. Could the instrument that Margaret is playing be Straube's lute?

Museum Measures in the Age of Covid-19 (ctd.)

May 19 2020

Image of Museum Measures in the Age of Covid-19 (ctd.)

Picture: MbS News

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Many of Italy's museums are reopening this week as part of the country's exit from lockdown. It is clear that enforced social distancing will affect the way visitors travel around exhibitions and displays.

In anticipation of the reopening of the Scuderie del Quirinale's 'once in a lifetime' Raphael exhibition in Rome, The Arts Newspaper has reported on the measures that have been brought in to protect visitors.

An interview with director Matteo Lafranconi provides the following details;

Lanfranconi said. “We are implementing a sort of militarised system; it’s not very pleasant.”

Tickets for the show need to be booked in advance online. Upon arrival at the Scuderie del Quirinale, visitors will be welcomed by a guard and organised into groups of six. They will move through the exhibition with the guard “who will act not as a guide but as a chaperone throughout their visit. He is responsible for the safety of the group,” Lanfranconi explained. A new group of six visitors will start its journey through the show every five minutes, he added. The total time of each visit will be 80 minutes.


Vatican Frescos Unveiled

May 19 2020


Video: Vatican City News

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Vatican Museums have unveiled a newly restored fresco cycle in the Aula Pontificum Superior, a room on the second floor of the Apostolic Palace designed for banquets and receptions. The restoration, which began in 2015, has led to several new discoveries including the reattribution of two figures in cycle to Raphael himself. Most of the work, however, is given to Giulio Romano, Giovan Francesco Penni and other workshop collaborators.

These rooms will soon be open to visitors as Italy begins to reopen its museums.

Sell the Mona Lisa Says Tech Boss

May 19 2020

Image of Sell the Mona Lisa Says Tech Boss

Picture: via. Stephane Distinguin @Fano

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Independent has reported on the bizarre news that a CEO of a French tech company (pictured above with President Macron) has suggested that France should sell the Mona Lisa to help plug the gap in the country's finances.

Stephane Distinguin of Fabernovel (no, me neither) explained in a magazine interview that;

A painting is easy to move and therefore to hand over. And we have a lot of paintings … In 2020, we have to get the money where it is. So sell family jewellery … The price is the crux of the matter and the main subject of controversy. The price has to be insane for the operation to make sense. I estimate that it would take no less than €50billion (£44.7 billion) to acquire the Mona Lisa. I was told that my estimate was very overvalued, even far-fetched, but each time without real arguments.

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