Previous Posts: May 2020

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.

Brian Sewell Archive Online

May 18 2020

Image of Brian Sewell Archive Online

Picture: PMC

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The catalogued archive of art critic Brian Sewell (1931-2015) has been published online by the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art.

The database entry states that the collection contains;

1,958 files; 15 journals; 1 coat; 1 portrait.

Ps. A wide ranging set of frank and honest interviews with Brian Sewell are available to watch on YouTube.

Sleeper Alert!

May 18 2020

Image of Sleeper Alert!


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

News on Twitter (via @AuctionRadar) that this drawing described as 'After Raphael' sold for €32,000 over an estimate of €360 in Germany last week.

Curate an Exhibition with ArtUK

May 18 2020

Image of Curate an Exhibition with ArtUK

Picture: ArtUK

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

ArtUK has launched an online platform for users to 'curate' their own virtual exhibitions with art works from the public collection. After you have selected your pictures you can arrange them in any way you wish with fancy blurbs and introductory pieces etc. Your results will then be shared with other users online.

Sounds like a very creative way to spend a few hours during these uncertain times.

Update - Bendor adds that he's had a go already, with an assembly of paintings that feature cheese. Just what the world needs right now. 

Portrait of Millicent Fawcett Reidentified

May 14 2020

Image of Portrait of Millicent Fawcett Reidentified

Picture: Royal Holloway, University of London

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Guardian have reported on the recent reidentification of a portrait of suffragist Millicent Fawcett in the collection of Royal Holloway, University of London. The portrait had long been misidentified as an image of one of the university's former headmistresses Dame Emily Penrose. Its reidentification was established after archival research undertaken by Dr Imogen Tedbury which proved it was a gift from the artist Theodore Blake Wirgman.

Dorotheum June Auction

May 14 2020

Image of Dorotheum June Auction

Picture: Dorotheum

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Dorotheum in Vienna has uploaded their June old master paintings auction catalogue online. There are many interest pictures as always, including a few works that have appeared on the art market in recent years.

One very eye catching painting is the above. This scene of The Conversion of Saint Paul by Puria di Valsodo (1561-1589) painted straight onto an ornate slab of alabaster.

BEWARE: This is the most obscene old master I've seen in a long time...

Fondation Custodia Online

May 14 2020

Image of Fondation Custodia Online

Picture: Fondation Custodia

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

A quick post to highlight the Fondation Custodia's superb collection of old master drawings, many of which have been uploaded to their website. The superb images they have provided are very captivating, and I have already lost a significant portion of time zooming in on their many treasures. The image above is a superb portrait by Ottavio Leoni.

This Parisian museum was founded on the collection of historian Frits Lugt (1884-1970). Lugt is a name all picture researchers will know, especially in his role of cataloguing auctions and sales. 

They are still in the process of uploading their paintings, miniatures, prints and other objects. I look forward to seeing it when it's all complete!

How Did Rembrandt Make His Paint?

May 14 2020


Video: Rembrandthuis

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Rembrandthuis Museum in Amsterdam have made this short video giving an introduction to paintings and pigments of the seventeenth century. English subtitles are included for non-Dutch speakers.

Blue Boy Project

May 12 2020

Image of Blue Boy Project

Picture: The Huntington

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Earlier this spring The Huntington in California concluded a three-year research and conservation project on Thomas Gainsborough's famous painting known as The Blue Boy. The website that accompanies the project is filled with interesting images and videos showing what knowledge has been gained from their work.

Art Trade to Reopen Before Museums?

May 12 2020

Image of Art Trade to Reopen Before Museums?

Picture: Sky News

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Arts Newspaper have published an interesting article concerning the reopening of auction houses and commercial art galleries in the UK as part of the phase-two easing of lockdown. This could mean that such businesses could be reopened as early as 1st June. Museums are part of the third phase and thus provisionally scheduled for reopening from 4th July.

These dates are contingent on the fact that the infection rate does not experience a surge or second peak. Watch this space.

Quiz: Find the Original

May 12 2020

Image of Quiz: Find the Original

Picture: Hermann Historica

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

This painting described as Fine portrait of a young female artist, probably German, c.1800 is coming up for sale in Germany later this month. This is a copy of a known painting. Can you find the original? Should be rather easy for any lover of art!

No prizes, just for fun.

Update - Congratulations to Barthélémy Jobert who recognised this to be a copy of Vigée Le Brun's self portrait in the Uffizi. The guilloche frame on this one is rather beautiful.

Sleeper Alert!

May 12 2020

Image of Sleeper Alert!

Picture: Dams Casa d'Aste

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

This painting of Saint John the Baptist catalogued as 'Caravaggist School, 17th century' made an impressive €131,000 over an estimate of €7,000 in Rome last week (alerted by @AuctionRadar on Twitter).

Painting by 17th-Century Nun Smashes Estimate

May 11 2020

Image of Painting by 17th-Century Nun Smashes Estimate

Picture: Sotheby's

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Artnet have reported on the very impressive result achieved at Sotheby's last week for this painting (pictured) by the seventeenth century Italian nun Orsola Maddalena Caccia (1596–1676). Still Life of Birds sold for £212,500 (inc. fees) more than 14 times its high presale estimate of £15,000. Works by the artist are incredibly rare and it is hoped that more might come to light after this impressive result.

The Future of Auction Salerooms?

May 11 2020

Image of The Future of Auction Salerooms?

Picture: Dreweatts

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

In light of the current health crisis the auction house Dreweatts has introduced a new online virtual saleroom service for their upcoming auctions.

In their own words;

The service provides a virtual tour of the galleries at our picturesque Donnington Priory salerooms, allowing you to walk through each room, browsing and interacting with the lots as you go, just as if you were there in person. All from the comfort of your own home, at your own pace and at a time that suits you!

Some museums have been operating such platforms on recently closed exhibitions. They allow visitors to virtually glide around galleries at the click of a mouse.

Will it catch on in the commercial art world? Might such online-only platforms becoming an increasingly permanent feature for auctions? It all depends how buyers will react to not being able to have a chance stand in front of the objects they are buying. For old master paintings it is often only when you're physically stood in front of an artwork that you can make judgements on its condition and quality. Although photography is increasing in quality, digital images can still obscure these all important factors.

In contrast, the recent successful OMP sales at Sotheby's shows that there is confidence in buying pictures online for considerable prices. It will be interesting to see how the July sales fare if strict social distancing is still enforced.

Early American Art Lecture

May 11 2020

Image of Early American Art Lecture

Picture: Martin Randall Travel

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

As art tourism has ground to a halt in recent months the cultural tour company Martin Randall Travel have been uploading some rather interesting lectures recently from their portfolio of experts.

The image above is from a beautifully illustrated introductory lecture on Early American Portraiture given by art historian Mary Lynn Riley It is always fascinating to see how American artists observed British fashions yet imbued their own distinctive style into their artworks.

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