Previous Posts: November 2020

The True Face of the Salvator Mundi (?)

November 19 2020

Image of The True Face of the Salvator Mundi (?)

Picture: The Telegraph

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

A red chalk drawing that has emerged from a private collection in Lecco, Italy, has been claimed to show the 'true face of the Salvator Mundi'. This claim has been made by the Italian scholar Annalisa Di Maria who is associated with the UNESCO Center in Florence. Di Maria has been preparing an 80 page paper on the work ready to be released when lockdown ends.

Leonardo expert Martin Kemp has been quoted in The Telegraph as saying:

I wouldn’t dismiss it out of hand, but I simply can’t tell without seeing the drawing and the scientific evidence... I would need to see if it is drawn left-handed. Leonardo drew everything with his left hand.

Enforcing Resale Clauses in Contemporary Art

November 19 2020

Image of Enforcing Resale Clauses in Contemporary Art

Picture: artnet

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz: have published an article regarding attempts by some dealers in the contemporary art world to legally enforce reselling restrictions on artists they represent.

The enforcement of 'non-resale' and 'first-right-of-refusal' clauses have been justified as "a wish to maintain control over the market in the artist’s work, and the desire to ensure that the artworks are sold to buyers who appreciate rather than speculate." Some legal opinions have called these attempts and covenants "unenforceable."

As AHN has pointed out before, it is a curious feature of the contemporary art world that some dealers bid-up artists they represent in order to keep up bubbles from bursting. This question is unlikely to go-away anytime soon, but is an interesting debate to follow.

'Proof' of Time Travel (?)

November 18 2020

Image of 'Proof' of Time Travel (?)

Picture: Tech Times

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

As AHN is committed to sharing both the sublime and the ridiculous, I thought that some readers might be interested in a story published by Tech Times. It revolves around claims investigated by VICE Magazine that a nineteenth century painting by Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller (1793-1865) shows a young lady using an IPhone 12 (pictured).

This, it has been claimed, may be proof of a 'time travelling' person visiting the past. VICE Magazine even sought out an expert from an Austrian art agency to ask about these claims, who quickly and correctly pointed out that the figure is in truth holding a small bible.

Do get in touch if you've ever spotted any time travellers in paintings, I'd be glad to hear of them.

'Salaì' Magdalene Makes €1.74m

November 18 2020

Video: Artcento

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

A painting of The Penitent Magdalene by Leonardo's pupil Gian Giacomo Caprotti called Salaì (1480-1524) achieved €1,745,000 (inc. commission) against its €100k - €150k today at Artcurial auctions in France.

There were several doubts about the attribution cast in various corners, which might be expected given the incredible rarity of the artist's work. I must say, the above video makes the painting look more engaging than the rather flat images that have been made available online. The price achieved was a good one, but, one might imagine that it would have been much more if enough serious bidders had been involved. We'll wait and see if it turns up anywhere interesting...

Coincidentally, my favourite painting in the sale went unsold!

Interview with Galleria Borghese's New Director

November 18 2020

Image of Interview with Galleria Borghese's New Director


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz: have published an interesting interview with Francesca Cappelletti, the new Director of the Galleria Borghese in Rome.

Cappelletti is a scholar of Italian Baroque Art, and so thus is ideally placed within this particular museum. She is quoted as saying that she would like the museum to "move in a more contemporary direction." It seems that the new director intends to implement developments in online content and place greater emphasis on engaging with younger audiences. We look forward to seeing how these plans will manifest themselves.

The Sleeper That Never Was

November 18 2020

Image of The Sleeper That Never Was

Picture: Chiswick Auctions

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

In October 2015 the above painting sold for $25,000 at a provincial auction house in the USA. It is clear that the buyer might have hoped the picture was a rather damaged sketch by Rubens. Not all sleepers turn out the way you want them to. The work is now being offered at Chiswick Auctions carrying an estimate of £2k - £3k. It had been offered at Sotheby's in 2017 (where it sold for £4,375 inc. premium) and the Dorothem in 2018 (estimated at €4k - €6k).

Caveat Emptor.

Wien Musuem Open Access

November 18 2020

Image of Wien Musuem Open Access

Picture: Wien Museum

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Thrilled to see that the Wien Museum in Austria is the latest cultural institution to allow users to search for Open Access images from their online collections database. There are some very fine paintings contained within the collection and is well worth trawling through.

I enjoyed coming across this 1889 self-portrait by Johann Victor Krämer (1861-1949). It has a distinctive Withnail and I vibe about it.

Update - After spending a few minutes trawling through their brilliant online catalogue I've already come across a picture that hasn't been identified. The miniature bellow catalogued as 'Portrait of a gentleman in seventeenth century Spanish dress by Franz Kammer' is in fact a copy of Van Dyck's portrait of Francisco de Moncada by Van Dyck in the KHM, Vienna.

Spot the Constable

November 17 2020

Image of Spot the Constable

Picture: The Wallace Collection & Sotheby's

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Sotheby's are offering a very intriguing copy in their December old master paintings day sale.

Between 1831-4 the British artist John Constable made a copy of Jean-Baptiste Greuze's Girl with Doves specifically for his friend Cordelia, Lady Jackson. The artist had written to the then owner of the Greuze in 1831 explaining "This friend of mine has a dear little daughter, taken from her by an unkind husband. She pines for her child - this picture [The Greuze] is the exact image of the soft lovely girl, of whom she is bereft, & without any memorial.' The copy was completed by 1834 and sent to Lady Jackson who paid 30 pounds for it.

The Greuze is now owned by the Wallace Collection in London. I have put them side by side above in no particularly order. Can you spot the copy?

Once you've decided, click here to see the original Greuze and here to see an image of the Constable copy coming up at Sotheby's (which carries as estimate of £15k - £20k I should probably add).

Lecture: Lost Treasures of Strawberry Hill

November 17 2020

Image of Lecture: Lost Treasures of Strawberry Hill


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Strawberry Hill, the former home of the connoisseur Sir Horace Walpole, are broadcasting a lecture on Thursday evening (19th November 2020) on their brilliant 2018 exhibition The Lost Treasures of Strawberry Hill. The talk will be given by the exhibition's co-curator Silvia Davoli, and will surely feature many of the great paintings that were reunited in this marvellous neo-Gothic interior.

The lecture costs £8 for guests but is free for members and patrons of Strawberry Hill.

Latest in Frans Hals Forgery Case

November 17 2020

Image of Latest in Frans Hals Forgery Case

Picture: The Art Newspaper

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Art Newspaper have reported on the latest development in the case surrounding a forged Frans Hals that made headlines a few years ago.

The case had been in the appeal courts last week. There seems to have been a great deal of wrangling over the legalities of whether Fairlight Art Ventures, who were joint owners of the painting with dealer Mark Weiss, were in fact 'financiers' or 'partners' to Weiss. The company claims that as 'financiers' they would not be held liable for any losses from the gallery or Sotheby's who brokered the painting's sale. Sotheby's have dubbed this move a 'smoke screen'.

A ruling is expected next year.

De Heem to Lead Christie's December Sale

November 17 2020

Image of De Heem to Lead Christie's December Sale

Picture: Christie's

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Christie's have announced that a large-scale still life by Jan Davidsz de Heem will lead their upcoming old master paintings sale in London.

The picture has been in a private collection since 1817 and re-emerged in an English private residence in 2016. The last record for the artist was set by Christie's in 1988 with the sale of an equally monumental banqueting still life at for $6.6m. The details of the picture really are outstanding and are worth zooming into digitally.

The painting will be offered for sale at auction on 15th December 2020 carrying an estimate of £4m - £6m.

The Sunday Times Critiques Bonnie Prince Charlie

November 16 2020

Image of The Sunday Times Critiques Bonnie Prince Charlie

Picture: The Sunday Times

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Sunday Times and The Scotsman ran a curious story yesterday regarding the National Galleries of Scotland’s recently acquired portrait of Bonnie Prince Charlie by Allan Ramsay

The story revolves around claims made by an art consultant Robin Nicholson who says the work is not by Ramsay but Cosmo Alexander. Nicholson, who is curator of the liquor company Drambuie’s art collection, has said “the painting is well executed, but not [a] Ramsay. It totally lacks the effervescent effect of light that became Ramsay's trademark." 

The portrait was brought to light in a 2014 BBC2 Programme made by AHN’s very own Bendor Grosvenor. The  overlooked portrait had been in the collection of the Earls of Weymss and March. Coincidentally, Nicholson’s 2002 book on the portraiture on the Bonnie Price had seemingly made no special note of the picture. 

It is quite hard to place this breathing likeness alongside the work of Cosmo Alexander, whose figures are notable for their mannequin-like qualities. The attribution to Ramsay in full has been supported scholar Duncan Thomson, a former director of the SNPG and Ramsay expert. The National Galleries of Scotland too have publicly supported the attribution to Ramsay.

Rediscovered Constable Sketch at Sworders

November 16 2020

Video: Sworders

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Sworders auction house in Essex has announced that it has re-identified an oil sketch by John Constable. This view of Dedham Vale with Brantham mill and haystacks had been dismissed as a copy. The auctioneers decided that some further digging was required and eventually managed to acquire the seal of approval from Constable scholar Anne Lyles.

The picture will be sold in their December sale carrying an estimate of £100k - £150k.

Update - The painting sold for £91,000 (inc. commission).

Sotheby's London Evening Sale

November 16 2020

Image of Sotheby's London Evening Sale

Picture: Sotheby's

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Sotheby's have uploaded their upcoming Old Master Paintings evening sale online. The sale will take place on 10th December 2020.

Amongst the highlights is a Botticelli Crucifixion estimated at £800k - £1.2m; a Dancing Couple scene by Jan Steen estimated at £1m - £1.5m; a particularly dark and brooding landscape by Jacob van Ruisdael estimated at £800k - £1.2m; and a Saint Francis of Assisi by El Greco estimated at £500k - £700k.

There are also some significant paintings from British private collections, including some with notable aristocratic provenances. These include portraits by Van Dyck, Peter Lely and Pompeo Batoni.

My personal pick is this fine Peter Lely of Elizabeth Capel holding a baroque guitar (pictured) carrying a tempting estimate of £100k - £150k. Coincidentally, here is a video of an original seventeenth century baroque guitar in playable condition, in case you wondered what Elizabeth's instrument might have sounded like.

Here is a link to the upcoming old masters sale, with lots of sculpture and other works of art included, at Sotheby's Paris on 3rd December 2020.

The Strange Fate of a Studio of Botticelli

November 16 2020

Image of The Strange Fate of a Studio of Botticelli


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Guardian has reported on the latest news in the strange fate of a studio work by Botticelli that became embroiled in a lengthy law-suit several years ago. The article claims that recently emerged documents (which may be forged) might prove that a court handed the painting over to the wrong owners. The picture is also allegedly 'missing'. This is a story that has been going on for some time, as this 2014 article by explains.

The newspaper may not want the picture to be 'found', as they didn't illustrate the actual painting in question (pictured above). Instead, they inserted an image of a Botticelli in the NGA, Washington DC, with the following description:

Sandro Botticelli’s Madonna and Child (circa 1470), which has features in common with the missing masterpiece of 1485.

Sleeper Alert!

November 16 2020

Image of Sleeper Alert!

Picture: Hôtel des Ventes Giraudeau

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Sleepers don't take weekends off. News on Twitter (via. @auctionradar) that the above Saint Joseph catalogued as 'Neapolitan School, XVIII Century, in the style of Ribera' made €112,000 (hammer) over its €1,000 estimate at the Hôtel des Ventes Giraudeau last Saturday.

Apollo: Acquisition of the Year

November 13 2020

Image of Apollo: Acquisition of the Year

Picture: Apollo

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Apollo Magazine has published a shortlist for 'Acquisition of the Year 2020'.

Old masters are very well represented in the list so it seems. Despite these turbulent times, it's heartening to see that so many museums have benefitted some generous donations and bequests over the past twelve months. Having said this, it shouldn't be forgotten that many of these take years in the making.

Fathers of Confederation Receiving Treatment

November 13 2020

Image of Fathers of Confederation Receiving Treatment

Picture: @torontoartrestoration

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

My attention has been drawn to an interesting restoration project currently being undertaken in Toronto, Canada.

In 2017 a significant copy of one of Canada's most important paintings was damaged by scaffolders. Fathers of Confederation depicts the figures who passed 72 resolutions at the Quebec Conference in 1864. The conference is considered one of the most significant political moments in Canada's history.

The original painting, by Robert Harris, perished in 1916 due to a fire in the Canadian Parliament building. The restoration of this early copy by Frederick S Challener, which hangs in the Archives of Ontario, is being undertaken by Toronto Art Restoration Inc. They have posted several images of their progress on their Instagram Account showing what a truly mammoth task this has been.

Coincidentally, the painting was reinterpreted in 2016 by artist Kent Monkman in his work The Daddies.

The Potato Head of Palencia

November 13 2020

Image of The Potato Head of Palencia


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The 'Potato Head of Palencia' in Spain is the most recent bodged conservation job that is spreading through the news. Dating to the twentieth century, the recent 'restoration' of a plaster figure on a building facade has been ridiculed by the public and professionals alike. Conservation bodies in Spain have highlighted this as a good reason why licenses should be introduced for companies involved in such work.

As a side-note, hand moulded decorative plasterwork is understandably one of the most complex mediums. Despite this fact, there are a few impressive craftsmen and artists working in this medium today. This includes Geoffrey Preston who created this outstanding brand new ceiling for a private house in Devon a few years ago.

Exhibition Catalogue: Paintings on Stone

November 13 2020

Image of Exhibition Catalogue: Paintings on Stone

Picture: Hirmer Verlag

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

I've spotted on Instagram (via. @bastianeclercy) that although the Saint Louis Art Museum's upcoming exhibition Paintings on Stone has been delayed till 2022, their 320 page exhibition catalogue is printed and available for purchase.

As the publisher's blurb describes:

Painting on Stone: Science and the Sacred  1530–1800

Paintings on Stone: Science and the Sacred examines a fascinating tradition long overlooked by art historians – stone surfaces used to create stunning portraits, mythological scenes, and sacred images. Written by an international team of scholars, the catalogue reveals the significance of these paintings, their complex meanings, and their technical virtuosity.

The catalogue is available to order through the publisher Hirmer Verlag.

The cover features a late sixteenth century painting on Lapis Lazuli by Giuseppe Cesari. The picture was acquired by the Saint Louis Museum of Art in 2000.

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