Previous Posts: November 2020

Book Release: America and the Art of Flanders

November 12 2020

Image of Book Release: America and the Art of Flanders

Picture: Penn State University Press

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Penn State University Press and the Frick Collection have recently published a book entitled America and the Art of Flanders. The volume contains a collection of essays related to the American taste for collecting Flemish art in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Many AHN favourites including Rubens and Van Dyck are featured within.

The table of contents, to whet the appetite, is as follows:

Part 1. The Early Years: The Formation of America’s Taste for Flemish Painting

1. Before Modern Connoisseurship: Robert Gilmor, Jr.’s, Quest for Flemish Paintings in the Early Republic - Lance Humphries

2. Collecting the Art of Flanders in Antebellum New York - Margaret R. Laster

3. The American Van Dyck - Adam Eaker

4. A Family Affair: Bruegel and Sons in America - Louisa Wood Ruby

Part 2. The Gilded Age and Beyond

5. In Search of Major Masters: Boston’s History of Collecting Flemish Baroque Painting - Ronni Baer

6. “Never a Dull Picture”: John Graver Johnson Collects Flemish Art - Esmée Quodbach

7. Creating an Acquired Taste for Flemish Paintings: The Advice of W. R. Valentiner and Others - Dennis P. Weller

8. Collecting Seventeenth-Century Flemish Paintings in the Midwest - George S. Keyes

Part 3. The Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries: The Dissemination of Flemish Art Across America

9. From Personal Treasures to Public Gifts: The Flemish Painting Collection at the National Gallery of Art - Alexandra Libby

10. Collecting Rubens in America - Marjorie E. Wieseman

11. “It Is a Great Painting for a Museum”: Collecting Flemish Paintings in Southern California - Anne T. Woollett

The Frick Collection have already posted recordings of a series of lectures presented on the subject in 2016. All videos are available to watch on YouTube.

Edward VI Panel makes 21x Estimate

November 12 2020

Image of Edward VI Panel makes 21x Estimate

Picture: Peter Francis Auctions

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

News on Twitter (via. @mcewangallery) that this panel of Edward VI catalogued as 'After Holbein, considered an 18th copy' made £21,000 (hammer) over its £1,000 estimate yesterday in Wales. The pictures of the reverse seem to suggest that the back has been lined with material that resembles a bin liner.

MET Appoints Two Chairs

November 11 2020

Image of MET Appoints Two Chairs

Picture: The New York Times

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

It seems that the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York is the latest cultural institution to create two positions out of one.

The museum has just appointed Hamilton E. James, the executive vice chairman of the investment firm Blackstone, and Candace K. Beinecke, the senior partner at the law firm Hughes Hubbard & Reed, to succeed board chairman Daniel Brodsky in January. 

The outgoing chair is quoted as saying:

These are exceptionally challenging times and the opportunity to have two leaders with strong yet different experiences is a win-win for the museum.

This all sounds rather good, but will only truly be tested once something goes wrong of course. I wonder exactly how accountability is divided up in such scenarios?

Sleeper Alert!

November 11 2020

Image of Sleeper Alert!

Picture: Elstob & Elstob

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Harrogate Advertiser have reported on news that the above painting of Oxford catalogued as 'English School (19th century)' realised £22,500 (hammer) over its £300-400 estimate the other week. Accompanied by another panel, presumably a depiction of Cambridge, both works bear the stamps 'IW RA' on the reverse.

Update - Reader Greg Page-Turner has been in touch to suggest the stamps might point towards an attribution to James Ward RA (1769-1859).

RAMM Acquires Girtin Watercolour of Exeter Cathedral

November 11 2020

Image of RAMM Acquires Girtin Watercolour of Exeter Cathedral

Picture: RAMM

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter (RAMM) has announced that it has acquired a watercolour by Thomas Girtin of the Interior of Exeter Cathedral. The work dates to 1797 and was exhibited at the Royal Academy in the following year.

The work was in fact sold at Christie's in July of this year where it realised £15,000 (hammer price). The acquisition was made possible with money received from the Art Fund, The RAMM Friends and the Kent Kingdon Trust

Shelley Portrait on Long-Term Loan to Eton College

November 11 2020

Image of Shelley Portrait on Long-Term Loan to Eton College

Picture: Eton College

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The collections department of Eton College have posted a blog concerning the recent acquisition of archival documents relating to the nineteenth century artist Joseph Severn (1793-1873).

As part of this acquisition is the announcement of the long-term loan of the above painting Shelley Composing ‘Prometheus Unbound’ in the Baths of Caracalla (1844-45). Severn produced some of the most iconic images of the poet and this version was commissioned by the Shelley's son Percy. The documents will be available for consultation when the college's library and archival services re-open after lockdown.

Film: The Last Vermeer

November 11 2020

Video: Sony Films

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Sony Pictures have released the above trailer for their upcoming film The Last Vermeer. This picture focuses on the crimes of the notorious forger Han Van Meegeren, who made imitations of works by the likes of Vermeer and other Dutch old masters.

Fellow English Country House geeks will notice that although the film is set in the Netherlands, it seems to have been filmed almost entirely in English Stately Homes. I can spot West Wycombe Park, Ham House and Hatfield House.

The film will be released on 20th November 2020.

Rembrandt in the Mauritshuis (ctd.)

November 10 2020

Image of Rembrandt in the Mauritshuis (ctd.)

Picture: Mauritshuis

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

I thought it worth pointing out the CODART (International Network of Dutch and Flemish Curators) has uploaded a recording of their recent online lecture 'Reassessing Rembrandt in the Mauritshuis Collection' onto the video sharing site Vimeo (follow the link to watch).

New Wollstonecraft Statue

November 10 2020

Image of New Wollstonecraft Statue

Picture: The Guardian

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Shockwaves have been sent through social media today at the unveiling of a new statue dedicated to the feminist writer Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797). Readers of this blog will be familiar with the rather iconic portraits of her by John Opie (1), (2).

Maggi Hambling's new sculpture, unveiled in Newington Green, London, has been described as showing "a silvery naked everywoman figure emerging free and defiantly from a swirling mingle of female forms... [it] is the world’s only memorial sculpture to a woman known as the “mother of feminism”." The Guardian reported that £143,000 was raised to complete the community project.

Supporters of the project have celebrated the sculpture's ability to "start a conversation", whilst others have used the terms 'botched', 'disrespect', 'sex object' and 'emerging from a lump'.

Teniers Announced for Sotheby's London Sale

November 10 2020

Image of Teniers Announced for Sotheby's London Sale

Picture: Sotheby's

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Sotheby's have announced that they will be offering an important large-scale work by David Teniers the Younger in their upcoming December Old Master Paintings sale in London.

As the auction house's press release explains:

Measuring 56  x 104 ins (142.4 x 264.1 cms), The Wine Harvest is the largest, and certainly the finest work by Teniers to come to market in living memory. Rivalled in scale only by two other masterpieces, both of which now reside in international  museums, the painting is presented  in a remarkable state of preservation, undoubtedly due to its unbroken  ownership having been passed by inheritance since being acquired,  probably in the 1770s, by Peniston Lamb, 1st Viscount Melbourne.

The work will be sold on 10th December 2020 carrying an estimate of £3m - £5m.

New Deputy Directors at the Fitzwilliam Museum

November 10 2020

Image of New Deputy Directors at the Fitzwilliam Museum

Picture: Fitzwilliam Museum

Posted by Adam Busiakieiwicz:

The Fitzwilliam Museum has announced that it has appointed two new Deputy Directors to join their leadership team. Karen Livingstone and Neal Spencer will be joining the museum to help lead plans for further expansion and regeneration in the upcoming years. Livingstone has been appointed Deputy Director for Masterplan, Exhibitions & Major Display Projects, and Spencer Deputy Director for Collections and Research. It seems that more digital projects, coupled with high quality research, is a key part of these new roles.

Read the full press release here.

New Staircase at Leighton House

November 9 2020

Image of New Staircase at Leighton House

Picture: Leighton House Museum

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Leighton House Museum in West London has managed to exceed its £17,300 target for the completion of a new art work. Oneness, a mural by the Iranian artist Shahrzad Ghaffari, will decorate a recently installed staircase to help provide a physical connection between new visitor facilities and exhibition spaces. The architectural addition will also introduce disabled access to all parts of the museum.

As their fundraising website explains:

In Oneness Ghaffari draws on a 13th-century Persian poem by Rumi exploring universal themes of love and knowledge, weaving words into abstract form. The central visual motif, the turquoise calligraphic brushstrokes, pays homage to the traditional designs of the Middle-Eastern tiles in Leighton’s Arab Hall while its spiralling form echoes the helical structure of the staircase. The mural will bring a fresh perspective on the fusion of cultures and the close relationship between art and architecture found in the Victorian interiors at Leighton House, creating ‘Oneness’ between the past, the present and the future of the museum.

De Morgan Foundation Videos

November 9 2020

Image of De Morgan Foundation Videos

Picture: De Morgan Foundation

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The De Morgan Foundation, who celebrate and preserve the artistic legacy of artists William and Evelyn De Morgan, have been amassing an impressive collection of videos on their YouTube channel over the past few months. These range from short videos on individual objects, lasting a mere few minutes, to full-length lectures by specialists on nineteenth century art and ceramics. This is sort of free online content really makes lockdown a little bit easier indeed!

Update - I should have mentioned that the De Morgan Foundation also have a rather interesting programme of Zoom lectures in the upcoming months. They're incredibly good value too!

Scandalous Churchill Still Life Up for Sale

November 9 2020

Image of Scandalous Churchill Still Life Up for Sale

Picture: Sotheby's

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Times has published the scandalous story surrounding a still life by the wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill that is coming up for sale at Sotheby's this week. Jug with Bottles was gifted by the politician and artist to the American railway heir Averell Harriman in the 1930s. By this point Harriman was having an affair with Pamela Churchill, née Digby, the wife of Churchill's only son Randolph. She later married Harriman and the painting descended with her estate until her death in 1997.

The work is said to depict a bottle of Johnnie Walker Black Label, a beverage that Churchill is said to have begun and ended the day with.

The painting will be sold on 10th November 2020 and carries an estimate of £150k - £250k.

Update - The painting sold for £983,000 (inc. premium).

The University of Hong Kong is Hiring!

November 7 2020

Image of The University of Hong Kong is Hiring!


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The University of Hong Kong are looking for an Professor/Associate Professor in European and/or Mediterranean Medieval or Early Modern Art History in the School of Humanities (Art History).

As their job description explains:

The Department of Art History is one of the leading art history faculties in Asia, and our Faculty of Arts is highly ranked internationally (currently 16 in QS and 31 in THE global rankings by Arts and Humanities subjects). Humanities research is well-supported, with excellent library resources and numerous grant opportunities, including support for research travel and teaching relief. Teaching load is three courses per year and all instruction is in English. The Department of Art History graduates on average 35 undergraduate majors per year, 20 M.A. students, and a small number of M.Phil. and Ph.D. students.

The salary on offer is between HK$745,080 - HK$1,277,640 per annum depending on the level of seniority (approximately £73,000 - £125,000). The review of applications begin on 10th December 2020.

Good luck if you're applying!

The Conservation Dept. at the Uffizi

November 7 2020

Image of The Conservation Dept. at the Uffizi

Picture: The New York Times

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Laura Rysman of The New York Times has published an interesting article providing a behind the scenes access at the conservation laboratories of the Uffizi Gallery and the Opificio delle Pietre Dure in Florence.

Amongst the most interest insights into the minds of conservators is this snippet from the art historian Cecilia Frosinini:

They’re simply objects made of wood, gesso, paint and varnish (...) I’m almost ashamed to say I feel no special emotions for the pieces, but a conservator has to work like a doctor, without any bias for who the patient is.

The Snite Museum Acquires a Seventeenth Century Still Life

November 7 2020

Image of The Snite Museum Acquires a Seventeenth Century Still Life

Picture: The Snite Museum of Art

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz: has reported on news that The Snite Museum of Art, attached to the University of Notre Dame, Indiana, has acquired a still life by a 'Follower of Osias Beert I (ca. 1580 - 1624)'.

The museum's Curator of European and American Art before 1900, Cheryl Snay, is quoted as saying:

This still life painting with its dazzling array of treats is a welcome addition to our collection of seventeenth-century paintings. It was supposed to remind viewers about the sin of gluttony, the need for charity to those who have less, and the transience of life.

Instead, it became an essay on conspicuous consumption. With its display of sugar-coated spices and almonds, it affords us an opportunity to discuss its appeal to the morality of its original audience in addition to the sugar trade that fueled slavery.

Here is a page dedicated to the European paintings and sculpture in the museum's collection.

NGA Fellowships

November 7 2020

Image of NGA Fellowships


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The National Gallery of Art in Washington DC have posted details of fellowships available in the upcoming year. Fellowships on offer span from senior professorships to travel grants for doctoral students who want to undertake research abroad.

Court Battle over Restituted Pissarro

November 5 2020

Image of Court Battle over Restituted Pissarro

Picture: The New York Times

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The fate of a restituted painting by Camille Pissarro is back in court after the owner has changed their mind on a previous agreement reached with an American museum.

In 2012 the heir of the collector Lèone Mayer discovered the above painting of 'Shepherdess bringing in Sheep' by Camille Pissarro had in fact been looted from her family by the Nazis. The picture had since entered into the collection of Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art at the University of Oklahoma. Later in 2016 an agreement was reached so that the picture would be displayed at a museum in France for five years, then would rotate every three years between the university and one or more French institutions of Ms. Meyer's choosing.

Two years later, and ever since, Ms. Meyer has been attempting to gift the work to the Musée D'Orsay in full. This would, the American University claims, break their previous agreement. Ms. Meyer is now bringing her case to court in France in January to break the 2016 settlement. It will be fascinating to see how this complicated case is resolved.

TEFAF NY Online Sales

November 5 2020

Image of TEFAF NY Online Sales


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The inaugural online TEFAF NY fair ended yesterday. have published an interesting article giving some details of works which have been sold during this experimental online-only event. As I reported back in September, each dealer was represented by one single item to avoid 'online viewing room fatigue'.

Amongst the top items reported as being sold was the above painting of an interior by Vilhelm Hammershøi offered by Di Donna Galleries. The article claims that the work was sold for in the region of $5m during the VIP preview, which is quite remarkable considering the same picture sold for £388,800 (inc. premium) at Sotheby's in 2005.

The aforementioned classical bust of Hercules, dug out of a garden in 1984, is reported to have found a buyer willing to part with an undisclosed seven figure sum. The article doesn't seem to mention any old master paintings being sold, which is intriguing.

Lots of the quotes from various dealers suggest the experiment was a success, especially in terms of coming up with engaging digital content. Yet as a commercial success, it seems that we are left wondering for now.

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