Previous Posts: November 2020

Royal Collection Trust Acquires Honthorst Portrait

November 3 2020

Image of Royal Collection Trust Acquires Honthorst Portrait

Picture: RCT

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

News on Twitter (via. @rfirbanksy) that The Royal Collection Trust have acquired a portrait of Princess Sophie, Electress of Hanover (1630-1714), by Gerrit Honthorst. The portrait was purchased at Christie's last year where it made £52,500 (hammer price). Notably, it was Sophie's family ties with the Stuarts that secured her son George I's succession in 1714.

Adolphus William Ward's vast 1909 biography on Sophie is freely available on in case any readers might be interested to delve further into her life.

Update - Here is a write up by La Tribune de l'Art.

Video: How we Look at Art: Frames and Framing

November 3 2020

Video: London Art Week

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

I've spotted on Twitter (via. @TheFrameBlogMag) that London Art Week have posted a video recording of a recent online talk they hosted on the subject of How we Look at Art: Frames and Framing. The speakers for this discussion were Matthew Reeves, a Director at Sam Fogg, and Peter Schade, Head of the National Gallery's Framing Department.

William Hayley Conference

November 3 2020

Image of William Hayley Conference

Picture: Dulwich Picture Gallery

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge is hosting an online conference next week on the writer, scholar and amateur doctor William Hayley (1745-1820).

One talk which might interest readers of this blog is the Romney Scholar Alex Kidson's on 12th November 2020 at 15.00pm. Kidson will be discussing Hayley's relationship with the Georgian artist George Romney. This was a friendship which resulted in many fine portraits (as above) and a few subject pictures.

The conference is free to attend but donations are welcomed.

Rijksmuseum Fellowships

November 3 2020

Video: Rijksmuseum

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam are accepting applications for their fellowships programme. The museum has five available in total, the majority of which focus in on art historical research and conservation.

As the blurb on their website explains:

The purpose of the Fellowship Programme is to encourage and support scholarly investigation, and to contribute to academic discourses while strengthening bonds between the museum and universities. The programme enables highly talented candidates to base part of their research at the Rijksmuseum, and offers access to the museum’s expertise, collections, library and laboratories.

They've even made the snazzy video above to help drum up interest, which must be the first I've ever seen to promote a research programme.

New Bosch Display at the Prado

November 2 2020

Image of New Bosch Display at the Prado

Picture: Prado

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Prado in Madrid have recently opened a new display of their famous paintings by Hieronymus Bosch. New panel supports, lighting and displays have been introduced into Room 56a, improvements which were supported by the technology company Samsung.

Surprisingly, the room also now contains a Samsung TV screen (pictured on the left). Their website explains that the screen "shows an animated sequence of surprising details of the works on display, some shown up to 12 times their original size."

Artworks can be enjoyed in a whole variety of different ways. Personally speaking, I go to art galleries to escape screens. Such electronic displays are undoubtedly a wonderful way to blow up minute details. But will these electric light animations detract from the masterpiece hanging in such close proximity? Let's hope not.

UK Museums Set to Close Once More

November 2 2020

Image of UK Museums Set to Close Once More

Picture: The National Gallery

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The UK has followed France and Germany in announcing a renewed national lock down beginning on the 5th November. Non-essential services including museums and galleries are being forced to close until at least the 2nd December 2020. The UK government's job retention scheme has also been extended, which will hopefully help these institutions with staffing costs. Yet, it seems inevitable now that more museums and galleries will be facing further difficult and uncertain months ahead.

The Art Newspaper has published news that 40 Museum Directors in Germany have signed a letter calling on the government there to reconsider the measures over November. Their letter contains the following argument:

Because of the safety standards already in place, museums are among the safest public places. If museums have to close again, this seems like a symbolic gesture. But it will have massive consequences—not just for museums, which will be weakened still further, but also for the public.

It is incomprehensible to us why DIY shops, car showrooms and other shops can remain open, while museums—which have the same or even more space to make adequate provision for visitors to circulate safely—should have to close.

As ever, an eagerly awaited vaccine might be the only sure route out of this dreadful situation.

Horror Film: Schalken the Painter

November 2 2020

Image of Horror Film: Schalken the Painter

Picture: BBC

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

As this is the season for spooky films, I thought I'd quickly share this eerie film that I watched at the weekend. Schalken the Painter is a 1979 horror film produced by the BBC. It is based on the 1839 story Strange Event in the Life of Schalken the Painter by Sheridan le Fanu. The artist Gerrit Dou also makes several appearances in the picture.

Someone has uploaded the film to YouTube, which you can access here. Enjoy!

Sell the Rare Books, says the Royal College of Physicians

November 1 2020

Image of Sell the Rare Books, says the Royal College of Physicians

Picture: The Times

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Royal College of Physicians in London is the latest UK institution that has mooted selling off parts of its historic collections. In this case the college's leadership has defended the proposed sale of its rich collection of rare books. Press reports have suggested that £10m will be raised from the sale to plug a £3m shortfall.

The college are custodians of a large selection of important books spanning an enormous scope of subjects. Many were gifted in the seventeenth century. Amongst their most prized volumes are editions that were once in the collection of Elizabeth I's astrologer Dr John Dee.

In defence of the proposals president of the Royal College Andrew Goddard has said that the books are "non medical" and thus outside of its core remit. An online petition has begun in order to encourage the college to change its mind.


It seems the Royal College are not the only ones selling rare books at the moment. I recently spotted that Rugby School are selling a selection of historic volumes at auction next month. The school made £15m in 2018 after selling off their old master drawings collection at Christie's.

The school's headmaster has explained that proceeds from the upcoming sale of its rare books:

will go towards extending the benefit of a Rugby education, an education where boys and girls are encouraged to keep asking questions and challenging the answers.

I wonder if some the school's pupils past and present might be challenging this decision.

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