Previous Posts: October 2020

Rembrandt in the Mauritshuis Lecture

October 7 2020

Image of Rembrandt in the Mauritshuis Lecture

Picture: Mauritshuis

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The American Friends of the Mauritshuis are putting on a free online lecture entitled Reassessing Rembrandt in the Mauritshuis Collection. Special focus will be given to the most recent art historical assessments of the 11 pictures the collection owns by the Dutch Master and 7 others now attributed to his circle. The lecture will be delivered by Mauritshuis Executive Director, Martine Gosselink, and Senior Curator, Quentin Buvelot.

The lecutre will be broadcast on 28th October at 12pm (Eastern Time). It is free to attend via. Zoom although registration is required.

Sleeper Alert!

October 7 2020

Image of Sleeper Alert!

Picture: Cornette de Saint Cyr

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

News on Twitter (via. @auctionradar) that this painting of Mary Magdalene catalogued as 'Attributed to Rubens' sold for €320,000 over its €4k - €6k estimate at the auction house Cornette de Saint Cyr today. It seems that someone was able to see past the condition issues of this rather cracked panel. Also, it's probably best not to let the eye linger for too long on the structure of her throat and neck. I wonder if we will see the painting again with a dealer in the near future.

Bonhams Old Masters Sale

October 7 2020

Image of Bonhams Old Masters Sale

Picture: Bonhams

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The auction house Bonhams have uploaded their upcoming Old Master Paintings sale online. The sale will take place in London on 21st October 2020.

Lots of interesting paintings as usual with extremely tempting estimates. I won't spoil the fun of pointing out those that might do well.

My eye was drawn to this rather fun unidentified musician catalogued as 'Circle of Johann Kerseboom'. It's so well painted that we can read the music score that is in front him. It shows a piece identified as 'Mr Lane's Maggot'. The piece was published in a music book dated to 1695. Yet, it may be a transcription of an earlier dance relating to King Charles II's dancing master 'Mr Lane'. Here's a link to the song on YouTube if you're curious as to what it sounds like. WARNING: The song is a real earworm.

Update - I've transcribed the song for my lute and published the recording here.

Music & Commentary at Christie's

October 7 2020

Image of Music & Commentary at Christie's

Picture: Christie's via. Facebook

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Whilst scrolling through Facebook this evening I came across a live feed of Christie's 20th Century Evening Sale.

It seems that they have introduced a few new features. This includes background music, during the climax of bidding wars, and some live commentary from staff. It feels a bit like a sporting event, which is probably what they are trying to achieve. It's rather hard to replicate the excitement of being in a saleroom. I wonder if these new features will help sell pictures?

American Museums Poised to Sell $100m of Art

October 6 2020

Image of American Museums Poised to Sell $100m of Art

Picture: Baltimore Museum of Art

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz: has published an article highlighting that a selection of American Museums are poised to sell $100m of Art this season at auction. The aforementioned changes to rules from the Association of Museum Directors in the wake of the COVID crisis is clearly playing a part in the sell-off strategies.

The most recent American museum to announce that it is selling items from its collections is the Baltimore Museum of Art. Amongst the three works that will be consigned is Andy Warhol's The Last Supper (pictured), a rip-off of Leonardo's iconic fresco, of course. The museum hope to raise $65m from the sales which include siphoning off money for a broad "equity initiative". 

The Washington Post ran an article on the Baltimore Museum's announcement giving quotes from their director:

BMA Director Christopher Bedford, who believes Warhol would have given the sale his “hearty blessings,” has said the museum is in good financial shape. The underlying motive for the sale, Bedford said Friday, was to address systemic racism and injustice that “should have been addressed with determination centuries ago.” Those factors, he added, provide “more than enough justification” for the museum to sell the works.

“The moral imperative,” he said, “prevails over all.”

Curiously, it appears that it is mostly twentieth century art that is being consigned for sale thus far. To this date only the Brooklyn Museum have committed old master paintings to the saleroom.

Tintoretto's Last Painting Conserved

October 6 2020

Image of Tintoretto's Last Painting Conserved


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The last recorded painting to have left Tintoretto's workshop before his death in May 1594 has been conserved. The Entombment of Christ, painted for Venetian Church of San Giorgio Maggiore, is believed to be one of the last works completed by the master and his son Domenico.

Work on the picture began after it returned from an exhibition in Washington DC in 2019. The treatment was funded by the organisation called Save Venice's Tintoretto 500 Campaign, and was undertaken by conservator Claudia Vittori in collaboration with Barbara Bragato and others.

The transformation is quite dramatic, especially now that the darks have been reinstated. Let's hope the lighting they have in the church is equally as sympathetic!

The British Library is Hiring!

October 6 2020

Image of The British Library is Hiring!

Picture: BL

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The British Library in London are looking for a new Head of Collections & Curation

As their job description explains:

In this role, you will lead, manage and inspire our world-class curatorial teams, who work with colleagues across the Library to ensure that public access of all kinds to our vast physical and digital collections is underpinned by expert knowledge and creative insight.  The post holder will be the Library’s senior leader in areas including stewardship, content and collection development and cultural property management.  

You will be responsible for leading structural and change programmes, fostering a ‘One British Library’ culture of collaboration, embedding the Library’s values and enabling us to deliver our commitments to openness, diversity, inclusivity and anti-racism.

The salary on offer is between £76,000 - £90,000. Applications must be in by 5th November 2020.

Good luck if you're applying!

Mona Lisa's Pounce Marks Found

October 6 2020

Image of Mona Lisa's Pounce Marks Found


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

French scientists examining the Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa have unveiled the results of recent research into this iconic painting. Multispectral cameras have revealed that Leonardo did not draw the famous portrait free-hand, but used pouncing instead (called spolvero in Italian). This involves using drawings, with holes pricked into the paper, and then black chalk is rubbed in to allow images to be transferred onto panel. This was a technique used widely during the Renaissance.

High resolution images and scans have been published (pictured) showing these marks. It's particularly obvious where her hands meet, for example.

It seems that this investigation was initially commissioned purely to find out what pigments and measurements of colour Leonardo had used. Once work began, however, it is clear that Lionel Simonot and the Pprime Institute had discovered something of equal if not of greater interest.

Sotheby's October Sales

October 5 2020

Image of Sotheby's October Sales

Picture: Sotheby's

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Sotheby's have just published their October NY 'Master Paintings' sale on their website. This online sale runs from 7th - 14th October 2020.

The top lot is this fine architectural capriccio by Bernardo Bellotto estimated at $700k - $900k and sold by the San Diego Museum of Art. Also noteworthy is this nice Jordaens of the Triumphant Christ estimated at $200k - $300k; a pair of Panini roman ruins estimated at $60k - $80k; a Last Supper by Sebastiano Ricci estimated at $200k - $300k;  and fine battle scene by Apollino di Giovanni estimated at $200k - $300k.

I'm also rather fond of the picture above by Joseph Marcellin Combette, showing his wife painting at an easel. This work carries a very reasonable estimate of $6k - $8k.

Also not to be forgotten is The Collection of Ambassador and Mrs. Felix Rohatyn, which includes some very fine eightheenth century pictures including a magnificent Canaletto of the Rialto Bridge estimated at $3m - $5m.

Video: Rubens, brush and movement

October 4 2020

Image of Video: Rubens, brush and movement

Picture: Harvard Art Museums

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Harvard Art Museums have published a video discussing an oil sketch of Hercules Strangling the Nemean Lion by Rubens (click on the link to watch). The video is presented by conservator Cristina Morilla and relates to the techniques Rubens employed in producing such small scale sketches.

Sell the Hockney, say the Royal Opera House

October 4 2020

Image of Sell the Hockney, say the Royal Opera House

Picture: The Guardian

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Royal Opera House in London has announced that it is selling a portrait by David Hockney to raise £18m for essential funds. Hockney's 1971 portrait of former director Sir David Webster is set to be sold at Christie's later this year carrying an estimate of £11m - £18m.

The Royal Opera House's chief executive Alex Beard is quoted saying:

This was a really tough call, but we have to face the situation we are in and if we can remain viable and get through this, then we can get back to employing people in the future.

We are the biggest arts employer in the country and we knew we had to look at any assets we had, and there is only really one of any note that stands out and that is this portrait.

The organisation is set to make redundancies as well as begin a drive for donations.


Such drastic measures from such prestigious cultural institutions are very worrying indeed. One can't help but have sympathy for theatres and their employees who are being so brutally punished for following government guidelines. Yet, it's also sad to see that the plundering of historic collections, or 'assets' as they refer to them, are the only way out of this mess.

It seems that this portrait carries a great deal of spiritual significance to the Royal Opera House in both historic and aesthetic terms. Although I'm hardly the right person to make any judgements on twentieth century art, personally I'm left wondering whether this picture really has as much market appeal as some of Hockney's more celebrated works. It has a rather institutional aesthetic about it, resembling the charm of a dentist waiting room. 

We'll wait and see if this is a growing trend.

Artemisia Exhibition Tour

October 4 2020

Video: The National Gallery

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The National Gallery in London have uploaded this rather good video tour of their current exhibition on Artemisia Gentileschi onto their YouTube Channel. The tour is conducted by curator Letizia Treves and includes a welcome from the gallery's chairman of trustees and director.

Raphael in Woking

October 2 2020

Image of Raphael in Woking

Picture: Royal Collection Trust

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

On 3rd October 2020 a new exhibition is opening in The Lightbox Museum and Art Gallery in Woking. Entitled Raphael: Prince Albert's Passion, this exhibition will focus on the Prince's fondness for this Italian Renaissance Old Master. Several of Raphael's drawings have been loaned from the Royal Collection for the show which will run until 31st January 2021.

Furthermore, Martin Clayton (Head of Prints and Drawings for the Royal Collection Trust) is presenting a lecture on Raphael as a draughtsman in the gallery on 4th November 2020.

London Art Week: Art History in Focus

October 2 2020

Video: Philip Mould & Company

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

This October the London Art Week are hosting several events and exhibitions entitled Art History in Focus. They've not yet announced the full list of participants and events, but it seems much will focus on the subject of Women Artists.

In co-operation with the events dealers Philip Mould & Company will be staging a new exhibition entitled Pioneers: 500 Years of Women in British Art. It will run in their galleries on Pall Mall from 12th October - 27th November and also be accessible in an online format.

Christie's NY Online Sale

October 1 2020

Image of Christie's NY Online Sale

Picture: Christie's

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

A quick note that the Christie's NY online auction, the equivalent to the usual 'day sale', has been uploaded online. Bidding runs from 1st - 20th October 2020.

There are too many interesting pictures to point out, so I'll leave this pleasure to readers to find their favourites. This painting of a Young woman resting on her hand, 'Attributed to Rubens', certainly has an intriguing catalogue note.

There is even a chance to own a painting which had once belonged to Emperor Napoleon III. The above painting of Isabel de Requesens, after Giulio Romano and housed in an extravagant Dutch frame, is estimated at $30k - $50k.

Sleeper Alert!

October 1 2020

Image of Sleeper Alert!

Picture: Coutau-Bégarie

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

News on Twitter (via. @neiljeffares) that the above unidentified pastel made €115,000 at the auction house Coutau-Bégarie yesterday. Neil Jeffares pointed out that it is another version of the professor, mathematician and Catholic priest Le père François de Paule Jacquier by Guillame Voiriot (1712/9-1799). More information can be found via this link to (page 2).

Online Journal: Elizabethan and Jacobean Miniatures

October 1 2020

Image of Online Journal: Elizabethan and Jacobean Miniatures

Picture: British Art Studies

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Exciting news for lovers of miniatures. The journal British Art Studies, published by the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art and Yale Centre for British Art, have published their recent journal online. This free edition is entitled Elizabethan and Jacobean Miniature Paintings in Context and is edited by Catharine MacLeod and Alexander Marr. The essays within look fascinating and are beautifully illustrated too. As per usual, old fashioned art history is mixed perfectly with technical analysis and makes for very interesting reading indeed.

Job Losses at V&A

October 1 2020

Image of Job Losses at V&A


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

More grim news from the UK Museums Sector. The Victoria and Albert Museum in London has announced that at least 103 jobs are at risk. Most will come from the retail and visitor experience, with a few others being lost from various departments. Tristram Hunt, the museum's director, has called the proposals necessary to "secure the V&A’s survival and prepare for the challenging years ahead”. The museum is looking to make £10m worth of savings.

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