Previous Posts: April 2021

Raphael Inspired work by Dalí Remerges

April 6 2021

Image of Raphael Inspired work by Dalí Remerges

Picture: El Pais

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Here is a rather curious story that has emerged over the past few days.

A painting by Salvador Dalí has rememerged after being in a private collection since the 1950s. The 1958 work entitled Madonna Cosmic was clearly inspired by Raphael's The Sistine Madonna in Dresden. It is being put up for sale by the heirs of its previous owner who have decided to offer the painting for private sale via a website. The site contains contains three testimonies in a section entitled 'What the Experts Say' along with other information about the work's provenance. No estimate has been supplied.

Dutch Police Arrest Art Theft Suspect

April 6 2021

Image of Dutch Police Arrest Art Theft Suspect

Picture: The Guardian

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Dutch Police have arrested a suspect in connection with the thefts of a Van Gogh and Frans Hals from the Singer Museum in Laren and the Hofje van Mevrouw van Aerden Museum in Leerdam last year. A search of the suspect's home has not recovered the paintings. The investigation continues.

The Light of Michelangelo

April 6 2021

Video: MIC_Italia

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

News from Italy that the special natural lighting which illuminates Michelangelo's Tomb of Julius II in the Basilica of San Pietro in Vincoli, Rome, has been captured on film. The time-lapse video above shows how the natural light flooding into the church around Easter lights up some of the key features of the tomb in a theatrical manner. It has been suggested that Michelangelo had this lighting effect in mind when the tomb was designed.

Unidentified Portraits Corpus Rubenianum

April 5 2021

Image of Unidentified Portraits Corpus Rubenianum

Picture: @VeroVdK

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Exciting news from Véronique Van de Kerckhof (@VeroVdK) on Twitter of another upcoming new volume from the Corpus Rubenianum. Part XIX will be dedicated to Unidentified Portraits and previously unidentified sitters that have now been identified by further research. It seems likely that this volume will be available later this Spring.

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Acquires a Lavinia Fontana Portrait

April 5 2021

Image of Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Acquires a Lavinia Fontana Portrait

Picture: VMFA

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts has acquired a portrait by Lavinia Fontana (1552-1614). Although the identity of the sitter is not known, it has been suggested that it may depict Isabella Gonzaga (1565–1637).

According to Dr Sylvain Cordier, the museum's Paul Mellon curator and Head of European Art:

Here is a woman’s regard for another woman during an era when the very contours of womanhood were principally being delineated by men. A noble woman in this society had to struggle to affirm her place, her dignity and her authority. This representation of a confident and charismatic young noble woman will play a vital role in the development of the spectacular Grand Portrait Gallery that we are preparing for 2025. This gallery will assist our visitors to interrogate the constantly changing conventions governing gendered representation in European art over the course of several centuries.

Lost Gainsborough Purchased in France for £2,500

April 5 2021

Image of Lost Gainsborough Purchased in France for £2,500

Picture: The Guardian

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Guardian published a story over the weekend about a recently remerged portrait by Thomas Gainsborough which was purchased at auction in France for £2,500. The portrait depicts the Czech born composer Antonín Kammel (1730–1784 or 1785), who was a friend of the artist.

The work has been authenticated by Hugh Belsey, compiler of the recent Gainsborough catalogue raisonné. He is quoted as saying:

This is a really exciting addition to his work. It is so rare to find a picture that’s totally unknown.

Gainsborough had a great deal of interest in musicians and likened a picture to a piece of music, once writing: ‘One part of a Picture ought to be like the first part of a Tune; that you can guess what follows, and that makes the second part of the Tune, and so I’ve done.’

The work has been conserved by Simon Gillespie. Curiously, the article does not seem to mention who the owner of the work is.

Here's an evocative example of Kammel's music (the only example on YouTube it seems), in case you're wondering what his work sounded like!

Update - The conservator Simon Gillespie has uploaded some images onto Instagram showing some more details of the restored work.

Happy Easter!

April 2 2021

Image of Happy Easter!

Picture: The Royal Collection Trust

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Wishing all readers of AHN a very Happy Easter!

V&A to Keep Materials-Led Approach

April 2 2021

Image of V&A to Keep Materials-Led Approach

Picture: V&A

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

There was some good news announced earlier this week that the Victoria and Albert Museum in London have decided to not go ahead with scraping their materials-led curatorial departments.

As their press release explains:

As part of the ongoing consultation process with V&A staff and trade union representatives, we have shared an updated proposal that retains and reforms the V&A’s materials-led approach, creates three new curatorial departments by bringing existing departments together in addition to a department for Asia, delivers the agreed savings, and builds a structure and vision that will connect with the audiences of tomorrow.

Albrecht Dürer Prints in Moscow

April 1 2021

Video: ГИМ

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The State Historical Museum in Moscow has opened a new exhibition this week on Albrecht Dürer Engraving Masterpieces. The show has been organised with the Pinakothek Tosio Martinengo in Brescia, Italy, whose collections of printed works by the artist is one of the best in the world. Overall, the show features 120 engravings by the artist excluding works by other contemporaries.

The exhibition will run until 28th June 2021.

Italian Police Seize Looted Painting

April 1 2021

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Italian police have seized a painting which was looted from its Jewish owners in France by the Nazis. The search for the picture of Lot and his Daughters was begun a few years ago by the family's heirs and led to a very interesting path.

According to the news story linked above:

A special unit dedicated to the protection of cultural heritage managed to establish the provenance of the piece, though much of its journey following the occupation remains a mystery. They determined that, in 2017, the painting was bought in France by an Italian antiques dealer, who lent it to Belgium for an exhibition. Afterward, the work was sold to a dealer from Milan, who subsequently exhibited it in 2019 in Maastricht in the Netherlands. It was during at this exhibition that a viewer, a Dutch antiquities expert, recognized it as a looted Poussin.

Following the trail they had recreated, the Italian police force finally tracked the work to the home of the antiques dealer near Padua, in northeastern Italy. The Poussin was seized and returned to its heirs.

It will be interesting to see if more details emerge about how its exact provenance. I'm not a Poussin expert, but it seems very unlikely that this is an accepted work of his. Equally, a quick google search hasn't revealed whether the painting was at TEFAF, but I'm sure more will emerge in due course.

Update - I'm grateful to @Mweilc on Twitter who's passed on information via. Beatrice Tanzi that the work is in fact a painting by Alessandro Turchi (1578-1649), not Poussin.

Furthermore, the painting was first recorded in the Palazzo Gherardini a San Fermetto in Verona in 1718, and passed through the hands of two different collectors in the nineteenth century. It's possible that it was known as a Poussin during this early period. It was then sold at Christie's Montecarlo in December 1988 where it passed into the hands of a dealer in Italy. It seems that there was a gap in provenance during the twentieth century. The information I have seen also confirms that the work was exhibited by a gallery at TEFAF in 2019.

'A Painting Tradition' Exhibition in Virginia

April 1 2021

Image of 'A Painting Tradition' Exhibition in Virginia

Picture: William King Museum of Art

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

News from the US that the William King Museum of Art in Abingdon, Virginia, will be opening a new exhibition on 22nd April entitled A Painting Tradition.

According to the exhibition's blurb:

A survey of 18th – 20th century paintings, A Painting Tradition looks at the importance of the portrait and the figure in Europe and America. From military portraits and members of the aristocracy, to the working class and beloved horses, this exhibition explores the various styles of portrait and figure painting that were prevalent from the Georgian to Victorian periods in Europe and through the Early and Revolutionary periods in America.

In addition to a survey of the figure in painting, this exhibition will include study paintings and sketchbooks to examine the ways that artists studied painting and developed their techniques. Learn about the people behind the portraits through a look at the lives of the artists and the sitters along with the historical events that drove the production of portraits.

The exhibition will run until 19th September 2021.

Cheffins to Auction Gainsborough's Earliest Self-Portrait

April 1 2021

Image of Cheffins to Auction Gainsborough's Earliest Self-Portrait

Picture: Cheffins

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The auction house Cheffins in Cambridgeshire will be auctioning-off Thomas Gainsborough's earliest self-portrait later this month. It was created c.1740 when the artist was thirteen years old. The painting has been in a private collection since 2008 and was formerly with the art dealer Philip Mould. The press releases haven't provided a formal estimate, however, the figure £40,000 has been quoted.

The painting will be sold on 21st April 2021.

Update - Here's the official press release from the auction house.

It also explains a little more about the work's provenance:

The self-portrait has changed hands three times since 1974 when it was purchased from the estate of Ernest Albert Butcher (a descendant of Robert Butcher) in Australia by the collector, dealer and philanthropist Neville Podmore. It was subsequently purchased by Felder Old Master Paintings in 2001 and then Philip Mould, Historical Portraits, in 2005 before entering the collection of the current owner. It is not altogether clear how the picture was acquired by the Butcher family, but a possible explanation is that it was acquired by Robert Butcher, Steward to 4th Duke of Bedford (1710-1771). The Duke was one of Gainsborough’s earliest patrons and it’s believed that the artist and Butcher had direct dealings with each other whilst Gainsborough painted portraits of the Duke and Duchess in the 1760’s.

Update - The painting sold for £90,000 (hammer price) and the dealer Philip Mould has announced on Twitter that he was the lucky buyer of the work.

Empty Old Masters

April 1 2021

Image of Empty Old Masters

Picture: Octobrium

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The website have featured works by the contemporary artist Octobrium who has been digitally manipulating old masters to create 'paintings from an alternative position in time'. Essentially, the artist carefully samples images and removes the figures from scenes to reveal the settings in their most pure form. The picture above is after Jan Gossaert's The Adoration of the Kings in the National Gallery, London.

As the website explains:

octobrium invites the audience to consider the moment when the actors have departed and to reflect upon the landscapes and structures that form the backdrop to the composition. in the absence of representations of living characters that had previously inhabited the scene, viewers are compelled to relate to the picture from solely their own perspective and thought; and the picture then assumes a different meaning. a meaning informed by our memory of the original painting.


A very neat trick I suppose, which does remind us how marvellous and interesting the architectural settings of such paintings can be. Regular readers might remember artist José Manuel Ballester undertaking the same effect with a Canaletto last June. Turn this into an NFT, and they might just start realising more money at auction than real old master paintings (perish the thought).

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