Previous Posts: February 2021

Stolen Art in Franco's Spain

February 23 2021

Image of Stolen Art in Franco's Spain

Picture: LaSexta

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Spanish media outlet LaSexta have run a short video piece detailing stories of artworks looted after Franco's victory during the Spanish Civil War. The article and video (available in Spanish only) details the tales of several families whose artworks have yet to be returned to them. Several heirs have been pursuing their claims in the Spanish courts, including after works by the likes of Goya, Morales and El Greco.

UK Museums & Galleries to Reopen on 17th May

February 22 2021

Image of UK Museums & Galleries to Reopen on 17th May


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The UK Government has revealed its 'roadmap' for the lifting of the most recent lockdown. Their plans reveal that museums and libraries will be allowed to reopen from 17th May 2021. In contrast, commercial galleries will be able to open from 12th April as part of the second phase.

This means that many art galleries and museums across the country will have been closed for six months during this most recent lockdown. On the face of it, it seems rather ridiculous that gyms and swimming pools will be allowed to reopen before the vast galleries of the V&A and National Gallery will be hosting visitors.

In contrast to the increasingly loud noises made by the cultural institutions of France and Italy, it's rather striking that museum directors here don't seem to have made much of a fuss at all. Will this continue, I wonder?

Update - Thomas Marks has written an opinion piece for the Apollo Magazine on the UK government's curious rationale that museums are less safe than gyms.

Update 2 - Here's a link summarising the study made into the safety of visiting museums by the Hermann-Rietschel-Instituts of the Technische Universität Berlin. It claims that the R-rate concerning visitors to museums at 30% occupancy whilst wearing a mask is 0.5. In comparison, shopping with a mask at 10sqm / person is at 1.1, whilst gyms at 30% occupancy without masks is at 1.4.

Williamson Art Gallery Saved from Closure

February 22 2021

Image of Williamson Art Gallery Saved from Closure

Picture: @WilliamsonArt_

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Last week Bendor had highlighted the worrying news of threats to close the Williamson Art Gallery in Birkenhead, Merseyside. This council run museum seemed to have been under threat in order to save £212,000. Fortunately, news has reached us that the councillors have reversed this decision and the museum will stay open. Plans are afoot to help the gallery make savings of £91,000 in order to secure its survival. The group involved in campaigning for it to stay open managed to secure a petition with 13,000 signatures to support their cause.

Gray Collection at the Morgan Library & Museum

February 22 2021

Image of Gray Collection at the Morgan Library & Museum

Picture: The Morgan Library & Museum

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Morgan Library & Museum in New York have recently opened their latest drawings exhibition entitled Gray Collection - Pure Drawing. The show features works collected by the dealers and art historians Richard and Mary L. Gray. Visitors will have a chance to see prized works on paper by the likes of Rubens, Boucher, Degas, Van Gogh and Picasso.

The exhibition will run through till the 6th June 2021.

Scream Scans shows Inscription was made by Munch

February 22 2021

Image of Scream Scans shows Inscription was made by Munch


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The National Museum of Norway have concluded that an inscription made on Edvard Munch's The Scream was made by the artist's own hand. In the top left hand corner resides a sentence which reads 'Can only have been painted by a madman', a piece of text which has long baffled art historians. Recent scans of the work have helped to reveal more details of the writing. It's been suggested that Munch might have added the sentence after the work received a critical reception in an 1895 exhibition.

Masterpieces from Buckingham Palace Tour

February 22 2021

Video: Royal Collection Trust

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

I seem to have missed this video which was posted by the Royal Collection Trust last month. It provides a very interesting tour by exhibition curators Desmond Shawe-Taylor and Isabella Manning.

Twombly Foundation Threatens to sue Louvre over Renovation

February 19 2021

Image of Twombly Foundation Threatens to sue Louvre over Renovation


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Here's an interesting story that's been developing over the past week. The Twombly foundation, the self-appointed guardians of the work of the late Cy Twombly, have threatened to sue the Louvre after a slight alteration to a monumental ceiling painting by the artist "was made without any consultation with, much less permission from, the foundation." The work was unveiled in 2010.

A recent renovation of the Salle des Bronzes by the museum included the changing of the floor, lighting and colour of the walls to red. The museum have defended their decision as their right to change displays over the centuries, but the Twombly foundation think otherwise. The foundation has claimed “The deep red that has been introduced violates these harmonies and entirely destroys the balance of Twombly’s sensitive and memorable installation" which has caused “serious damage” and a “violation of the artist’s moral rights.”

The Louvre have rebuffed these claims, stating that there was nothing in their agreement with the late artist that demanded that the room stay frozen in time.

Baroque Miniatures Exhibition in Switzerland

February 19 2021

Image of Baroque Miniatures Exhibition in Switzerland


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Kunst Museum Winterthur in Switzerland will be opening their new exhibition next month entitled Etiquette and Masquerade - Miniature Portraits of the Baroque.

As their exhibition blurb explains:

Under Louis XIV, France advanced to become the leading power in Europe. The Palace of Versailles shone in all its splendor and was an expression of greatness and absolutist power – the king was worshipped like a god. The Sun King attracted the high nobility to the court and ceremonially favored them in order to control them at the same time. To be assigned an apartment in Versailles was an important privilege. The etiquette described and regulated every process and assigned each member of the court a visible rank within this society. In spite of opulent staging in precious robes of silk and lace with allonge wigs and fans, aspects of convenience, restraint and tact played a prominent role. At the same time, the Kingdom of England began its rise to become the leading colonial power and later the center of trade and industry. Britain’s constitutional monarchy formed a rich aristocracy, which found its social center in representative country estates.

The etiquette and masquerade of the time served as a symbol of both self-definition and deception. This is illustrated by a concise selection of High Baroque miniatures from France and England from the rich collection of miniatures in the Kunst Museum Winterthur.

Uffizi Acquires a 'Lost' Passerotti

February 18 2021

Image of Uffizi Acquires a 'Lost' Passerotti


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Uffizi Gallery in Florence have acquired a painting of The Enigma of Homer (also known as Homer's Riddle or Homer and the Fishermen) by Bartolomeo Passerotti (1529-1592). The painting was previously thought to have been lost. During the sixteenth century it was recorded in the collection of scholar Giovanni Battista Deti, and was later owned by the seventeenth century Florentine senator Carlo Torrigiani. As it happens it was recently unearthed in the collection of his descendants.

The subject matter relates to a Homeric myth, where the ancient philosopher asks a group of fishermen whether they had brought in a good catch. They reply to him with the following riddle "What we caught, we threw away, what we didn't catch, we kept." Can you guess what they're talking about?

Exhibition: The Ladies of Art at the Palazzo Reale in Milan

February 18 2021

Image of Exhibition: The Ladies of Art at the Palazzo Reale in Milan

Picture: Palazzo Reale, Milan

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

On the 3rd March 2021 a new exhibition entitled Le Signore dell’Arte. Storie di donne tra ‘500 e ‘600 will be opening in the Palazzo Reale in Milan. The exhibition pulls together over 130 works to tell the History of Art of Women during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in Italy. The exhibition will include works by Artemisia Gentileschi, Sofonisba Anguissola, Lavinia Fontana, Elisabetta Sirani, Ginevra Cantofoli (pictured), Fede Galicia and Giovanna Garzoni. Lenders have been sourced from 67 institutions are private collections, including most of the major museums in Italy.

The exhibition will run till 27th July 2021. Let's hope lockdowns will lift in time for non-Italians to flock to this impressive sounding show!

Sleeper Alert!

February 18 2021

Image of Sleeper Alert!

Picture: Carlo Bonte

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

News on Twitter (via. @auctionradar) that the above painting 'Attributed to Frans Francken the Younger' made €195,000 (hammer price) over its low €25,000 estimate today at Carlo Bonte Auctions in Belgium.

The condition report included the following:

Condition: - after removing the frame on demand of a client, a signature was discovered. The attribution to Sebastian Vrancx, as noted on the frame, was not corrected.

MET Director Defends Deaccessioning Plans

February 18 2021

Image of MET Director Defends Deaccessioning Plans


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Art Newspaper has published a story of Max Hollein's defence of the MET's plan to deaccession works in order to finance collection care and salaries. He has expressed that the annual amount of art deaccessioned will not exceed their usual rates, usually designated for acquisitions only, and that the process will be as transparent as possible.

To quote him directly:

It is my professional opinion that a deliberate deaccession program is appropriate, useful and necessary for a museum like ours. I also believe that we must face this once-in-a-generation challenge brought by the pandemic by supporting the museum as a whole, especially its staff, while also taking the long view with regard to what is best for the museum.

Jacques de Létin Painting Conserved

February 18 2021

Image of Jacques de Létin Painting Conserved

Picture: @jmvanhoutte2

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

I've spotted some interesting pictures on Twitter (via. @jmvanhoutte2) of a recently conserved painting by the French painter Jacques de Létin (1597-1661). This painting of Christ healing the Paralytic is found in the Église Saint-Rémy de Troyes, Champagne-Ardenne.

The transformation seems to have been very impressive. Here's a photograph of the painting before it was cleaned:

Winchester College's Pictures and Watercolours

February 18 2021

Image of Winchester College's Pictures and Watercolours

Picture: Winchester College

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Winchester College in Hampshire have done a splendid job of uploading their collection of paintings and watercolours online. It's very easy to search through their online database or simply browse at leisure.

In terms of works on paper, they have some very nice examples by Thomas Gainsborough, Francis Towne, Turner, Girtin, Wright of Derby and later works by Hercules Brabazon Brabazon and Albert Goodwin (pictured).

Their selection of portraits are also rather intriguing. I'd particularly like to draw attention to Isaac Whood's charming set of eighteenth century portraits known as the 'Gentlemen Commoners'. Christopher Rowell published a very interesting article on these Georgian paintings in the British Art Journal in 2013.

The college will be uploading their collection onto ArtUK in the upcoming months. There are bound to be some discoveries made, particularly the watercolours and drawings ascribed to 'English School' I imagine. This Portrait of an Unknown Lady of the 1670s reminds me a little of the work of Mary Beale, for example.

Update - I've been informed that Beale had been suggested as a possible author in the past, but this was eventually rejected by a specialist at the Tate. Mary Beale had in fact lived in Hampshire for six years after her family escaped plague ridden London in 1665.

Rembrandt's Orient

February 17 2021

Image of Rembrandt's Orient

Picture: Kunstmuseum Basel

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The travelling exhibition Rembrandt's Orient, curated and the catalogue featuring work by Bodo Brinkmann, Gabriel Dette, Michael Philipp and Gary Schwartz, is due to open at the Museum Barberini in Potsdam on 13th March 2021. It has just finished at the Kunstmuseum in Basel.

The exhibition consists of 120 works by the likes of Rembrandt, Ferdinand Bol, Jan Lievens and his many contemporaries.

The exhibition description is as follows:

Turbans and carpets, sabers and silk robes––Rembrandt and his contemporaries repeatedly painted objects from distant lands. The resulting works of art provide evidence of the first wave of globalization and reflect the influence of foreign cultures on the Netherlands in the seventeenth century. This significant art-historical period was shaped by a thirst for knowledge, a passion for collecting, and a pride of possession; it also inspired painters to create novel history scenes, portraits, and still lifes. However, encounters between the West and the East did not occur at eye level, nor was the exchange based on equality. Foreignness offered an intriguing contrast to the world of the Dutch, but it hardly aroused a more profound level of sympathy. This was no different for Rembrandt than for his other contemporaries, and this attitude––which this exhibition invites visitors to reflect upon––remains unchanged to this day in many parts of the Western world. The show provides an opportunity to question this persistent Eurocentrism.

'Primer' for MET's New British Galleries

February 17 2021

Image of 'Primer' for MET's New British Galleries

Picture: MET

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Metropolitan Museum in New York have released a flashy new website to promote their newly revamped British Galleries. Described as a 'primer', the site shows off the five new themes that visitors will encounter during a walk around these rooms.

Each theme has been given a particular headline (I'll leave you to work them out):

- These objects are notably 'now'.

- Every price tag tells a story.

- Politics meets design head-on (and heads-off).

- Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

- The tragedy behind the triumph.

Jan van Mieris Monograph and Catalogue Raisonné

February 17 2021

Image of Jan van Mieris Monograph and Catalogue Raisonné

Picture: CODART

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

CODART (The International curators network of Dutch and Flemish Art) have drawn attention to this new monograph and catalogue raisonné on the artist Jan van Mieris (1660-1690) by Margreet van der Hut.

To quote the website's brief biography of the painter:

Jan van Mieris was the oldest son and pupil of the famous Leiden painter Frans van Mieris I (1635-1681), who in turn had studied under Gerard Dou (1613-1675) and Abraham van den Tempel (1622-1672). Jan and his brother Willem (1622-1647) followed in the footsteps of their father by working in his manner. This is why their works are often difficult to distinguish from one another and nearly every painting of Jan van Mieris has been attributed to Frans I, Willem or even Willem’s son Frans II (1689-1763) at some point. Jan was not only a painter but a poet as well. Some five poems and a lyrical version of the play Aminta by the Italian poet Torquato Tasso (1544-1595) have been preserved in a manuscript at the University Leiden.

As AHN likes to promote such stellar work, Margreet van der Hut will now feature in the prestigious Heroes of Art History section of this blog.

EU Proposes Ivory Ban Which Does Not Protect Miniatures

February 17 2021

Image of EU Proposes Ivory Ban Which Does Not Protect Miniatures

Picture: V&A

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The European Commission have drafted a proposal for a ban on the sale of ivory. Unlike the UK's recent passing of the 2018 Ivory Act, the EU's drafts do not carry a provision pre-1918 portrait miniatures. Curiously, it does however give provision for antique ivory worked pre-1947 and antique musical instruments. Professionals in the field have called the proposals "hugely damaging and disproportionate."

The consequences of this could be rather serious for any miniatures crossing borders into the EU, including for scholarly exhibitions.

Antiques organisations such as BADA and the international trade association CINOA will be making petitions to the EC, and encourage any other person that trades with the EU and has contacts to do the same.

Here are Bendor's posts on the UK's proposals situation back in 2016 and 2017.

'Fleeting Scents in Colors' at the Mauritshuis

February 16 2021

Image of 'Fleeting Scents in Colors' at the Mauritshuis

Picture: The Mauritshuis

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Mauritshuis in the Hague will be opening a new multisensory exhibition entitled Fleeting Scents in Colours when the museum reopens after lockdown.

As the museum's website explains:

Scented flowers and perfumes, foul-smelling canals and unpleasant body odours, smell and well-being, new aromas from far-away lands (spices, tobacco, coffee and tea), the disappearing smells of the bleaching fields, old crafts and more. Can life in the seventeenth century be captured in smell? How are smell (and scent) portrayed? What significance did people attach to smell? And what aromatic connotations do artworks have? In this exhibition, the Mauritshuis will undertake smell-historical research. In the vicinity of the art, various historic scents will be prepared to bring the paintings in the exhibition to life.

It appears that the exhibition catalogue in Dutch is already available on their website.

Update - Here's a link to the English version of the exhibition catalogue.

Yale Center for British Art is Hiring!

February 16 2021

Image of Yale Center for British Art is Hiring!

Picture: Yale Center for British Art

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Yale Center for British Art is looking for a Curator of Prints and Drawings.

As their job description explains:

The Curator of Prints and Drawings joins the Center’s curatorial staff at a pivotal moment for the museum. Reporting to the Deputy Director and Chief Curator, the curator will play a key role in bringing renewed attention to the collections in line with the Center’s mission. The Curator of Prints and Drawings brings creativity and vision to the Prints and Drawings collections and works collaboratively with the larger Curatorial Division to develop a dynamic and rigorous program of exhibitions and publications that enhances the collection’s profile and increases audience engagement.

The salary on offer is not disclosed and the review of applications will begin on 1st June 2021.

Good luck if you're applying!

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