Previous Posts: March 2021

Eighteenth Century IPhone

March 19 2021

Image of Eighteenth Century IPhone

Picture: Schloss Ludwigslust

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

As many of you will know, AHN is a fan of time travelling in paintings.

The French Porcelain Society and Richard Hird of Sotheby's (@glazed_and_confused) seem to have made the most recent discovery of time travel in a portrait of Duchess Sophia Frederica of Mecklenburg-Schwerin (1758-1794) by Georg David Mathieu. This fine painting obviously shows her with an early version of an IPhone, wouldn't you agree? It seems she has a custom case for it too.

Bonhams Old Masters Sale

March 19 2021

Image of Bonhams Old Masters Sale

Picture: Bonhams

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Bonhams London have uploaded their upcoming Old Master Paintings sale onto their website. There are many interesting paintings which I encourage you all to look through when you have the chance. One of the most intriguing is a curious fresco modello attributed to James Thornhill, which must surely be connected to some surviving or since destroyed work.

The sale will be held on 15th April 2021.

Create Your Own Virtual Exhibition

March 19 2021

Image of Create Your Own Virtual Exhibition

Picture: Occupy White Walls

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery have teamed up with a new 'art-focused sandbox game' called Occupy White Walls, which allows users to create their own virtual exhibitions. The gallery is the first major art institution to hand over hundreds of images from its collection to allow players to create their ideal virtual art gallery.

As the above article explains:

Want a river coursing through a velvet-walled gallery? Not a problem; take your pick from 2,300 architectural assets. Fancy putting Leonardo Da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi” in contentious conversation with his “Mona Lisa”? Why not throw in the game’s 11 other Leonardos, or any of the platform’s more than 17,000 artworks that resonate for that matter?

Linda Spurdle, the museum's digital development manager, is also quoted saying:

“We talk a lot about getting younger and more diverse audiences involved. Occupy White Walls is a next step. We want people to use our artwork creatively. If people want to build art galleries and exhibitions, go ahead, use our art.

A wonderful idea, it seems, to alleviate the utter boredom of lockdown. But I for one can't wait to leave my screens behind and go and see some beautiful objects made by human hands.

Old Master Drawings at Christie's Paris

March 19 2021

Image of Old Master Drawings at Christie's Paris

Picture: Christie's

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Christie's Paris have two rather interesting sales of Old Master Drawings coming up next week. The first consists of an exceptional collection of drawings from a private collection, featuring works by the likes of Camillo Procaccini, Hendrick Goltzius, Bernardo Strozzi and Guercino. The second is a more straightforward sale from various sources, making a good case for why works on paper are an accessible way to get into collecting.

Both sales will be held on 24th March 2021.

Global Art Market Shrinks by 22% in 2020

March 19 2021

Image of Global Art Market Shrinks by 22% in 2020


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Figures from the latest annual Art Basel and UBS Art Market report have suggested that the global art market shrank by 22% over the pandemic year. The report shows that that combined dealer and auction house sales totalled $50.1 billion, the lowest level since the financial crash supposedly.

Some of the key figures:

- Dealer sales declined an aggregate 20%, to $29.3 billion.

- Public auctions, many of which were conducted in online-only formats, were down 30%, to $17.6 billion.

- Private transactions at auction houses were up 36%, to $3.2 billion.

Uffizi Diffusi

March 18 2021

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Uffizi's director Eike Schmidt has released more details about his plans to spread out art and visitors from the centre of Florence. Uffizi Diffusi is a project that will attempt to spread out art amongst 60 exhibition spaces in Tuscany, including Livorno and two Medici villas on the outskirts of Florence. The decentralisation of art is an attempt to spread out visitors who visit this art and architectural jewel of a city, which during normal times already receives around 14 million visitors a year.

The director is quoted as saying:

We already have over 3,000 works of art on display in the Uffizi—that's enough.

As is often voiced on AHN, it would be wonderful if similar plans could be drawn up for the spreading out of art from stores in London to across the UK. We'll be the first to report on it if and when it happens!

New Release: Painting, Science, and the Perception of Coloured Shadows

March 18 2021

Image of New Release: Painting, Science, and the Perception of Coloured Shadows

Picture: Routledge

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Routledge have announced their new release entitled Painting, Science, and the Perception of Coloured Shadows by the University of Warwick art historian Paul Smith.

As the book's blurb explains:

Many artists and scientists – including Buffon, Goethe, and Philipp Otto Runge – who observed the vividly coloured shadows that appear outdoors around dawn and dusk, or indoors when a candle burns under waning daylight, chose to describe their colours as ‘beautiful’.  Paul Smith explains what makes these ephemeral effects worthy of such appreciation – or how depictions of coloured shadows have genuine aesthetic and epistemological significance.

This multidisciplinary book synthesises methodologies drawn from art history (close pictorial analysis), psychology and neuroscience (theories of colour constancy), history of science (the changing paradigms used to explain coloured shadows), and philosophy (theories of perception and aesthetic value drawn from Wittgenstein and Merleau-Ponty). 

This title will be of interest to scholars in art history, art theory, and the history of science and technology.

Louis 14, not Louis XIV, says Musée Carnavalet

March 18 2021

Image of Louis 14, not Louis XIV, says Musée Carnavalet

Picture: Musée Carnavalet

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Musée Carnavalet in Paris has caused a stir in France by banishing roman numerals from its signs and displays.

The museum says that they present an 'obstacle to understanding' and have been replaced with arabic numerals instead. The Louvre has already removed roman numerals to designate centuries in their galleries along similar lines.

Critics in the French press have highlighted the move as part of an ongoing 'cultural catastrophe', where such things are no longer taught and thus simple eliminated. Other Italian critics have placed the blame not with the public, but with leaders and politicians who judge the publics ability to engage with culture too lowly.

Breaking the Mould - Touring Exhibition

March 18 2021

Image of Breaking the Mould - Touring Exhibition

Picture: The Arts Council

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Arts Council have organised a special touring exhibition this year entitled Breaking the Mould: Sculpture by Women since 1945

According to the exhibition blurb:

This major new touring exhibition challenges the male-dominated narratives of post-war British sculpture by presenting a diverse and significant range of ambitious work by women. Offering a radical recalibration, Breaking the Mould  not only celebrates the strengths of sculpture made by women but also seeks to guard against the threat of slipping out of view. Through this deliberately restorative act, the exhibition seeks to inspire future generations, supporting the maxim ‘if she can see it she can be it’. 

Breaking the Mould represents the work of over forty-five sculptors including Barbara Hepworth, Elisabeth Frink, Kim Lim, Cornelia Parker, Veronica Ryan, Rachel Whiteread and Anthea Hamilton.

The exhibition will first open on 21st May 2021 at the Longside Gallery, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, and will then tour to New Art Gallery Walsall, Djanogly Art Gallery, The Levinsky Gallery at the University of Plymouth, Nottingham Lakeside Arts and Ferens Art Gallery, Hull.

Virtual Tours of the Musei Capitolini

March 18 2021

Image of Virtual Tours of the Musei Capitolini


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Rome's Musei Capitolini is the latest museum to upload a rather snazzy virtual tour of its galleries online. It's no substitute for a visit in person, but it could help during the few months before travelling might be possible again.

National Art Library Update

March 18 2021

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

It seems that the Directors of the V&A in London have changed their minds to lay-off 20 members of staff at the National Art Library (NAL). Over 10,000 signatures were gathered to oppose the proposed changes. The organisation involved in the petition have said they have secured a further 6 months of furloughing for the staff involved.

However, it looks like the NAL will still be closed for a further 6 months while a restructuring programme takes place. This is half the amount of time that was initially suggested.

There is mention of some sort of 'skeleton service' in the interim, but it seems likely that students and researchers will have to wait until September at the earliest to gain access to the library.

I'll post more details whenever they appear.

Update - An official spokesperson have confirmed that the current plan is for the NAL to reopen in December 2021. The library will be testing a digital interim service between May and December, which might allow some specialist researchers to make appointments to visit certain materials Here is a full write-up by The Art Newspaper.

Venus Exhibitions in Mantua

March 17 2021

Image of Venus Exhibitions in Mantua


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Palazzo Te Foundation and the Palazzo Te Civic Museum in Mantua will be putting on three exhibitions and a programme of events this year celebrating the mythological figure of Venus. The Divine Venus project was inspired by depictions of the goddess in the Palazzo Te, and will feature loaned works by the likes of Cranach, Guido Reni, Titian and Dosso Dossi, not to mention many other works of tapestry, sculpture and printed materials.

The three exhibitions are as follows. 1) The Myth of Venus at the Palazzo Te, which will focus on frescos and stucco representations featured in the palace. 2) Titian's Venus Blindfolding Cupid, which will see the loan of one of the Villa Borghese's most iconic Titians to Mantua. 3) Venus: Nature, Shade and Beauty, an exhibition of international loaned works from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

The first and third exhibitions run from 21st March - 12th December 2021, apart from the Titian loan which will run from 22nd June - 5th September 2021.

Dunrobin Attic Sale

March 17 2021

Image of Dunrobin Attic Sale

Picture: Bonhams

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Bonhams have finally uploaded the online catalogue for their upcoming Dunrobin Castle Attic Sale which will be held on 20th April 2021. It's filled with all the interesting and eclectic things one would expect from such a sale.

On the paintings front, the rather light cataloguing and low estimates seem to have been especially devised to be as tempting as possible. For example, lot 32 contains the above three paintings estimated at a mere £1,000 - £2,000. There are many other portraits, watercolours and drawings estimated at much less.

L'Empire des Sens - Extended

March 17 2021

Image of L'Empire des Sens - Extended

Picture: The Musée Cognacq-Jay

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Musée Cognacq-Jay in Paris has announced that it will extend its current exhibition L'Empire des sens, de Boucher à Greuze until 27th May 2021. The exhibition takes a special look at the sensual bodies portrayed by eighteenth century artists such as Boucher, Watteau, Fragonard and Greuze.

The museum have also uploaded their audio guide onto their website, in case any French speakers might enjoy hearing more.

Missing Art from Museums

March 17 2021

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz: have published a short article on the amount of art that goes missing from museums. According to several museum insiders, institutions are particularly keen to keep the lid on things when something goes missing especially when reputations are at risk. Outdated inventories are also blamed, which can mean works of art can have been missing for years before they are spotted as missing.

As AHN often points out, keeping art out of storage and on display is one way such problems can be averted.

Art in Churches

March 17 2021

Image of Art in Churches

Picture: The Sunday Telegraph

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Sunday Telegraph published an interesting article at the weekend asking the question whether Churches in Britain are the safest place for art. Although the knee-jerk reaction is to send important works to be looked after by museums, the article asks whether important paintings could help lure audiences out of cities and into more local areas. As is often pointed out, museums and galleries seem to have more art than they know what to do with. If a certain redundant churches could be fitted out with the relevant security and climate control measures, why can't these buildings become places to enjoy sculpture, carvings, paintings and metal work for example? A partnership with the likes of the V&A could yield magnificent results, it seems.

William Hogarth Lecture Series at PMC

March 16 2021

Image of William Hogarth Lecture Series at PMC

Picture: Sir John Soane's Museum

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art have announced a new public lecture course on the eighteenth century artist William Hogarth. Consisting of seven online lectures, the series will focus on some of Hogarth's key works including The Rake's Progress (pictured). The three lecturers who will lead the presentations are Mark Hallett (Director of Studies, Paul Mellon Centre), Meredith Gamer (Assistant Professor, Columbia University), and Elizabeth Robles (Lecturer, University of Bristol).

This free course, which requires no previous knowledge of British Art, will run from 8th April - 13th May 2021.

Renaissance Children at the Museum Hof van Busleyden

March 16 2021

Image of Renaissance Children at the Museum Hof van Busleyden

Picture: Museum Hof van Busleyden

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Museum Hof van Busleyden, Mechelen, in Belgium will be opening their latest exhibition this month on Renaissance Children: Art and Education at the Habsburg Court in Mechelen.

According to a translation made by

Mechelen was not only an important political and cultural hub for Burgundian and early Habsburg rulers, it was a center of education too. Three successive generations of Habsburg princes and princesses spent part of their childhood there. When Philip the Fair died in 1506 and his wife, Joanna of Castile, was pronounced mad, four of the couple’s children – Eleanor (of Austria), Charles (V), Mary (of Hungary) and Isabella (of Austria) – were sent to Mechelen to be raised by their aunt, Margaret of Austria, regent of the Habsburg Netherlands. When Isabella of Austria died in 1526, her three children with King Christian II of Denmark – John, Dorothy and Christine – were also taken to Mechelen. Margaret of Austria herself, together with her brother Philip the Fair, had spent part of her youth in the city too, at the court of Margaret of York. The regent’s court enjoyed such an excellent educational reputation that great families from all over Europe sent their children there, the best known of whom was Anne Boleyn. The future queen of England came to Mechelen in 1513, where she learned amongst other things to dance and to speak French.

The exhibition Renaissance Children will use artworks, books, prints, letters, jewelry and everyday items to present a unique insight into the education, emotions and identity of children during the transition from the Middle Ages to the early modern era.

The exhibition will run from 26th March - 4th July 2021.

Barcocci's Martyrdom of St Sebastian Put Back Together Again

March 16 2021

Image of Barcocci's Martyrdom of St Sebastian Put Back Together Again


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

News from Italy that Barocci's Martyrdom of St Sebastian has been conserved and redisplayed in the Cathedral of Urbino. The work had suffered terrible damage after thieves removed a squared section of the painting in 1982. The stolen fragment was recovered in 2017 and has finally be reunited with the rest of the painting. It sounds as if the restoration was a rather tricky one, as the squared returned section had been trimmed down leading to large losses of original work.

Lecture: Reframing the Renaissance

March 16 2021

Image of Lecture: Reframing the Renaissance

Picture: The National Gallery

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The British School at Rome are hosting a fascinating sounding free online lecture entitled Reframing the Italian Renaissance at the National Gallery.

According to the event's blurb:

This conversation will examine the physical reframing of Italian Renaissance panels at the National Gallery undertaken by Peter Schade, Head of Framing and his colleagues. The speakers will discuss the motivations behind reframing, the research required to select an appropriate frame and the intended affect. In the final part of this talk reframing will be considered in relation to how artworks move into new display contexts.

The conversation will be broadcast on 17th March 2021 at 6pm (Rome time). It is free to attend although registration is required.

Notice to "Internet Explorer" Users

You are seeing this notice because you are using Internet Explorer 6.0 (or older version). IE6 is now a deprecated browser which this website no longer supports. To view the Art History News website, you can easily do so by downloading one of the following, freely available browsers:

Once you have upgraded your browser, you can return to this page using the new application, whereupon this notice will have been replaced by the full website and its content.