Previous Posts: May 2021

22-Meter Painting of Venice goes on Display

May 19 2021

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

A 22-meter painting of Venice has gone on display in the Querini Stampalia Foundation in Venice. The work, completed by Giovanni Biasin (1835-1912) in 1887, is believed to be one of the largest views of the view ever painted. The re-display has been made possible by a lengthy conservation project on this fragile work on paper. It will on display in the city until October 2021.

Lavinia Fontana's Lucia Bonasoni di Garzoni Doubles Estimate

May 18 2021

Image of Lavinia Fontana's Lucia Bonasoni di Garzoni Doubles Estimate


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Subastas Segre auction house in Madrid realised a rather impressive price today for Lavinia Fontana's Portrait of Lucia Bonasoni di Garzoni. The picture, dated to 1590, doubled its estimate of €40k - €50k and was eventually sold to a telephone bidder for €140,000. The Spanish press are speculating as to whether a Spanish institution will step in to try and keep the work in the country, if indeed the new owner intends to export the painting.


As a lutenist, I am absolutely drawn to the beautifully depicted instrument that features within the painting. The attention to detail lavished on the strings and concaved ribs are lovely. Equally, it is just about possible to read the so-called Italian tablature that Fontana painted into the picture. I've strummed through it and it seems to make some sense. I'll let you know if I find the exact song it may refer to.

Tempo Barocco at the Palazzo Barberini

May 18 2021

Image of Tempo Barocco at the Palazzo Barberini

Picture: Palazzo Barberini

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Palazzo Barberini in Rome have just opened their latest exhibition entitled Tempo Barocco. The show will feature forty major works by the likes of Pietro da Cortona, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Anthony Van Dyck, Guido Reni, Valentin de Boulogne and Nicolas Poussin. Furthermore, works will be hung within eight newly restored rooms that were previously chambers occupied by Francesco Barberini, cardinal nephew of the powerful Urban VIII.

The exhibition will run until 3rd October 2021.

How to Fix a Flaking Gainsborough

May 18 2021

Image of How to Fix a Flaking Gainsborough

Picture: Holkham Hall

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Katherine Hardwick, collections coordinator at Holkham Hall in Norfolk, has penned a blog describing recent conservation work to Thomas Gainsborough's portrait of Thomas William Coke ‘of Norfolk’. Alas, the portrait was found to be suffering from serious 'flaking' ten years ago. A campaign of restoration undertaken in 2011 had since failed to fix the problem. During the past months conservators from the Hamilton Kerr Institute have had another go at fixing the problem with special techniques using glue. The newly restored painting has been rehung in the South Dining Room and will be on display for visitors.

Brancacci Chapel given Green Light for Restoration

May 18 2021

Image of Brancacci Chapel given Green Light for Restoration


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

News has emerged in Italy that the authorities in Florence have signed a three-year deal for the restoration of the significant frescos of the Brancacci Chapel in the Church of Santa Maria del Carmine. The work, which will be carried out by the company Opificio delle Pietre Dure, will focus on stabilising the delicate frescos which have been seen to be deteriorating during an inspection made in 2020.

Fingers crossed that the eventual re-emergence of these significant works by Masaccio, Masolino and Filippino Lippi won't end up shocking us like this project recently undertaken in Rome.

Old Masters Worldwide

May 18 2021

Image of Old Masters Worldwide

Picture: Bloomsbury

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Here's an interesting publication whose release I missed in October last year. Old Masters Worldwide, Markets, Movement and Museums, 1789-1939 is one of the latest histories of the art market to specifically deal with old master paintings. The volume was edited by Susanna Avery-Quash and Barbara Pezzini and contains contributions from scholars based in institutions all over the world.

According to the book's blurb:

As a result of the Napoleonic wars, vast numbers of Old Master paintings were released on to the market from public and private collections across continental Europe. The knock-on effect was the growth of the market for Old Masters from the 1790s up to the early 1930s, when the Great Depression put an end to its expansion. 

This book explores the global movement of Old Master paintings and investigates some of the changes in the art market that took place as a result of this new interest. Arguably, the most important phenomenon was the diminishing of the traditional figure of the art agent and the rise of more visible, increasingly professional, dealerships; firms such as Colnaghi and Agnew's in Britain, Goupil in France and Knoedler in the USA, came into existence. Old Masters Worldwide explores the ways in which the pioneering practices of such businesses contributed to shape a changing market.

The Bruegel Success Story

May 18 2021

Image of The Bruegel Success Story

Picture: Peeters

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

My attention has been drawn to this recent and extensive publication from Peeters entitled The Bruegel Success Story. The volume is a collection of papers presented at Symposium XXI for the Study of Underdrawing and Technology in Painting, Brussels, which happened in September 2018. The conference contained some of the most up-to-date research on the processes used by the prolific Bruegel family to copy out their most celebrated paintings.

In case you'd like to know more, here's an in-depth review and full list of contents.

Grinling Gibbons Tercentenary 2021

May 17 2021

Video: St James's Church Piccadilly

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Grinling Gibbons Society are putting on a whole host of events later this year to celebrate the Tercentenary of the death of  the virtuoso woodcarver Grinling Gibbons (1648-1721). The highpoint of their set of talks, outings and workshops will be an exhibition held at Bonhams in New Bond Street, London, which will kickstart the festival on 3rd August 2021 and run till 27th August. For those unable to see the exhibition in London, it will then move to Compton Verney in Warwickshire, where it will be on display from September through to February 2022.

According to the press release from Bonhams:

Centuries in the Making will explore the influences that shaped Gibbons' vision, skills and technique and the stylistic and cultural influences he brought to this country. Works are being assembled from national museums, regional collections, historic houses and some international lenders, and combined with contemporary artworks. Through sculpture and carving in wood and stone, drawings and sketches, portraits and documents, 'Centuries in the Making' will bring a new perspective to Gibbons and his legacy. The exhibition will also examine how Gibbons' bold new direction changed the direction of British carving, sculpture and interiors, and how his extraordinary creative output inspired both his contemporaries and makers across the succeeding 300 years. The influence of Gibbons will be traced to the present day, with works by contemporary artists and designers, and specially created artworks by talented emerging carvers.

The video above examines Gibbons's work at St James's Church in Piccadilly, London, and was made in association with the society.

Murillo's Madonna del latte Conserved

May 15 2021

Image of Murillo's Madonna del latte Conserved


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Palazzo Barberini and Corsini Gallery in Rome will be opening a new exhibition next week dedicated to the restoration of Murillo's Madonna del latte. A recent campaign of x-ray analysis and conservation has revealed several interesting elements regarding the artist's process, all which will be revealed in this small show.

The exhibition will run until 11th July 2021.

John Crome Exhibition in Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery

May 14 2021

Image of John Crome Exhibition in Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery

Picture: Eastern Daily Press

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Brilliant news that the Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery will be opening their latest exhibition on John Crome (1768-1821) on Monday 17th May 2021.

According to the press release:

A Passion for Landscape: Rediscovering John Crome celebrates the genius of a self-taught artist who began by painting pub signs and coach doors and left a legacy of some of the country’s loveliest landscape paintings. 

Many questions about the popular artist and teacher remain unanswered. “We don’t know why he didn’t sign his paintings. We don’t know a lot of things about his work. It’s infuriating!” said Giorgia Bottinelli. She was delighted to discover one of his letters in the Norfolk Record Office. Crome had been commissioned to report on the state of the civic paintings in St Andrew’s Hall, Norwich, and was distressed to find them being damaged by a mixture of dust, sweat and sparrow droppings (the hall was used as a corn market at the time.)   

Crome’s own paintings have been better treated. The Castle’s own collection has been joined by pictures from private collections, the Tate and the Victoria and Albert Museum. 

The exhibition will run until 5th September 2021.

Alice Cooper to Sell Warhol he had 'Forgotten About'

May 14 2021

Video: Fox

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Here's a curious news story that the Rockstar Alice Cooper is selling an Andy Warhol print that he had 'forgotten about'. It was purchased for Cooper by a former girlfriend during the 1970s for $2,500. Little Electric Chair will be auctioned off carrying an estimate of $2.5m - $4.5m.

Dylan Thomas's Last Portrait Acquired

May 14 2021

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The last portrait made of the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas (1914-1953) has been acquired by the Carmarthenshire County Council. The work, painted in September 1953, was purchased for £15,000 with contributions from Art Fund and the Arts Council England/V&A Purchase Grant Fund and the National Lottery.

To quote the news report linked above:

The council's executive board member for culture, sport and tourism, Cllr Peter Hughes Griffiths said: “We are absolutely delighted to be bringing this painting back to where Dylan Thomas spent his last years. It will take pride of place in the new gallery at Carmarthenshire Museum later this year for everyone to enjoy.” 

The painting will be professionally conserved before going on display in a new gallery at Carmarthenshire Museum from September. It will then go on tour to the Dylan Thomas Boathouse and other venues in the region before returning to Carmarthenshire.

Sleeper Alert!

May 14 2021

Image of Sleeper Alert!

Picture: Bertolami

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

News on Twitter (via. @auctionradar) that this painting catalogued as 'Allegory of Painting or Self-portrait of painter - Emilian School, second half of the 17th century' made €167,500 (hammer price) over its €3,600 - €4,400 estimate at Bertolami Fine Arts auction in Italy this afternoon.

Can Beauty Save the World?

May 14 2021

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Well, it seems like the Town Council of Haut-Marne in North-eastern France believe that billboards are the best place to start.

They have commissioned a multitude of roadside billboards filled with paintings by the likes of Leonardo, Caravaggio, Van Gogh and Klimt to be plastered around towns in the region. All of them contain the name of the campaign in bold letters La beauté sauvera le monde.

How long till someone decides to graffiti them, I wonder?

Chatsworth to Reopen with New Tapestry Display

May 14 2021

Image of Chatsworth to Reopen with New Tapestry Display

Picture: V&A

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Chatsworth, the ancestral home of the Dukes of Devonshire, will be reopening to the public on 18th May 2021.

Opening on the same day will be the redisplayed Devonshire Hunting Tapestries, a rare set of fifteenth century wall hangings that were sold from the collection after World War II in lieu of death duties. The tapestries have been loaned back to Chatsworth from the V&A in London will be on display in the Sculpture Gallery for the whole of 2021.

Update - A reader has been in touch pointing out an interesting line from the 11th Duke of Devonshire's memoir Accidents of Fortune, in which he expressed "I cannot pretend I miss the tapestries" (pg. 47).

Uffizi Michelangelo NFT for €70k

May 14 2021

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Well, I suppose some museum had to be first.

The Uffizi Gallery in Florence seems to be one of the first major museums to licensce a bespoke NFT of Michelangelo's Doni Tondo. The museum has been working with the company DAW® to create this 'digital art work' which will be priced at €70,000. 50% of proceeds will go to the museum.

According to press reports (whatever this means anyway):

It is the first unique digital screen printing, authenticated by Blockchain and protected by patent, a masterpiece of the museum.


Once realized, the DAW® is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity signed by the Director of the museum that holds the original.

I'm reminded of the sentiment expressed in a recent interview with Andrew Bailey, Governor of the Bank of England, when asked about the value of 'Bitcoin':

They have no intrinsic value... That doesn’t mean to say people don’t put value on them, because they can have extrinsic value. But they have no intrinsic value…I’m going to say this very bluntly again. Buy them only if you’re prepared to lose all your money.

Update - My attention has been drawn to another article in the Italian press which suggests that financial concerns are at the heart of this experiment and particularly an attempt to balance the books after covid. 17 artworks from the collection will be produced into NFTs, creating quite a lump sum as you might imagine.

If Eike Schmidt really wants to discourage the mass tourism of the past, I suppose we'll encounter more curious and slightly cynical financial schemes like the present one.

Vatican sends newly 'restored' Madonna delle Partorienti to Turin

May 13 2021

Image of Vatican sends newly 'restored' Madonna delle Partorienti to Turin


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Vatican Museums have sent Antoniazzo Romano's highly revered Madonna delle Partorienti to a special exhibition in the Torino Musei Foundation. This fragment of fresco, produced during the late fifteenth century, was removed from the wall in 1574 during the construction of the new St Peter's. By 1605 the work was then reinstalled in a special grotto chapel located underneath the floor of the basilica.

The museum has also taken the opportunity to 'restore' the work especially for the exhibition. Here's an image of what it looked like previously:


Does any reader happen to know if unfavourable comments relating to Vatican conservation work results in automatic excommunication?

Update - Here are some high-resolution images showing the new work a little more clearly.

Update 2 - Several readers have sent in correspondence explaining that criticism does in fact result in an automatic excommunication.

Stolen Painting? There's an App for that...

May 13 2021

Image of Stolen Painting? There's an App for that...

Picture: Smithsonian Magazine

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Interpol have created an App that is specifically dedicated to identifying stolen art. The App called ID-Art contains 52,000 images of stolen art works that can be searched through by the tap of a screen.

According to the article linked above:

Last week, the global crime-fighting group debuted a new app that aims to make the process of identifying and reporting stolen works as simple as swiping on a smartphone. After downloading the free app—called ID-Art—users can upload images or input keywords to search for information about specific missing objects, reports Valentina Di Liscia for Hyperallergic. Pop-ups will prompt users who come across valuable information to report their findings directly to the police.   

In an Interpol statement, officials note that the app marks the organization’s latest effort to provide the public with the tools necessary to combat art and artifact trafficking. For example, collectors and art owners can use ID-Art’s reverse-image search feature to check whether an item they purchased is of dubious provenance. 

Mozart's Portrait goes on display in Verona

May 13 2021

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

News from Italy that a Portrait of the Young Mozart at the Age of Thirteen has gone on display at the Castelvecchio Museum in Verona. The work is attributed to Giambettino Cignaroli and is believed to have been made during the young composer's stay in the city in 1770. It is being loaned out by the private collector who purchased the painting at Christie's Paris in 2019 where it made €4,031,500.

Music Video in the Hermitage

May 13 2021

Video: Till Lindemann

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The State Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg has become the backdrop for the German singer and Rammstein frontman Till Lindemann's latest release. The video accompanies a version of the post-war Russian song entitled Любимый город (Beloved Town), a piece that became particularly associated with the city after the Siege of Leningrad, and was released on the eve of Victory Day.

Hermitage Director Mikhail Piotrovsky published a press release explaining that the collaboration was a part of a new project with the aim of strengthening cultural ties between Russia and Germany. The video is actually set in several rooms designed by the German architect Leo von Klenze (1784-1864), rooms which house some of the museum's most treasured old master paintings.

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