Previous Posts: May 2021

Sleeper Alert!

May 13 2021

Image of Sleeper Alert!

Picture: Parker Fine Art Auctions

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The following grisaille of a Man on a Rearing Horse catalogued as 'Circle of Rubens' just realised £58,000 over its £300 - £500 estimate at Parker Fine Art Auctions in Surrey.

Fans of Rubens will know the series of studies that the artist made of horses and their riders in various poses. Indeed, one such study sold at Sotheby's New York in 2017 for $5,075,000.

Turner's English Coasts at Turner's House

May 13 2021

Image of Turner's English Coasts at Turner's House

Picture: Turner's House

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Turner's House in Twickenham, London, will be reopening on Saturday 22nd May 2021 with a new exhibition entitled Turner's English Coasts.

According to the exhibition blurb:

Turner’s English Coasts focuses on Turner’s engagement with English marine and coastal subjects at a pivotal time in his career when he was living at Sandycombe Lodge, the house he designed and lived in between 1813 to 1826, at Sandycoombe Road, St Margarets, Twickenham TW1 2LR. 

Guest-curator Christine Riding has deliberately selected works which underline the close relationship between Turner’s images of maritime Britain and contemporary print culture. The exhibition includes projects financed by professional engravers and publishers to those instigated by Turner himself. Some were commercially successful (the finished watercolours in the exhibition were and still are highly desirable to art collectors), while others were personal experiments. Crucially, it was through such projects – unprecedented in their breadth and quality – that Turner was to achieve an international reputation.

Pre-booking is essential as the organisers will only be admitting 8 visitors per hour due to the restricted space available within the building.

Les Flandrin artistes et frères in Lyon

May 13 2021

Image of  Les Flandrin artistes et frères in Lyon


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Musée des Beaux-Arts in Lyon will be opening their latest exhibition later this month entitled (in english) Hippolyte, Paul, Auguste: The Flandrin, artists and brothers. As the name suggests, the show is dedicated to the Lyon-born brothers and artists Hippolyte (1809-1864), Paul (1811-1902) and Auguste (1804-1842) Flandrin.

According to the exhibition's blurb:

The exhibition aims at presenting a new point of view on the three Flandrin’s works. The museum retains the main collection of their work: it houses about 200 paintings, drawings, engravings, photographs and archive documents, a large amount of which has never been shown nor even published. The collection represents the starting point and the backbone of the exhibition, completed with numerous loans. The exhibition will be organized around seven themed sections combining collectively Hippolyte’s, Paul’s and Auguste’s works: self-portraits and mutual portraits, artistic formation, academies, history painting, landscape painting, portrait, religious decoration. The focus of the exhibition will be centred on some key-questions, in order to understand their working methods and to highlight the mutual influences and creative process of the artists. In the exhibition, the underlying feature will be the constant collaboration amongst the three brothers throughout their works.

The exhibition is scheduled to run from 19th May - 5th September 2021.

Modern & Contemporary Sales Achieve High Results

May 13 2021

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Both Christie's and Sotheby's have managed to achieve some rather enormous prices for their recent Modern & Contemporary sales in New York.

Last night's three sales at Sotheby's managed to achieve $596.8m over their $436.8m high pre-sale estimate. Substantial prices were realised for pictures by Monet, Andy Warhol, Basquiat and Robert Colescott.

Christie's 21st Century Evening sale eventually realised a total of $210,471,500 and saw records set for 11 artists. Their top lot was a $93,105,000 Basquiat, however, it seems to have been the high prices achieved for NFTs that has captured most of the popular attention. The auction house will be continuing their inaugural 20th and 21st Century week today and tomorrow with top ticketed lots by the likes of Georges Seurat, Van Gogh, Monet and Mondrian expected to achieve impressive results.

New Lorenzo Ghiberti Database

May 12 2021

Image of New Lorenzo Ghiberti Database


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

A new online database containing documents and research relating to the artist Lorenzo Ghiberti (1378-1455) has been set up by the Sistema Bibliotecario di Ateneo in Florence (SBA). The database appears to be a treasure trove for any scholar interested in Italian Renaissance bronzes and art from that period.

Mandatory Covid Tests to Access the Rijksmuseum?

May 12 2021

Image of Mandatory Covid Tests to Access the Rijksmuseum?


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz: have reported on news that the Dutch Government will be voting on new laws that will make covid tests mandatory for those wishing to enter cultural venues in the country. The proposed pieces of legislation, which are estimated to cost €1bn, have been opposed by 100 museum directors in the Netherlands including those of the major museums and galleries of Amsterdam. Museum officials have described the proposed tests, which are likely to cost €7.50 per person, as a "death blow" for cultural institutions.

An interesting story to keep an eye on, it seems.

YouTubers of Art History

May 12 2021

Video: Neil Jeffares

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The latest art historian to branch out into the world of YouTube is the independent art historian and author of the Dictionary of Pastellists before 1800 Neil Jeffares. As you will see above, Jeffares has been able to create a modest but intensely informative thirty-four-minute video on the French eighteenth century pastel artist Maurice Quentin de La Tour, a portraitist who Jeffares himself describes as 'unfashionable'.

I have long been convinced that there is space out there for a (or many) YouTuber(s) of Art History. It never ceases to amaze me how many niche subjects are now catered for by passionate individuals making free online content that can be accessed anywhere on earth. With recording equipment increasing in quality and accessibility, practically anyone can capture a reasonable segment of video on any painting, object or artist (no matter how 'unfashionable' or obscure) of their choosing.

It is also becoming increasingly clear that the world of traditional television is in decline. This is particularly the case for arts documentaries, with Sky Arts being the last exception to this rule. Although the recent axing of original content for BBC4, the major arts channel in the UK, has been pointed out as being a particularly sad event, might it be possible to reinterpret this loss as a new opportunity for knowledgeable and passionate scholars?

Of course, there are many pitfalls with YouTube. Ensuring quality and accuracy are perhaps the most difficult factors to contend with. However, we all know of examples where programming for major television channels (or blogs for that matter!) have fallen into the similar traps. Furthermore, the highly bureaucratic and increasingly political nature of production companies and television commissioning too can water down programmes so much so that they end up being rather aimless and confused. 

Museums and Art Galleries have shown what is possible in regard to creating fascinating original and free content. In many respects they have led the way in these spheres, a fashion which auction houses and dealers are exploiting with greater enthusiasm than ever before. Yet, as anyone working with marketing departments in such institutions will know, these processes too can be dogged down by internal politics and 'branding'.

Can the economics work? Well, many YouTubers have shown that it is possible to make a living from the monetization of their videos. The increasingly accessible recording technology too allows for a 'stripped back' approach which can keep costs down.

The brief expression of these views are just a starting point of many related strands regarding the futures of technology and the history of art. As ever, any comments from readers are always welcome.

Although I accept that we do not live in the eighteenth century, I've always found that Reynolds's advice imparted from his 5th Discourse in 1772 still carries some grain of truth about the difficult balancing act of fame and creation:

There is another caution which I wish to give you. Be as selective in those whom you endeavour to please, as in those whom you endeavour to imitate. Without the love of fame you can never do anything excellent; but by an excessive and undistinguishing thirst after it, you will come to have vulgar views; you will degrade your style; and your taste will be entirely corrupted. It is certain that the lowest style will be the most popular, as it falls within the compass of ignorance itself; and the Vulgar will always be pleased with what is natural, in the confined and misunderstood sense of the word.

Update - Looking back, one of the closest YouTubers I've seen dedicated to subjects relating to art history and the art market is Marina Viatkina, who has produced some rather interesting videos in the past few years relating to judging the quality of pictures etc.

Plunder: Napoleon’s Theft of Veronese’s Feast

May 12 2021

Image of Plunder: Napoleon’s Theft of Veronese’s Feast


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz: have penned a rather nice summary of Cynthia Saltzman's new book Plunder: Napoleon’s Theft of Veronese’s Feast. The book focuses on the highly political nature of Napoleon's requisition of Veronese's masterpiece from the refectory of the San Giorgio Monastery, Venice, in May 1797. Indeed, after the fall of Napoleon's Empire a deal was eventually struck with the Austrian occupiers of Venice so that the enormous picture would remain in the Louvre, the location where it has been ever since.

The final paragraph of the piece finishes:

[The retention of Veronese's painting] would seem to have been a victory for the Louvre, but its leadership was still irate over all the other treasures soon to leave France’s borders. Just a few days after the Veronese deal was completed, Vivant Denon, the Louvre’s first director, resigned. Before he left, he penned an angry account of what had transpired at the museum. In it he wrote, “Europe had had to be conquered in order to fashion this, Europe had had to join together to destroy it.” Today, the wing of the Louvre where the Veronese painting hangs bears Denon’s name.

Coincidentally, some Italians have turned Veronese's painting into a popular 'meme' to celebrate the country's 'reopenings' from lockdown:

Dorotheum's June Sale

May 12 2021

Image of Dorotheum's June Sale

Picture: Dorotheum

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Dorotheum auction house in Vienna have uploaded their online catalogue for their upcoming sale on 8th June 2021.

As usual, the sale is full of interesting pictures. The top lots include a Guercino, a Guardi of the Rialto Bridge, a Luca Penni mythological scene, and an Artemisia Gentileschi whose catalogue note makes for an interesting read.

The above Portrait of a Nobleman as Aeneas by Nicolas Régnier, estimated at €120k - €180k, may be my favourite from the sale.

MET Acquires Ter Brugghen's Roman Charity

May 12 2021

Image of MET Acquires Ter Brugghen's Roman Charity

Picture: @adameaker

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Metropolitan Museum of Art's assistant curator for European Paintings Adam Eaker has shared news that the museum has acquired Hendrick ter Brugghen's Roman Charity. The work, signed and dated 1623, has recently been conserved by the museum and will go on display later this summer. It was acquired with the assistance of various funds including those from the late Jayne Wrightsman.

The 'lost' Bonnet Portrait of Emily Bronte (?)

May 11 2021

Image of The 'lost' Bonnet Portrait of Emily Bronte (?)

Picture: Humbert & Ellis Ltd

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Craven Herald in North Yorkshire have published news of the upcoming sale of what has been described as The 'lost' Bonnet Portrait of Emily Brontë.

The work is being sold from the estate of late Professor Christopher Heywood of Gargrave, a professor of English literature at the University of Sheffield who dedicated much of his time trying to prove his painting depicted the famed author. Indeed, Heywood had purchased the painting at auction in 2011 and published an article on the portrait in The Journal of the Bronte Society in 2015. Notably, the back of the portrait, which he attributed to the Bradford artist John Hunter Thompson, bears an inscription on the back identifying the sitter as Emily.

Heywood's article has been disputed by several figures, including Sarah Fermi - a former Bronte Society member, literary critic Patsy Stoneman and a Bronte biographer Edward Chitham.

The work will be sold on Saturday 23rd May 2021 carrying an estimate of £25k - £40k.

As the old saying goes, CAVEAT EMPTOR.

New Release: Visualising Protestant Monarchy

May 11 2021

Image of New Release: Visualising Protestant Monarchy

Picture: Boydell Press

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Boydell Press have a new book out this month entitled Visualising Protestant Monarchy Ceremony, Art and Politics after the Glorious Revolution (1689-1714). The publication is the work of Julie Farguson, College Lecturer at St Hilda's College, Oxford.

According to the book's blurb:

This book provides the first comprehensive, comparative study of the visual culture of monarchy in the reigns of William and Mary and Queen Anne. It makes innovative use of material evidence and new primary sources to re-evaluate the practice of kingship and queenship to produce an original interpretation of the British monarchy during a period of vital transformation. The quarter century between the Glorious Revolution and the Georgian era witnessed prolonged military conflict with France and the birth of what we now call Great Britain. This book argues that a new style of monarchy likewise emerged in this period and that its survival largely depended on the efforts of the royal family: two English queens, a Dutch king and a Danish prince.

Through a study of art and material culture (paintings, prints, the decorative arts, architecture, dress and royal insignia) within the broader political context, the book explores how the English people were persuaded to transfer their loyalties from a traditional style of kingship, centred on ideas of divinely appointed rule and hereditary right, to one rooted in Protestantism and Parliament. 

Newark Museum of Art to Sell 17 Works

May 11 2021

Image of Newark Museum of Art to Sell 17 Works

Picture: Sotheby's

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz: have published an article on the outcry regarding news that the Newark Museum of Art in New Jersey are planning to sell 14 works of art at auction. The museum will be selling several American works later this month including Thomas Cole's Arch of Nero at Sotheby's carrying an estimate of $500k - $700k (pictured).

50 cultural historians have signed a letter to the museum's director encouraging officials to change their minds.

Linda Harrison, director of the Newark Museum of Art, has responded to critics that the choice of works were:

carefully and thoughtfully considered.


Deaccessioning is a routine and necessary component of the work of any museum, and is especially important for the Newark Museum of Art, which currently has holdings numbering around 130,000...

Stolen Sanctuary Paintings Located in Parma Antiques Fair

May 10 2021

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

This blog has long since highlighted the penchant Italian police have to show themselves with looted art.

The latest news comes from Vercelli in Northern Italy, in which 11 stolen paintings dating to c.1700 from the Sanctuary of Frassineto have been recovered by the authorities. News reports suggest that the works, which were taken in 2017, were eventually recovered at the antique dealers' event Mercante in fiera in Parma. All have since been returned to the Sanctuary.

C of E to Review Tombs and Memorials

May 10 2021

Image of C of E to Review Tombs and Memorials

Picture: Flickr

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

It seems that the Church of England (C of E) might be coming to a new conclusion that Christians are not judged in death by God, but by administrators at a "local level" who will decide whether tombs and memorials to the dead should stay or go.

The Guardian have reported on news that the C of E are encouraging a review throughout their 12,500 churches and 42 cathedrals to find tombs and memorials that contain historical references to colonialism and slavery.

According to the report:

Although decisions will be made at a local level, the guidance stresses that ignoring contested heritage is not an option. Among actions that may be taken are the removal, relocation or alteration of plaques and monuments, and the addition of contextual information. In some cases, there may be no change.

Update - Some interesting comments on Twitter encouraged me to investigate the legal status of monuments in Churches, covered in the Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction and Care of Churches Measure 2018. Legally speaking, all monuments are the property of their 'owners' who erected the tomb and afterwards their heirs or heirs at law. However, it seems that this legislation does allow the consistory court of a diocese to overrule the consent of the owners in regard to moving, demolition and the alteration of monuments.

Paintings Conserved in Earthquake Shocked Basilica of Santa Maria di Collemaggio

May 10 2021

Image of Paintings Conserved in Earthquake Shocked Basilica of Santa Maria di Collemaggio


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

A set of paintings have been conserved in the Basilica of Santa Maria di Collemaggio in L'Aquila, Italy. This large medieval church, which contains the remains of Pope Celestine V (d. 1296), was damaged after a disastrous earthquake in 2009. The works included within the ongoing project include The Coronation of Celestine, The Renunciation of the Papacy, Death of Celestine and Mary receives gifts from the Jewish People, the later of which is by the Neapolitan artist Nicola Malinconico (1663-1721) (pictured). The restoration was made possible due to various emergency funds and a generous donation of €47,200.

City and Landscape. Between Dream and Reality: The Albertina

May 10 2021

Image of City and Landscape. Between Dream and Reality: The Albertina

Picture: The Albertina

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Albertina Museum in Vienna have recently opened their new exhibition entitled City and Landscape. Between Dream and Reality. Indeed, the museum are referring to the show as the "largest-ever survey of the history of landscape painting" with over 170 landscapes on display spanning five centuries. Drawing from their rich collections of art, artists within include Dürer, Rembrandt, Canaletto, Boucher, Caspar David Friedrich, Menzel, Jakob Alt, Rudolf von Alt, Cézanne, Emil Nolde or Paul Klee.

According to their press release:

From the beginnings of the autonomous landscape painting and from its pioneers, foremost among them Albrecht Dürer, the historical arc traced here extends to encompass Bruegel, Rembrandt, and the Dutch Golden Age, urban panoramas from the Renaissance and close-up vedute, utopian visions of Arcadian landscapes and illusionless, realistic views of nature from the age of industrialization, and images of grandeur and the sublime by Caspar David Friedrich as well as the horrific visions and dystopias of Alfred Kubin and the child-like dreams of playful nature originated by Paul Klee. Key works of romantic landscape and Austrian watercolor painting from the 19th century such as Jakob and Rudolf von Alt’s views of Vienna round off this presentation.

The exhibition will run until 22nd August 2021.

The Rubenshuis are looking for New Director!

May 10 2021

Image of The Rubenshuis are looking for New Director!

Picture: Sotheby's

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Rubenshuis in Antwerp are looking for new Director.

As you would expect, this 38 hour per-week role will look after the running of this important building and collection.

The deadline for the applications is 24th May 2021. No salary is indicated on any of the job descriptions.

Good luck if you're applying!

Duke of Buccleuch's Holbein Conserved for HRP Exhibition

May 10 2021

Image of Duke of Buccleuch's Holbein Conserved for HRP Exhibition

Picture: HRP

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Historic Royal Palace's upcoming Hampton Court exhibition Gold and Glory: Henry VIII and the French King will be opening to the public on 20th May 2021. This delayed exhibition, which was originally planned for 2020 to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Field of the Cloth of Gold, really does look like a treat for art and history lovers alike. The show will feature major loans from the Royal Collection and other various institutions and private collections.

In particular, the exhibition has allowed for the recent conservation and cleaning of the Duke of Buccleuch's portrait of Sir Nicholas Carew (c.1528) by Hans Holbein the Younger. This is an absolutely striking portrait, just as powerful as any armoured portrait you'll find in Italy during this period I'd say! Carew had jousted at the Field of the Cloth of Gold making the inclusion here very relevant.

Indeed, the work has long been described as the finest painting featuring early armour made from the Royal Workshops at Greenwich. These workshops were established in the exact same period when Holbein produced this image. The painting is a portrait of the armour as much as the man, details which I'm sure patrons like Carew and Henry would have adored and insisted on.

Update - We're just looking up what John Rowlands said about the work in his catalogue raisonne published in 1985, it seems that the attribution to Holbein may have been doubted in the past. More information soon.

Update 2 - A few readers have kindly been in touch with information that the painting was described as by 'Workshop or by an Associate of Holbein' in Susan Foister's Holbein and England (2005) book.

Update 3 - A reader has kindly shared the link to Holbein's preparatory drawing of Carew, kept in the Kunstmuseum, Basel.

Sofonisba Anguissola and Artemisia Gentileschi lead Van Ham Sale

May 10 2021

Image of Sofonisba Anguissola and Artemisia Gentileschi lead Van Ham Sale

Picture: Van Ham

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Van Ham Kunstauktionen in Cologne, Germany, are leading their June Fine Art sale with works by two female artists. This is another sign perhaps of the growing trend and appreciation for women artists at auction. The first picture is a Portrait of a Child by Sofonisba Anguissola (pictured), a work produced during the artist's first stay in Sicily in c.1573. The painting has received a blessing from the scholar Prof. Marco Tanzi and will carry an estimate of €35k - €45k. Secondly, the auction will also contain a Mary Magdalene by Artemisia Gentileschi, a picture given the thumbs up by Riccardo Lattuada, which will carry an estimate of €30k - €40k.

Both paintings will be offered for sale on 2nd June 2021.

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