Previous Posts: October 2021

Half-cleaned Vasari on Display at Palazzo Barberini

October 22 2021

Image of Half-cleaned Vasari on Display at Palazzo Barberini

Picture: @BarberiniCorsin

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Palazzo Barberini in Rome have shared an interesting image on Twitter of a half-cleaned painting on display within their galleries. The Allegory of the Immaculate Conception by Giogio Vasari is in the progress of being cleaned. The various stages of dirt removal and varnishing are now very obvious to the eye.

The work will be on display for a few weeks until it heads back for conservation until is completion in April 2022.


I was wondering whether this was a brilliant idea or not. Obviously, it is a wonderful chance to show the public the various stages of conservation treatment. However, it is also somewhat visually frustrating to see something not quite there. The equivalent would be displaying a half-cleaned car in a forecourt, perhaps. Maybe readers of AHN have some interesting opinions on the matter.

Update - A reader has been in touch to remind me of the current exhibition Facelifts & Make-overs at the Mauritshuis. Amongst presenting a survey of recent conservation projects the exhibition also features an 'in-progress' conserved picture by Pieter de Hooch. Well worth visiting by the looks of it!

Update 2 - A reader has forwarded a photograph of a detail of the aforementioned Vasari. As you can see, the conservators have used white dashes to indicate the cleaned areas:

Restoration of Nasher Museum 'Wright of Derby'

October 21 2021

Video: Nasher Museum of Art

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Here's a recent video made by the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, North Carolina, describing the restoration of a painting Attributed to Joseph Wright of Derby. The process involved in its restoration and research is featured in a small exhibition at the museum entitled Off the Map: The Provenance of a Painting which runs until 9th January 2022.

'Largest Ever' Paris Bordone Exhibition for 2022

October 21 2021

Image of 'Largest Ever' Paris Bordone Exhibition for 2022

Picture: KHM

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Exciting news from Italy that the Museum of Santa Caterina in Treviso will be hosting the 'largest monographic exhibition ever held' on the Paris Bordone (1500-1571). The exhibition will include loaned works from the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, the Pushkin Museum in Moscow, the National Gallery in London, the Louvre in Paris, the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, and also the Uffizi Galleries in Florence and the Vatican Museums. This spectacle will be curated by Arturo Galansino, director of the Palazzo Strozzi Foundation in Florence, and Simone Facchinetti, researcher at the University of Salento.

The exhibition will run from 25th February 2022 until 26th June 2022.

Results from Conservation and Treatment of the Ghent Altarpiece

October 21 2021


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Here's an interesting video giving some further details about discoveries made during the conservation and treatment of Jan van Eyck's Ghent Altarpiece. Amongst the research conducted was identifying the hand and work of Hubert van Eyck.

Here's a link from CODART which gives more details of the conservation and the recently published book on the subject.

Viennese Museums Open Pornography Account

October 21 2021

Video: Vienna

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Art Newspaper has reported on the recent sensational news that Vienna's Museums have opened up an account with the pornography site OnlyFans. The initiative was supposedly set up after several artworks from the city's collections were being censored on social media platforms for their explicit materials. Subscribers to their account will receive admission to one of the city's featured museums.


I suppose this is a rather fun way for museums to point out the aesthetic incompetence of social media giants in being able to distinguish between art and genuine pornography.

Exactly what lines separate the two will always stir up debate. However, to my mind, art suggests the beauty of the human form in a way that we can admire it for its own sake from a position of disinterest. Pornography, on the other hand, is in some way a desecration of the human form were the realms of fantasy and gratification appear available to us. Maybe it's time the media executives of these social media sites took some lessons in art history (and maybe I should too, for that matter).

Becoming Famous: Peter Paul Rubens

October 21 2021

Video: Staatsgalerie Stuttgart

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Staatsgalerie Stuttgart will be opening their exhibition Becoming Famous: Peter Paul Rubens tomorrow. The gallery will be live streaming their official opening at 18.00 (Stuttgart time), in case anyone wants to follow on YouTube.

According to the gallery's website:

The exhibition shows how, in the early years of his career, Rubens laid the foundations for his later success. Rubens left Antwerp for Italy in 1600 to study the art of Antiquity and the Renaissance as well as the work of his contemporaries. He steadily expanded his network of influential connections: he became court painter to the Duke of Mantua, portrayed members of the most influential families in Genoa and successfully competed with other artists. 

After his return to Antwerp, Rubens set up a high-powered studio, which, thanks to an efficient division of labour, was able to produce large numbers of quality paintings in comparatively little time. The artist’s signature bold visual language became his trademark. The prominent placement of his works in churches and distinguished collections and the wide dissemination through the medium of print make Rubens a sought-after brand. 

The exhibition shows some ninety paintings and works on paper from the museum’s own holdings as well as important loans from international museums and collections. It is curated by Prof. Dr. Nils Büttner and Dr. Sandra-Kristin Diefenthaler. The exhibition is realized in cooperation with the Rubenianum in Antwerp and the Academy of Fine Arts.

The exhibition will run until 20th February 2022.

Getty Acquires Bassano

October 20 2021

Image of Getty Acquires Bassano

Picture: Getty Museum

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The J. Paul Getty Museum have acquired Jacopo Bassano's The Miracle of the Quails (pictured). This large-scale work dated to 1554 has rarely ever been on display to the public. 

According to the article linked above:

“This painting perfectly embodies the genre to which Bassano owed his fame during his lifetime: the depiction of biblical themes with a pastoral character, where realistic details from everyday life are incorporated into compositions of great formal sophistication. Black shadows prevail and deeply resonant colors gleam from thick layers of pigment. Precisely drawn surface details have blurred into roughly applied swaths of loose brushstrokes. This almost abrupt but highly calculated simplicity lends the picture a mysterious and poetic aura,” says Davide Gasparotto, senior curator of paintings at the Getty Museum.

The work will be on display for the public in early November 2021.

Diary of an Art Historian

October 20 2021

Image of Diary of an Art Historian

Picture: TAN

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Bendor's latest Diary of an art historian piece for The Art Newspaper examines the life and legacy of the late Rembrandt scholar Ernst van der Wetering (1938-2021).

Amongst the points raised, Bendor asks who will take up the mantle of van der Wetering's authoritative gaze on the artist:

Many in the art world will be wondering who now becomes Rembrandt’s appointed representative on earth. In its obituary for van der Wetering, The Times suggested he was “so convinced there were no remaining Rembrandts to be attributed, reattributed or deattributed that he refused to give any thought to naming a successor as the leading expert in the field”. And yet, as another Rembrandt scholar, Gary Schwartz, points out, our understanding of what Rembrandt painted is still significantly incomplete. Of 62 works attributed to Rembrandt from his bankruptcy inventory in 1656, only nine can be certainly identified today. Somewhere out there are Rembrandts of horses, greyhounds, hares, lions fighting and even still lifes.

Update - Bendor here; I've recently heard on the grapevine that a new Rembrandt panel at the Rijksmuseum will soon be announced. 

Leiden Collection Hoogstraten on Display

October 20 2021

Image of Leiden Collection Hoogstraten on Display

Picture: The Leiden Collection

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Leiden Collection have shared news that their picture of Salmacis and Hermaphroditus by Samuel van Hoogstraten is on display within the Changing Forms exhibition at the Frances Lehman Loeb Center in Arlington, New York. This painting isn't usually on public display, which makes this a perfect opportunity to go and see the work in person.

According to the exhibition's blurb:

This Focus Gallery exhibition explores the rich concept of metamorphosis—with links to art, myth, science, and the exchange of knowledge—in the late seventeenth-century Netherlands. The paintings, drawings, prints, and illustrated books on view include artists’ renderings of Ovid’s Metamorphoses from around 1600 by Virgil Solis, Abraham Bloemaert, and Hendrick Goudt. This tradition contributed to a dynamic moment later in the 1600s, when painters such as Godefridus Schalcken, Willem van Mieris, and Samuel van Hoogstraten created their own mythological imagery. Meanwhile, the book market for Ovid kept pace and contemporaries explored biological metamorphosis in lavishly illustrated insect studies like those by Johannes Goedaert, Jan Swammerdam, and Maria Sibylla Merian. Works in the exhibition come from Vassar collections and include significant loans from Cornell University, Bard College, Lehigh University, and The Leiden Collection—the preeminent private collection of Dutch art in the United States.

The exhibition will run until 19th December 2021.

Conservation Denudes Christ Child

October 19 2021

Image of Conservation Denudes Christ Child


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

News from Italy that a painting of The Holy Family by Giuseppe Cesari (1568–1640), also called Cavaliere d'Arpino, has been conserved. The painting, dated to roughly 1627, is owned by the Museum of the Cathedral of Ferrara. It was picked for restoration due to a public vote promoted by the Italian group Coop Alleanza 3.0.

The removal of overpaint has revealed that pillow and flash of white cloth were added to the painting at some point during the eighteenth century. It is believed that this was due to 'changing tastes'.

Bristol Museum Conserves Jordaens Nativity

October 19 2021

Image of Bristol Museum Conserves Jordaens Nativity

Picture: Bristol Museum & Art Gallery

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Exciting news on Twitter that the Bristol Museum & Art Gallery will soon be redisplaying their newly conserved Nativity by Jacob Jordaens. The painting has undergone restoration over the past months, part of which has been described in this blog on their website. The painting will also be featured within the imminent second edition of the Jordaens Van Dyck Panel Paintings Project (JVDPPP) journal.

Feigen Bonington Soars

October 19 2021

Image of Feigen Bonington Soars

Picture: Sotheby's

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The aforementioned Richard Parkes Bonington of The Palazzi Manolesso-Ferro, Contarini-Fasan and Venier-Contarini on the Grand Canal, Venice soared past its estimate at Sotheby's New York yesterday. The painting achieved $7,387,300 (inc. commission) against its $2m - $3m estimate. Judging by how many pictures of it were being posted on social media, it seemed obvious that the picture was going to do well.

Overall, the Feigen sale achieved an impressive $16,145,610 with 78.19% of lots sold. Having said that, it could have been more considering that 6 out of their 15 top estimated works failed to find buyers.

Anne Seymour Damer display at Strawberry Hill House

October 19 2021

Image of Anne Seymour Damer display at Strawberry Hill House

Picture: Stawberry Hill House

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Strawberry Hill House, the former home of Horace Walpole, has installed a new display dedicated to the artist Anne Seymour Damer (1748-1828). The display will include a recently rediscovered bust of a Niobid and John Downman's portrait of Damer loaned from a private collection (pictured).

According to their website:

The central object in the new display is Damer’s marble bust of her mother, Caroline Campbell, Lady Ailesbury, probably made in the late 1780s. The bust – today owned by a private collector, was until recently on display in New York’s Metropolitan Museum. Campbell’s serene and composed expression evoke the ideals of ancient sculpture, a connection further echoed by Damer’s dual signatures in Latin and Greek. On the reverse, is a personal dedication of the work to her ‘friend and mother’. Damer kept this bust throughout her life and carved another version in Portland stone for her mother’s tomb in Saint Mary’s Church, Sundridge, Kent, where Damer herself is buried. 

A second marble bust, a Niobid, which was until recently thought to be lost, can be seen at Strawberry Hill for the very first time. In Greek mythology, Niobid was one of Niobe’s daughters, who were slain by Apollo and Artemis after Niobe boasted of having more children than their mother, the goddess Leto. In his Book of Visitors, Walpole reported this was the first marble bust ever sculpted by Damer: “Bust of Niobe in marble. Her first attempt”, which is confirmed by the inscription on the back of the bust, ‘Opus Primum’, first work. 


As part of the In Focus display, there is a chance to see a rare portrait of Anne as a sculptress, by John Downman (1750-1824). In his drawing, on loan from a private collection, we see her working on a bust of the Polish Prince Lubomirski, as the young Bacchus (the bust is today held at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford). Downman’s portrait, dated 1793, represents Anne at the age of 43 and is the most detailed representation of her while at work.

The display will last until 3rd January 2022.

Update - A reader has been in touch with the following information about the origins of the Niobid:

Sorry to be a pedantic pain but Niobid is not the name of a daughter of Niobe. A niobid is a common noun referring to any and all of the children of Niobe. According to the Larousse Encyclopedia of Mythology, pp. 131-2 she had six sons as well as six daughters and all twelve were killed by Artemis/Diana and Apollo her brother in revenge for Niobe’s hubris in taunting their mother Leto for having had fewer children than herself.  The subject gets quite complicated. The Wikipedia page on the Niobids lists their names and all the variations.

Christie's Results

October 15 2021

Image of Christie's Results

Picture: Christie's

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Christie's NY Old Master Paintings and Sculpture sale achieved $19,535,125 yesterday with an estimated 74.82% of lots sold.*

Amongst the lots that soared past their estimates included the two Jordaens head studies which achieved $237,500 (all figures include commission) and $100,000 over their $60k-$100k estimates; the Pieter Brueghel the Younger roundel achieved $212,500 over its $100k-$120k estimate; a head study by Van Dyck achieved $100,000 over its $40k-$60k estimate; a portrait of a boy by Jacob Backer achieved $112,500 over its $40k-$60k estimate; a pair of mythologies by Angelica Kauffman achieved $550,000 over their $80k-$120k estimates and a Pietro da Cortona religious picture achieved $106,250 over its $40-$60k estimate.

Have we also just witnessed the bursting of the Mona Lisa copy bubble? This rather meagre 'Follower of Leonardo' made a mere $32,500 over its $30k-$50k estimate.

* - Worked out with missing lot numbers from Christie's website.

Jordaens at Home

October 15 2021

Video: Frans Hals Museum

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Frans Hals Museum in Haarlem have opened a fantastic exhibition today entitled At Home with Jordaens. Amongst the triumphs of the exhibition is the recreation of a room in Jordaens's house with a set of surviving ceiling paintings, a project that looks very exciting indeed.

According to the museum's blurb:

Where the Northern Netherlands had Frans Hals, Rembrandt and Vermeer, in the Southern Netherlands they had their own Great Three: Jordaens, Rubens and Van Dijk.

This exhibition focuses on Jacob Jordaens, with his great flair, worldliness, individuality and typicalities.  Jordaens made portraits, historical scenes and genre paintings until well into his old age. His next of kin were often a source of inspiration to him. His home served as his showroom and the room where he received his – wealthy – clients was spectacularly decorated with his own work. 

Especially for this exhibition a reconstruction of that reception room will be made in the Frans Hals Museum, which enables visitors to feel as if they were ‘at Jordaens’ home’ for a moment, surrounded by many works that have never been shown together before.

The show will run until 30th January 2022.


The soundtrack to this video tops the list of the most confused I've ever heard. Does adding such cacophonous racket really attract a younger more vibrant audience, I wonder?

As it happens, I think Jordaens must have been a rather musical fellow. He painted himself playing or holding a lute at least three times, alongside depicting himself as a bagpipe player. I wonder if there is any more evidence to prove this theory.

Samsung Partners with the Louvre

October 15 2021

Video: Samsung

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

A reader has sent across an intriguing article that the technology company Samsung has partnered with the Louvre. This partnership revolves around the rights to use 40 high-definition images of Louvre masterpieces for their new TVs called The Frame.

According to the marketing spiel:

With new artworks from the Louvre joining the collection, The Frame now boasts a catalog with over 1,600 works of art from 42 different countries that consumers can enjoy in 4K picture quality from museums and galleries around the world, including the Prado Museum in Madrid, the Albertina Museum in Vienna, the Tate Modern in London, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, the Hermitage State Museum in Saint Petersburg and LUMAS.


The Frame boasts a unique and customizable design that sets it apart from the rest. Designed to be a TV when it’s on and art when it’s off, The Frame is an innovative digital canvas that reflects an individual’s personal style. The 2021 version of the lifestyle TV offers new custom options to complement every space and style, with two frame designs: modern (available in white, teak and brown) and beveled (available in white and brick red).


I'm not sure about you, but, one of the reasons I love looking at paintings, watercolours and drawings is the fact that they are not screens. Surely we have enough of these glowing pieces of glass in our lives? I'm certain that the modern world would disagree with me on this point...

Sure, we may not all be able to afford a masterpiece. But head down to your local auction house and or mid-range antique and art establishments and you're very likely to find some beautiful objects made by human hands at strikingly affordable prices.

The Spanish Gallery opens in County Durham

October 15 2021

Image of The Spanish Gallery opens in County Durham


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Bishop Auckland in County Durham is the site of the UK's first gallery dedicated to Spanish art. The Spanish Gallery is the vision of philanthropist Jonathan Ruffer who purchased Auckland Castle in 2012 in order to restore and conserve the building along with its collection of pictures by Zurbaran. The new Spanish gallery, which contains works by El Greco, Juan de Valdes Leal and Velázquez, opens to the public today.

Quoting Ruffer from the article linked above:

"When people say, 'What's going on in Bishop Auckland?' they'll find it's got a Spanish Gallery with three Velazquez paintings in it. 

There aren't many places in the world that can talk like that. 

So our thought is that if we can create something here that is utterly remarkable, like a Spanish Gallery, then we stake our claim on being a player in the international market."

Banksy's 'Love is in the Bin' Increases 18x in Price

October 15 2021

Video: Gloss

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Sotheby's sale of Banksy's Love is in the Bin made headlines last night after it achieved a record £18.5m (inc. commission) over its £4m - £6m estimate. The same painting had sold for £1,042,000 (inc. commission) a mere three years ago.

It seems that this is proof that gimmicks really can be sustained over a period of time, even if the original trick was one that was supposed to poke fun at the art market in the first place. A beautiful irony, I suppose.

A Rediscovered Reynolds (?) Unveiled at Art Fair

October 14 2021

Image of A Rediscovered Reynolds (?) Unveiled at Art Fair

Picture: The Telegraph

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Daily Telegraph have published news today of a rediscovered painting reputedly by Joshua Reynolds which has been unveiled at the Cotswold Antique Dealers Association Fair this week. The painting has been researched by the dealer Russell Strachan who purchased the picture at auction and has since had the picture conserved.

In terms of the authentication of the picture, the article reads:

Mr Strachan said that two Reynolds experts had looked at the painting, with one telling him "he found no reason to think it was not by Reynolds".

As it happens, I was contacted by the writer of the article late last night. My first question was, who exactly were the experts that were consulted? As the published article suggests, no details were supplied which does not bode particularly well. If one really wants to make a splash with a discovery, the credentials of experts need to be disclosed to give weight to such claims, in my opinion.

Spanish and Italian Drawings at the National Library of Spain

October 14 2021

Image of Spanish and Italian Drawings at the National Library of Spain


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The National Library of Spain in Madrid are opening a new exhibition tomorrow on Spanish and Italian Drawings of the Sixteenth Century. Drawing from their own collections consisting of more that 77 folios, many of the works on display have never been exhibited to the public. Spanish artists represented in the exhibition include the likes of Damián Forment, Pietro Morone, Luis de Vargas (Angelino de Medoro); Gaspar Becerra, Blas de Prado, Francisco Pacheco and El Greco. The Italian drawings are represented by works by Niccolò Circignani, Ludovico Cigoli, Jacopo da Empoli, Alessandro Casolani, Pietro Sorri and newly attributed works to Orazio Samacchini, Nosadella, Camillo Procaccini and Bartolomeo Passerotti, Agostino Carracci and Guido Reni.

The show will run until 16th January 2022.

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