Previous Posts: March 2022

Raphael at the National Gallery

March 30 2022

Video: The National Gallery, London

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The National Gallery in London will be opening their long-awaited Raphael exhibition next week. Here's a short trailer which provides an idea of which masterpieces visitors will encounter.


Speaking as someone who is rather sensitive to music, I'm surprised why no exquisite and dramatic sixteenth-century Italian polyphony was employed within this video (!)

The Prado are Asking for a Hand...

March 30 2022

Image of The Prado are Asking for a Hand...

Picture: @museodelprado

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

In case any readers have a little spare time on their hands, The Prado in Madrid are looking for some help in picking images for new posters that will decorate the entrances of the museum. Click through the link above to cast your vote.

Online Lecture: Big-Bellied Women: Portraying Pregnancy in 16th and 17th Century England

March 30 2022

Image of Online Lecture: Big-Bellied Women: Portraying Pregnancy in 16th and 17th Century England

Picture: The MET

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Agnes Etherington Art Centre in Kingston, Ontario Canada, will be hosting an interesting in-person and live-streamed lecture next month. Professor Karen Hearn will be presenting Queen's University's Isabel and Alfred Bader Lecture in European Art on the subject of Big-Bellied Women: Portraying Pregnancy in 16th and 17th-Century England.

According to the talk's blurb:

Join celebrated art historian and curator Karen Hearn for “Big-Bellied Women: Portraying Pregnancy in 16th and 17th-Century England,” an exploration of early modern depictions of pregnancy in British art. Hearn, a former curator at Tate Britain and honorary professor at University College London, argues many early modern works depicted pregnancy overtly, contrary to previous thought, for a variety of reasons and motivations.

This free talk will be streamed online on 14th April 2022 from 6pm - 8pm (EDT). Click on the link above for more details.

Magic of the Real: Bernardo Bellotto at the Saxon court

March 30 2022

Image of Magic of the Real: Bernardo Bellotto at the Saxon court


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister in Dresden will be opening an exhibition on Bellotto later in May. Magic of the Real: Bernardo Bellotto at the Saxon court will see the reunion of several large scale works by the painter made possible by several important international loans.

The show will run in Dresden from 21st May 2022 until 28th August 2022. It will then head across to the Royal Castle in Warsaw later in September.

Bonhams April Sale

March 30 2022

Image of Bonhams April Sale

Picture: Bonhams

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Bonhams London have uploaded the online catalogue for their April Old Master Paintings sale. This live auction will take place on 12th April 2022.

As usual, there are quite a few intriguing and unrestored pictures to peruse through. I won't spoil the fun by pointing out any that may or may not be interesting.

New 'Restoration' Scandal in France

March 29 2022

Image of New 'Restoration' Scandal in France


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

News has been emerging from Chatonrupt-Sommermont in the Haute-Marne, North-Eastern France, of a rather curious restoration scandal. The story revolves around a town Mayor who commissioned a retired soldier called Patrick Quercy to 'restore' a set of nineteenth-century Stations of the Cross. These rather damaged paintings had recently been rediscovered in the bell tower of an old church. Quercy's work had been featured on a regional news programme where several commentators spotted that the work was far from satisfactory (see the comparisons above). Didier Rykner of La Tribune de l'Art used words such as 'vandalism' and a 'massacre' to describe this most misguided campaign of restoration. He has also drawn attention to the vulnerable position that so many religious artworks of 'no commercial value' are placed in.

Art Basel & UBS Art Market Report

March 29 2022

Image of Art Basel & UBS Art Market Report


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Art Basel and UBS have just published their 2022 Art Market Report (click on the link to read the free report in full). As to be expected, the report is full of rather interesting statistics.

Here are just a handful of noteworthy points I've picked out from the paper:

1. After a decline of 20% in 2020, aggregate sales in the dealer sector reached an estimated $34.7 billion in 2021, increasing by 18% year-on-year, but still below the level of 2019.

2. After a challenging year in 2020, the auction sector rebounded strongly in 2021, with high demand and strong sales both online and  offline, particularly at the high end of the market, as well as an influx of new buyers. Sales at public auction of fine and decorative art  and antiques reached an estimated $26.3 billion, an increase of 47% on 2020.

3. The largest international auction hubs remained the US, China, and the UK, with a  dominant share of 78% of public auction sales by value. China was the largest market with a 33% share (down by 3% year-on-year), marginally ahead of the US (32%). 

4. Just 6% of dealers had sold NFTs in 2021. A further 19% had  not sold NFTs but were interested in doing so in the next one to two years, whereas just under half (46%) reported that they had not done so and had no interest in doing so in future. The remaining 29% were unsure whether they would sell NFTs in future or not.

Click here to read a full write-up from The Art Newspaper.

'Maddalena-il mistero e l'immagine' in Forlì

March 29 2022

Image of 'Maddalena-il mistero e l'immagine' in Forlì


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Visitors to Forlì, an Italian town close to Ravenna, will have the opportunity to visit a brand-new exhibition on representations of Saint Mary Magdalene. The show entitled Maddalena-il mistero e l'immagine, organised by the Musei di San Domenico, contains no fewer than 200 works featuring the saint. This includes works by the likes of Masaccio, Crivelli, Van der Weyden, Signorelli, Bellini, Perugino, Barocci, Savoldo, Mazzoni, Titian, Veronese, Tintoretto, Guercino, Vouet, Guido Reni, Lanfranco, Mengs, Canova, Hayez, Delacroix, Böcklin, Previati, Chagall and others.

The exhibition will run from 27th March 2022 until 10th July 2022.

New Release: Bernini and His World

March 29 2022

Image of New Release: Bernini and His World

Picture: Lund Humphries

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Publisher Lund Humphries released this new book last week. Bernini and His World: Sculpture and Sculptors in Early Modern Rome is the new title written by Livio Pestilli, the former Director of Trinity College, Rome.

According to the book's blurb:

Bernini and His World is a unique exploration of Gian Lorenzo Bernini the sculptor, offering new insights and including discussions of the artist’s stylistic innovations and the ways in which he approached sculpture. Placing his life and work within a social, anthropological and historical context, Livio Pestilli gives a fascinating and in-depth account, from the Rome in which Bernini lived and its reception of foreign sculptors to the myth-making narrative of his biographers, and the judgements of his critics.

Beckford's Deathbed Portrait purchased by Tower Museum

March 24 2022

Image of Beckford's Deathbed Portrait purchased by Tower Museum

Picture: Beckford's Tower and Museum

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Beckford's Tower and Museum on the edge of Bath have acquired its former owner's rather macabre Deathbed Portrait. The image of William Beckford (1760-1840), painted by Willes Maddox and dated to four years after his death, was purchased by the Bath Preservation Trust and will be put on display next month.

According to the accompanying press release:

The portrait, which has been in the same private collection for many years, is a gilt framed oval picture of William Beckford on his deathbed, surrounded by brass and giltwood decorations that match those used on his coffin.  It was made for Beckford’s daughter, Susan, Duchess of Hamilton following her father’s death in May 1844.

Sotheby's April Sale

March 24 2022

Image of Sotheby's April Sale

Picture: Sotheby's

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Many of you might have spotted that Sotheby's London have uploaded their upcoming mid-season sale. This online auction will be held between 31st March and 6th April 2022. Amongst the highlights are portraits descended with the Marquess of Downshire and a choice selection of English sporting pictures.

As usual with these very tempting mid-season sales, I won't spoil any fun by pointing out pictures that may or may not be interesting.

MET Actors Recreate Las Meninas

March 24 2022

Image of MET Actors Recreate Las Meninas

Picture: @metoperaactors

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Re-creating historical paintings never goes out of fashion, it seems. The actors of the Metropolitan Opera in New York have recreated Diego Velázquez's Las Meninas to help promote their latest production of Verdi's Don Carlos. A good effort, I think!

Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco acquire a Marie-Guillemine Benoist

March 24 2022

Image of Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco acquire a Marie-Guillemine Benoist


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Fine Arts Musuems of San Francisco have announced their acquisition of the following Psyche Bidding Her Family Farewell (1791) by Marie-Guillemine Benoist (1768-1826). The painting had been sold for €292,000 at auction in 2020 and is now one of three works by the artist in US museum collections.

According to the article linked above:

“Having remained with the descendants of its first owner for over 200 years, the painting is magnificently preserved, allowing us to appreciate Benoist’s exquisite attention to detail,” Emily Beeny, the curator of European paintings, said in statement. “Note the tears that glisten on the queen’s cheek, the gleaming tendrils of Psyche’s hair, the flutter and weight of her draperies, the glow of pearls against flesh.”

Strawberry Hill need £25k to save this Hogarth (!)

March 24 2022

Image of Strawberry Hill need £25k to save this Hogarth (!)

Picture: Private Collection

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Strawberry Hill Trust have launched an appeal to raise £25,000 to complete their acquisition of William Hogarth's portrait of Horace Walpole.

Fortunately, the trust has already managed to raise the majority of the £230,000 required to purchase the work. They have until 14th April 2022 to scrape-together the remaining sum.

According to the trust's press release:

This portrait is of exceptional interest for two reasons - it is the earliest surviving oil portrait of Walpole, and a rare and significant example of Hogarth’s early mature pictorial work. It also is the earliest-known commissioned picture of an identifiable sitter by Hogarth and his first-known portrait of a child.


£230,000 really does seem like an absolute bargain for a painting this important and beautiful. Fingers crossed they will manage it!

Iron Men at the KHM

March 24 2022

Video: Kunsthistoriches Museum Wien

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

I was given the opportunity to flick through an advanced copy of the Kunsthistoriches Musuem's upcoming exhibition catalogue a few days ago. Iron Men: Fashion in Steel is a wonderful excuse to examine historic arms and armour in the context of civilian fashions from the fifteenth to seventeenth centuries. These profusely decorated and embossed harnesses really did provide Emperors, princes and courtiers with sculpture that they could wear.

The show also contains an excellent selection of Old Masters which feature this highly-misunderstood art form (we have to blame Hollywood for that).

The show will run from 29th March 2022 until 26th June 2022.

Chardin's Strawberries make €24.4m

March 24 2022

Video: artcurial

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

A new auction record for Jean-Siméon Chardin and for an eighteenth-century French painting was set in Paris yesterday. The artist's aforementioned Basket of Strawberries achieved no less than €24.4m (inc. fees).

According to the write-up from The Art Newspaper:

The work was bought by the New York dealer Adam Williams, who was bidding in the room. This was confirmed by the Old Master paintings specialist Eric Turquin who advised on the sale and wrote the catalogue entry. He also tells The Art Newspaper that the underbidder was a London gallery bidding for a private American collector and Eric Coatalem, a Parisian dealer, whose interest "pushed the picture up to €15m". Turquin will receive a small percentage of the sale proceeds.

Christie's new OMP Global Head

March 23 2022

Image of Christie's new OMP Global Head

Picture: BBC

Posted by Bendor

I'm interrupting my recent AHN purdah to congratulate Andrew Fletcher on his appointment as Christie's new Global Head of their Old Masters department. Here's their press release. Andrew has previously been up the road at Sotheby's, for 20 years! And I think I've known him all that time. Which is incredibly ageing, for in my mind we're both still just getting started in the Old Master game.

But now Andrew is an experienced older hand, and I can think of few better people to take charge of an international auction house's Old Master offering, especially in such unprecedented times. AHN wishes him good luck!

The photo above shows Andrew in action in an episode of Britain's Lost Masterpieces, where he was our expert guide in the works of Jan Brueghel the Elder.


March 17 2022

Image of Apologies...

Picture: (?)

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Apologies for the slow service this week, I'm currently away lecturing.

Indeed, today I'll be expressing my enthusiasm for the artist who created this (one of my absolute favourite details, as it happens). Who painted it? I'll reveal all in due course.

Update - Well done to all of you who spotted that this detail is found in Van Dyck's Portrait of Margareta de Vos (Frick Collection).

Restored Rubens to be unveiled in Cologne on Easter Monday

March 15 2022

Image of Restored Rubens to be unveiled in Cologne on Easter Monday


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Peter Paul Rubens's recently restored Crucifixion of Saint Peter is about to be unveiled for members of the public. The painting, which has been in the Church of Sankt Peter in Köln (Cologne) since 1642, measures 3.5 x 2.5 m and has been undergoing sensitive conservation over the past two years. This recent campaign of restoration cost the church and diocese no less than €85,000. As in olden times, the painting is set to be unshrouded on Easter Monday for the congregation gathered in the building.

Printmaking in Prague at The British Museum

March 15 2022

Image of Printmaking in Prague at The British Museum

Picture: The British Museum

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The British Museum will be opening an exhibition of prints in a few day's time. Printmaking in Prague: Art from the court of Rudolf II will be opening on 17th March 2022 in Room 90 and will run until 28th August 2022.

According to the museum's website:

In this exhibition, learn more about printmaking in Rudolf's court in Prague during the highpoint of innovative and ambitious prints made from around 1580 until the early years of the 17th century. 

After moving his court to the Bohemian capital of Prague, Rudolf transformed the city into a vibrant centre of art and science. He acquired objects from all over Europe and beyond, and amassed one of the largest and most diverse collections of his time. His collection of thousands of paintings, prints, drawings, sculptures, and other objects of curiosity and wonder led him to be described as the greatest art patron in the world by biographer Karel van Mander in 1604. 

Rudolf also sought out leading artists for his court, including painters and sculptors who specialised in creating elegant, elongated forms. Aegidius II Sadeler was appointed as the imperial engraver to Rudolf's court, and together with Hendrick Goltzius and Jan Muller, he reproduced these artworks as prints – a move that disseminated Rudolf's courtly style to a much broader audience.

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