Previous Posts: March 2022

The National Gallery partners with The Frame Blog

March 14 2022

Image of The National Gallery partners with The Frame Blog


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The National Gallery in London have announced that it will be entering into a Research Partnership with The Frame Blog. The blog, which was initiated ten-years-ago by the archivist, researcher and author Lynn Roberts, covers a huge amount of material relating to frames and their related histories. The span of periods is vast, and includes interesting examples featured within fine art sales and auctions.

New Layout at the Palazzo Spinola

March 14 2022

Image of New Layout at the Palazzo Spinola


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The collections of the The National Gallery of Liguria in the Palazzo Spinola, Genoa, have been reorganised and refreshed for visitors. Their latest display entitled Nuove Luci particularly focuses on new acquisitions, donations and restorations of the art collection kept in the Palace. The collection includes important works by the likes of Giovanni Battista Paggi, Anthony van Dyck, Peter Paul Rubens, Bernardo Strozzi, Antonello da Messina and others.

Here's a video which shows a little more of the new displays.

The Walters Art Museum acquire Workshop of Flinck

March 14 2022

Image of The Walters Art Museum acquire Workshop of Flinck

Picture: The Walters Art Museum via. @MarjoleineKars

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Walters Art Museum in Baltimore have announced their acquisition of a Portrait of a Young Black Woman c.1650 by the Workshop of Govaert Flinck (spotted via. @MarjoleineKars). The acquisition was made possible by funds provided by the Alton Jones Foundation Acquisition Fund.

According to the museum's magazine:

This young Black woman was surely a member of the community of largely working-class Africans who by the mid-1600s had made one neighborhood in central Amsterdam their home. Rembrandt's large house was here, and he and his students, such as Govaert Flinck (1615-1660), often represented these neighbors in their history paintings and allegories. However, given the absence of attributes specifically indicating the subject's role as an allegorical or historical figure, this work appears to be a portrait of a specific, although still unidentified, woman. The feather in her hair, her pearls, and her chemise are all commonly seen in depictions of young women employed in Dutch bars and taverns, where they were tasked with amusing their male customers. As reflected as well in another recently acquired Dutch painting, Young Black Men Drinking in a Tavern (1630s), Africans were active participants in everyday life. When these two paintings are installed in the Dutch galleries, they will contribute to a nearly twenty-year campaign to bring the African presence in early modern Europe to the fore in our galleries.

Saving Ukranian Cultural Heritage & Art

March 14 2022

Video: The Guardian

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Alongside the horrific human suffering due to the ongoing war in Ukraine, many media outlets have also been covering the brave and heroic efforts of cultural and museum officials in saving their cultural treasures. Whole museum collections have been hidden away into safe places. Important historic buildings in cities like Lviv and Odessa have been scaffolded and covered up in hope that they will be protected against potential shelling.

From the Russian museums side of things, large institutions like the Hermitage in Saint Petersburg are demanding that all international loans are returned by the end of the month. This has particularly affected some exhibitions in Italy, it seems. The National Gallery in London will also "no longer be seeking" a Raphael from the Hermitage for their upcoming show.

Export Ban on £50m Reynolds

March 11 2022

Image of Export Ban on £50m Reynolds


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The UK Government have placed a temporary export ban on Sir Joshua Reynolds's Portrait of Omai. Regular readers will know (1, 2) that the painting was sold from Castle Howard in 2001 at Sotheby's for £9.4m (hammer price). There had been attempts to export the picture in 2002 and again 2012. Both of these resulted in refusals.

Interested parties will now have to find no less than £50m (?!) to keep the painting in the country.

Committee Member Christopher Baker has been quoted as saying:

This magnificent British portrait has a global resonance. It illustrates the connectivity of the world in the late eighteenth century through exploration and the spread of colonial ambitions, as well as the fascination that high profile cultural encounters inspired. Mai (c.1753-1779) (or ‘Omai’ as he was called in Britain) arrived in London from his home in Polynesia in July 1774, aboard HMS Adventure, which formed part of Captain James Cook’s second voyage. He was regarded as a celebrity and became the focus of written accounts and images, among which this sensational painting is undoubtedly the most potent. 

Reynolds’ picture was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1776, just after its subject returned to the Pacific. It is a highly romanticised image, illustrating European perceptions, and has a special status in the evolution of grand portraiture of the period. Securing it for a public collection would have profound benefits and allow the numerous and riveting historical and artistic narratives it embodies to be fully developed and shared.

The Palace of Versailles scoop up a Nattier from Auction

March 11 2022

Image of The Palace of Versailles scoop up a Nattier from Auction

Picture: @DaguerreSVV

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

It has been announced on Twitter that the Palace of Versailles have acquired (pre-empted at auction) Jean-Marc Nattier's Portrait of a Lady presumed to be Philippine Élisabeth d'Orléans known as Mademoiselle de Beaujolais. The painting was sold by the auction house Daguerre for €150,000.

For any of you who might be curious as to what this instrument might have sounded like, here's a rather fine Tombeau by François Campion (1685-1747) played on a historic baroque guitar.

Fondation Custodia Acquisitions

March 11 2022

Image of Fondation Custodia Acquisitions

Picture: Fondation Custodia

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Fondation Custodia in Paris have announced that their latest acquisitions within their March newsletter. This includes Simon Kick's Genre Scene with Soldiers Playing Dice (c. 1645-50) (pictured), Reynier van der Laeck's Venus and Amor Lamenting the Death of Adonis and an Anonymous French tondo, 17th century?, depicting Soldier seen from Behind, Fighting Monsters.

To quote the newsletter's description of the Simon Kick:

The palette of browns, greys and beige is striking, as is the attention devoted to the doors and the coach on the left, the outlines of the straw and the structure of the stable where the action takes place. Wooden barrels serve as gaming tables. There are beautiful details, such as the still life of the hat that has fallen on the floor and the foreshortened boots that someone has taken off. The bow in the sash around the waist of the figure seen from behind is a delight and is reminiscent of Michael Sweerts’s paintings. And then there is the individual looking out of the canvas and searching for us. Germans have a neat expression for this: ‘Der Betrachter im Bilde’ (the viewer in the picture). As was not unusual in earlier art, it could be a self-portrait which means it could be Simon Kick, who was born in Delft and died young, who is looking at us. At long last he recently had a catalogue raisonné written about him by Jochai Rosen, who had to make do with an old black and white photograph for his entry about our painting.

Blue Walls Controversy at the Prado

March 10 2022

Image of Blue Walls Controversy at the Prado


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

A small controversy is brewing in Spain over the freshly painted bright blue walls chosen for the rooms that house the Prado's Spanish gothic paintings collection. The newly painted walls, unveiled only yesterday, were intended to (forgive the translation) "enhance the strong chromaticism inherent in most Gothic paintings and reinforce the idea that the works were not conceived only as objects in themselves but also as subjects dependent on environments endowed with a strong sensory dimension". The new colour has met with criticism from several commentators, who oppose the distracting effect of the colour.

As ever, all comments from AHN readers are most welcome.

Update - A reader has contributed the following observation:

As you ask, those blue walls make the gallery look like a public lavatory, so not ideal!

Recent Release: Catalogue of German, Dutch and Flemish Drawings at the Musee Bonnat-Helleu, Museum of Fine Arts Bayonne

March 10 2022

Image of Recent Release: Catalogue of German, Dutch and Flemish Drawings at the Musee Bonnat-Helleu, Museum of Fine Arts Bayonne


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Musee Bonnat-Helleu, Museum of Fine Arts Bayonne have recently released a new complete catalogue of the museum's German, Dutch and Flemish drawings. The edition is edited by David Mandrella (and collaborateurs) and features works by the likes of Dürer, Rubens, Van Dyck, Rembrandt, Jordaens, Hans Baldung Grien, Adolf von Menzel, Abraham Bloemaert, Adriaen van Ostade, Jan van Goyen and others.

The Louvre are Restoring a Poussin

March 10 2022

Image of The Louvre are Restoring a Poussin

Picture: @MilovanCavor

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Nicolas Milovanovic, Chief Curator at the Louvre in Paris, has shared some rather interesting images on Twitter of a conservation project on the museum's The Nurture of Bacchus by Nicolas Poussin. The clean, which is due to finish soon, looks rather promising indeed. Click through the link to see more images on Nicolas's Twitter page.

Boldini: Les plaisirs et les jours

March 9 2022

Image of Boldini: Les plaisirs et les jours


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Petit Palais in Paris are set to open what looks to be a sumptuous visual display of late nineteenth-century paintings at the end of this month. Boldini Les Plaisirs et les Jours is scheduled to run from 29th March 2022 until 24th July 2022.

According to the gallery's blurb:

This first retrospective is an opportunity for visitors to discover or to renew acquaintance with Giovanni Boldini, a virtuoso painter and figure on the social, artistic and literary scene of Belle Époque Paris.

Born in Ferrara, Italy in 1842, Boldini spent most of his career in Paris. He was a close friend of Degas and also of Proust, and moved in aristocratic and upper middle-class circles. During his lifetime, he enjoyed considerable success, becoming the favourite portraitist of a rich, international clientele. In Paris, the fashion capital of the world, he had no equal when it came to portraying princesses and rich heiresses – always wearing the most beautiful dresses. His inimitable style, which was modern but at odds with the avant-garde, has made his works captivating and moving testimonies of that lost era in Paris.

Rediscovered Gabriel Loppé Mountain Views up for Sale

March 9 2022

Video: Artcurial

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The French auction house Artcurial have made this video about a pair of monumental Mountain landscapes by Gabriel Loppé (1825-1913) in their upcoming sale. The canvases of The Matterhorn seen from the Gornergrat and The Mer de Glace and the Grands Charmoz, Chamonix both sent to London in 1874 where they were displayed in a gallery in Conduit Street. The paintings had been considered lost until they were rediscovered rolled up in cylindrical shipping boxes in 2014. The video features the independent expert William Mitchell who catalogued the pictures for auction.

They will be sold on 23rd March 2022 carrying estimates of €300k - €400k and €350k - €450k respectively.

The Miniature: An (Online) International Conference

March 9 2022

Image of The Miniature: An (Online) International Conference


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Centre for Renaissance and Reformation Studies are holding a three-day online conference on the subject of The Miniature. As we might expect, the conference has a wide program of speakers from institutions across the globe. Presentations will be held online between 10th and 12th March 2022 and although conference is free to attend registration is still required beforehand.

A brief sample of some of the talks that will be featured:

“‘You will offer a ship of silver’: A Brief History of Medieval Votive Ships

“Netherlandish Carved Altarpieces as Miniatures”

“Miniatures Acting Out: Narratives and Statuettes in Early Modern Germany and the Low Countries”

“The Work of the World: Rarities in Miniature”

One of Gainsborough's Earliest Portraits up for Sale

March 9 2022

Image of One of Gainsborough's Earliest Portraits up for Sale

Picture: Cheffins

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Interesting news that the auction house Cheffins will be auctioning off one of Thomas Gainsborough's earliest portraits later this month. The portrait of an unknown lady was discovered by the art historian James Innes-Mulraine in 2016 where it was purchased at a provincial auction house catalogued as 'Circle of Arthur Devis'. Fortunately, research proved otherwise and the painting was eventually accepted by Hugh Belsey, compiler of the artist's portrait catalogue raisonné, as an early Gainsborough dating to c.1742.

The portrait will be sold on 23rd March 2022 carrying an estimate of £30,000 - £50,000.

Zamek Królewski show off their newly acquired Kauffman

March 9 2022

Video: Zamek Królewski

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Zamek Królewski (the Royal Castle) in Warsaw have put on a small exhibition to highlight a new acquisition. In 2021 the castle acquired a version of Angelica Kauffman's Cornelia, Mother of the Gracchi, Pointing to Her Children as Her Treasures.

The Warsaw picture was commissioned by Prince Stanisław Poniatowski, who was a traveller in Rome during the year 1788. As nephew to the King of Poland, Prince Stanisław was known for being serious collector of art. Fans of Kauffman will know that another version of the picture is held by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

Renovated Collegio Alberoni Reopens

March 9 2022

Image of Renovated Collegio Alberoni Reopens


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

News from Italy that the newly renovated Collegio Alberoni in Piacenza, Italy, will be reopening to the public this weekend. In particular, vast interventions have been made to upgrade the apartments belonging to Cardinal Giulio Alberoni (1664–1752) who founded the college and collection of art. The most singular piece in the collection is a version of Antonello da Messina's Ecce Homo.

Press photographs also show a rather intriguing approach to displaying Jan Provost's Madonna of the fountain and Glass with flowers within a niche:

Queen Victoria's Japanese Screens Rediscovered in the Royal Collection

March 8 2022

Image of Queen Victoria's Japanese Screens Rediscovered in the Royal Collection

Picture: The Evening Standard

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Evening Standard have shared news that several Japanese painted screens have been rediscovered in The Royal Collection. These large screens, which were part of a diplomatic gift received in 1860, will be put on display for the first time later in April.

According to the article:

Eight pairs of screen paintings were sent by the Japanese shogun Tokugawa Iemochi shortly after Japan’s reopening to the West, following more than two centuries of deliberate isolation. 

The opulent gift to Victoria marked a landmark treaty that reopened seven Japanese ports and cities to British trade and allowed a British diplomat to reside in Japan for the first time.

But the screens were wrongly catalogued as Japanese works by an unidentified artist when they arrived,  and their links to Shogun Iemochi and their historical significance were lost.

It was also found that the pieces – featuring two to three layers of paper rather than the usual six to nine – were hastily produced, probably due to a huge fire in Edo Castle in Tokyo which would have destroyed the original versions before they could be sent to Victoria.

The RCT's exhibition Japan: Courts and Culture will open at the Queen's Gallery on 8th April 2022 and run until 12th March 2023.

A pair of Turners returning to the UK for first time in 100 Years

March 8 2022

Image of A pair of Turners returning to the UK for first time in 100 Years

Picture: The Frick Collection

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Guardian have shared news that the Frick Collection in New York will be loaning two paintings by JMW Turner to the National Gallery which haven't been seen in the UK for 100 years. The temporary loan will include Cologne, the Arrival of a Packet-Boat: Evening (pictured) and Harbour of Dieppe: Changement de Domicile which were purchased by Henry Clay Frick in 1914. The free Turner on Tour exhibition will run from November 2022 until February 2023.


As it happens, the Cologne picture is the subject one of my favourite Ruskin anecdotes associated with the annual Royal Academy exhibitions. The following tale is said to have unfolded when the painting was hung in between two portraits by Sir Thomas Lawrence at the RA in 1826:

The sky of Turner's picture was exceedingly bright, but it had a most injurious effect on the colour of the two portraits. Lawrence naturally felt mortified... On the morning of the opening of the exhibition, at the private view, a friend of Turner's who had seen the Cologne in all its splendour, led a group of expectant critics up to the picture. He started back from it in consternation. The golden sky had changed to a dun colour. He ran up to Turner, who was in another part of the room. "Turner, what have you been doing to your picture?" "Oh," muttered Turner in a low voice, "poor Lawrence was so unhappy. It's only lamp-black. It'll all wash off after the exhibition" 

Upcoming Release: A Revolution on Canvas

March 8 2022

Image of Upcoming Release: A Revolution on Canvas

Picture: Yale University Press

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Here's an upcoming summer release that might be of interest. Yale University Press will be publishing Paris A. Spies Gans's new book A Revolution on Canvas: The Rise of Women Artists in Britain and France, 1760-1830 on 28th June 2022.

According to the publisher's blurb:

In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, hundreds of women in London and Paris became professional artists, exhibiting and selling their work in unprecedented numbers. Many rose to the top of their nations’ artistic spheres and earned substantial incomes from their work, regularly navigating institutional inequalities expressly designed to exclude members of their sex. In the first collective, critical history of women artists in Britain and France during the Revolutionary era, Paris Spies-Gans explores how they engaged with and influenced the mainstream cultural currents of their societies at pivotal moments of revolutionary change.   

Through an interdisciplinary analysis of the experiences of these narrative painters, portraitists, sculptors, and draughtswomen, this book challenges longstanding assumptions about women in the history of art. Importantly, it demonstrates that women built profitable artistic careers by creating works in nearly every genre practiced by men, in similar proportions and to aesthetic acclaim. It also reveals that hundreds of women studied with male artists, and even learned to draw from the nude. Where traditional histories have left a void, this generously illustrated book illuminates a lively world of artistic production.   

Featuring an extensive range of these artists’ paintings, drawings, sculptures, and writings, alongside contemporary prints, satires, and works by their male peers, A Revolution on Canvas transforms our understanding of the opportunities and identities of women artists of the past.

Art History in Focus: London Art Week

March 8 2022

Image of Art History in Focus: London Art Week

Picture: LAW

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

London Art Week are hosting an interesting selection of free online talks between 8th March and 18th March 2022 as part of their Art History in Focus series. The lectures will be held on Zoom and are entirely free (although registration is required).

Here is a list of the talks:

8th March - Why did so many female artists in pre-modern times focus on still-lifes? (such a shame it's already happened, but let's hope a YouTube recording might be available soon!)

9th March - Donatello - Celebrating the importance of the Renaissance master in the first major exhibition in nearly 40 years

10th March - The Académie Julian in the late 19th century and its influence on women artists internationally

16th March - The Grand Tour, the two Horaces and the Court of Florence (1740-1786) at Strawberry Hill

18th March - Grace, sprezzatura and new discoveries: Parmigianino at The Courtauld

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