Previous Posts: December 2023

Season's greetings!

December 28 2023

Image of Season's greetings!

Picture: Rijksmuseum

Happy Christmas AHNers...! Bendor here just stepping in to pass on my (somewhat belated) best wishes of the season to you all, and to thank Adam for so brilliantly keeping us updated with the latest news over the last few months. AHN hopes all your art historical dreams for 2024 come true!

Update - It's Adam here, wishing all readers of AHN a very Happy New Year! I've taken the holidays to catch up on some serious family time, including some lute playing with my brother. A lot has happened over the past few weeks, so it's time I got going!

Art to Inspire Opening a Bottle

December 22 2023

Image of Art to Inspire Opening a Bottle

Picture: Rijksmuseum

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Since we're approaching the season of festive merrymaking, I thought some readers might feel inspired by a new list compiled by the The Wine Enthusiast Website of European paintings which inspire them to open a bottle. Works featured include paintings by Titian, Caravaggio, Jacob Duck (pictured) and the usual suspects... I'm sure AHN readers may have their own suggestions too.

Fragonard realises €3.25m

December 22 2023

Image of Fragonard realises €3.25m

Picture: @Drouot

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The aforementioned rediscovered Fragonard of a Young Girl in a Hat realised a respectable €3.25m with the auctioneers Boisgirard - Antonini yesterday. Although perhaps not the most visually appealing subject out there by the artist, the exquisite condition and 'fresh to the market' qualities obviously won out! It also shows that an enticing estimate, in this case €400,000 - 600,000, did its job well.

Sotheby's New York Part I - Now Online

December 22 2023

Image of Sotheby's New York Part I - Now Online

Picture: Sotheby's

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Sotheby's New York's upcoming Master Paintings & Sculpture Part I sale has been published online. This 53 lot sale is complimented by several other single owner sales, including A Scholar Collects: Joseph BaillioThe Estate of Jimmy YoungerThe Ian & Carolina Irving Collection and the The Jordan Saunders Collection.

Highlights of the Part I sale include a Self Portrait by Rubens, a still life by Luis Meléndez, a shipping scene by Saloman Van Ruysdael, a Self Portrait by Sir Anthony Van Dyck and a beautifully preserved cassone panel by Giovanni di Ser Giovanni Guidi, called Scheggia.

Following on from yesterday's news that the Metropolitan Museum of Art are deaccessioning works of art at Christie's, Sotheby's New York also have a group of paintings which are being offered to benefit the museum's acquisition fund. This includes portraits by Sir Joshua Reynolds, George Romney, Sir Henry Raeburn, Thomas Gainsborough and a mythological painting by Johann Liss.

New Research on Night Watch Ground Layer

December 21 2023

Image of New Research on Night Watch Ground Layer

Picture: science.org

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

For those interested in the depths of technical analysis for works of art, the journal Science Advances has published an extended article on the ground layer of Rembrandt's Night Watch. The article entitled Correlated x-ray fluorescence and ptychographic nano-tomography on Rembrandt’s The Night Watch reveals unknown lead “layer” is free to read online.

Here's the abstract:

The Night Watch, one of the most famous masterpieces by Rembrandt, is the subject of a large research and conservation project. For the conservation treatment, it is of great importance to understand its current condition. Correlated nano-tomography using x-ray fluorescence and ptychography revealed a—so far unknown—lead-containing “layer”, which likely acts as a protective impregnation layer applied on the canvas before the quartz-clay ground was applied. This layer might explain the presence of lead soap protrusions in areas where no other lead components are present. In addition to the three-dimensional elemental mapping, ptychography visualizes and quantifies components not detectable by hard x-ray fluorescence such as the organic fraction and quartz. The first-time use of this combination of synchrotron-based techniques on a historic paint micro-sample shows it to be an important tool to better interpret the results of noninvasive imaging techniques operating on the macroscale.

Unnamed Figures at the American Folk Art Museum

December 21 2023

Image of Unnamed Figures at the American Folk Art Museum

Picture: American Folk Art Museum

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The American Folk Art Museum in New York opened a rather interesting exhibition last month entitled Unnamed Figures: Black Presence and Absence in the Early American North. The show appears to be full of very rare and intriguing early American portraits and paintings, the many sitters of which remain unidentified.

According to the museum's website:

Through 125 remarkable works including paintings, needlework, and photographs, this exhibition invites visitors to focus on figures who appear in—or are omitted from—early American images and will challenge conventional narratives that have minimized early Black histories in the North, revealing the complexities and contradictions of the region’s history between the late 1600s and early 1800s.  

The exhibition will run until 24th March 2024.

Part 1 of RKD Frans Hals Study now Online!

December 21 2023

Image of Part 1 of RKD Frans Hals Study now Online!

Picture: MET

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The RKD (Netherlands Institute for Art History) has published Part 1 of its Frans Hals Study online. This part of the study, written by Prof. Dr. Claus Grimm, contains three monographic chapters examining the artist's life, work and reception. The study precedes Grimm's upcoming catalogue raisonné on the artist which will be published next year.

According to the website:

The present first part of the RKD Study Frans Hals and his workshop comprises three monographic chapters on the life, work and reception of Frans Hals. The author devotes particular attention to his theory on Hals’s workshop practice and the collaboration with other artists. Thanks to new insights gained by technical research, as well as new possibilities for comparing and analyzing works of art in minute detail – using high-resolution digital photographs – Claus Grimm now distinguishes which paintings, or which parts of them, were executed by Hals himself and which were done by studio assistants. A large number of details is reproduced in the publication, providing insight into the arguments for accepting or rejecting specific attributions.

How the Velázquez left Spain

December 21 2023

Image of How the Velázquez left Spain

Picture: El País

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Spanish Newspaper El País have published an article delving into the provenance of Sotheby's New York's upcoming Diego Velázquez's Portrait Isabel de Borbón, Queen of Spain. It details the possible routes the portrait left Spain in the early-nineteenth century during the Peninsula Wars and the Spanish War of Independence. It was in the collections of King Louis Philippe I in Paris by 1838, and later entered a British aristocratic collection until it was sold in 1950. According to lawyers consulted by the newspaper, any potential restitution claims by the Spanish state is "very complicated".

MET to Deaccession George Washington Portrait

December 21 2023

Image of MET to Deaccession George Washington Portrait

Picture: The Art Newspaper

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Art Newspaper has published news that the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York will be deaccessioning a Portrait of George Washington by Gilbert Stuart. The portrait is one of twenty known versions that exist and will be offered at Christie's New York next month with an estimate of $1.5m - $2.5m. It was bequeathed to the museum by the New York businessman Richard De Wolfe Brixey after his death in 1943. The report explains that the painting is being sold to raise money for the museum’s acquisition fund.

Dick Wolf Donates 200 Works to the MET

December 21 2023

Image of Dick Wolf Donates 200 Works to the MET

Picture: artnet.com

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has been gifted 200 works of art by the California-based television and film producer Dick Wolf. Indeed, part of the bequest will see two rooms in the museum, numbers 500 and 503, renamed the Dick Wolf Galleries. Works include paintings by artists such as Botticelli, Orazio Gentileschi (pictured), Artemisia Gentileschi, and Vincent van Gogh.

According to press reports:

“With its dazzling range of European paintings, sculpture, decorative arts, and works on paper, the Dick Wolf Collection represents one of the most meaningful gifts to the Met in recent memory, truly transforming and adding new dimensions to the museum’s holdings,” said Max Hollein, the museum’s CEO, in a statement. “Furthermore, the substantial financial contribution will provide critical support for the Met’s collection displays and scholarly pursuits.” 

Museo Correr Reattribute Work to Mantegna

December 20 2023

Image of Museo Correr Reattribute Work to Mantegna

Picture: arte.sky.it

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Museo Correr in Venice has reattributed a painting in their collection to Andrea Mantegna. According to the reports, the painting was re-examined after languishing in the museum's stores for many years. The painting appears to relate to another work attributed to the artist in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, and may have been left unfinished. The current research project into the work has been supported by the G. E. Ghirardi Foundation and is still ongoing.

Closer to Memling in Bruges

December 20 2023

Video: Musea Brugge

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Musea Brugge in Bruges has published a digital project on its website exploring high-definition images of paintings by Hans Memling (1430–1494). The Closer to Memling project allows visitors to the website to get closer than ever before with exquisite images of works in its collection and those in the Museum Sint-Janshospitaal. Anyway, it's now time to go and 'look into the eyes' of Sibylla Sambetha, I think!

Restoration Funds for Rubens' Altar in Genoa

December 20 2023

Image of Restoration Funds for Rubens' Altar in Genoa

Picture: Wikipedia

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

News from Italy that funds are being raised to conserve Rubens' The Circumcision, an early masterpiece which is in the Chiesa del Gesù on the Piazza Matteotti, Genoa. €60,000 has been raised so far, with work expected to take around a year to complete.

Conserving the Prado's Caravaggio

December 20 2023

Video: Prado

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Museo Prado in Madrid have uploaded this rather eerie video showing the process of conserving and analysing Caravaggio's David with the Head of Goliath. The project was undertaken by the museum's conservator Almudena Sánchez and will feature in a new display drawing attention to the process and findings made throughout.

Christie's New York Sale Online

December 20 2023

Image of Christie's New York Sale Online

Picture: Christie's

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Exciting news that Christie's New York have published their upcoming January Old Master Paintings Sale online. Containing no fewer than 78 lots,* this live sale will take place on 31st January 2024.

Highlights of the auction include a powerful pair of Venetian views by Michele Marieschi, estimated at $2 - $3m. Other highlights include works by Lo Scheggia, Giulio Cesare Procaccini, Ambrosius Bosschaert, Anne Vallayer-Coster (pictured), Joachim Beuckelaer, Peter Paul Rubens and Fragonard (the last two of which have been upgraded after appearing in minor sales).

It is also worth mentioning that the auction house have already published their Part II sale online also. As usual, I won't spoil the fun by pointing out any potential interesting works in this particular auction.

* - This is compared to the 40 lots offered in the London December sales. 

Free Talk on the Wallace Collection's Dudley Portrait

December 20 2023

Image of Free Talk on the Wallace Collection's Dudley Portrait

Picture: The Wallace Collection, London

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Wallace Collection in London is holding a free one hour talk on its superb Portrait of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, a painting which is currently Attributed to Steven van der Meulen. The talk, which will be streamed online as well as be available in-person, will be presented by Professor Karen Hearn and the museum's paintings curator Dr Lucy Davis.

According to the website:

While Frans Hals’s The Laughing Cavalier is on loan to the National Gallery, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester takes up his esteemed position in the Great Gallery. Like Hals's ‘cavalier’, Dudley is shown wearing rich clothing appropriate to a member of society's elite. Known today mainly as Queen Elizabeth I's favourite, Dudley was a complex figure. Learn what the painting tells us about its famous sitter and hear how art historians investigate surviving Elizabethan paintings today.

The talk will take place on 18th January 2024.

Women Masters at the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum

December 20 2023

Video: Thyssen-Bornemisza

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

One exhibition I've missed the opening of is Women Masters at the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid. 

According to the museum's website:

Artemisia Gentileschi, Angelica Kauffmann, Clara Peeters, Rosa Bonheur, Mary Cassatt, Berthe Morisot, María Blanchard, Natalia Goncharova, Sonia Delaunay and Maruja Mallo were celebrated artists in their lifetimes who are now enjoying renewed recognition in response to their erasure from the art-historical account alongside others who broke moulds with creations of undoubted excellence.

Featuring nearly 100 works, including paintings, sculptures, works on paper and textiles, the exhibition is curated from a feminist viewpoint by Rocío de la Villa. It presents a survey from the late 16th century to the early decades of the 20th century through eight contexts important within women’s path towards emancipation.

The exhibition runs until 4th February 2024.

UCL is Hiring!

December 15 2023

Image of UCL is Hiring!

Picture: ucl.ac.uk

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

University College London (UCL) is hiring a Lecturer in Contemporary Art History.

According to the job description:

We are looking to attract a scholar whose work centres on visual, theoretical and aesthetic questions as well as recent and contemporary art practices. We are particularly interested in scholars who engage in critical debates around racism and racialisation; migration and diaspora; cross-cultural and cross-regional interactions; and/or ecologies and environmental politics. However, we encourage applications from all candidates interested in innovative conceptual approaches, who are able to connect their areas of expertise to larger intellectual and methodological frameworks.

The job comes with a salary between £51,474 to £60,521 and applications must be in by 31st January 2024.

Good luck if you're applying!

Private Tour of the La Régence à Paris Exhibition

December 15 2023

Video: Scribe Accroupi

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

For those of us unable to get to the Musée Carnavalet in Paris for their ongoing exhibition La Régence à Paris, the YouTube account Scribe Accroupi have published the following free private tour in French from curators José de los Llanos and Ulysse Jardat.

Uffizi Reports Record Year for Visitors

December 15 2023

Image of Uffizi Reports Record Year for Visitors

Picture: ansa.it

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Italian press have published news that the Uffizi Galleries in Florence have had a record number of visitors in 2023. Around 5 million visitors have walked through the doors of its galleries this year, which can be compared to 4.3 million in 2022. Staggeringly, the gallery has received an increase of almost 50% of visitors compared to numbers in 2015.

Does this suggest that the museum director Eike Schmidt's flagship Uffizi Diffusi project just isn't working? Equally, maybe it's time Elon Musk took up Schmidt's offer to send works to Mars, a stellar idea which just might do the trick...

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