Previous Posts: September 2023

Lecture: Painting Conservation at Knole

September 29 2023

Image of Lecture: Painting Conservation at Knole

Picture: The National Trust

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Some readers might be able to make this fascinating lecture next week. Conservator Melanie Caldwell will be giving a talk next Tuesday 3rd October entitled Framing Knole, which focuses on recent campaigns to conserve and restore paintings at this important property.

According to the Trust's website:

Paintings Conservator Melanie Caldwell will talk about projects undertaken on paintings at Knole, including the Grotesque scheme in the Cartoon Gallery, the early Portrait of Sir Ralph Bosville from around 1600 and Sir Joshua Reynold’s Portrait of Huang Ya Dong.

Tickets cost a mere £7.

Raphael drawing at the Dorotheum

September 29 2023

Image of Raphael drawing at the Dorotheum


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Art Newspaper have shared the news that the Dorotheum in Vienna will be offering a rediscovered drawing by Raphael on 25th October. The drawing relates to the Battle of the Milvian Bridge fresco which is in the Vatican’s papal apartments. 

According to the article:

On the back of the sheet are drawings by Raphael’s assistant, Polidoro da Caravaggio, which were probably executed later. Dorotheum says that Paul Joannides, an emeritus professor of history of art at Cambridge University, has endorsed the attributions for both Raphael and Polidoro da Caravaggio.

The drawing will be offered with an estimate of €400,000 to €600,000.

Master Discoveries at Sotheby's New York

September 29 2023

Image of Master Discoveries at Sotheby's New York

Picture: Sotheby's

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Sotheby's New York have rebranded their mid-season online sales this year as 'Discoveries'. There are Discovery sales across all categories, including Contemporary Discoveries, Modern Discoveries and Master Discoveries. The latter, which contains the Old Masters and a large bulk of nineteenth century pictures, is as wide ranging as ever, and continues the path of re-thinking the traditional lot order arrangement (see this post for more on that).

Bidding for Master Discoveries closes on 6th October 2023.

Rijksmuseum places Olaf Photograph next to Verspronck

September 29 2023

Image of Rijksmuseum places Olaf Photograph next to Verspronck

Picture: Rijksmuseum

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam have hung a photograph by the late Erwin Olaf next to Johannes Verspronck's Portrait of a Girl in Blue in their main galleries this week. This gesture was made in honour of the photographer who died unexpectedly last week at the age of 64.

Rijksmuseum director Taco Dibbits was quoted in 2018 as saying:

"Erwin Olaf is one of the most important photographers of the last quarter of the 20th century. His work is strongly rooted in the visual tradition of Dutch art and history."

Christie's Celebrating 50 Years in Amsterdam

September 29 2023

Image of Christie's Celebrating 50 Years in Amsterdam

Christie's are celebrating 50 years of Christie's Amsterdam with a special auction entitled Made in Holland. This cross-category sale is full of works of art from different periods which are all interspersed.* Amongst the highlights of Old Masters featured within is the following Still Life by Jan Davidsz. de Heem (pictured), which happens to be one of the earliest recorded works by the artist and is estimated at 40,000 - 60,000 euros.


* As cross-category online sales are becoming ever more popular, this format has opened up the question as to whether specially curated lot orders matter anymore. Does it matter in an online sale to have Old Masters grouped together, or ordered by national school and period? Is it good to have nineteenth century and much later works be interspersed with everything? Does this approach help encourage buyers of different categories to have a go at bidding in different categories? Or is it all just a bit confusing?

All opinions are welcome, and published anonymously!

The Kimbell Art Museum acquires Gainsborough's 'Going to Market'

September 29 2023

Image of The Kimbell Art Museum acquires Gainsborough's 'Going to Market'


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Kimbell Art Museum has announced its acquisition of Thomas Gainsborough's Going to Market, Early Morning. Painted in c.1773, the work was heralded by the scholar John Hayes as ‘among the most exquisitely painted of all Gainsborough’s works’. Regular followers of auctions will remember that the painting was sold for £7.9m (inc. premium) at Sotheby's London in 2019. The picture was acquired by the museum through dealers Simon Dickinson Ltd.

According to the museum's website:

Going to Market, Early Morning represents a particularly poignant addition to the Kimbell’s collection as the museum’s year-long 50th Anniversary celebration draws to a close. The painting elevates the Kimbell’s holdings of eighteenth-century British painting, a fitting tribute to the British paintings that museum founders Kay and Velma Kimbell favored when originally building the Kimbell Art Foundation’s collection. Among them were two delightful and representative early paintings by Gainsborough, Portrait of a Woman, Possibly of the Lloyd Family (c. 1750) and Suffolk Landscape (mid-1750s), both acquired by the Kimbell Art Foundation in the 1940s. The larger scale and striking visual impression of the newly acquired painting complement the Kimbell’s full-scale portraits by Reynolds, Romney, and Raeburn.

Free Conference: John Michael Wright | New Perspectives and Directions

September 28 2023

Image of Free Conference: John Michael Wright | New Perspectives and Directions


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The National Galleries of Scotland are hosting a conference on the seventeenth-century artist John Michael Wright (1617–1694). This free conference will be held in Edinburgh on Thursday 26th October 2023. Booking through the website is essential to secure a place.

A list of the presentations and panels:

Panel 1 - Beginnings: Influences and Environments

David AHB Taylor (Independent): Pictor Scotus: John Michael Wright and Scotland

Molly Ingham (University of Edinburgh): Covert Catholicism: John Michael Wright and the British Catholic Experience

Maria Hayward (University of Southampton): ‘elegant and richly dressed’: Exploring Fashion and Fabrics in the Female portraiture of John Michael Wright

Panel 2 - Identity: Selfhood and Society

Kate Anderson (National Galleries of Scotland): ‘Nothing can repair my loss’: Death, Mourning and Memorialisation in the Portraits of John Michael Wright PAUL MELLON CENTRE for Studies in British Art

Karen Hearn (University College London): ‘I could not hinder my self from making it curious and full of variety…’: John Michael Wright’s Portraits of the Bagot Family, 1675-6

Matthew Augustine (University of St Andrews) and Steven Zwicker (Washington University in St Louis): Patrons, Portraits and the Fashioning of Identity: John Michael Wright beyond the Restoration Court

Panel 3 - Practice: Approaches and Associations

Helen Pearce (University of Aberdeen): John Michael Wright: Prints and Proof(s)?

James Loxley (University of Edinburgh): The Literary Connections of John Michael Wright

Catriona Murray (University of Edinburgh): Childish Things: Children and Material Culture in the Work of John Michael Wright

Panel 4 - Endings: Reception and Relationships

Carol Richardson (University of Edinburgh): Courtier, Designer and Propagandist: John Michael Wright and the 1687 Embassy to Rome

Adam Morton (Newcastle University): Promoting Religion by Means of Arts? Anti-Catholicism, Catholic Culture and John Michael Wright

Jane Eade (National Trust): The Artist and his Nephew: New Evidence from Sale Inventories 

Making Her Mark: A History of Women Artists in Europe, 1400-1800 - in Baltimore

September 28 2023

Image of Making Her Mark: A History of Women Artists in Europe, 1400-1800 - in Baltimore

Picture: Baltimore Museum of Art

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Baltimore Museum of Art is set to open their latest exhibition on 1st October 2023 entitled Making Her Mark: A History of Women Artists in Europe, 1400-1800.

As the museum's blurb explains:

Making Her Mark: A History of Women Artists in Europe, 1400-1800, the BMA’s much anticipated major exhibition opening October 1, 2023, aims to correct these broadly held but mistaken beliefs through more than 200 works of diverse media and scale. From royal portraits and devotional sculptures to embroidered objects, tapestries, costumes, wax sculptures, metalwork, ceramics, graphic arts, furniture, and more, Making Her Mark will feature objects from the 15th to 18th centuries that reflect the multifaceted and often overlooked ways that women contributed to the visual arts of Europe.

The exhibition’s focus on displaying exclusively objects made by women or toward which women contributed their labor distinguishes this project by putting women makers of all social levels in conversation with each other through their works.

Examples by artistic heroines such as Sofonisba Anguissola, Artemisia Gentileschi, Judith Leyster, Luisa Roldán, Rosalba Carriera, Rachel Ruysch, and Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun will join exceptional products of female artisanal collectives and talented amateurs who operated outside of the male-dominated professional arena and often remained anonymous in the historical record. Further, sublime examples of ceramics, metalwork, and cabinetmaking from this era will reflect women’s involvement in major manufactories and workshops.

The show will run until 7th January 2024.

What will happen to Birmingham's treasures?

September 28 2023

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

There is much speculation in the press currently regarding whether Birmingham Council will safeguard its historic collection of art from asset stripping in wake of its bankruptcy and £87m deficit for the years 2023-24. Cultural organisations are rallying to encourage administrators to preserve and protect collections and historic assets kept in sites such as the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Aston Hall (pictured) and the Library of Birmingham. It is hoped that the actions of Croydon and Northampton Councils, who sold off publicly owned works of art in 2013 and 2014 respectively to find money for other projects, won't set a precedent for this particular case.

The Royal Collection rediscovers a lost Artemisia

September 28 2023

Video: The Royal Collection Trust

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Royal Collection have been sweeping the internet recently with the exciting news that they have rediscovered an important work by Artemisia Gentileschi. The work, which was misattributed several centuries ago, was created during the 1630s when Artemisia was working alongside her father Orazio in London for King Charles I.

This recently conserved painting will be on view at Windsor Castle in a special display focusing on its rediscovery alongside other works by the artist and her father in the Royal Collection.

Mary Beale Sleeper! and less significant news...

September 28 2023

Image of Mary Beale Sleeper! and less significant news...


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

News from Lisbon that the following Portrait of a Gentleman with a Hat realised an impressive 37,000 euros on Monday over its 1,500 estimate. Catalogued as ‘Flemish School, 17th century’, the bidders for this sleeper knew that this was in fact a beautiful head study by Mary Beale (1633-1699), one of England’s most accomplished female artists of the seventeenth-century. There is little doubt that it depicts Mary’s husband Charles, and relates to another fur-hat portrait which is in the McMaster Museum of Art in Ontario, Canada. Beale’s head studies of her family remain the most sensitive and highly regarded in her oeuvre, and this example looks right up there in terms of quality and beauty.

It just so happens that I spotted this painting in an old sales catalogue back in April, and had posted it on my Instagram account as one of those lost treasures I hoped would reappear one day. Curiously, the portrait was sold at Christie’s New York in 1989 as a portrait by Jacob van Oost in full, a period when very few in the art world were thinking about what a Mary Beale looked like. It seems that coincidences do happen, and browsing through old sales catalogues for misattributions is always a fruitful and educational experience. I’m sure the painting will reappear somewhere interesting in due course.

Of less notable news is that I am very happily returning to my post as co-editor of this fine blog. I’ve had the great honour the past year and a half of cataloguing paintings in the Old Master Department at Sotheby’s, but have recently decided to return to this varied life where I can devote more time to enthusing for our corner of the art world. I’ll be continuing as a consultant at the auction house, which will give me the freedom to write here (open and honestly) and pursue projects elsewhere. It seems that an awful lot has been happening over the past few months, so it’s about time I got going!

As ever, all comments and suggestions are most welcome!

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