Previous Posts: March 2024

Happy Easter!

March 29 2024

Image of Happy Easter!

Picture: The Resurrection of Christ by Michelangelo, from The British Museum's collection

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Wishing all the readers of AHN a very Happy Easter!

Thank you very much for sticking with the blog and for all of your contributions and comments which are always very welcome and well received. Apologies if I have failed to reply to all of them, but they are most valuable in keeping the blog alive!

Fra Angelico Predella and Altarpiece Reunited

March 29 2024

Image of Fra Angelico Predella and Altarpiece Reunited

Picture: ansa.it

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

News from Italy that a predella and altarpiece by Fra Angelico have been reunited. The altarpiece, depicting the Coronation of the Virgin, was dislocated from its predella at the end of World War II. They had been kept in separate museums, split between the Uffizi and the San Marco Museums in Florence respectively, for decades. Fortunately, the Uffizi have now sent their altarpiece to be reunited with its predella, for an indefinite period it seems, in the San Marco Museum.

New Release: The Art of Naval Portraiture

March 29 2024

Image of New Release: The Art of Naval Portraiture

Picture: rmg.co.uk

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Royal Museums Greenwich have just released a new book entitled The Art of Naval Portraiture. This publication was written by Katherine Gazzard, one of the museum's curators.

According to the book's blurb:

From elite officers to ordinary sailors, the portrayal of naval personnel has been a significant branch of British art for over 500 years. The National Maritime Museum, Greenwich holds the largest collection of naval portraits in the world, including over 600 paintings and many more prints and drawings, spanning from the sixteenth century to the present day.

These portraits reveal how the Royal Navy was viewed at different moments in history and grant us access to individual stories, revealing the concerns and aspirations of people and families caught up in naval affairs. Many are also innovative and important works of art. For centuries, naval portraits have forged, reinforced and challenged ideas of gender, heroism and loyalty. They have functioned as icons of empire, demonstrations of professionalism and personal mementos for loved ones.

While charting the historical evolution of the Royal Navy’s image and explaining the meaning of common naval symbols – from anchors, cannons and swords to uniforms, medals and badges, this book also tells the stories of specific artists, sitters and collectors, and of the places where portraits were made and displayed, from private homes to public exhibitions and ultimately the museum itself.

The Last Caravaggio coming to London

March 29 2024

Image of The Last Caravaggio coming to London

Picture: nationalgallery.org.uk

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The National Gallery in London will be hosting Caravaggio's Martyrdom of Saint Ursula, on loan from the Gallerie d’Italia Naples, from 18th April until 21st July 2024.

According to the gallery's website:

Few paintings are better placed to tell the story of Caravaggio’s final years than his last-known work, 'The Martyrdom of Saint Ursula' (1610, Gallerie d’Italia, Naples). The painting is coming to London for the first time in 20 years.

We witness violence at uncomfortably close quarters. Caravaggio shows us an intricate interplay of guilty and innocent hands. And his own self portrait looks on, helpless.

We'll display this painting with the letter that describes its creation (Archivio di Stato, Naples), and our own late Caravaggio, 'Salome with the Head of John the Baptist' (about 1609–10).

In our Bicentenary year, you’re invited to contemplate this masterpiece. Explore the troubled end of Caravaggio's life, the stories of Ursula and Salome, and reflect on violence today.

Nicholas Cullinan gets BM Director Job!

March 28 2024

Video: AP Archive

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Big news to report this afternoon that Nicholas Cullinan OBE, current director of the National Portrait Gallery in London, has landed the job of Director of the British Museum. He takes over from Hartwig Fischer, who resigned over the dramatic thefts scandal which made headline news last year.

According to Cullinan, quoted in the article linked above:

“I look forward to joining its wonderful and dedicated staff and to work with its hugely impressive board in leading it into a new chapter.

“This will encompass the most significant transformations, both architectural and intellectual, happening in any museum globally, to continue making the British Museum the most engaged and collaborative it can be.”

______________

It is true that Cullinan's leadership of the NPG since 2015 has brought the museum into the 21st century, particularly with its emphasis on being 'trendy' (particularly where the new cafe, bar and shop are concerned at least). It will be interesting to see how this might translate to the vast complex of buildings, galleries and disciplines housed within The British Museum. This is not to mention the large questions posed by the increasingly international contexts and pressures of the purpose and role of such significant national museums. Transforming the NPG, with its relatively smaller spaces, lends itself to being filled with fashion shows and celebrity DJs (see Cullinan's Instagram Account for an up-to-date insight into this side of his role as Director).

AHN wishes Nicholas all the best in this new role!

Bonhams April Sale

March 28 2024

Image of Bonhams April Sale

Picture: Bonhams

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Bonhams London have published their upcoming April Old Master Paintings Sale. As usual, I won't spoil the fun by pointing out any lots in particular which may or may not look interesting. The sale will take place on 10th April 2024.

Bendor on Rembrandt

March 28 2024

Image of Bendor on Rembrandt

Picture: The Art Newspaper

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Bendor's latest piece for The Art Newspaper focuses on the question of 'Who will rule Rembrandtland? Behind the search for an authority on the Old Master'. The text examines the scholarly and authoritative gap left after the passing of Ernst van der Wetering, alongside some of the claims of an attributional 'Wild West' published in the Dutch news outlet NRC earlier this year.

Restoring the Louvre's Van Eyck

March 28 2024

Video: Louvre

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Louvre in Paris have made the following video detailing their recent work on Jan van Eyck's La Vierge et l'Enfant au chancelier Rolin. The work is currently the focal point of an exhibition at the museum which runs until June.

New Release: Giants and Dwarfs in European Art and Culture

March 28 2024

Image of New Release: Giants and Dwarfs in European Art and Culture

Picture: Amsterdam University Press

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Amsterdam University Press released the following publication earlier this month (one that we've all been waiting for, I think). Giants and Dwarfs in European Art and Culture, ca. 1350-1750: Real, Imagined, Metaphorical was edited by Robin O'Bryan and Felicia Else and contains no less than 392 pages on the subject.

According to the website blurb:

Not since Edward Wood’s Giants and Dwarfs published in 1868 has the subject been the focus of a scholarly study in English. Treating the topic afresh, this volume offers new insights into the vogue for giants and dwarfs that flourished in late-medieval and early modern Europe. From chapters dealing with the real dwarfs and giants in the royal and princely courts, to the imaginary giants and dwarfs that figured in the crafting of nationalistic and ancestral traditions, to giants and dwarfs used as metaphorical expression, scholars discuss their role in art, literature, and ephemeral display. Some essays examine giants and dwarfs as monsters and marvels and collectibles, while others show artists and writers emphasizing contrasts in scale to inspire awe or for comic effect. As these investigations reveal, not all court dwarfs functioned as jesters, and giant figures might equally be used to represent heroes, anti-heroes, and even a saint.

Update - A reader has also alerted me to the recent release of another book on dwarfs, entitled Körperwunder Kleinwuchs: Wahrnehmungen, Deutungen und Darstellungen kleinwüchsiger Menschen und die ›Zwergmode‹ in der Frühen Neuzeit.

Sotheby's April Sale

March 28 2024

Image of Sotheby's April Sale

Picture: Sotheby's

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Sotheby's London April Mid-Season Sale has been published online. As usual, I won't spoil any of the fun by pointing out any interesting lots.

Alongside the sale of Old Master and 19th Century works is the second part of Frames from the Richard Green Gallery (all sold without reserve).

Rijksmuseum Lent Three Van Goghs

March 27 2024

Image of Rijksmuseum Lent Three Van Goghs

Picture: nltimes.nl

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam has been lent three Van Goghs on long-term loan. This includes "Riverbank with Trees" (1887) and "Wheat Field" (1888) and "View of Amsterdam from Central Station”.

A little more about the loan from the P. and N. de Boer Foundation:

The painting was acquired by Pieter de Boer and his wife, Nellie Pressburger. While the two maintained a private collection, De Boer and his brother, Rudolf, started a 1921 art dealership in Amsterdam. The foundation that loaned the paintings to the Rijksmuseum was established from the private collection after Pressburger’s death.

A Park Avenue Collection at Christie's New York

March 27 2024

Image of A Park Avenue Collection at Christie's New York

Picture: Christie's

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Christie's New York have recently published a single owner sale, called A Park Avenue Collection, which happens to contain some rather choice Old Masters that are worth looking up. The auction will take place on 17th April 2024.

Highlights include a St Petersburg era portrait of Vigée Le Brun's daughter (pictured), a Rubens oil sketch, a beautifully preserved Greuze and a dancing dog painting by Fragonard.

Amongst the lower value lots is this incredible evocative pigment-faded Simon Verelst still life, a painting which has a beautiful modern sensibility about it, I think:

Titian's Annunciation Restored

March 27 2024

Image of Titian's Annunciation Restored

Picture: Italy 24 News Press

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

News from Venice that a special display of Titian's newly restored Annunciation has been opened at the Scuola Grande di San Rocco. A special campaign of restoration and research, which began in 2021 and was supported by the Save Venice campaign, has been concluded. The freshly conserved painting has been hung at eye level so that visitors can admire the picture up-close.

The display will continue until 2nd June 2024.

MET Acquires Mughal Portrait

March 27 2024

Video: Sotheby's

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Metropolitan Museum of Art's curator Adam Eaker has announced the museum's acquisition of Francesco Renaldi's Portrait of a Mughal Lady. The picture was acquired from the December Sotheby's London Evening sale for £825,500. Eaker has promised 'to go further down the research rabbit hole to tell her story', so we'll await more news as and when it arrives.

Museum Depot Shop - 'Here you can find beautiful paintings straight from the museum'

March 26 2024

Image of Museum Depot Shop - 'Here you can find beautiful paintings straight from the museum'

Picture: museumdepotshop.nl

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Here's an interesting initiative I had never heard of until yesterday. The Museum Depot Shop is an organisation from the Netherlands which allows museums to sell deaccessioned objects via their website. The blurb on the website is specifically geared towards people looking for unique gifts, from the museum into the home. It appears that museums can either sell works from their collections openly, giving their name, or be classed as a 'Mystery Museum'. The 'collection' thus far is filled mostly with prints, a few paintings and odds and ends, with prices ranging from a few tens of euros up to just under a thousand.

According to one page on their website (which looks like it needs updating):

In the Netherlands, an increasing number of museums are working together with our foundation. After thorough research in Great Britain, the MuseumDepotShop will also enter the British market. In November 2019 and January 2020, we visited London and spoke with roughly 20 museums and related institutions. We concluded from these conversations that there is a need for an online platform in Great Britain such as the one already in operation in the Netherlands. Do you also want to meet with us?

Is this the future of museum income generation? All comments welcome, as always!

Dublin Loans Velázquez to Borghese

March 26 2024

Image of Dublin Loans Velázquez to Borghese

Picture: arte.it

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

News from Italy that the Galleria Borghese has borrowed the National Gallery of Ireland's Kitchen Maid with the Supper at Emmaus by Diego Velázquez. The painting has been hung in a room alongside several works by Caravaggio, inviting a comparison between the influence of the Italian painter on the Spaniard.

The work will be on display in Rome until 23rd June 2024.

Sleeper Alert!

March 26 2024

Image of Sleeper Alert!

Picture: neumeister.com

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

A reader has very kindly alerted me to the following painting catalogued as 'England (?) 1st half of the 19th century' which realised €59,800 over its €1,000 - €2,000 estimate the other day at Neumeister in Munich. The frame and reverse shows that the work had formerly been given to John Constable.

Yale Conserving Compton Verney's Allegory

March 25 2024

Image of Yale Conserving Compton Verney's Allegory

Picture: @yalebritishart

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Yale Center for British Art have shared news that they are conserving Compton Verney's intriguing seventeenth century Allegory (called a Double Portrait). The painting was acquired by the museum for £304,534 in 2023, after a temporary export license ban was placed on the work after it sold at auction in 2021. The rare painting is undergoing treatment and analysis as part of the 'YCBA's ongoing research on the theory and practise of painting skin tones.'

Inventing Impressionism at the Musée d'Orsay

March 25 2024

Video: Musée d'Orsay

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Musée d'Orsay in Paris will be opening their latest exhibition tomorrow. Paris 1874: Inventing impressionism will examine the precise moment in 1874 when art broke through to another age.

According to the museum's website:

What exactly happened in Paris in that spring of 1874, and what sense should we make today of an exhibition that has become legendary? “Paris 1874. The Impressionist Moment” seeks to trace the advent of an artistic movement that emerged in a rapidly changing world.

“Paris 1874” reviews the circumstances that led these 31 artists (only seven of whom are well-known across the world today) to join forces and exhibit their works together. The period in question had a post-war climate, following two conflicts: the Franco-German War of 1870, and then a violent civil war. In this context of crisis, artists began to rethink their art and explore new directions. A little “clan of rebels” painted scenes of modern life, and landscapes sketched in the open air, in pale hues and with the lightest of touches. As one observer noted, “What they seem above all to be aiming at is an impression”.

The show will run until 14th July 2024.

MET Hires Head of Provenance Research

March 25 2024

Video: Sotheby's

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York have announced that they have hired Lucian Simmons for a newly created role as Head of Provenance Research. Lucian has been the worldwide head of restitution at Sotheby's for a great deal of time, having started at the company back in 1997.

According to the article linked above:

In a telephone interview, Max Hollein, the museum’s director and chief executive, said the volume of materials an auction house must review gave Simmons the background necessary to take on a review of the Met’s encyclopedic collection.

“He has a vast amount of experience understanding the level of research you need to apply and what timelines you need to set to get to a result,” Hollein said. “He probably had to deal with more issues at Sotheby’s than have many other institutions. You have to vet and scrutinize a huge number of objects. He’s someone who understands the theory but who also has a very practical attitude.”

Here's a video of Lucian describing a painting by Fernand Léger back in 2020.

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