Museum image fees (ctd.)

March 21 2018

Picture: Louvre/Delacroix

Didier Rykner of the French art history blog, La Tribune de l'Art, reports that the question of museum reproduction fees was raised in a meeting between French museums and President Macron. There seems to have been desire on all sides to make it a reality. Which would be amazing.

France was a pioneer in putting images online of its art collections, with the Base Joconde, though they're only in low-res. More here.

'The Grand Tour'

March 21 2018

Video: The Grand Tour

Chatsworth in Derbyshire has joined forces with other local museums - including one of my favourites, Derby Museum - for an annual 'Grand Tour' programme of events. More here

Pirates ahoy!

March 21 2018

Image of Pirates ahoy!

Picture: National Trust

Research into a marine painting by Simon de Vlieger owned by the National Trust at Felbrigg Hall has revealed that the subject is a battle fought between the Dutch and a group of Chines pirates. More here

Looted Cranach re-discovered

March 21 2018

Image of Looted Cranach re-discovered

Picture: Christie's

A portrait of John Frederick the Magnanimous by Lucas Cranach the Elder looted by the Nazis in World War Two has been found, and will be sold by Christie's in New York later this month. The heirs of the owner during the War, Fritz Gutmann, will benefit from the sale. More here from Catherine Hickley in The Art Newspaper, and here at Christie's. 

Collecting in the age of Charles I

March 21 2018

Image of Collecting in the age of Charles I

Picture: BG

I wrote a piece for The Art Newspaper on any comparisons between art collecting in Charles I's time and today, here

Art history dishes

March 21 2018

Image of Art history dishes

Picture: BG

While in Florence, I tried a dish I'd never come across before, Peposo. Made of beef, slow cooked and with a multitude of herbs and spices, it was invented by Brunelleschi to feed the workers building the Duomo. It's completely delicious, and if you're ever visiting the Pitti, you can try some at the Trattoria La Casalinga, just around the corner.

Anybody know of any other art history dishes?

Slovak National Gallery makes 9,000 images free

March 21 2018

Image of Slovak National Gallery makes 9,000 images free

Picture: Slovak National Gallery, via Europeana

The Slovak National Gallery has put its collection online, in high-resolution, for anyone to use gratis. Wonderful. You can browse the Old Master collection here. And high-res photos are also available here on the Europeana site. Above is a self-portrait attributed to Jan Kupecky. Good, isn't it?

New identity for early Van Dyck

March 21 2018

Image of New identity for early Van Dyck

Picture: KHM

One of Van Dyck's best known early portraits has been identified as the artist, Pieter Soutman. The identity was cracked after some superb research by Justin Davies, the co-founder of the Jordaens Van Dyck Panel Paintings Project. More here

Fakes, fakes everywhere? (ctd.)

March 21 2018

Image of Fakes, fakes everywhere? (ctd.)

Picture: 5HotNews

The scandal of the allegedly fake Russian Avant-Garde pictures displayed in the Museum of Fine Arts in Ghent has taken another turn, with the Belgian police now getting involved. The museum director who staged the show has also been suspended. More here


March 21 2018

Image of Apologies...

Picture: Tern TV

Sorry for yet another quiet time - I've been on a marathon filming trip in Italy; Parma, Venice, Genoa, Florence, and many other places in between. It rained the whole time, except in Venice, when it was just arctic. Will this cold weather ever end?

National Gallery of Parma

March 18 2018

Image of National Gallery of Parma

Pictures: BG

I'm in Parma - what a beautiful city. We've come from Genoa, which by contrast is grim and brutal, though of course full of its own fascinations. I've never before come out of a major museum and immediately been propositioned by prostitutes, but in Genoa it seems anything goes. Parma by contrast is a city of complete civility, almost Swiss in its cleanliness and efficiency.

And of course there are many artistic treasures to see too. We went first to the National Gallery here, with its famous Leonardo sketch. In reproduction this has always struck me as rather odd, but in the flesh it's as exquisite as you would expect a Leonardo head study to be. 

I was dazzled by Cima's c.1507 Madonna and Child with St John (etc.), which in its details seems strikingly modern. 

7600 Munch images free to use

March 16 2018

Image of 7600 Munch images free to use

Picture: Munch Museum

More good image fee news (though of course, not from the UK) as Oslo's Munch Museum releases 7600 Munch images into the public domain. More here

Museum image fees (ctd.)

March 16 2018

Image of Museum image fees (ctd.)

Picture: Delacroix

I can't remember if I mentioned this already, but a few weeks ago we had a meeting with the new Arts Minister, Michael Ellis MP, to discuss museum reproduction fees. It was a good meeting, and we left feeling encouraged. One of the things we asked for was for the Intellectual Property Office to investigate whether museums can actually claim copyright in photos of out-of-copyright artworks (we claim they cannot). We suspected our representations would be too late to have any impact on the DCMS' latest 'digital culture' report. But I'm glad to note that there is (on page 40) mention not only of the IPO getting involved, but also that:

There is a need [for institutions] to maintain a balance between protection and remuneration of rights on the one hand and digital innovation and audience access on the other hand. 

In other words, the government's position is not that things like image fees should be used entirely to maximise revenue, which is what many have previously suggested.

'Western Civilisation'

March 16 2018

Image of 'Western Civilisation'

Picture: Via Spike 

My further apologies for the lack of news lately. I'm on the road in Italy for 'Britain's Lost Masterpieces'. The series' director, Spike Geilinger, and I are both mega-fans of the original Civilisation series with Kenneth Clark, and on our long drives between locations we often discuss our favourite scenes. Lately we've been comparing it to the new series, Civilisations, which you can watch on the BBC iPlayer here. Now that the new series has been launched, much is often made of the fact that Clark only looked at Western art and culture, and he's sometimes criticised for ignoring the rest of the world. But as Spike shows us with the above photo of an early clapper board from Civlisation (from a book written by the series' cinematographer, Arthur Englander), the series was originally called 'Western Civilisation'. Because someone decided to drop the 'Western', Clark has been getting it in the neck ever since.

Does good conservation mask bad pictures?

March 16 2018

Image of Does good conservation mask bad pictures?

Picture: NG

In The Art Newspaper, Ben Luke looks into the complex question of condition, and whether good restoration can ever wrongly mask a picture's bad condition. One picture examined is Holbein's Ambassadors:

In 1890, just as the museum acquired The Ambassadors, The Times acclaimed the “faultless” condition of Holbein’s masterpiece, save for “old and perished varnish”. How wrong it was. The conservator Martin Wyld’s detailed record of its 1998 restoration explains its many troubles: as well as the varnish, that gorgeous green curtain we see today was covered in black overpaint; planks forming the support were warped by water damage; and the gaps between them were “filled with cement”. An image of the work after cleaning and before retouching is an alarming sight, especially with extensive losses around the famous anamorphic skull. But retouching has made the picture look better than at any time probably since Holbein first put down his brush.

'Diary of an Art Historian' ctd.

March 16 2018

Image of 'Diary of an Art Historian' ctd.

Picture: NG

My February Art Newspaper diary column has gone online here. I write about going round the Royal Academy's new Charles I show, and the curiously secret way in which the National Gallery runs its commercial operations.

My March column will be in the print edition shortly. 

Le Nain discovery in France

March 16 2018

Image of Le Nain discovery in France

Picture: Turquin

Specialists at Turquin in France have announced their discovery of a previously unknown painting by the Le Nain brothers. They're just not sure which brother (there were three), such is the confusion about which brother painted what. More here


March 10 2018

Image of Apologies...

Picture: BG

Sorry (again!) for the poor posting lately. I've been on a Britain's Lost Masterpieces roadtrip in Germany and Holland. And now I'm in Bruges, where on Monday I will be giving a talk at the annual Codart conference, a great privilege. Happily, the Deputy Director is here, and this morning we went to the Groeninge Museum. She was keen to know what was happening in Gerard David's Judgement of Cambyses, which, since it involved a man being flayed alive, was a tricky one to answer.

Rubens' country house for sale

March 5 2018

Image of Rubens' country house for sale

Picture: Engel & Voelkers

Rubens' country estate, Het Steen, is for sale - yours for €4m. Rubens lived there from 1635 until his death in 1640. It comes with about 20 acres. Just imagine!

The particulars are here. Rubens' own view of the castle is in the National Gallery, here.

I may be buying a Euro Millions ticket for the next few weeks.

Museum image fees - a call to arms (ctd.)

March 5 2018

Image of Museum image fees - a call to arms (ctd.)

Picture: Philadelphia Museum of Art, head study by Van Dyck

More international museums are releasing their images into the public domain, meaning we can all use them gratis for any purpose. Well done the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Newberry in Chicago.

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