LA Police stumped by stolen 'Rembrandt'

September 2 2011

Image of LA Police stumped by stolen 'Rembrandt'

Picture: LA Times

Police in Los Angeles are refusing to hand back a stolen 'Rembrandt' drawing - because they cannot determine whether it is by Rembrandt or not. 'The Judgment' was stolen from the Ritz-Carlton, but then found in a church two days later. More details here

Stolen Rubens recovered in Athens sting

September 2 2011

Image of Stolen Rubens recovered in Athens sting

Picture: RKD

Police in Athens say they have recovered a lost Rubens. The picture was seized as villains tried to sell it to undercover police for EUR1m.

The police aren't saying what the picture is, officially. But press reports have linked it to a sketch of a Boar Hunt stolen from the Ghent Museum of Fine Arts in 2001. The museum has refused to comment. 

The only relevant image I can find is the above sketch, of a boar hunt, listed in the RKD as being at Ghent. But in the RKD database it is catalogued as 'After Rubens' - so it may not be that picture. 

If the villains had been a little sharper, they could have 'stolen' a Rubens Boar Hunt scene quite legitimately, just a few years ago. In 2005, The Calydonian Boar Hunt (1611/12) by Rubens was sold at auction in Paris as 'Follower of Rubens', with an estimate of just EUR10,000. It now belongs to the Getty Museum.  

More details when I get them...

Martin Luther King memorial unveiled

September 1 2011

Image of Martin Luther King memorial unveiled

Picture: Jacquelyn Martin/AP

A new memorial to Martin Luther King has been opened in Washington amid some controversy. The sculpture bears an inscription, saying:

'I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness.'

The only problem is, King never actually said that. It is a paraphrase of some remarks he once said when discussing his potential legacy. He said:

"Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness."

What was wrong with 'I have a dream'?

The sculpture is by the Chinese artist, Lei Yixin. I like it (see more photos here). But in its confrontational enormity, not to mention the solid trousers and jacket, it is eerily reminiscent of the portraits of Mao Tse Tung Yixin used to sculpt.

History of Art books out this week

September 1 2011

I hope to make this a regular feature. Out this week are:

  • The Louvre: All the Paintings, by Vincent Pomarede
  • Bernini: His life and his Rome, by Franco Mormando
  • Miraculous Bouquets: Flower and Fruit Paintings by Jan Van Huysum, by Anne T. Woollett
  • Pieter Bruegel, by Larry Silver
  • The Spanish Manner: Drawings from Ribera to Goya, by Jonathan Brown
  • Johan Zoffany RA: Society Observed, by Martin Postle
  • Artemisia Gentileschi: A Woman's History, Passion of an Artist, by Roberto Contini
  • Gauguin and Polynesia, by Suzanne Greub
  • Michelangelo: The Achievement of Fame, 1474-1534, by Michael Hirst
  • Gabriel Metsi: Life and Work, Catalogue Raisonne, by Adriaan Waiboer
  • Richard Parkes Bonnington: The Complete Drawings, by Patrick Noon
  • Facing Beauty: Painted Women and Cosmetic Art, by Aileen Ribeiro
  • Fragonard's Prgress of Love at the Frick Collection, by Colin Bailey

Apologies for the lack of links; if you want to buy, just cut & paste to Google the titles. If I've missed out yours, let me know!

German fake trial begins

September 1 2011

Image of German fake trial begins


The trial of a forgery gang whose works fooled major dealers and auction houses such as Lempertz and Christie's has begun in Germany. You can see some of their fakes here, including the truly awful 'Van Dongen', above. How did they ever succeed?

Update: A brief video report here.

New works by Leonard Foujita

September 1 2011

Image of New works by Leonard Foujita

Picture: Pola Museum of Art, Japan

A cache of newly discovered works by Leonard Foujita, the celebrated 20th Century Japanese artist, will go on display this month at the Pola Museum in Hakone, Japan. More here

Van Gogh goes to the Rockies

September 1 2011

Image of Van Gogh goes to the Rockies

Picture: Van Gogh Museum

The Denver Art Museum has announced a new Van Gogh exhibition, 'Becoming Van Gogh', to be held from October 2012-January 2013. More here

Another Bolton deaccessioning sale falters?

September 1 2011

Image of Another Bolton deaccessioning sale falters?

Picture: Bonhams

Last night, another of Bolton Council's 35 deaccessioned paintings went up for sale at Bonhams in Edinburgh. Sea Gulls and Sapphire Seas by Robert Gemmell Hutchison was estimated at £120-£180,000 - but sold for £120,000 including buyer's premium. This means that the bidding fell some way short of the lower estimate. The same thing happened with Bolton's Somnambulist by Millais earlier in the summer, also at Bonhams.

Was the estimate too high? Was it the right sale? An August general sale in Scotland is perhaps not the best time for a museum to be selling a highly prized picture. It seems quite a few pictures failed to sell. Still, the price was the second highest achieved at auction for a work by the artist. 

Renaissance coup in Australia

August 31 2011

Image of Renaissance coup in Australia

Picture: The Canberra Times

The National Gallery of Australia has pulled of a bit of a coup with a forthcoming exhibition. It will display over 70 exquisite Renaissance masterpieces from the Accademia Carrara in Bergamo, which is undergoing renovation. The paintings, which include Titians, Raphaels and the above Bellini, have never been out of Europe before.

Apparently, this is the first time works by Raphael, Botticelli, Bellini and Perugino have been shown in Australia. The show runs from 9th December 2011 - 9th April 2012.

The Mona Lisa in Post-its

August 31 2011

Image of The Mona Lisa in Post-its

Picture: The Guardian

There's a new craze in Paris.

New works by Otto Dix found

August 31 2011

Image of New works by Otto Dix found


Four new watercolours painted between 1922-3 have been found in Bavaria. Schön.

Blog on

August 31 2011

Image of Blog on

Photo: BG

Well, that was nice. Two weeks in Switzerland doing not much. We went via Lake Como (overrated) and Paris (beautiful as ever, but, being hot and dry, more than usually smelly).

To avoid a busman's holiday, I consciously avoided looking at paintings. So I have nothing art historical to report. I did, however, try, for the first time, a spot of painting myself. Brimming with enthusiasm, we took with us paints, easels, brushes and all manner of gadgets. But I forgot the canvasses. So I had to paint on a rock instead (above). I can exclusively reveal to you that I am a crap painter.   

While I was away:

Blog off

August 13 2011

Image of Blog off

Picture: Cartoonstock

I'm afraid you'll have to get your art history kicks elsewhere for a while - I'm off on holiday. If I stumble across a lost Raphael in France, I'll let you know.

Here's a Friday amusement to keep you going. And in the meantime, have a nice summer. 

WW2 Portraits on display at RAF Museum

August 13 2011

Image of WW2 Portraits on display at RAF Museum

Picture: RAF Museum

I find the combination of war and art fascinating. So I recommend going to see a series of portraits by wartime artist Eric Kennington, which have gone on display at the RAF Museum in Hendon. Says the museum:

The exhibition will present about three dozen works covering all of the Armed Services, the Auxiliary Services, London Transport and some notable civilians.  Pictures have been loaned by the National Portrait Gallery, the Imperial War Museum, the National Army Museum, the Tate, the National Maritime Museum, the Ministry of Defence and by Kennington’s family and other private lenders and art dealers.

Kennington was among a handful of British artists who distinguished themselves as official war artists in both World Wars. His portraits were widely hailed not only as works of art, but also as capturing the indomitable spirit of British and Allied Servicemen in the struggle for victory.

It's well worth a visit. If you can't make it, there's a book on Kennington by Dr Jonathan Black, called The Face of Courage, which you can buy here. Pictured above is Kennington drawing General Ironside in 1940 - check out the General's visionary pose. 

New Ford Madox Brown exhibition

August 12 2011

Image of New Ford Madox Brown exhibition

Picture: Manchester Art Gallery

Manchester Art Gallery will hold a new exhibition on Ford Madox Brown in September. It will be the first major exhibition of his work since 1964, and will assemble his greatest paintings, such as Work and The Last of England

The show will also display this newly discovered work, The Seraph's Watch (A Reminiscence of the Old Master), found by the exhibition's curator, Julian Treuherz. Lost for many years, the composition was known only from a partial copy by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, which was sold recently at Sotheby's

This picture is apparently Madox Brown's second version of the subject - the first, painted in 1846, is also lost. The fact that it is a replica may explain some of the rather awkward aspects of the newly discovered work. The drapery and drawing of the hands looks a little unusual.

The exhibition runs from 24th Sept 2011 - 29th Jan 2012. Full details here

'Cuppa load of this'

August 12 2011

Image of 'Cuppa load of this'

Picture: The Sun

American artist Karen Eland paints exclusively in coffee. The Sun has published some examples of her work, along with some great puns: 'Cuppa load of this', and 'espressionist'.

Karen says:

I do love coffee. But I restrict myself to two cups while painting or I get too shaky.

Karen's pictures are for sale at up to £9,000.

New London Olympics Logo

August 12 2011

Image of New London Olympics Logo


I've been sent this. Couldn't resist putting it up. 

A slightly different View from the Artist

August 11 2011

Image of A slightly different View from the Artist

Picture: Uffizi Gallery

A reader has kindly sent me another drawing of Rye by Van Dyck, inscribed lower left and dated a year later in 1634. The date would seem rather problematic in terms of Van Dyck's chronology - he is not thought to have returned to England until 1635. But in those days the new year started in March. So it could have been drawn in 1635 new style.

This view is taken from the opposite side of the town as that below, and may even have be done off shore. Perhaps it was done on ship, as he waited to disembark? Van Dyck had returned to England from Brussels without permission - forcing Charles I to apologise to Archduke Ferdinand for his bad behaviour. 

New British Art Journal

August 11 2011

Image of New British Art Journal

Picture: Telegraph

Plop onto my desk comes the new British Art Journal, just in time to make it into my holiday reading bag. This looks to be an excellent issue, it even - gasp - has some new features. As ever, there's a zippy editorial from Robin Simon. He makes a plea for UK museums to make all their images free for use, as Yale has done. He is of course right, as I have said before

Included in this issue are the following:

  • Katherine Hudson on Edward Burra
  • AP Duffy on Paul Nash
  • Helen Wyld on Paul Sandby
  • Alan Davidson on the artist and engraver Thomas Hardy
  • Stephen Conrad on Gainsborough's first Self-portrait
  • Thomas Tuoby on aspects of British art in Barodo, India
  • Juliet McMaster on a possible new watercolour by Samuel Palmer
The article on the newly discovered 'Gainsborough Self-portrait' (detail, above), penned by its owner Stephen Conrad, is engaging. The picture surfaced at an auction in 2005, and has not previously been known. It is inscribed on the back 'Gainsboro'.

Conrad makes a concerted and believable attempt to prove that his picture is indeed by the young 'Tom', and makes a number of points: we know Gainsborough painted portrait 'heads' as a child; the inscription is similar to the manner in which Gainsborough may have written his name when young; there could be a resemblance to Gainsborough at about ten; the costume is right for a picture of the 1730s/40s; the paint is appropriate for the period; and there may be some elements similar to Gainsborough's later technique.

So - is it by Gainsborough? Ultimately, it will always be one of those 'leap of faith' pictures. There is no really compelling evidence that it is by Tom, and of Tom. Making connoisseurial judgements on juvenalia is next to impossible. One just has to ask 'could it be by Gainsborough?' And happily there is enough evidence to suggest that it could be... 

View from the Artist no.2 - answer

August 11 2011

Image of View from the Artist no.2 - answer

Picture: Morgan Library and Museum

Sorry if this one was a little tricky. One reader asked:

Anything to do with Cantagallina? The landscape itself reminded me of a drawing by Peter Hammann of Worms (St. Martin’s Church and its surroundings). The Church depicted in Hammann’s drawing (of 1692) was destroyed in 1689. Does the drawing depict Worms too?

Am I close?

Alas not. Another:

Hollar? St. Paul's Cathedral before the fire?

Nope. Right country though.


Is your view a detail from Van Dyck's drawing of Rye?

Yes! Well done indeed. The correct answer came from the Art department at the University of Kent, so perhaps a little local knowledge helped (Rye is in Sussex).

You can zoom into the picture in glorious detail here. Select 'full screen'. There are very few surviving landscape drawings by Van Dyck, and this one is my favourite. It was probably done while he was waiting for a ship to the continent, and is dated 27th August 1633. I love the idea of a bored Van Dyck, his artistic fingers itching, ambling up to the top of a hill and drawing the little town before him.


Notice to "Internet Explorer" Users

You are seeing this notice because you are using Internet Explorer 6.0 (or older version). IE6 is now a deprecated browser which this website no longer supports. To view the Art History News website, you can easily do so by downloading one of the following, freely available browsers:

Once you have upgraded your browser, you can return to this page using the new application, whereupon this notice will have been replaced by the full website and its content.