Spanish Museum Returns Paintings to Poland

December 14 2020

Image of Spanish Museum Returns Paintings to Poland

Picture: thefirstnews.com

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Ponteverda Museum in Galicia, Spain, has returned two paintings to Poland after it was proven they were stolen by the Nazis in 1944. The paintings, versions of Ecce Homo and Dolorosa by Dieric Bouts, had been part of the Czartoryski Collection before the war. 

According to news reports:

The paintings were taken from Warsaw in 1944 and appeared on the art market in Madrid in 1973, where they were purchased by a patron of the museum, Fernando Lopez, for his personal collection. In 1994, the diptych was purchased by the museum for a price currently equivalent to EUR 23,000.

Spanish Art in Georgia

December 14 2020

Image of Spanish Art in Georgia

Picture: Bob Jones University Museum & Gallery

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

It looks like the inhabitants of Athens, Georgia, are in for a treat with a new exhibition dedicated to Spanish Art. Power and Piety in 17th Century Spanish Art is opening within The University of Georgia's Museum of Art, and will include paintings by the likes of Francisco de Zurbarán, José Antolínez, Pedro Orrente, the workshop of Bartolomé Esteban Murillo and Francisco de Herrera the Elder. For those of you who can't make it, the museum are also putting on a few free Zoom talks to coincide with the exhibition.

Sleeper Alert!

December 14 2020

Image of Sleeper Alert!

Picture: Burstow & Hewett Auctioneers

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Reader Luke Bodalbhai has been in touch regarding the above painting of a Man with a Bugle, catalogued as '18th Century' which realised £52,000 over its £200-£300 estimate last Friday at Burstow & Hewett. It has been tentatively suggested that the painting may by northern European and in fact date to the seventeenth century.

The MET is Hiring!

December 14 2020

Image of The MET is Hiring!

Picture: @Metmuseum

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York are looking for a Curator in Charge of European Paintings.

As the job statement explains:

The Curator in Charge is the intellectual and administrative leader of the Department of European Paintings, one of the world’s great collections of European painting from about 1250 to the last decades of the 19th century. Cultivating a spirit of strong collaboration and intellectual discourse together with an outstanding team, the Curator in Charge will have the opportunity to reinstall the entire Old Master section of the collection in 2022, and further rethink and improve the presentation of the 19th century galleries.

Candidates will have to have ten years of direct experience, a PhD and a good working knowledge of European languages.

Deadline for applications is 22nd January 2021. Good luck if you're applying!

Coincidentally, here is a page discussing the museum's ongoing European Paintings Skylighting Project and a new display entitled A New Look at Old Masters.

Sassoferrato Cleaned and Upgraded in Frankfurt

December 10 2020

Image of Sassoferrato Cleaned and Upgraded in Frankfurt

Picture: Städel Museum

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Städel Museum in Frankfurt have posted a blog about a recently upgraded Sassoferrato in their collection. The Maria Immaculata in the picture above had been languishing in the museum's storerooms for decades until it was decided that the painting should be cleaned. The blog contains lots of interesting details regarding the painter's studio process and examines other known versions of the picture.

Sotheby's Results

December 10 2020

Image of Sotheby's Results

Picture: Sotheby's

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Tonight's Sotheby's December Old Master Paintings Evening Sale realised £10,634,700 (inc. commission) in total. 85.2% of lots sold, excluding four lots that were withdrawn from the sale.

Most of the top lots hammered down around their low estimates, including the Teniers that was hammered down at £3m over its £3m - £5m estimate. Their superb Ruisdael also hammered down at its low estimate of £800,000.

Lots that did particularly well include Hans Eworth's striking portrait of Joan Thornbury which made £983,000 (inc. commission) over its £400k - £600k estimate; a Frans Francken mythological scene made £277,200 (inc. commission) over its £60k - £80k estimate; a Jan Brueghel the Younger flower piece made £252,000 (inc. commission) over its 80k - 120k estimate; and a sturdy Jupiter by Heinrich Friedrich Fuger made £163,800 (inc. commission) over its £40k - £60k estimate.

It's quite clear that Sotheby's New York Old Masters sale will be the one to watch in January (!). Let's hope someone swoops in to save the Countess of Carnarvon with a post-sale offer.

Columbia University are Hiring!

December 9 2020

Image of Columbia University are Hiring!

Picture: columbia.edu

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Columbia University in NY are looking to hire an Assistant Professor in Northern European Art History, ca. 1400-1700

No details of salary are given,* although the job specs require a PhD. Applications must be in by 5th January 2021.

Good luck if you're applying!

* - This means you can demand your price, surely?!

Renaissance Watercolours at the V&A

December 9 2020

Image of Renaissance Watercolours at the V&A

Picture: V&A

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

I'm very much looking forward to visiting the recently opened Renaissance Watercolours exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. This free exhibition brings together a beautiful selection of works on paper and vellum ranging from manuscripts to miniatures and designs for armour to delicate studies of fruit.

Coincidentally, the V&A has also announced that it will be closing two days a week until early 2021. It will now only be possible to visit between Wednesdays and Sundays until further notice. The museum managed to attract 15% of its pre-covid visitor numbers in August and it hopes that by 2021-2022 it will be back to around 50%. 

Advancing Women Artists (AWA) to Close

December 9 2020

Image of Advancing Women Artists (AWA) to Close

Picture: AWA

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Wall Street Journal has reported on the sad news that the not-for-profit organisation Advancing Women Artists is set to close.

The project was begun in 2009 after receiving a sizeable donation by philanthropist Jane Fortune. Its purpose was to fund research into and restoration projects for the works of female artists from history. It seems that despite the best efforts of the organisation they have been unable to find a donor to secure their future.

This news is rather surprising and sad, particularly as our own age is currently relishing in the opportunity to readdress the lives and works of formerly underappreciated women artists. The popularity of the Artemisia exhibition in London is a fine example of that.

Jordaens Uncovered in Brussels District Hall

December 9 2020

Video: Royal Museum of Fine Arts Belgium

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

A district hall in Brussels has discovered a genuine painting by Jacob Jordaens in their collections. The Holy Family, of which several autograph versions are known, was discovered after an inventory was commissioned by the Royal Institute of Cultural Heritage. The painting will be redisplayed in the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Brussels next year.

Note - The above video is available with English subtitles by clicking through the menu.

Scrubbed or Unfinished (?)

December 8 2020

Image of Scrubbed or Unfinished (?)

Picture: Bernaerts Auctions

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Here's a detail of a sixteenth century painting that was posted by @AuctionRadar on his Twitter account. The anonymous group portrait sold for €7,000 over its €1,500 estimate at Bernaerts Auction in Antwerp today.

You'll notice that the condition of this picture is rather mystifying. Was it simply that the painting was left unfinished and in a sketchy state? Or was it scrubbed down by some overzealous conservator at some point in the last few centuries? There are some loose brush strokes evident to suggest the former, but others to suggest the latter.

Or was it for some other reason? I thought this might be a fun opportunity to share one of my favourite anecdotes about Sir Joshua Reynolds who was obsessed with the techniques and materials of earlier masters. His quest for greater understanding took him to some rather dark places at times. James Northcote, his pupil, later wrote this about him:

In his [Reynolds's] investigations also into the secrets used by the old masters, he was indefatigable. I remember once, in particular, a fine Parmegiano, that I bought by his order at a sale, which he rubbed and scoured down to the very panel on which it had been painted, so that at last nothing remained of the picture.

I've wondered if he learnt anything from this destructive experience?

Stolen Vermeer Spotted (?)

December 8 2020

Image of Stolen Vermeer Spotted (?)

Picture: BBC

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

A reader has been in touch with exciting news about the potential whereabouts of the Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum's stolen Vermeer.

The Concert was nabbed from the Boston Museum in a notable heist in 1990. Despite several leads, the whereabouts of this picture has never been established. In a twist of fate, it seems to have reappeared in the home of Carlo Boreal, villain of the BBC's drama series His Dark Materials (pictured). Let's hope someone in the television company kept his contact details for the Art Crime Investigation Squad.

John Trevor Hayes (1929-2005) Archive Online

December 8 2020

Image of John Trevor Hayes (1929-2005) Archive Online

Picture: NPG

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Paul Mellon Centre has announced that it has catalogued the archive of the late John Trevor Hayes (1929-2005). Hayes was Director of the National Portrait Gallery between the years 1974-1994 and was a leading scholar on the work of Thomas Gainsborough. His archival collection of correspondence, notes, images and text drafts will be of great interest to anyone concerned with Gainsborough but also the likes artists such as Graham Sutherland.

The archive has been catalogued and uploaded to their website where you can search through the lists of documents with ease.

Crisis in Dutch Restitutions Commission

December 8 2020

Image of Crisis in Dutch Restitutions Commission

Picture: ArtDaily.com

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

ArtDaily.com have reported on the ongoing crisis within the Dutch Restitutions Committee in the Netherlands.

Two members of the panel of seven have resigned after the publishing of a report claiming that the commission is moving in the wrong direction. Much of the problems revolve around the interpretation of policy regarding the commission's principle of being able to 'balance interests'. Some have claimed that several rulings in the past eight years have been weighted towards Museums rather than the heirs of claimants.

Lawyer Jacob Kohnstamm is quoted in the article as saying:

If it’s looted art and there’s an heir, the interests of the museum shouldn’t be taken into account... We’re trying to strive for justice.

The remaining members of the panel have welcomed the constructive criticisms in the report.

Sotheby's Old Masters sent to Dubai

December 8 2020

Image of Sotheby's Old Masters sent to Dubai

Picture: luxhabitat

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Thenationalnews.com has published an interesting story that Sotheby's will be sending their top-ticket Old Master Paintings to Dubai for one day. On the 16th December 2020 interested parties will be able to see the $80m Botticelli and the $20-30m Rembrandt that are coming up in their New York sales. The paintings will be on display in the auction house's premises in the DIFC area of the city (pictured).

After having been told how much it costs to send such works to such temporary exhibitions, it is quite amazing to consider the extravagance of such a short trip! I suppose the ongoing COVID crisis has played its part, but it also highlights how important these new markets are for these significant old masters.

Velázquez in the Burlington Magazine

December 8 2020

Image of Velázquez in the Burlington Magazine

Picture: The Burlington Magazine

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Readers of The Burlington Magazine are in for a treat this month. The most recent edition of the publication includes an article on a newly discovered painting of the Immaculate Conception by Diego Velázquez. The work's reappraisal was decided after the painting was cleaned. The image above shows the painting before and after treatment. Peter Cherry's article also includes details regarding another picture of the Education of the Virgin catalogued 'Attributed to Velázquez' in the collection of Yale Art Gallery.

Sleeper Alert!

December 4 2020

Image of Sleeper Alert!

Picture: Sotheby's

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The above painting of Saint Paul catalogued as 'Studio of Rubens' made €201,600 over its €20k - €30k estimate yesterday at Sotheby's Paris.

The cataloguing gives a very interesting account of the thought process behind the attribution. The matter is complicated further by the fact that the original central panel had been added to in the past, which was the fate of many head studies by Rubens and Van Dyck. Despite its rejection by the current Rubens authorities, I personally find it a very compelling image indeed.

A brief aside...

December 3 2020

Image of A brief aside...

Picture: Hampel Fine Art Auction

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

As I've just contributed my 500th post for AHN, I wanted to thank you all for sticking with this blog. My special thanks for those of you who have been in touch with suggestions for stories, comments and messages of encouragement.

I do hope AHN continues to be of interest and provides some sort of refuge during these awfully strange times we're living in. I for one cannot wait to get back to visiting some Old Master previews and in front of some paintings again.

As ever, do get in touch if you have a story, piece of research or project that is worth highlighting. The contributions of readers keeps this blog alive as much as anything else!

Formerly Confiscated Sorolla Turns up at Sotheby's (?)

December 3 2020

Image of Formerly Confiscated Sorolla Turns up at Sotheby's (?)

Picture: Sotheby's

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

In October I posted a story regarding a large painting by Joaquín Sorolla that had been confiscated by the Spanish authorities in Brussels. Antes de la corrida (Before the Bullfight) was painted in c.1900 and is a rare example of the artist's interest in the genre. The reports back in October suggested that it was seized due to an insolvency crime. It now looks as if the Spanish authorities have handed the picture back to its owner, as it is featured the upcoming Sotheby's European Art Sale carrying an estimate of £650,000 - £850,000.

Hiscox Online Art Trade Rerpot (pt.2)

December 3 2020

Image of Hiscox Online Art Trade Rerpot (pt.2)

Picture: Hiscox

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The insurance company Hiscox have published the second part of their 2020 Online Trade Report. The report is absolutely free to read.

Some of the most interesting facts contained within:

- A majority of millennial and new buyers have expressed increased confidence in buying art online since the COVID crisis.

- Eight out of ten new buyers have purchased art works online between March and September 2020.

- More than 55% of buyers have purchased art through online auctions, compared with 37% last year.

- Over two-thirds of respondents expressed that Instagram was their social media platform of choice for art.

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