NPG not Reopening Before Closure

June 12 2020

Image of NPG not Reopening Before Closure

Picture: NPG

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The National Portrait Gallery in London has announced on Twitter that it will not be reopening before its planned closure on 29 June 2020 until spring 2023.

You can read the full statement here with further details of the Inspiring People redevelopment here.

Sotheby's NY Results

June 12 2020

Image of Sotheby's NY Results

Picture: Sotheby's

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Yesterday's Sotheby's old master paintings sale in NY brought in a total of $2.89m (including fees) with roughly 82.3% of the 152 lots sold. The sale was conducted entirely online.

There were several impressive results achieved (all prices inc. fees). The above portrait by Lavinia Fontana made $187,500 over an estimate of $40k - $60k. A sweet Caspar Netscher made $250,000 over an estimate of $40k - $60k. A portrait attributed to Tintoretto, sold by the San Diego Museum of Art, made a very respectable $112,500 over an estimate of $10k - $15k. Equally, this sumptuous Danaë by Jacob van Loo made $275,000 over an estimate of $100k - $150k.

Lots sold without reserve all seemed to do rather well, a sign that no one can resist a good bargain perhaps.

Chatsworth Online

June 11 2020

Image of Chatsworth Online

Picture: Chatsworth

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Chatsworth, the ancestral home of the Dukes of Devonshire, has been doing an awful lot recently to promote new research undertaken in their archives and collection.

This includes a new blog series entitled 'Remaking the North Wing' which features contributions from PhD researchers examining various subjects relating to the history of the building and its contents. The most recent blog on the female librarian Eugénie Sellers Strong, who was given that position by the 8th Duke in 1904, makes for a very interesting read.

In addition to this, they have also set up their own Instagram Account @ChatsworthArt to specifically promote highlights from the Duke's art collection. 

Sleeper Alert!

June 10 2020

Image of Sleeper Alert!

Picture: Drouot

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The above painting catalogued as 'Attributed to Sebastiano Ricci'  made €107,950 over an estimate of €2,500 - €3,500 at Beaussant Lefèvre yesterday. The painting had been attributed to Coypel in the past.

Another lot offered in the same sale was this bronze statue by the sixteenth century master Ponce Jacquio which made €1,460,500. The work is reported to have been purchased by the Louvre.

Emma Hamilton's Hair

June 10 2020

Image of Emma Hamilton's Hair

Picture: Charles Miller Ltd.

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

A lock of Emma Hamilton's hair is coming up for sale at Charles Miller Ltd. next month.

Lady Emma Hamilton (1765-1815) was a celebrated performer, muse and celebrity in late Georgian Britain. Her likeness was captured many times by leading artists including the likes of Romney, Reynolds, Vigée Le Brun and Kauffman. She is more widely known for having become the mistress of Admiral Horatio Nelson.

The lock was previously owned by the antiquarian Alfred Morrison who published a catalogue of Emma and Nelson's correspondence in 1893-4. The estimate for this curious piece of history is £500-£700.

Hunterian Director Tour

June 10 2020


Video: Hunterian Glasgow

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Here's a video filmed with Steph Scholten, Director of The Hunterian in Glasgow, giving a tour around the art gallery during lockdown. It includes some of the gallery's highlights and recent acquisitions.

Rubens Self Portrait on Loan to Rubens Huis

June 10 2020

Image of Rubens Self Portrait on Loan to Rubens Huis

Picture: Rubens Huis

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Rubens Huis in Antwerp has announced that it will be loaning a newly emerged self portrait by Rubens.

The picture is likely to date from c.1604 when the painter was in Italy. It is a study of his head which he featured in an enormous work entitled The Gonzaga Family Adoring the Trinity painted for the Jesuit Church in Mantua. The picture was cut up by Napoleon's troops in the early nineteenth century and surviving fragments are now spread across museums around the world.

The self portrait is oil on paper transfered to canvas and a good image can be found via the link above.

Quiz: Find the Original

June 10 2020

Image of Quiz: Find the Original

Picture: Saleroom

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Forgive me for the overload of portraits this week, but here is another fun opportunity for readers to test their connoisseurship. This painting described as 'Portrait of a gentleman with a ruff collar' is coming up for sale at the auction house Hutchinson Scott. It is a copy of a known painting. Can you find the original on which this picture is based?

No prizes, just for fun.

Update - Congratulations to reader Karen Hearn who spotted that this is a copy of Van Dyck's portrait of Ambrogio Spinola. Here's a post from 2014 highlighting the recently upgraded version in Edinburgh.

The Curious Tale of Brown University's Philip IV

June 9 2020

Image of The Curious Tale of Brown University's Philip IV

Picture: MFA

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Here's a curious post on the blog site Lost Art Project detailing the history of a portrait of King Philip IV of Spain by the Circle of John Singer Sargent (pictured).

The painting was the property of Brown University since 1957 but went missing at some point between the years 1983 and 1991. It then appeared in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston after being donated by a former Brown professor. The professor claimed that his mother had purchased the work at a yard sale in south-eastern Massachusetts. What are the chances?

The MFA website explains that the painting was deaccessioned in 2016 and has since been returned to Brown. The painting has been cleaned too by the looks of it.

Search for Cabinet Maker's Portrait

June 9 2020

Image of Search for Cabinet Maker's Portrait

Picture: @atthesignofthepelican

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Scottish furniture expert and dealer Dr Sebastian Pryke has made an appeal on his Instagram account to find a lost portrait of an eighteenth century Edinburgh cabinet maker.

Francis Brodie (1708-1782) was one of Scotland's pre-eminent furniture makers and received the patronage of nearly all of the great northern aristocratic houses including the Dukes of Hamilton, Gordon, Montrose and Argyll, the Earls of Dumfries, Traquair and Stair, Lords Glenorchy, Milton, Arniston and Braco, as well as the Baronets John and James Clerk, Archibald Grant, John Kennedy and Charles Gilmour. Sebastian has penned this interesting blog relating to Brodie's work as a furniture maker in case you'd like to read further.

Portraits of eighteenth century cabinet makers are rare, and furthermore this particular one was painted by his brother the artist Joseph Brodie. It was last seen at an Edinburgh auction in 1982 and has since disappeared. 

Friendship Through the Lens of Art: Lecture

June 9 2020

Image of Friendship Through the Lens of Art: Lecture

Picture: Ashmolean Museum

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Professor Catherine Whistler, Keeper of Western Art at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, is presenting a free lecture on YouTube entitled 'Friendship Through the Lens of Art'. The lecture will focus on two works by Anton Raphael Mengs and Paolo de’Matteis (pictured). Professor Whistler's talk is part of a series called 'Oxford at Home' published by The University of Oxford. They have already posted an interesting lecture focusing on their recent exhibition Rembrandt - The Early Years.

The free thirty-minute lecture will be broadcast via. YouTube on Friday 12th June 2020 at 2.00pm (BST).

Weird Picture of the Day

June 9 2020

Image of Weird Picture of the Day

Picture: Bristol Museum & Art Gallery

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Dr Jenny Gaschke, curator of fine art at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery, has posted this image on Twitter today under the heading 'Weird Picture of the Day'.

It shows a gentleman with some sort of water pump in his hand. The picture was formerly believed to depict an attendant of the local Hotwells Spa but this is now doubted. The current school of thought is that the painting was made in seventeenth century France and might be connected to the Alsace region.

Any AHN readers with specialist knowledge of the history of water pumps are encouraged to get in contact with Jenny.

Here is a link to the work on ArtUk.

La Biennale Dealers Offered Christie's Sale Instead

June 9 2020

Image of La Biennale Dealers Offered Christie's Sale Instead

Picture: Luxus Plus

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Interesting news in the Antiques Trade Gazette today that dealers who were due to exhibit at the now cancelled La Biennale Paris in September will be offering artworks in an online sale at Christie's instead. Objects will range from antiquities to contemporary art in this special sale to help support the fifty dealers who are usually involved in the fair.

The fair's president and fellow dealer Georges de Jonckheere is quoted saying:

La Biennale Paris is an event organised by dealers for dealers.  It is essential that we support the profession in this unprecedented crisis with new and appropriate initiatives. Christie’s wide reach and extensive capacities worldwide will bring great visibility to dealers and will enable them to reach out to new collectors.

One imagines that the successful Rafael Valls and Danny Katz sales at Sotheby's may have demonstrated that close collaboration between dealers and auction houses can produce impressive results during these unprecedented times.

I wonder exactly how estimates will be negotiated. Selling artworks wholesale, which is how auction houses operate, usually strips off a lot of the mark-up that dealers often place on works. Auction house specialists attending big fairs such as TEFAF must delight in reminding collectors of the savings they could have made if they had purchased so-and-so when it was originally offered in their rooms.

Barts Heritage Project

June 8 2020

Image of Barts Heritage Project

Picture: @BartsHeritage

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Here is an upcoming project that looks rather exciting. The historic portions of St Bartholomew's Hospital in London, more commonly known as Barts, are due to undergo a vast conservation and restoration project.

The Hospital's trustees turned to architect James Gibbs in the 1730s to add some new wings to the existing complex. The surviving north wing includes a fine historic staircase containing two murals painted by none other than William Hogarth (pictured). The project, which is split into two £10m tranches, will aim to conserve and restore these areas in time for the hospital's 900th anniversary in 2023.

Barts Heritage is a relatively new organisation entrusted to see through the project. Its CEO is William Palin, son of British comedian Sir Michael Palin, is an architectural writer and was previously engaged at the Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich.

William has shared this fabulous high-resolution image of the above mural on his Twitter account. It will be quite the transformation once all the dirt has been removed!

Surrender of Breda Re-enacted

June 8 2020

Image of Surrender of Breda Re-enacted

Picture: The Guardian

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Guardian have reported on a group of re-enactors who have restaged Diego Velázquez's The Surrender of Breda in the backstreets of Seville. This restaging is meant to mark the 395th anniversary of the event alongside the painter's 421st birthday on 5th June 2020. It doesn't seem that this anniversary is being celebrated by the Dutch for obvious reasons.

The story is actually part of a larger and more worthy cause to save and transform Velázquez's childhood home in Seville. Enrique Bocanegra, the journalist and writer who is behind the project, hopes that the previously neglected building will become a destination for art lovers. The present owners are in the process of commissioning high quality reproductions of the artist's work to hang in the building. Displaying some original artwork or 'relic', to physically and spiritually reconnect the building with its former inhabitant, must surely be an essential part of making the transformation a success?

Van Meegeren's Ter Borch

June 7 2020

Image of Van Meegeren's Ter Borch

Picture: Uppsala Auktionskammare

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

An old master painting once owned by the notorious forger Han van Meegeren (1889-1947) is coming up for sale in Sweden this month.

The Music Lesson, catalogued as by Gerard Ter Borch and Studio, was sold by the forger's estate sale in 1950 where it was purchased by the present owner. It was featured in a recent exhibition comparing it against all other known variations Ter Borch made with this particular composition. The auction house has shown in the catalogue note that the provenance of the work can be traced back to the eighteenth century and was even previously owned by Frederick Duke of York.

The auctioneer has also published the accompanying note on his Instagram account;

Technical examination of the painting through X Ray Fluorescence in selected spots and scanning MA-XRay Fluorescence of the whole surface, revealed the presence of modern pigments containing zinc and cadmium in several areas. As zinc sulfide was only developed around 1850, these findings indicate a modern intervention which is likely to have been carried out by Han van Meegeren.

The painting will be offered on 16th June with an estimate of 400,000 - 600,000 SEK / €38,000 - €57,000.

Sotheby's to Auction Rembrandt Self Portrait

June 7 2020

Image of Sotheby's to Auction Rembrandt Self Portrait

Picture: Sotheby's

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Exciting news breaking this evening that Sotheby's will be offering a recently rediscovered Self Portrait by Rembrandt in their July sale.

The portrait was seemingly rejected by art historians in 1970 but experts have changed their minds. Reports suggest that this is partly due to new scientific analysis undertaken on the work. Dendrochronology samples have proven that the painting's panel support came from the same tree as used in Rembrandt's portrait of Maurits Huygens in the Hamburg Kunsthalle.

The painting will be offered on 28th July 2020 in London with an estimate of £12m - £16m.

Update - Further press articles have explained that the picture was with Noortman Master Paintings in the mid 2000s where it was acquired by the current owner. It seems that it was also exhibited at TEFAF in this period. The self portrait was exhibited at the Rijksmuseum in 1997 and the National Gallery, London, in 1999. I'll post the full catalogue entry when it is made available in due course.

Update 2 - Here is the official press release from Sotheby's.

Early Boucher Discovered in Wardrobe

June 5 2020

Image of Early Boucher Discovered in Wardrobe

Picture: Gazette Drouot

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Gazette Drouot has published news that the auction house Daguerre have discovered an early work by François Boucher (1703-1770) in a wardrobe of a private house.

The work dating to the 1720s shows a young man playing the hurdy gurdy (click to listen to a music clip), an instrument that was rather popular in eighteenth century France. It was last sold from the collection of Vicomte Beuret in 1924 where it was described as 'attributed to Boucher'.

This rare early work is coming up for sale at Daguerre's sale on 23rd June with an estimate of €40,000 - €60,000. It seems very likely that the final price will soar past this tempting estimate!

Update - The painting made 494,000 (inc. fees).

Dordrechts Museum Acquires Jacob Gerritsz. Cuyp

June 4 2020

Image of Dordrechts Museum Acquires Jacob Gerritsz. Cuyp

Picture: Dordrechts Museums

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Dr Sander Paarlberg, curator of old master paintings of the Dordrechts Museums, has contributed an article on their recent acquisition of a portrait by Jacob Gerritsz. Cuyp (pictured above).

2020 marks the 400th anniversary of the birth of Jacob's father Aelbert Cuyp. The planned exhibition in Dordrecht, celebrating Aelbert's influence on Constable and Turner, has been postponed until October 2021 due to the current crisis.

Sleeper Alert! Polish Edition

June 3 2020

Image of Sleeper Alert! Polish Edition

Picture: Polswiss Art

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

I've been tipped off by a Warsaw based art historian that the record for the most expensive work of art sold at auction in Poland was broken today. The above portrait by the renowned Polish artist Jan Matejko (1838-1893), depicting Prof. Karola Gilewskiego, made 7,000,000 zł / £1.41m (inc. fees) over an estimate of 3,000,000 - 5,000,000 zł.  / £607,000 - £1,01,000. Press reports are calling it 'a lost masterpiece' and suggest it may have been purchased by a museum in Poland.

Curiously, the same portrait made just €344,600 at the Dorotheum in Vienna in 2015. The increase in the picture's value is quite impressive and just goes to show that the location of where you sell a picture can count sometimes.

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