Category: Exhibitions

More Caravaggio in Rome

March 11 2011

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If you're a Caravaggio fan, it's a good time to go to Rome. Not only is there the exhibition of Caravaggio documents in the State Archives, but now a new exhibition at the Museo Diocesano brings together sixty masterpieces by Caravaggio and his contemporaries. It opens today, until 3rd July.

Important Turners donated to Abbotsford

March 9 2011

Image of Important Turners donated to Abbotsford

Picture: Art Fund. Left, Abbotsford, right, Newark Castle. 

Two watercolours by JMW Turner have been donated to Abbotsford, Walter Scott's home. They were painted in 1831 to illustrate the 1833 edition of Scott's poems. The donor, Phoebe Barrow, chose to donate them through the Art Fund so that they were safeguarded in perpetuity - a smart move in this world of increasing deaccessions. More here

Unsettling sculpture of the week

March 9 2011

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Meet Petra, a life-size sculpture of a female German riot officer. Petra is squatting and urinating. The piece has caused a stir in Germany, but has also won a prestigious prize from the Lienneman Foundation. Its creator, Marcel Walldorf, said;

'The public response has been overwhelmingly positive, and I don't understand why people are attacking Petra. She even contains a special mechanism by which a liquid can be made to flow out of her genitals. But to avoid damaging the gallery's floor, I have substituted a puddle of simulated urine made from gelatine for this exhibition.' 

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the museum...

March 4 2011

Image of Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the museum...

Tate Modern will host a Hirst retrospective in 2012 as part of its plans for the Cultural Olympiad.

Chardin at the Prado

March 4 2011

Image of Chardin at the Prado

Picture: The Louvre

The Prado has an excellent micro-site for their new Chardin exhibition (ends 29th May). You can zoom into the paintings in great detail while listening to commentary in English. There is also a charming video with Pierre Rosenberg, Deputy Director of the Louvre. Worth a click.

National Gallery Podcast

March 3 2011

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This month's National Gallery podcast is worth a listen. Susan Foister and co discuss the new Gossart exhibition and also the zippy Google Art Project, which features Holbein's Ambassadors in super high-res.  

A new Mabuse?

March 2 2011

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A reader has kindly sent me this image, which is an old photo of a painting stolen from a Croatian monastery in 1972. The Madonna and Child was believed by the Franciscan monks of Dubrovnik to be by Mabuse, or Jan Gossart, the star of the National Gallery's new show.

Of course, it is impossible to tell at this distance, but the painting is certainly Mabuse/Gossart/Gossaert-like. The composition is similar to that seen in the c.1520 Mauritshuis/Rijksmuseum Virgin and Child with the Veil, which is no.10 in Maryan Ainsworth's splendid new monograph.

The features and drapery in the Dubrovnik picture seem rather hard, and the pattern was quite widely copied. Nonetheless, it is worth a closer look - so if you know where it is, pray tell...  [More Below]

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Gainsborough goes to China

February 28 2011

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Is this a first? Gainsborough's 'The Marsham Children' will go on display in Beijing as part of 'Art of the Enlightenment' from 2nd April 2011 to 31st March 2012. The exhibition will be in the National Museum of China, and is made up of loans from a trio of German museums. Exhibition website here

All Hail Maryan Ainsworth

February 26 2011

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Of the many positive reviews of the excellent ‘Jan Gossaert’s Renaissance’ at the National Gallery (Guardian, Telegraph, Independent), none mention the driving force behind the show, Met Museum curator Maryan Ainsworth. I am in awe of what she has achieved. [More below]

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The Return of the Double Hang

February 21 2011

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As an art dealer I'm always extolling the virtues of a double hang - more space to fill.

But I'm delighted to see that the National Gallery is increasingly double hanging in some of their larger rooms. The pictures on the top row are not of the first rank, but the overall effect is so much more exciting than the sparsely hung rooms of old. More please, and congratulations to whoever decided on the new approach. 

More on Caravaggio

February 21 2011

 

Here's a short video of the new Caravaggio exhibition, in which you can see the freshly restored portrait of Pope Paul V.

Some of the new facts on Caravaggio are:

  • He was born 29th September 1571 in Milan (not the nearby town of Caravaggio).
  • He arrived in Rome at the age of 25 (not 20, as previously thought).
  • The fight in which Caravaggio famously killed a man seems to have been planed in advance, and was probably over a gambling debt.
  • He died in a hospital at Porto Ercole in July 1610 (not on a beach).

You can download the full documentation at the bottom of this page (in Italian).

"Watercolour" at Tate

February 19 2011

Image of "Watercolour" at Tate

Picture: Barber Institute (detail of A Coastal Landscape by Van Dyck)

I loved this exhibition. Any show that begins with a watercolour by Van Dyck is a Good Thing. It's well worth a visit. Congratulations to Alison Smith and her colleagues.

I can't think why Richard Dorment disliked it so much. He said it was 'close' to being a 'disaster', and gave it two stars. He didn't like the inclusion of many of the artists or the subjects (such as the series of war scenes), and especially disliked the end rooms, which feature modern art's take on watercolour.

[More below]

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Caravaggio didn't like cooked artichokes

February 18 2011

Image of Caravaggio didn't like cooked artichokes

A new exhibition in Rome has uncovered some fascinating archival evidence about Caravaggio. We now know for sure where and when he was born (Milan, not Caravaggio) and died (in a hospital bed).

One document reports a fight over a plate of artichokes;

Statement to police by Pietro Antonio de Fosaccia, waiter, 26 April 1604:

About 17 o'clock [lunchtime] the accused, together with two other people, was eating in the Moor's restaurant at La Maddalena, where I work as a waiter. I brought them eight cooked artichokes, four cooked in butter and four fried in oil. The accused asked me which were cooked in butter and which fried in oil, and I told him to smell them, which would easily enable him to tell the difference.

He got angry and without saying anything more, grabbed an earthenware dish and hit me on the cheek at the level of my moustache, injuring me slightly... and then he got up and grabbed his friend's sword which was lying on the table, intending perhaps to strike me with it, but I got up and came here to the police station to make a formal complaint...

Full story in English here. Exhibition website, in Italian, here.

Tate's new 'Watercolour' exhibition

February 15 2011

Image of Tate's new 'Watercolour' exhibition

Picture: 'Scarlet Sunset' by Turner, Tate Britain.

Richard Dorment doesn't like it:

"Watercolour isn't a complete disaster, but it's a close call."

Matilda Battersby in The Independent is more enthusiastic.

I haven't seen it yet, but so far I hear good reports, and can't wait to go. 

New pictures at Hampton Court

February 14 2011

Image of New pictures at Hampton Court

Two rarely seen Royal Collection portraits are now on display at Hampton Court Palace. They've been up for a while, but I've only just got round to seeing them. Both are well worth the trip, and well done to the curators at Historic Royal Palaces for securing their loan.

On the left is John Michael Wright's magnificent portrait of the freshly restored Charles II, painted in about 1661. It is one of the finest royal portraits of the seventeenth century, by one of my favourite artists. Wright is often overlooked, being squeezed between Van Dyck and Lely. At his best, however, he comes close to the former, and beats the latter.

On the right is the Giant Porter, painted in 1580. I posted on this earlier, but it's difficult to get a sense of its scale unless you actually see it - it's enormous. To a Tudor viewer it/he must have been terrifying. 

On the Royal Collection website you can zoom in on Charles II here, and the Giant here.

Titians on Tour - Jangling the Tin?

February 8 2011

Image of Titians on Tour - Jangling the Tin?

Picture: National Gallery of Scotland

The LA Times wonders whether The National Gallery of Scotland's decision to send Titian's Diana & Actaeon and Diana & Callisto to America is part of a fund-raising trip; 

It’s perhaps no coincidence that a U.K. institution has decided to send some of its choicest goods to America at this moment: private philanthropy dominates our arts economy, and the Brits are starting to get used to the fact that their own economically pressed government is pulling back the kind of public support that has long made American arts institutions jealous.

Prado & Hermitage swap-shop

February 7 2011

The Prado and The Hermitage are to temporarily exchange a slew of works for an exhibition. AFP reports:

About 66 works from the Spanish museum will be put on display at the Hermitage between February 25 and May 29 as part of the "Prado at the Hermitage" exhibit.

In return 170 works from the Hermitage will be put on display at the Prado between November 8 and March 26, 2012.

The best exhibition advert you'll ever see?

February 3 2011

 

Check out the Hollywood-style trailer for a new exhibition at the Fort Lauderdale Museum of Art, 'Vatican Splendors: A Journey through Faith and Art'. (I dare someone at the National Gallery to do a similar video for 'Leonardo'...)

There's an interesting ticketing system too;

'The Parish Advantage' offers discounts and premiums to Parishioners and members of the Church.'

When is a Holbein not a Holbein?

January 27 2011

Image of When is a Holbein not a Holbein?

 

When the museum label next to it says 'Netherlandish Painter, 1569'. 

One of the joys of viewing the Old Master sales in New York over a weekend is being able to go to the Met early on Sunday morning - it opens at 9.30am, perfect for the jet-lagged. I was amused to see one of my favourite Holbein's demoted, and tried to tell the museum staff. They must get hundreds of people trying to tell them 'your label is wrong', so I don't blame them for not taking me seriously. 

You can see a better photo of the portrait, properly catalogued, here

Brueghel bought

January 7 2011

Image of Brueghel bought

Picture: National Trust

Splendid news; ‘The Procession to Calvary’ by Pieter Brueghel the Younger at Nostell Priory has been bought for the nation after a campaign to raise £2.7m. The National Heritage Memorial Fund contributed £1m, and the Art Fund £500,000.

Public donations amounted to an impressive £680,000. The picture is a religious scene, by the younger Brueghel, and can in no way be described as specifically British. But that it still generated such a strong public response is testament to the appetite for good acquisitions.

Given the strong prices for anything Brueghel these days, I think £2.7m was a bit of a bargain. Well done to everybody involved.

 

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