Category: Research

New discoveries at the JVDPPP

November 5 2017

Image of New discoveries at the JVDPPP

Picture: JVDPPP

The new Jordaens Van Dyck Panel Paintings Project unveiled some more exciting discoveries at a press conference last week, including a previously unknown Jordaens panel above left. The picture is called The Penitent Peter and John the Evangelist Approaching the Tomb of Christ. From the JVDPPP website:

We had found a reference to it and a small black and white photograph, taken in 1971, in the database of the Belgian Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage (IRPA-KIK) as belonging to the Church of Our Lady of La Cambre and Saint Philippus Nerius in Brussels. We visited the church but to no avail. Eventually Joost tracked it down within the Church fabric. Our research discovered that it was gifted to the church by Hortense Hannet (1855 – 1940) in memory of her husband, François Hannet (1837 – 1918), a Professor of Design in Brussels, and in whose collection it had resided. It had been exhibited at the 1905 Jordaens exhibition in Antwerp and it was listed by the art historian Max Rooses in his 1908 monograph on the artist but trace of it had been lost for over a hundred years and no image of it had been published.

Peter is a portrait of Abraham Grapheus, the Steward of the artists’ Guild of Saint Luke in Antwerp. He was well-known to both young artists, Jordaens and Van Dyck. They were inscribed as apprentices in the Guild in the years 1607-8 and 1610-11 and became masters in the Guild in 1615-6 and 1618-9 respectively. Both used Grapheus’ distinctive face for depictions as an Apostle in their early religious paintings. We showed the museum’s Bust of an Apostle by Jordaens as a comparative example (oil on canvas, 59 x 48 cm, Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, inv. no. 121 – when it was first listed in 1806, and for many years afterwards, it was believed to be by Van Dyck). Further information on Grapheus, Jordaens and Van Dyck can be found in the recent exhibition catalogue, Abraham Grapheus, model van Jacob Jordaens, Museum voor Schone Kunsten Gent, 2012, including an image of a similar painting in the Kunsthalle, Hamburg (inv. no. 82) but with major differences.

Dobson's mystery sitter?

October 16 2017

Video: ZCZ Films

Regular readers will know that Waldemar Januszczak is an expert on English 17thC portraitist William Dobson - and in the video above he proposes a new identification for a mystery sitter in one of Dobson's best group portraits, Sir William Russell.

Rubens' dodgy roof

October 3 2017

Image of Rubens' dodgy roof

Picture: inventaris.onroerenderfgoed.be

New archival research by the Jordaens Van Dyck Panel Paintings Project has revealed that in 1615 Rubens was left disatisfied with his roofers. As he said in a legal complaint, they had not bonded the roof in the right way:

And he [Rubens] declarant had noticed that the above-mentioned joiners had put the above-mentioned covering without nailing it properly, so that he declarant had this same covering nailed again afterwards by the claimant, his slater, saying that the above-mentioned roof was not nailed as it should be, which he had also noticed and said that he would suffer ill effects from this work. And for the job to be well done he declarant has had this same covering remedied by the above-mentioned, his slater, for which this slater demanded no more than only that he declarant paid for the nails. 

It sounds like Rubens fell for a bit of a trick here.

Charging for history

July 28 2017

Image of Charging for history

Picture: Northamptonshire Record Office

Grim news for historians and art historians in the UK; Northamptonshire record office is becoming the first to charge for regular access to its reading rooms. If you want to visit outside a very limited free period, which is just Tuesday-Thursday from 9am-1pm, then you'll have to pay £31.50 per hour.

£31.50 per hour! That is an absurd and insulting fee. Those who have spent time researching in local record offices, which house come of the UK's most important private and public archives, will know that it is practically impossible do all you need to do in a morning. Ordering and reading through documents just takes too much time. For Northamptonshire record office to limit free access to just a few mornings a week in effect means that serious researchers will not able to access their documents at all; the cost for most of staying in the area to wait till the next free morning would make it impossible. Perhaps the new charging structure is a cynical and deliberate ploy to force people to keep away, thus allowing the council to cut staff and hours even more in future.

Northamptonshire record office has made a statement on their Facebook page, blaming government cuts, though it's a Northamptonshire council decision. Of course, the main concern is that this will be the thin end of the wedge, with other record offices soon following suit.

Is there much anyone can do about it? Probably not; the National Archives in Kew doesn't show enough strong leadership on issues like this, and if it does ever act, it takes an age to do so. Nor can we expect anything from government ministers. All we can hope is that by making a fuss we'll discourage other record offices from following Northamptonshire's shoddy example.

Update - there's a petition against the charges here.

'Portraits of the Civil War'

July 8 2017

Image of 'Portraits of the Civil War'

Picture: Unicorn

The Old Master dealer Angus Haldane has written a new book on the the art of the English Civil War, and it looks excellent. It's available here at the publishers, Unicorn Press.

'Sir Anthonio Van Dyck'

April 15 2017

Image of 'Sir Anthonio Van Dyck'

Picture: JVDPPP

Research for the Jordaens/Van Dyck Panel Paintings Project has confirmed that Van Dyck was christened 'Anthonio'. I prefer to call him Antoon, though.

Still, sadly, not Jane Austen (ctd.)

April 2 2017

Image of Still, sadly, not Jane Austen (ctd.)

Picture: via FT.com

Regular readers will know the case of the 'Rice Portrait', which claims to show Jane Austen. The painting has its defenders, including the family who own it, and who have their own website putting the case for the identity of the sitter here. Many others are unconvinced, including the former Chief Curator of the NPG in London, Jacob Simon.

Jacob's view of the picture has always been especially important, since he has been compiling an extremely useful and exhaustive online database of artist's suppliers in Britain - and a key piece of evidence in the case of the Rice portrait is a canvas maker's stamp on the back. The stamp is that of William Legg, who sold canvasses in High Holborn in London between abou 1801 and 1806. This is important because for the Rice Portrait to show Jane Austen it would need to have been painted in about the late 1780s.

Until now, only one example of a William Legg canvas stamp has been known. But in an article in the FT, writer Anjana Ahuja writes about a portrait she recently bought of a 'Mrs Smith' by the artist James Northcote (above). This painting is signed and dated 1803 - and it too has a William Legg canvas stamp on the back (below).

In other words, it's clear evidence that the stamp on the back of the Rice portrait must date the painting to the early 1800s. Therefore, it cannot show Jane Austen (born in 1775), for the sitter is clearly too young.

There have always been significant gaps in the case for the Rice portrait being Jane - not least its early provenance - and this latest evidence can only set the case back further still.

A new cache of artist's suppliers information has lately been uploaded to Jacob Simon's database; all available for free at the click of a mouse. Amazing.

Gainsborough's 'Music Party' in focus

March 30 2017

Image of Gainsborough's 'Music Party' in focus

Picture: Tate

Tate Britain has put on an 'in focus' exhibition around one of my favourite early Gainsboroughs, his Portrait of Peter Darnell Muilman, Charles Crokatt and William Keable in a Landscape, c.1750. One of the surprises discovered by Dr John Chu and Dr Hannah French during their discussions about the picture was that the type of flute seen in the picture was often also fashioned for use as a walking stick:

I think one of my favourite discoveries was when Hannah and I were remarking on the similarity in the picture between the walking canes and the flute. It’s the kind of thing you often only notice through prolonged careful looking in front of a work of art, which is what we were doing at the time. Hannah observed that, of course, flutes and other musical instruments were often hidden in walking sticks in the period. This was such a lovely revelation. We realised then and there that the survival of so many of these flute-walking sticks meant that the kind of musical walking party that Gainsborough depicts must have been a reality, not just a pictorial fancy, and that his picture captured the close relationship between the two recreations in a kind of visual rhyme.

More here

There's something very 18thC about the idea of people suddenly picking up their walking sticks to indulge in a spot of Bach. I suppose our use of mobile phones as music playing devices today is somewhat similar, if far less sophisticated.

'Vigée Le Brun's petitioners'

January 8 2017

Image of 'Vigée Le Brun's petitioners'

Picture: Archives Nationale

Neil Jeffares has a useful new article on his blog about Elizabeth Vigée Le Brun. It explores the petition in her favour signed by 255 artists and French luminaries in 1799 to support her return from exile. She had fled during the French Revolution and as such had her assets forfeit. Neil points out that since the document has never been published before, it proivdes usual evidence of signatures. He also classifies all 255 names. More here

New Hogarth catalogue

January 8 2017

Image of New Hogarth catalogue

Picture: Yale

I've been meaning to notice the publication of Elizabeth Einberg's new catalogue raisonnée on William Hogarth. You can buy it here for £85.

Bowes Museum acquires rare Bouts (ctd.)

January 6 2017

Video: National Gallery

Last year, the Bowes Museum in the UK acquired a panel painting by Dieric Bouts the Elder and his Workshop. In the above video, Rachel Billinge of the National Gallery's conservation department gives the painting a thorough technical assessment to find out how it was made.

Was Van Gogh arrested for chopping off his ear?

December 19 2016

Image of Was Van Gogh arrested for chopping off his ear?

Picture: Apollo/Courtauld

Our knowledge of the most famous ear in history has been expanded yet again by Van Gogh scholar Martin Bailey, who, in Apollo Magazine, looks into whether Van Gogh was arrested in Arles after the ear chopping business.

Early Irish art

November 23 2016

Image of Early Irish art

Picture: Irish Academic Press

I like this look of this new book on Irish art in the early modern period, available here

Is this Van Dyck's portrait of Jordaens?

October 10 2016

Image of Is this Van Dyck's portrait of Jordaens?

Picture: Warwick Castle

Here's an interesting blogpost by Adam Busiakiewicz, an art historian who used to work at Warwick Castle. It's about the above portrait by Van Dyck (detail) which hangs at Warwick Castle. The attribution to Van Dyck is not in doubt, but the sitter is 'unknown'. Adam cleverly thought reminded him of Jacob Jordaens, Van Dyck's fellow artist in Antwerp. The likeness is a good one, and the date of the painting would fit with Van Dyck painting Jordaens, whom of course he knew, and whom he portrayed for his famous 'Iconography' series of engravings.

Last year, Adam wrote a well argued piece for the British Art Journal - but unluckily for him he found a crucial piece of evidence after the BAJ article came out. It was a photograph in the Witt Library, which shows a copy of Van Dyck's original. The insription says 'Jacob Jordaens' - which would appear to be evidence that Adam's not the only person to have connected Jordaens to the sitter.

Personally I think Adam is right - it must be Jordaens. All we need to do now is find Van Dyck's missing portrait of Rubens...

'The mysterious landscapes of Hercules Segers'

September 19 2016

Image of 'The mysterious landscapes of Hercules Segers'

Picture: Rijksmuseum/New York Times

The Rijksmuseum has spent two years re-examining the oeuvre of the 17th Century Dutch landscape artist Hercules Segers, and has added a number of newly attributed works, reports the New York Times. The research has been done ahead of a new exhibition on Segers' life, which opens at the Rijksmuseum on October 7th till January 8th, when it will then travel to the Met in New York, where it opens on February 13th.

More on the Rijksmuseum's research and exhibition here.

Get paid to study Rubens

September 12 2016

Image of Get paid to study Rubens

Picture: Wikimapia

The Rubenianum, the Antwerp-based centre for research into Rubens and his contemporaries, is offering a $27,000 post-graduate fellowship. You can choose to study pretty much anything you like ove the course of the year. But the catch is you must be a US citizen. More here

Voltaire in pastel

May 25 2016

Image of Voltaire in pastel

Picture: Neil Jeffares

King of all this pastel Neil Jeffares has an interesting piece on his blog about pastel portraits of Voltaire. Well worth a click.

Extending Rembrandt's 'senses'

May 25 2016

Image of Extending Rembrandt's 'senses'

Picture: Getty

There's a good piece on the Getty website about Rembrandt's early 'Senses' series (one of which, above, was discovered recently in a small aution house in the US) and how they were extended in the 18th Century. We don't know who the artist was who had the chutzpah to add to Rembrandt's original, but thanks to the Getty's technical analysis we know exactly how they did it. More here.

New Francis Towne catalogue raisonné

May 20 2016

Image of New Francis Towne catalogue raisonné

Picture: Paul Mellon Centre, 'Old Walton Bridge', 1785. Francis Towne, Oil on canvas, Yale Center for British Art

The Paul Mellon Centre has published another excellent online catalogue raisonné, this time on the British artist Francis Towne. Their most recent one was on Richard Wilson. The Towne catalogue was written by Richard Stephens, who will be known to AHN readers through his invaluable database on the Art World in Britain from 1660-1735. Says the PMC website:

The catalogue identifies 1080 works by Towne and his circle, doubling previously-described totals. Based on the author’s PhD thesis, it makes extensive use of the papers of Paul Oppé (1878-1957) whose pioneering researches established the artist’s reputation in the 1920s, after a century of neglect. Oppé had discovered the contents of Towne's own studio in the possession of the Merivale family of Barton Place near Exeter. Using the archives of Thomas Agnew & Sons, the Fine Art Society, Colnaghi and elsewhere, Stephens gives detailed provenances for hundreds of the Merivales' Townes that have circulated on the London art market. Towne's biography is established in greater detail than before, using much original research. Resources published alongside the catalogue include an edition of Towne's correspondence and a transcription of Oppé's Barton Place catalogue.

More than 800 works are illustrated with high-quality images, much of it specially commissioned by the Paul Mellon Centre. Towne's sketching tours in Wales, Italy, Switzerland, Savoy, the Lake District and around England are reconstructed with new clarity and detail.

New 16thC National Gallery catalogue published

May 19 2016

Image of New 16thC National Gallery catalogue published

Picture: National Gallery

The National Gallery has published the third volume of its new catalogue of the Italian 16th Century paintings, focusing on works from Bologna and Ferrara. The catalogue is written by former director Nicholas Penny with Giorgia Mancini, a former research fellow at the National Gallery. You can order it here for £75. Here's the blurb:

The catalogue defines the special quality of paintings made in Bologna and Ferrara, describing a distinctive and idiosyncratic local tradition but also tracing the influence first of Perugino and then of Raphael and Titian. The entries are informed both by new archival research and technical analysis information and the catalogue also provides a detailed introduction to the work of each artist. In a valuable contribution to the history of taste, their changing reputations are traced and the important collections to which the paintings belonged are described, as is the manner in which they came into the UK’s national collection.

Volume 1 of the series was written by Penny in 2004, with volume 2 (Venice) appearing in 2008. The appearance of this latest volume just after Penny retired from the National underlines the rarity of having a director who was also involved in intimately cataloguing the collection.

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.