Previous Posts: March 2012

Friday Amusement

March 30 2012

Image of Friday Amusement

Picture: Cartoonstock

Video of cleaned Leonardo 'St Anne'

March 30 2012

Video: AFP

PS - Don't confuse the cleaned Leonardo with the copy...

Annoying things that happen to an art dealer no.27

March 29 2012

Image of Annoying things that happen to an art dealer no.27


Spotting a sleeper at a regional auction house (in this case a 'Harlequin' portrait of Bonnie Prince Charlie catalogued as 'Portrait of a Scottish Nobleman'), booking a phone line, and then the auctioneer not calling you. Particularly annoying if, like me, you're slightly obsessed with the Jacobites.


A reader writes:

I tried to book a telephone bid [...] too, and they didnt reply to me either. They sometimes do reply, and sometimes sell things reasonably. But isnt it a copy after a print in the National Gallery of Scotland, so maybe not a bargain?

Yes, it is most likely a copy, but still a relatively rare image of Charles. And it looked contemporary too. 

He was right, you know

March 29 2012

Image of He was right, you know

Picture: National Portrait Gallery

As the OECD tells us here in the UK that we're back in recession, it's time for one of my periodic and random mentions of John Maynard Keynes. Here he is in a portrait by Gwendolen Raverat (National Portrait Gallery, London).

View from the artist no.10 - answer

March 29 2012

Image of View from the artist no.10 - answer

Picture: Kunstmuseum Basel

This one was relatively easy it seems. Quite a few of you got it. The main topographical clue was the windmill on the left. A reader writes:

Doubt I'll be the first but I reckon the view is Paris from Montmartre, a former resident of Stockwell.

Correct - and you were the first, within an hour of it going up. So very well done, and the loudest possible virtual round of applause to you.

Another reader writes:

And at you can order a T-shirt and a Bumper sticker of this.

Louvre unveils Leonardo cleaning

March 29 2012

Image of Louvre unveils Leonardo cleaning

Picture: Louvre

It took many years, had become controversial, and even been described as the fault of 'les Anglais'. But now the Louvre has finally revealed its cleaned Leonardo Virgin and Child with St Anne. You can see not particularly good images here on the Louvre site. (If the Louvre doesn't make high-resolution images available, one might begin to wonder why.)

The picture is part of a new exhibition at the Louvre on the painting, which runs until 25th June, and to which the National Gallery has loaned the Burlington Cartoon. The loan was all part of the deal to secure the Louvre's Virgin of the Rocks for the recent 'Leonardo' exhibition in London. More details and photos of the exhibition here.

Cezanne 'Card Player' found in Texas

March 29 2012

Image of Cezanne 'Card Player' found in Texas

Picture: Christie's

Remember that Cezanne Card Players which sold for $250m, on the basis of it being 'the last one in private hands'? Well it turns out there's another one. Or at least, half of one. From the New York Times:

For nearly six decades a Cézanne watercolor depicting Paulin Paulet, a gardener on the artist’s family estate near Aix-en-Provence, was familiar to scholars only as a black-and-white photograph. No one knew if the actual work, a study for Cézanne’s celebrated “Card Players” paintings, still existed and, if it did, who owned it.

But the watercolor recently surfaced in the home of a Dallas collector and is now heading to auction at Christie’s in New York on May 1, officials at the company said on Monday. It is estimated to sell for $15 million to $20 million.

Cézanne’s images of workers on his family farm — pipe-smoking men sitting around a table, their expressions dour, their dress drab, absorbed in a game of cards — are among his most recognizable works. Some are pictured alone; others are shown in groups of two or more. Paulet is the only one of the figures to appear in all five paintings in the “Card Players” series.

"absolutely cock-a-hoop"

March 29 2012

Image of "absolutely cock-a-hoop"

Picture: Guardian

Exciting news from Woburn Abbey, home of the Dukes of Bedford. It turns out their overlooked 'Portrait of an Old Man' is a Rembrandt, and has been approved as such by Rembrandt connoisseur Ernst van de Wetering. From The Guardian:

"We were all so excited at the expert verdict – the Duke was absolutely cock-a-hoop," said Abbey curator Chris Gravett, who had noticed the evident quality of the painting during his nine years working for the duke, and had become increasingly intrigued by it. This was despite competition from a collection that includes 10 paintings by Van Dyck, 12 by Reynolds, three Gainsboroughs, and a room virtually wallpapered with 24 Canalettos bought by the 4th Duke on the Grand Tour in the 18th century. [...]

Since its brief outing to an exhibition of treasures from Woburn Abbey at the Royal Academy in 1950, where its authenticity was questioned, The Old Rabbi has hung high up in the private library among a group of paintings which have turned out not to be what previous dukes of Bedford had hoped, including a "not Van Dyck", a "not Hogarth", and two others not by Rembrandt.

Although there is no reference to The Old Rabbi in the family archives before a mention of it being cleaned in 1791, Gravett believes it was probably acquired with the two "not Rembrandts" in the 1740s.

It will now be taken down and displayed at head height, as the star exhibit among the display of gold and silver in Woburn Abbey's vaults when the house reopens to the public next weekend. 

Should pay a few bills. Woburn Abbey's website gives more details on the scientific analysis of the discovery, and reveals that the Portrait of an Old Man is a pendant to another previously overlooked Rembrandt in the Gemaldegalerie in Berlin:

As Professor van de Wetering has highlighted: “This painting is one of Rembrandt’s most impressive evocations of dignity in old age. The way the light makes the figure emerge from the dusky space and illuminates the wrinkled skin of the face, and the hands resting on a stick, makes it an outstanding specimen of Rembrandt’s art.”  It is therefore implied that this is more than a study of old age.  It is believed that the Woburn picture and a painting in the Gemaldegalerie, Berlin (thought to be a portrait of Rembrandt’s wife, Saskia) were intended as a pair.  Both were painted in 1643 on a mahogany panel taken from the same sugar case.  This along with the similarities of design and biblical style: the prominent hands each displaying a ring on the little finger, the black hat with fine decoration and the decorative chains has led to the suggestion from Professor van de Wetering that the pair are depicting the Old Testament biblical story of Boaz and Ruth.

Licence to print money

March 28 2012

Image of Licence to print money

Picture: BBC

Or at least, draw it. A doodle by Damien Hirst drawn as a tip to a chauffeur has sold for over £4.5k. Who knows if it is really worth it - but the PR alone must be.

Those Chinese non-paying bidders...

March 28 2012

Image of Those Chinese non-paying bidders...

...are everywhere it seems. Bloomberg details the current crop of lawsuits against non-paying bidders. Moneyquote:

“It’s an international problem,” London-based dealer Roger Keverne said. “Some Chinese dealers are trying to sell things before they pay for them. We don’t know the full extent of it. The concern is that they can also be the under bidders. They push prices up. It isn’t a genuine market.”

“Are you interested in making a cruel and offensive offer?"

March 28 2012

A cache of emails reveals cruel and offensive behaviour by Gagosian (allegedly).

View from the artist no.10

March 28 2012

Image of View from the artist no.10


Regular readers will know the rules by now. For new ones, can you guess location, artist, date. No prizes, just for fun. A deluge of praise for the first correct answer...

If you like 20th Century portrait sculpture...

March 28 2012

Image of If you like 20th Century portrait sculpture...

Picture: BBC this. It's a BBC Parliament recording of a lecture on Oscar Nemon, given by his daughter Lady Aurelia Young at the Houses of Parliament recently. Fascinating. Nemon is best known for his sculptures of Winston Churchill, but he did just about anyone who was famous in the 50s and 60s.

I was lucky enough to go round Nemon's studio just outside Oxford shortly after he died, and was amazed by what I saw. Nemon would start his sculptures sitting in front of his subject with just a small ball of clay on a stick. Using basic tools and his hands, he would create a small study from life which immediately captured both the likeness and character of his sitter. There was one of Harold Macmillan, still on its stick as if it had been made yesterday. It was astoundingly lifelike.

The studio was full of these little studies, as well as worked up models and casts. At the time, I was working for the late Tony Banks MP, who was then chairman of the House of Commons works of art committee. Thanks to the kindness of the Nemon family, I was able to organise the donation of a number of Nemon pieces, including the study of Macmillan, and a maquette of Churchill in Garter Robes. The first exhibition I ever curated was the display of these and other items at the House of Commons.

A Lucian Freud 'what if?'

March 28 2012

Image of A Lucian Freud 'what if?'

Picture: Guardian

As imagined by cartoonist Peter Duggan (via Dr Ben Harvey).


March 28 2012

Image of Today...

Picture: BG

...we're filming most of the day in the gallery for our new series of 'Fake or Fortune?'. So posts might be rare.

I wish I could tell what the sequences today are about - but of course I can't. Except, it is probably the most exciting painting discovery I've ever been involved with. So it will be worth tuning in to the programme when it's broadcast (probably in the early autumn). 

A bargain Van Gogh?

March 27 2012

Image of A bargain Van Gogh?

Picture: Savills

Van Gogh's house in Stockwell made £565,000.

Those Chinese non-paying bidders

March 27 2012

Image of Those Chinese non-paying bidders

Picture: The Saleroom

It seems one English auction house, Nicholsons, house has had enough of the non-payers. Bidders in their forthcoming sale must be vetted before they go over £5k. 

The disconnectedness of Twitter

March 27 2012

Image of The disconnectedness of Twitter

Picture: BG

From an exchange today. 

If you want to see this again in the next ten years...

March 27 2012

Image of If you want to see this again in the next ten years...

Picture: Czartoryski Foundation

...then you'll have to go to Poland. 'Polish authorities' (say the Associated Press) have decided not to let the painting be loaned again for 'at least ten years'. More here.  

Update - a reader writes:

It will probably be easier to see Cecilia in Cracow...

Meanwhile, in America...

March 27 2012

Image of Meanwhile, in America...

Picture: LA Times

...the negative campaigning has even spread to art. Or rather, 'art'. This is called 'One Nation under Socialism', and shows President Obama (that well-known communist) burning a copy of the US constitution. 

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