Previous Posts: August 2021

The Bank of England Removes Portraits and Busts

August 31 2021

Image of The Bank of England Removes Portraits and Busts


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

News has emerged that the Bank of England have removed 10 painted portraits and 7 busts of governors and directors with known connections to the slave trade in the 18th and 19th centuries. Images of those removed include Gilbert Heathcote, the Bank's founding director and a governor, James Bateman, Robert Bristow, Robert Clayton, William Dawsonne, William Manning and John Pearse.

A Bank of England spokesperson has been quoted saying:

The review is now complete and artworks depicting former Governors and Directors, where we have been able to establish links to the slave trade, have been removed from display.

We have also appointed a researcher to work in our Museum to explore the Bank's historic links with the transatlantic slave trade in detail. This work will inform future Museum displays interpreting these connections.


As the new wave of Puritanism marches on, we wonder why it wasn't possible for the likes of Heathcote and Bristow to see into the future. Trying to untangle the 'inexcusable connections' through the removal of art seems like a rather interesting place to start.

A Fake Gaugin in the Tate (?)

August 31 2021

Image of A Fake Gaugin in the Tate (?)

Picture: Tate

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Art Newspaper has reported on the rather shocking news that the above painting of Tahitians, reputedly by Paul Gaugin in the Tate Collection, has been downgraded as a fake. The picture's fall from grace has been noted due to its absence in the latest catalogue raisonné by the New York-based Wildenstein Plattner Institute. The decision to exclude the painting was made by the scholars Richard Brettell (who died in July 2020) and Sylvie Crussard, although their precise reasons have not yet been disclosed.

The article quotes the 'Gaugin enthusiast and now a researcher on authenticity of his works' Fabrice Fourmanoir:

Fourmanoir is convinced that the Tate work is a fake. “It is a stereotypical colonial Tahiti scene, whereas Gauguin was looking for more primitive compositions. The poses, dresses and even the European accordion held by the woman show Tahitians ‘corrupted’ by European customs,” he says.

The Tate are said to still accept the work as authentic and will 'keep the work under review'.

Frick Collection Gifted Works on Paper

August 31 2021

Image of Frick Collection Gifted Works on Paper

Picture:  Mme Rouillé by Maurice Quentin de La Tour via. Frick Collection

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Frick Collection in New York has announced that it has received the promised gift of works on paper from the collection of former trustees Elizabeth and Jean-Marie Eveillard. The gift includes eighteen drawings, five pastels, two prints, and one oil sketch with works by the likes of:

...François Boucher, Edgar Degas, Jean-Honoré Fragonard, Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes, Thomas Lawrence, and Jean-François Millet.

The group also introduces to the Frick’s holdings works by artists not yet represented in its primary collecting areas, including Gustave Caillebotte, Maurice Quentin de La Tour (pictured), Jan Lievens, John Singer Sargent, and Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun.

It is expected the works will be displayed in a special exhibition by Autumn 2022.

Dendrochronology via CT Scanning

August 30 2021

Image of Dendrochronology via CT Scanning

Picture: Rijksmuseum & PLoS ONE

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

For those of you who like the more technical side of art historical research, the Science Journal PLoS ONE have published a fascinating article (free to read online) on the use CT scans to date wooden panels. Dendrochronology uses tree rings, compared against vast databases of historic examples, to date wooden panels. This piece combines the research of several scholars headed up by the Department for History of Art at the University of Amsterdam.

Essentially, the paper examines how CT scanners can be used to gather non-invasive information on the age of panels. This is particularly useful when old paintings have been stuck onto other panels in later centuries, often causing all sorts of problems for those wishing to examine such complex structures. In particular, the article examines a Rijksmuseum painting of Cadmus sowing dragon's teeth by Rubens. It seems that Rubens had painted onto a panel made of tropical wood which was later backed by an oak panel, perhaps with 'deceiving intentions' to mask the rarity of the original support.

New Release: He Ringatoi o Ngā Tūpuna

August 30 2021

Image of New Release: He Ringatoi o Ngā Tūpuna


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Here's an interesting new release from New Zealand focusing on colonial portraits made by the British artist Isaac Coates between 1841 - 1845. He Ringatoi o Nga Tupuna: Isaac Coates and his Maori Portraits has been written by the Nelson historians John and Hilary Mitchell.

According to the book's blurb:

Isaac Coates was an Englishman who lived in Wellington and Nelson between 1841 and 1845. During that time he painted watercolour portraits of 58 Māori from Nelson, Marlborough, Wellington, Waikanae and Kāpiti. Some of these portraits have been well-known for nearly 180 years, although their creator was not definitively identified until 2000. The discovery in 2007 of a Coates book of portraits in the Pitt Rivers Museum at Oxford University added many previously unknown images to his body of work. 

The portraits depict Māori men and women from chiefly whakapapa, as well as commoners and at least one slave. Coates’s meticulous records of each subject’s name, iwi and place of residence are invaluable, and his paintings are strong images of individuals, unlike the more stereotyped work of some of Coates’s contemporaries. Whānau, hapū and iwi treasure Coates’s works because they are the only images of some tūpuna, and they are reminders of those who risked their lives to bring their people to a better life in the Cook Strait regions of Kapiti coast, Wellington, Nelson and Marlborough.

Stare at the Same Painting for Three Hours to Improve Patience

August 30 2021

Image of Stare at the Same Painting for Three Hours to Improve Patience

Picture: Bodley Head

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Susie Mesure from has written a short piece on the claim that staring at the same painting for three hours can improve patience. The claim is made in Oliver Burkeman's new self-help book Four Thousand Weeks: Time and How to Use It who seems to have borrowed it from the art historian Jennifer Roberts at Harvard University.

According to Burkeman:

In a world geared for hurry, the capacity to resist the urge to hurry – to allow things to take the time they take – is a way to gain purchase on the world, to do the work that counts, and to derive satisfaction from the doing itself, instead of deferring all your fulfilment to the future.

I'm sure that this method is well-known amongst the readers of AHN.

Restoring Van Gogh's Olive Trees

August 30 2021

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz: have published an interesting article on the recent restoration of Van Gogh's The Olive Trees in the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The campaign coincided with the painting's loan to an upcoming exhibition at the Dallas Museum of Art on the artist's olive grove series.

Nationalmuseum Sweden acquire Louis Masreliez

August 30 2021

Image of Nationalmuseum Sweden acquire Louis Masreliez

Picture: Nationalmuseum Sweden

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Nationalmuseum Sweden have acquired an Allegory of War by Louis Masreliez (1748-1810). The painting, acquired from Christie's, was commissioned as an overdoor for the bedchamber of King Gustav III.

According to their website:

On returning to Stockholm in 1782, Masreliez was well equipped to oversee the redecoration of Gustav III’s private apartment at the palace in keeping with contemporary neoclassical interior design trends. Neoclassicism blended the grotesque decorative style of the Renaissance with features inspired by ancient Rome. The best-known example in Sweden today is the interior decoration of Gustav III’s pavilion at Haga. Meanwhile, Masreliez also had a solid grounding in historical painting, the task he was originally destined for in the service of the crown. Here too, he combined various influences from the great masters, all packaged in an elegant neoclassical form. This can be clearly seen in An Allegory of War.

It is conceivable that Gustav III himself chose the subject matter for the two overdoor paintings in his bedchamber. The king was heavily involved and had his own ideas regarding the interior decoration of royal properties, as contemporary sources attest.

Jane Austen returns to Bath

August 30 2021

Image of Jane Austen returns to Bath

Picture: NPG

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The National Portrait Gallery in London have loaned their rare portrait of the novelist Jane Austen to the Holburne Museum in Bath. Austen, whose likeness here was captured by her sister Cassandra, lived in the city between 1801 and 1806. The loan also happens to coincide with the annual Jane Austen Festival which runs between 10 - 19 September.

Chatsworth Drawings in Woking

August 30 2021

Image of Chatsworth Drawings in Woking

Picture: Alessandro Bonvicino, called Moretto da Brescia, A woman’s head with braided hair - Chatsworth via. The Lightbox

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Lightbox in Woking have recently opened a new exhibition of drawings loaned from Chatsworth. Lines of Beauty features more than 60 drawings from the collections of the Dukes of Devonshire.

Works on display include:

Works by Rembrandt van Rijn (1606–1669), including his pen and ink drawing, An actor, William Ruyter, in his studio (circa 1638). Rembrandt is widely considered one of the most important artists in the history of western art and the most critically acclaimed painter of the Dutch Golden Age. 

Drawings in pen and ink with chalk and watercolour by Sir Anthony van Dyck (1599–1641), one of the most prominent Flemish painters of the 17th century, who painted for King Charles I. 

Nicolas Poussin’s (1594–1665) The Rape of the Sabines (circa 1633), one of a number of preparatory drawings depicting the story from Roman mythology. Poussin’s two paintings of the subject are held in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and the Louvre, Paris.

The Lightbox have also lined up a rather impressive set of lectures and talks with specialists, including with the Curator of Fine Arts at Chatsworth, Charles Noble; a lecture from Dr Caroline Campbell of the National Gallery; a lecture from the Head of Old Masters at Bonhams Andrew Mckenzie; and a lecture from the TV art historian Andrew Graham-Dixon.

The show will run until 5th December 2021.

Apologies... (from Moscow)

August 29 2021

Image of Apologies... (from Moscow)

Picture: View of the Kremlin by A K Savrasov - Tretyakov Gallery via. AB

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Apologies for the delay in service this week. I’ve been off visiting Moscow for a few days. My previous visit to the city was twelve years ago, back when my interest in paintings was rudimentary compared with my knowledge of medieval Russian history.

As it happens, I have retraced the steps of another Warwickshire lad who made a similar journey two-hundred-and-twenty years ago. My research into the neglected archive of Warwick Castle unearthed an uncatalogued memoir and watercolours. They were made during the Grand Tour of Henry Richard Greville (1779-1853), Lord Brooke and later 3rd Earl of Warwick (pictured below). Henry’s tour brought him to Russia in September 1801 when he was a mere twenty-two-year-old. I have been re-reading his memoir during my travels here, comparing his experiences and impressions with my own.

The aesthetic focal point of Henry’s visit, as well as mine, were the magnificent Churches of the Kremlin. This glorious collection of ancient holy structures provides a rather otherworldly experience. The sheer number of frescos, icons and gilded decoration induces the same bedazzlement intended for its visitors back in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.

Visiting foreigners have been a feature of Muscovy for centuries. I delighted in spotting a group of sixteenth-century Western courtiers (presumably ambassadors to Ivan the Terrible or the early Romanov Tsars) painted onto the walls of the Dormition Cathedral wearing their ruffs and lace collars (pictured below).

It seems the young Lord from Warwickshire too studied these places. He completed a quick watercolour of the curious ‘pineapple’ towers of Saint Basil’s Cathedral (pictured below), alongside a view of the then white-washed walls and towers of the Kremlin.

The scale and magnificence of Russia impressed him very much. The extravagance of the Russian nobility also dazed Henry with their endless entertainments and extremely hospitable open houses. He recounted having been told that carriages with less than ‘two four’ sets of horses were generally not admitted at Muscovite noble residences.

Henry’s visit was far more eventful than my own. His visit to Moscow coincided with the coronation of Emperor Alexander I. The young Lord managed to acquire a good seat for viewing the coronation service itself, where his attentions were directed towards the Empress Elizabeth Alexeievna:

…the Empress is very handsome – a fine figure. Looks very melancholy & far from happy – but I do not believe there was an Englishman present who did not think her the handsomest woman they had seen since leaving their own country.

During one of the coronation dinners chaos ensued trying to find a seat. Seatless-Henry eventually ended up sat on the Imperial family’s table:

…where he [Tsar Alexander] desired me to sit down & eat my supper which I did much to the Horror of our Embassadors & others, who thought I had done so inadvertently.

One of the pleasures that I had, which Henry did not, was exploring the vast collections of the Pushkin Museum and Tretyakov Galleries. I was quite taken aback by the scale of the latter. It contained so many iconic masterpieces that I had known from the front countless modern editions of Russian novels (pictured below).

The wealth of Italian and French works in the Pushkin Museum (the Flemish and Dutch galleries were closed, alas) kept me busy for a good four hours. Fortunately, the Babushki guardians of the Pushkin Museum allow to you get much closer to their paintings than in the Hermitage. A most curious thing, as their paintings seem to generally be in better condition than those in Petersburg. I had the joy of eyeing up outstanding works by the likes of Poussin, Claude, Boucher and Vigée Le Brun.

The Italian pictures are also impressive, including fine canvases by Carlo Dolci, Guido Reni, Canaletto and Tiepolo. In particular, I spent a considerable time examining this David with the Head of Goliath by Domenico Fetti (pictured below). It is a powerful picture that I have been waiting to see for a while now.

Exiting these places, I am left with many questions about the history of collections and taste for old masters in Russia. Is there a reason that they had so many versions of the Flaying of Marsyas, for example?

Picture: The Flaying of Marsyas by Luca Giordano - The Pushkin Museum, Moscow

Overall, one has the sense today that Moscow is a tremendously forward-looking modern city. Petersburg is a beautiful relic in comparison. Moscow is an intensely international city, an impression that Henry too captured in his watercolours of the many peoples he encountered there.  Change is inevitable in such a vast and ancient place that has experienced as much history as Moscow has. The surviving houses and palaces of the aristocracy, whose balls and entertainments Henry attended almost every evening, have mostly been converted into foreign embassies.

It will take me a mere 3 hours and 50 odd minutes to get back to Saint Petersburg by train. It took poor Henry no less than 8 days by horse, riding through wooden villages inhabited by the Russian peasantry. His journey continued southwards, taking him as far as Athens and Constantinople. Mine will end in the next few days, unfortunately.


Picture: The Street Market by Y Sorokin - Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow

Turner Watercolour Acquired by Athelstan Museum

August 24 2021

Image of Turner Watercolour Acquired by Athelstan Museum

Picture: BBC

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The BBC have reported on news that the Athelstan Museum in Wiltshire have acquired a watercolour by JMW Turner of Malmesbury Abbey. The artwork, now exhibited within the museum, has been displayed for the first time in 40 years as it was formerly kept in a private collection. A total of £380,900 was granted to the museum by the National Lottery Fund to help it purchase the work.

Lecture: The Fate of Icons in University Museums

August 24 2021

Image of Lecture: The Fate of Icons in University Museums

Picture: @greeceinuk

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge is hosting an interesting sounding online lecture in October entitled "Fair Greece! Sad Relic": the fate of icons in University Museums. The event has been organised to mark the Bicentenary of the Greek War of Independence.

According to the blurb:

Soon after the Greek Revolution, the Acropolis was cleared of its Medieval buildings. Byzantine icons too were shunned, even in University Museum collections. This lecture touches on icons in the Fitzwilliam but focuses on the fate of one icon in the Yale University Art Museum, acquired in 1871, but hidden in its storeroom until now.

The talk will be delivered by Robin Cormack, Professor emeritus in the History of Art at the Courtauld Institute of Art and who now teaches in the Classics Faculty at Cambridge. 

The lecture will be broadcast on 13th October 2021 and attendance will cost £5 (free for under-18s and students).

Curious 'Shunning' of Dusseldorf Max Stern Exhibition

August 24 2021

Image of Curious 'Shunning' of Dusseldorf Max Stern Exhibition

Picture: TAN

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Art Newspaper have published an interesting article about the curious background of an exhibition which will be opening in Dusseldorf next month. Entrechtet und beraubt. Der Kunsthändler Max Stern focuses on the life and fate of the twentieth century Jewish art dealer Max Stern. Stern was ordered to liquidate his art business by the Nazis in 1935 and later fled to Montreal where he established a successful business. The article linked about explains the complex situation regarding the exhibition's former backers who have been described as 'shunning' the project since it was rescheduled from 2017.

Lecture: Moving Magnificence

August 23 2021

Image of Lecture: Moving Magnificence

Picture: ICON

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

For those interested in the logistical side of things, then this is a lecture for you! The Institute of Conservation (ICON) are hosting a lecture on 30th September 2021 entitled Moving Magnificence: An Introduction to Packing and Transporting Art in Centuries Past.

According to the talk's blurb:

This talk gives an overview of the how and why art travelled, from the 13th to the 20th centuries; paintings, textiles, as well as smaller items. 

It looks at, not just at the basic reasons why it travelled within historical contexts, but also the problems and solutions inherent in the size of objects on the move, the personnel that did the actual wrapping and packing of the art, the methods of wrapping and packing themselves and the logistics given the politics at certain periods in history. It also looks at insurance in a historical context, as well as the state of the roads over which the art was in transit. The use of primary sources moves the subject from myth to reality.

The lecture will be broadcast at 7pm (BST) and will cost £6 for non-members.

Afterlives at The Jewish Museum NYC

August 23 2021

Image of Afterlives at The Jewish Museum NYC

Picture: The Jewish Museum

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Jewish Museum in New York opened their latest exhibition Afterlives: Recovering the Lost Stories of Looted Art last week.

According to the museum's website:

During World War II, untold numbers of artworks and pieces of cultural property were stolen by Nazi forces. After the war, an estimated one million artworks and 2.5 million books were recovered. Many more were destroyed. This exhibition chronicles the layered stories of the objects that survived, exploring the circumstances of their theft, their post-war rescue, and their afterlives in museums and private collections. 

Afterlives includes objects looted from Jewish collections during the war, including works by such renowned artists as Pierre Bonnard, Marc Chagall, Paul Cézanne, Gustave Courbet, Paul Klee, Franz Marc, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, and Camille Pissarro. The Jewish Museum has also commissioned four contemporary artists to create new works that address the resonance of the exhibition’s themes: Maria Eichhorn, Hadar Gad, Dor Guez, and Lisa Oppenheim. Treasured pieces of Judaica, including rare examples of Jewish ceremonial objects from destroyed synagogues, will also be on view, as well as rarely seen archival photographs and documents that connect the objects to history.

The show will run until 9th January 2022.

Artemisia Exhibition in Detroit for Feb 2022

August 23 2021

Image of Artemisia Exhibition in Detroit for Feb 2022

Picture: Detroit Institute of Arts

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Detroit Institute of Arts have announced a new exhibition they will be hosting next year. By Her Hand: Artemisia Gentileschi and Women Artists in Italy, 1500–1800 is due to run from 6th February - 29th May 2022.

According to the museum's website:

Women artists played a vibrant and often untold role in Italy around 1600. How did they work and succeed in a male-dominated art world? The Detroit Institute of Arts will explore this question and celebrate Italian women artists with a show devoted to their artistic accomplishments. Artemisia Gentileschi (1593–c. 1656), arguably one of most famous 17th-century Italian painters today, will take center stage. 

The DIA is proud to house one of her masterpieces, Judith and Her Maidservant with the Head of Holofernes, which will feature prominently in the show. Beyond Artemisia Gentileschi, the public will be introduced to a diverse and dynamic group of Italian women artists—from the court artist Sofonisba Anguissola (1532–1625) to the painter and printmaker from Bologna Elisabetta Sirani (1638–1665)—among other talented and virtually unknown Italian women artists.

The exhibition's catalogue will be available from the end of September.

The V&A is Hiring!

August 20 2021

Image of The V&A is Hiring!

Picture: V&A

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Victorian and Albert Museum is hiring a Senior Curator: Paintings and Drawings.

According to the job description:

The Senior Curator, Paintings and Drawings will take leadership responsibility for the development, care of, documentation and research, presentation, and interpretation of the V&A's collection of paintings and drawings (which include four national collections – Portrait Miniatures, John Constable, British Watercolours, and Pastels).  Contemporary drawing is the main focus of current collecting and the Senior Curator, Paintings and Drawings will lead on this too.

As such, they will be expected to represent the museum at the highest level and play an active role in the field of paintings studies and collecting, nationally and internationally. 

The post holder will also make a significant contribution to the wider work of the V&A, contributing to policy, projects and public programmes, supporting fundraising and income generation, and supporting the Keeper in the running of the department, including by creating a positive environment, supporting change, line managing 3 staff and sharing knowledge, expertise and best practice with a wider group of Curators and Assistant Curators to help them develop and perform.

The position comes with a salary of between £39,546 - £47,534 and the deadline for applications is 19th September 2021.

Good luck if you're applying!

Berlin's Neue Nationalgalerie Reopens

August 19 2021

Video: euronews

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Berlin's Neue Nationalgalerie has reopened after a six-year renovation project. The recognisable building designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe has upgraded facilities as well as a new permanent exhibition called The Art of Society 1900 - 1945 featuring 250 works from the gallery's collection.

'L'art de paraître au 18e siècle' in Nantes

August 19 2021

Image of 'L'art de paraître au 18e siècle' in Nantes


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Musée d'arts de Nantes will be opening a rather interesting exhibition this November. L'art de paraître au 18e siècle will investigate the history of costume and its representation during the age of the enlightenment.

The exhibition will bring together nearly 200 objects from the spheres of textiles and the fine arts, drawing on artworks loaned from the Musée de la Mode de la Ville de Paris, Musée des tissus de Lyon, Musée de la toile de Jouy, Musée de la Chemiserie et de l'Elegance Masculine, the Nationalmuseum of Stockholm, Rijksmuseum of Amsterdam, Victoria and Albert Museum of London, Versailles, Louvre, and regional museums in Ecouen, Nantes, Dijon, Tours and Orléans.

The show will run from 26th November 2021 till 6th March 2022.

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