Previous Posts: December 2023

The Getty Acquire Three Old Masters

December 7 2023

Image of The Getty Acquire Three Old Masters

Picture: Getty Museum

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Getty Museum in Los Angeles have announced their acquisition of three Old Master Paintings. This includes a portrait of Prince of Saxony Friedrich Christian by Anton Raphael Mengs (pictured), which sold at Christie's in 2022 and was subsequently cleaned and sold to the museum via Agnew's. Other works include a Holy Family and Gerard David and a Floral Still Life by Ludger tom Ring the Younger.

Sotheby's Results

December 7 2023

Image of Sotheby's Results

Picture: Sotheby's

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Yesterday's Sotheby's London Old Master Paintings Evening Sale realised a total of £19,423,500 (inc. fees), with 20 out of the 27 lots being sold (74% sell-through rate). 

The auction's top lot, Rembrandt's Adoration of the Kings, hammered down to one bidder at £9.5m. We will presume this to be the third-party who placed the Irrevocable Bid indicated by the auction house in their catalogue and website. This is of course quite the transformation of a painting which sold as 'Circle of Rembrandt' for 860,000 euros back in 2021.

The majority of paintings which sold seemed to have performed well against their estimates.* The only painting to soar past its estimate was Francesco Renaldi's Portrait of a Mughal Lady, which realised £825,500 over its £300k - 500k estimate. The market for paintings of Indian subjects by foreign artists appears to be increasingly bouyant at the moment, both for landscapes and portraits (click here to see a particularly impressive price for a Thomas Daniell which sold at the beginning of this year). This certainly seems to be an area of the market to watch.

All eyes on the sale at Christie's which opens for bidding this afternoon!


* - I should of course reiterate and disclose my affiliation with Sotheby's as a consultant

Apologies for the slow service...

December 6 2023

Image of Apologies for the slow service...

Picture: AB via Christie's

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Apologies for the slow service these past few days, I have been rather busy with having a good look at the auction previews in London, alongside other lecturing commitments. There are a fair few fine paintings and drawings on display to enjoy, including quite a few exciting highlights from the upcoming sales in New York.

Tonight will see Sotheby's offering their £10 - 15m Rembrandt, a painting which has technically already received a selling bid in the form of an Irrevocable Bid or IB. Tomorrow afternoon it will be the pair of exquisite £8 - 12m Canalettos at Christie's, which do look absolutely wonderful in the flesh I must say.

New Release: Gender and Self-Fashioning at the Intersection of Art and Science

December 4 2023

Image of New Release: Gender and Self-Fashioning at the Intersection of Art and Science

Picture: AUP

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Another new release from Amsterdam University Press is the following publication entitled Gender and Self-Fashioning at the Intersection of Art and Science: Agnes Block, Botany, and Networks in the Dutch 17th Century. This new book by Catherine Powell-Warren examines the life of an understudied female botanist and patron from the Dutch Golden Age.

According to the blurb:

At once collector, botanist, reader, artist, and patron, Agnes Block is best described as a cultural producer. A member of an influential network in her lifetime, today she remains a largely obscure figure. The socioeconomic and political barriers faced by early modern women, together with a male-dominated tradition in art history, have meant that too few stories of women’s roles in the creation, production, and consumption of art have reached us. This book seeks to write Block and her contributions into the art and cultural history of the seventeenth-century Netherlands, highlighting the need for and advantages of a multifaceted approach to research on early modern women. Examining Block’s achievements, relationships, and objects reveals a woman who was independent, knowledgeable, self-aware, and not above self-promotion. Though her gender brought few opportunities and many barriers, Agnes Block succeeded in fashioning herself as Flora Batava, a liefhebber at the intersection of art and science.

Thomas Jefferson's Monticello Uploads Collection Online

December 4 2023

Image of Thomas Jefferson's Monticello Uploads Collection Online


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

News from Monticello, Virginia, the former home of Thomas Jefferson, that it has created a new online database for its historic collection of art, artefacts and documents.

According to the newly launched website:

Over the last 100 years, we have worked to locate and acquire approximately 5,000 objects in the collection, many of which are displayed in the house, wings, outbuildings, and museum galleries. The process is ongoing and involves a combination of documentary and provenance research and connoisseurship.

King Charles Reappoints a 'Surveyor of The King's Pictures'

December 4 2023

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

News via. Linkedin (only because I haven't seen this important news published anywhere else yet) that the curator Anna Reynolds has been appointed Surveyor of The King's Pictures. Anna joined the Royal Collection Trust in 2008 and has played key roles in many of its exhibitions ever since, most notably those dealing with the history of fashion and dress. Anna will be the first woman to occupy the post since it was established in 1625.

Regular readers will remember that back in December 2020 the Royal Collection Trust had taken steps to abolish the post, along with Surveyor of the Queen's Works of Art. It's good to see that this historic role has been revived, although, it seems that Anna has been serving as Deputy for at least a year or so beforehand.

Congratulations to Anna.

Arundel Soars!

December 1 2023

Image of Arundel Soars!

Picture: Christie's

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Christie's London's Omberlsey Court sale produced some rather strong results the other day. By far the most intriguing was the following Portrait of Thomas Howard, 14th Earl of Arundel, given to the Studio of Daniel Mytens, which made £189,000 over its estimate of £8,000 – £12,000. The head looks rather nicely painted, perhaps someone has worked out its early provenance which might make it a far more interesting picture!

Two Rediscovered Works by Pietro Lorenzetti Coming up for Sale

December 1 2023

Image of Two Rediscovered Works by Pietro Lorenzetti Coming up for Sale


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

News from Artnet that two rediscovered works by Pietro Lorenzetti are coming up for at Tajan, Paris, on 13th December 2023. The pair were rediscovered by Eric Turquin, master and gatekeeper of French private collections it seems, and appear to have been in a private collection since they were acquired in around 1860. Saint Sylvester will carry an estimate of €1.5m to €2m and Saint Helena €400,000–600,000.

Stijn Alsteens Announced as New Fondation Custodia Director

December 1 2023

Image of Stijn Alsteens Announced as New Fondation Custodia Director

Picture: @FondationCustodia

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Fondation Custodia in Paris have announced that its board have appointed Stijn Alsteens as the new Director of the institution. The following article on CODART gives a history of his career, which included being a curator there between 2001 and 2006, and more recently as head of the department of Old Master Drawings at Christie’s.

Tim Clayton's Gillray Book wins William MB Berger Prize 2023

December 1 2023

Image of Tim Clayton's Gillray Book wins William MB Berger Prize 2023

Picture: Yale University Press

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

News from Robin Simon, the British Art Journal's outgoing editor, that Tim Clayton's biography James Gillray: A Revolution in Satire has won this year's William MB Berger Prize 2023

Here's the book's blurb from its publisher Yale University Press:

James Gillray (1756–1815) was late Georgian Britain’s funniest, most inventive and most celebrated graphic satirist and continues to influence cartoonists today. His exceptional drawing, matched by his flair for clever dialogue and amusing titles, won him unprecedented fame; his sophisticated designs often parodied artists such as William Hogarth, Joshua Reynolds and Henry Fuseli, while he borrowed and wittily redeployed celebrated passages from William Shakespeare and John Milton to send up politicians in an age – as now – where society was fast changing, anxieties abounded, truth was sometimes scarce, and public opinion mattered.

Tim Clayton’s definitive biography explores Gillray’s life and work through his friends, publishers – the most important being women – and collaborators, aiming to identify those involved in inventing satirical prints and the people who bought them. Clayton thoughtfully explores the tensions between artistic independence, financial necessity and the conflicting demands of patrons and self-appointed censors in a time of political and social turmoil.

Royal Portrait Announced for Sotheby's New York

December 1 2023

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Sotheby's New York have announced that they will be offering Diego Velázquez's Portrait Isabel de Borbón, Queen of Spain in their Old Master Paintings Evening sale on 1st February 2024. The full-length portrait, which comes with an 'estimate on request' price, was last sold in 1950 and has been with the present owners since 1978.

As usual, attendees of the Sotheby's London Old Masters preview (which opened today) will have a chance to see some of the upcoming highlights from New York which will include this painting.

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