Showing posts from February, 2015

John William Godward

Misunderstood Genius: British Neoclassical Artist John William Godward
Known as the most talented Neoclassical painter of all time, John William Godward’s (1861-1922) Classical-inspired canvases, with their sensual subjects and scrupulous attention to historical detail, reflect a complexity and sensitivity unlike those composed by any other artist of the Victorian era. Godward’s technical skills were second to none. His works were often compared to those of Sir Lawrence Alma Tadema (to whom Godward was a protégé) depicting Greco-Roman themes with maidens draped in sheer fabrics. Yet, the artistic prowess of the two masters could not be more distinct. Godward’s attention to detail was, in a word, fantastic, and he spent much time and energy researching such elements as architecture and dress to make his paintings as realistic as possible. The ingenious means of rendering these details on canvas could easily be taken for granted by the average viewer. For instance, the sheer drapes seen …

Paul Durand-Ruel Inventing Impressionism

Photo Dornac, Photograph of Paul Durand-Ruel in his gallery, about 1910. Archives Durand-Ruel © Durand-Ruel & Cie
Inventing Impressionism
“Without him”, said Monet, “We wouldn’t have survived.”
This spring, the National Gallery presents the UK’s first major exhibition devoted to the man who invented Impressionism, Paul Durand-Ruel (1831-1922).
An entrepreneurial art dealer, Durand-Ruel discovered and unwaveringly supported the Impressionist painters and is now considered a founding father of the international art market as we know it today. Inventing Impressionism includes around 85 works, among them a number of Impressionism’s greatest masterpieces which have never been seen in the UK before. These pictures - the vast majority of which were dealt by Durand-Ruel - are borrowed from the key European and American collections he helped form, as well as from Japan. This ground-breaking exhibition lifts the veil on the pivotal figure that discovered Monet, Pissarro, Degas and Renoir in t…

The Rembrandt Research Project

The publication of volume five of A Corpus of Rembrandt’s Paintings drew a line under the original intentions of the ­Rembrandt Research Project (RRP)

leaving a substantial body of paintings uncatalogued. This included the large history paintings, the portraits (apart from self-portraits) and the landscapes, all painted after 1642, amounting to some one hundred works, or about a quarter of his accepted œuvre. Students of the artist were left to take what comfort they could from Robert Louis Stevenson’s dictum that ‘to travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive, the true ­success is to labour’. And labour, as even the harshest critics of the RRP would agree, the various authors most certainly did. But with the recent publication of Ernst van de Wetering’s Rembrandt’s Paintings Revisited: A Complete Survey all is not lost.1 Corpus VI, as it is also known, can best, if prosaically, be described as a mopping-up operation, devoted to completion and revision and a good deal more. But,…

Museum Staff

Museum Staff Replaced Collection with Forgeries, Then Sold OriginalsHenri Neuendorf

A brazen art crime has been uncovered in Uzbekistan. As the Guardianinitially reported, several employees from the Uzbek State Art Museum have been found guilty of systematically selling original artworks and replacing them with fakes over a 15 year period. Mifayz Usmanov, the chief curator of the central Asian country's premier art museum, was sentenced to nine years behind bars for his involvement in the daylight robbery. Two restorers were sentenced to eight years each. The trio sold works by over 25 European artists on the black market, including pieces by the Renaissance painter and sculptor Lorenzo di Credi and by modern Russian artists such as Victor Ufimtsev and Alexander Nikolaevich. The works were reportedly sold for between €80–650 ($100–810). These incredibly low prices at which the museum staff sold off the artworks demonstrates the desperation of those involved and exposes the problem…

$300 Million Gauguin Painting

A sensuous Paul Gauguin painting of two Tahitian girls has been sold from a Swiss private collection for close to $300 million, one of the highest prices believed to have been paid for an artwork, according to European and American art world insiders with knowledge of the matter. The sale of the 1892 oil painting, “Nafea Faa Ipoipo (When Will You Marry?),” was confirmed by the seller, Rudolf Staechelin, 62, a retired Sotheby’s executive living in Basel, Switzerland, who owns more than 20 works in a valuable collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art, including the Gauguin, which has been on loan to the Kunstmuseum in Basel for nearly a half-century. Two dealers with knowledge of the matter, who declined to be named because of concerns over client confidentiality, identified Qatar Museums, the emirate’s museum authority, as the buyer of the painting, but Mr. Staechelin declined to say whether the new owner was from that tiny, oil-rich country. “I don’t deny it and I don’t co…

Michelangelo bronzes discovered (True or not)

By Mark Brown

Two handsome, virile naked men riding triumphantly on ferocious panthers will on Monday be unveiled as, probably, the only surviving bronze sculptures by the Renaissance giant Michelangelo. In art history terms, the attribution is sensational. Academics in Cambridge will suggest that a pair of mysterious metre-high sculptures known as the Rothschild Bronzes are by the master himself, made just after he completed David and as he was about to embark on the Sistine Chapel ceiling. If correct, they are the only surviving Michelangelo bronzes in the world.

Analysis The new Michelangelo sculptures are a sensation, but are they any good? The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, has unearthed two original works that show the great Renaissance artist inventing the art of the bizarre, says Jonathan Jones
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They will go on public display at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge from Tuesday. Victoria Avery, keeper of applied arts at the museum, said the attribution project, involving…