Eighteenth-Century Footnote to Raphael’s $48million Drawing

Posted in Art Market by Editor on December 9, 2009

As Enfilade observed back in October when the announcement was first made regarding the sale of Raphael’s Head of a Muse, the drawing comes with an interesting eighteenth-century provenance; it once belonged to the Dutch collector Gosuinus Uilenbroek and the British painter Sir Thomas Lawrence. Last night in London, the work sold for a record $48million. As reported by Kelly Crow in the Wall Street Journal:

A rare Raphael chalk drawing of a woman’s head sold for a record £29.1 million, or $48 million, at Christie’s in London – the highest price paid all year for a work of art at auction. In the same sale, Christie’s sold a Rembrandt portrait that hadn’t been seen in public for nearly four decades for a record £20.2 million pounds, or $33.2 million. Raphael’s Head of a Muse sold to an anonymous buyer for double its high estimate, a sign that collectors are willing to chase after older masterpieces even as global prices for living artists remain shaky. The work’s price outperforms a Henri Matisse table scene that Christie’s sold this spring for $46.5 million and an Andy Warhol screenprint of 200 dollar bills that Sotheby’s sold last month for $43.7 million. . .

For the full article, click here»

Trompe l’oeil in Florence

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on December 9, 2009

From the Palazzo Strozzi’s website:

Art and Illusions
Palazzo Strozzi, Florence, 16 October 2009 – 24 January 2010

Curated by Annamaria Giusti

Sebastiano Lazzari, "Still Life with Peaches and Armillary Sphere on 'Trompe l’oeil Board' Ground," second half of the 18th century (Venice, Gallerie dell’Accademia)

From ancient Greco-Roman mosaics and frescoes to European masterpieces of the 1300s to today, two hundred works from Italian and international museums and private collections tell the intriguing and spectacular history of trompe-l’oeil, the art of deceiving the eye. The theme of deception, illusion, and the eternal tension between fiction and reality is shown not only in painting, but in the richness it has always enjoyed: sculpture, intarsia, scagliola, pietre dure, porcelain, etc. Examples exhibited include faux armoirs, half-open, with books inside, wood intarsia of small Renaissance studios, scagliola tabletops and stones portraying seemingly prehensile objects, soup tureens and table furnishings in the shape of vegetables, anatomical and botanical wax models.

The exhibit also dedicates a significant amount of space to wall decorations and interiors (detached frescoes from Ancient Rome, where the theme of deception gave life to a school) and to Flemish artists and their innovations in the trompe-l’oeil genre. . .

Section 4: Paperwork

Giuseppe della Santa “‘Deception’ with Papers, Cameos, and a Medal,” 1777 (Florence: Fondazione Longhi)

The popularity of paper objects in trompe l’œil was due both to their two-dimensional nature, which increased their effectiveness as illusions, and to their being such a normal part of daily life, where paper was essential for study, messages, business, art and games. This varied paper repertoire which was part and parcel of the daily experience of clients, collectors or more simply the public at large, lent itself to fanciful combinations and painterly simulation, from the mastery of Gijsbrechts’ grand Letterboard to the meticulous 18th-century compositions by the Florentine Della Santa family comprising engravings, printed paper and stucco bas-reliefs. Nor does it come as a surprise that this favourite theme found an even more realistic home on table surfaces displaying collections of paper objects designed to deceive both the eye and the touch, or that paper fleetingly came to rest on porcelain plates, just waiting for a hand to pick it up. . .

Section 6: Three-Dimensional Deception: Plastic Art between Realism, Artifice, and Instruction

Waxworks Workshop of the Imperial and Royal Museum of Natural History and Physics of Florence, “Model of a ‘Persica flore magno’ (prunus persica, or ripe and juicy peach),” late 18th century, polychrome wax, wood

Sculpture, too, allowed itself to be seduced by the idea of perfecting its potential for illusion, favoured by its true three-dimensional nature and rendered even more realistic by the use of colour. On the other hand, sculpture’s physical quality also limited the game of allusion and illusion on which trompe l’œil’s intellectual and technical appeal was based, keeping it pegged to the threshold of hyperrealism down the ages. Thus we move from the poignantly realistic polychrome terracotta work of Guido Mazzoni, to the Baroque artifice that produced unsettling and vaguely grotesque “clones” in the field of portraiture, foreshadowing the irony in the contemporary versions of this ancient genre, manufactured using plastic resin. Wax’s tried and tested potential for imitation was exploited for educational purposes from the 18th century onwards, to produce study aids that conjugate scientific clarity with artistic mastery in the anatomical waxworks from La Specola, while it provides the added value of individual pieces of décor in the botanical waxworks contained in false books or in real porcelain cachepots. . .

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Rachel Spence reviews the exhibition for the Financial Times (28 October 2009). Andrea Gáldy’s review (excerpted below) appears in the December issue of Apollo Magazine:

Magdalena Margrethe Bärens, “Melon,” embroidery on fabric, mounted on cardboard, second half of the 18th century (Copenhagen: National Museum of Denmark)

Trompe l’oeil is art that willingly deceives the senses, most of all the eyes. It plays with its audience and invades their space. There are different kinds of trompe l’oeil, ranging from depictions so naturalistic that one could take them for the real thing to familiar objects made of unexpected materials, such as a convincing-looking melon, lent by the National Museum of Denmark, that is actually made from card and embroidery (1737-1808). The exhibition is challenging in more than one sense: it invites you to look, think and be deceived, to look once again, and finally to get the joke (which is firmly on the spectator).

The art displayed is a manifestation of the artifex ludens, the artist at play. . . This exhibition includes some 150 works of art, from classical antiquity to the present day, in media that range from needlework to holograms. This startling profusion reveals that trompe l’oeil is an important as well as a neglected genre. . .

Gáldy’s full review can be found here»

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Newberry Fellowships

Posted in fellowships by Editor on December 9, 2009

Newberry Library Fellowships in the Humanities, 2010-2011
Applications due by 11 January 2010 (Long-Term) and 1 March 2010 (Short-Term)

Newberry Library, Chicago (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

The Newberry’s fellowships support humanities research in our collections. Our collections are wide-ranging, rich, and sometimes a little eccentric. If you study the humanities, chances are good we have something for you. We promise you remarkable collections; a lively interdisciplinary community of researchers; individual consultations on your research with staff curators, librarians, and scholars; and an array of scholarly and public programs.

Long-Term Fellowships — Long-term fellowships support research and writing by scholars with a doctorate. Fellowship terms range from six to eleven months with stipends of up to $50,400.

Short-Term Fellowships — Ph.D. candidates and post-doctoral scholars are eligible for short-term travel-to-collections fellowships. These are usually awarded for a period of one month. Most are restricted to scholars who live and work outside the Chicago area. Stipends are $1600 per month.

New: We invite short-term fellowship applications from teams of two or three scholars who plan to collaborate intensively on a single, substantive project. The stipend is $1600 per fellow per month. Teams should submit a single application, including cover sheets and CVs from each member.

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