UK Export Ban Placed on Tipu Sultan Throne Finial

Posted in Art Market by Editor on November 16, 2021

Press release (12 November 2021) from Gov.UK’s Department for Culture, Media & Sport:

Tiger’s Head Finial from the throne of Tipu Sultan of Mysore, 1787–93, with the plinth possibly made in Madras or Calcutta, ca. 1799–1800. Gold over a lac core; set with rubies, diamonds, and emeralds. The head is mounted on a black marble pedestal with gilt metal inscription and mounts, with four gilt metal feet and four gilded balls. The head is 6.9cm high; the total height is 17.5cm.

Valued at £1.5 million, a gold jewelled tiger head, which in the late 18th century adorned the gold-covered throne of Tipu Sultan, is at risk of leaving the UK unless a UK buyer can be found. Tipu Sultan (1750–1799), the ‘Tiger of Mysore’, was regarded as the greatest threat to the British East India Company until his defeat and death in 1799. As ruler of Mysore, Tipu identified himself and his personal possessions with tiger imagery, and this finial offers scholars the opportunity to illustrate the vibrant culture of Tipu’s court and closely examine British imperial history. Three surviving contemporary images of the throne are all in the UK. The finial is one of eight gold tiger heads that adorned the throne.

The finial—made of gold and set with rubies, diamonds, and emeralds—is a rare example of fully documented 18th-century South Indian goldsmiths’ work, and its existence was unknown until 2009. Its marble pedestal is unique among the five surviving finials known, and the meaning of its gold inscription is still a mystery. Following Tipu’s defeat, many objects from his treasury arrived in Britain, where they influenced poetry (John Keats), fiction (Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins), and artists (J.M.W. Turner), and were generally met with huge public interest.

Arts Minister Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay said: “This fascinating finial illustrates the story of Tipu Sultan’s reign and leads us to examine our imperial history. I hope a UK-based buyer comes forward so that we can all continue to learn more about this important period in our shared history with India.”

The Minister’s decision follows the advice of the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest (RCEWA). The Committee agreed that it is an important symbolic object in Anglo-Indian history in the last years of the 18th century, with Tipu’s defeat having great historical importance to Britain’s imperial past and leading to a contemporary fascination with Tipu’s story and objects.

Committee Member Christopher Rowell said: “Tipu Sultan’s golden and bejewelled throne (c.1787–93) was broken up by the British army’s Prize Agents after Tipu’s defeat and death in defence of his capital, Seringapatam, in 1799. This tiger’s head is one of the original eight which were placed on the balustrade of the octagonal throne. Each gold tiger’s head from the railing is slightly differently set with gemstones, which makes this example both part of a set and unique in its design. Its quality attests to the expertise of Tipu’s goldsmiths and jewelers, in whose productions he took a close personal interest. The head of the large gold rock crystal tiger that supported the throne and a bejewelled huma bird that perched on the pinnacle of its canopy were presented to George III and Queen Charlotte (Royal Collection Trust). The tiger and its stripes were Tipu’s personal symbols. “Better to live one day as a tiger than 1,000 years as a sheep” he famously declared. His flirtation with Napoleonic France led to his downfall at British hands. This tiger’s head, one of four throne finials to survive, including a head in the Clive Museum at Powis Castle (NT), should remain in the country together with the other fragments of the throne, and I hope that every effort will be made to achieve this.”

The Committee made its recommendation on the grounds that the finial’s departure from the UK would be a misfortune because it is so closely connected with our history and national life and is of outstanding significance for the study of royal propaganda and 18th-century Anglo-Indian history. The decision on the export licence application for the finial will be deferred until 11 February 2022. This may be extended until 11 June 2022 if a serious intention to raise funds to purchase it is made at the recommended price of £1.5 million.

Provenance: Tipu Sultan of Mysore (1787–1799); Thomas Wallace, Baron Wallace of Knarsdale (ca.1800 or later)—listed in an 1843 inventory of the contents of Featherstone Castle (Northumberland), the family seat, and thence by descent; Bonhams, London, 2 April 2009 (lot 212); private collection.

Literature: Bonhams, London: 2 April 2009, lot 212; A Jaffer, ed., Beyond Extravagance (New York, 2013), pp. 189–90, cat. 61; N. N. Haidar, ed., Treasures from India (New York, 2014), pp. 46–7; Export of Objects of Cultural Interest 2010/11 (2011): Case 1, p. 23.

At Christie’s | Paintings and Drawings from the Marcille Collection

Posted in Art Market by Editor on November 9, 2021

Lot 7: Jean-Siméon Chardin, La Fontaine (Water Urn), detail, ca. 1730s, oil on canvas, 50 × 43 cm (estimate €5–8million).

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From the press release (via Art Daily) for the auction:

De Chardin à Prud’hon, Tableaux et Dessins Provenant des Collections Marcille, Sale 20722
Christie’s Paris, 22 November 2021

Christie’s France—in collaboration with the auction house Tajan—presents an important group of paintings and drawings from the Marcille Collection, one of the most far-sighted collections of 18-century French art assembled in the 19th century. Initiated by François Marcille (1790–1856), and continued by his two sons Camille (1816–1875) and Eudoxe (1814–1890), the collection came to include some 4,600 paintings and other works. Although the collection was dispersed by inheritance within the family, collectors will now be able to acquire 27 works, including several masterpieces from major artists of the 18th and early 19th centuries, artists such as Jean-Siméon Chardin, Maurice-Quentin de la Tour, Théodore Gericault, Charles Coypel, and Pierre-Paul Prud’hon. The sale is estimated at between €5.7 million and €9.1 million.

Pierre Etienne, Director of the Department of Old Master Paintings: “There are names of collectors that are true stamps, labels of quality. The name Marcille evokes the excellence of the French 18th century, and even more vigorously for Chardin, La Tour, and Prud’hon.”

The Goncourts said of Camille Marcille that one should “study Chardin [at his home] to do full justice to the painter.” In 1979, at the time of the monographic exhibition of Chardin at the Grand Palais, the Marcille family loaned 22 of his paintings, including a superb genre scene representing a Woman at the Water Urn (estimate €5,000,000–8,000,000)—a work that entered the Marcille collection in 1848 and contributed to the rediscovery of Chardin in the 19th century through its inclusion in the first French exhibition devoted to the artist in 1860. Théophile Gautier was impressed by this very original work and wrote that it showed “what no one had ever talked about.” Chardin, not included in the canon of his time, preferred poetic scenes of everyday life to the more frivolous portraits of the century and came to be described as the ‘French Vermeer’. Chardin’s genre scenes were the most sought after and extremely rare on the market. Fontaine is one of the very first genre scenes in which Chardin fully reveals himself. Several museums have versions of the painting, including the first one, (on panel) from the Salon of 1737, at Stockholm’s Nationalmuseum and a version at the Toledo Museum of Art. The one from the Marcille Collection is the last in private hands and has not appeared on the market since 1848.

Lot 8: Jean-Siméon Chardin, L’hiver, à l’imitation de bas-relief d’après Edmé Bouchardon, 1776, oil on canvas, 55 × 88 cm (€80,000–120,000)

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Another painting by Chardin, Winter, in Imitation of Bas-relief after Edmé Bouchardon (estimate €80,000–120,000), will also be part of the sale. It attests to the Marcille family’s passion for the painter as well as to Chardin’s mastery of trompe l’oeil. The sale also features works acquired by Camille and Eudoxe Marcille—both of whom worked as curators, of the Chartres and Orléans museums respectively—in particular, an animated landscape by Hubert Robert (Lot 4: Waterfall Landscape with a Bridge, estimate €30,000–50,000) and two portraits by Nattier’s brilliant pupil, Louis Tocqué.

A fine group of ten sheets by Pierre-Paul Prud’hon is included in the drawings section of the sale. The Marcilles had a particular passion for this neoclassical artist who gave drawing a prominent place in his work, typically combining black and white chalk on blue-grey paper. The ensemble illustrates the diversity and iconographic richness of the artist’s drawings. Among the highlights are portraits, including that of Baroness Alexandre de Talleyrand at the Age of Seven (estimate €25,000–35,000) and a Head of Napoleon in a Medallion, which was later engraved by Alexandre Tardieu (€20,000–30,000). Finally, Prud’hon’s commitment to the Empire is reflected in the collection by a Design for the Cradle of Roi de Rome (estimate €25,000–35,000), later created by Philippe Thomire and Odiot and now in the Schatzkammer in Vienna, along with a Design for a Chair for Empress Marie-Louise (estimate €12,000–18,000).


At Sotheby’s | In an Indian Garden: Company School Paintings

Posted in Art Market, exhibitions by Editor on October 26, 2021

From the press release (via Art Daily) for the sale:

In an Indian Garden: The Carlton Rochell Collection of Company School Paintings
Sotheby’s, London, 27 October 2021

Lot 3: A Lesser Adjutant Stork (Leptoptilos Javanicus) in a Landscape, Company School, Lucknow, ca. 1775–85 (est. £60,000–80,000). The painting was included in The Wallace Collection’s 2020 exhibition Forgotten Masters: Indian Painting for the East India Company.

In October Sotheby’s will hold the first auction dedicated solely to Company School paintings, the work of Indian master artists who were commissioned by East India Company officials in the 18th and 19th centuries. Ranging in their subject matter from individual animal and human studies to complex architectural panoramas, the remarkable corpus of paintings encapsulates on paper the rich fauna, flora, and architecture of the Indian subcontinent. The 29 works in the auction are being offered by the American collector and art dealer Carlton C. Rochell, Jr., who spent the first 18 years of his career at Sotheby’s, where he founded the Indian and Southeast Asian Art Department in 1988. He was on the Board of Directors and served as Managing Director of Sotheby’s Asia. In 2002, Rochell opened his own gallery in New York.

In 2019 and 2020, The Wallace Collection presented Forgotten Masters: Indian Painting for the East India Company, curated by renowned writer and historian William Dalrymple. The ground-breaking exhibition brought to the fore the names of some of the finest Indian painters working on paper during the late Mughal period, introducing the public to the names of these truly great artists. Many of those same names—Shaykh Zayn al-Din, Ram Das, Bhawani Das, and Ghulam Ali Khan—are represented in this sale, with seven of the works having been loaned to The Wallace Collection exhibition. Most of the others have never been on public view and are emerging for the first time in decades.

“I first began to collect these lesser-known masterpieces over two decades ago simply for my personal enjoyment, my imagination having been captured by their ‘East meets West’ aesthetic. When they were painted, these works were the principal way in which India could be revealed to those in Great Britain, who otherwise could only hear stories about this sumptuous land. The meticulous ‘miniature’ style was scaled up to depict birds, animals, and botanical studies with remarkable lifelike detail, with the results rivalling any Western artists who recorded natural history and travel. Many years on, as they are beginning to take their rightful place in world art, these pieces can now inspire a new generation of collectors who, I hope, will cherish them as I have.” —Carlton C. Rochell, Jr.

“This remarkable collection contains quite simply some of the great masterpieces of Indian painting, brought together by a collector with an incredibly fine eye. This is a unique opportunity to purchase some of the greatest masterpieces of a genre that is only now beginning to receive its full credit.” —William Dalrymple, Writer, Historian, and Curator of Forgotten Masters

“These delightful paintings reflect a fascination and passion for India’s culture and history, from Lucknow to Calcutta to Delhi and Agra, and showcase a remarkable hybrid style merging Mughal and European elements. Both the patronage and the painters provide a great deal of interest to viewers, no more so than now, when this genre of painting is finally receiving the full attention it deserves. These works are the product of true collaboration—not grand portraits of the patrons themselves, but tableaux of everyday human activity, as well as meticulous studies of nature and vernacular architecture.” —Benedict Carter, Sotheby’s Head of Sale

In An Indian Garden features many works from the most renowned series of Company School paintings, including albums commissioned by Sir Elijah and Lady Impey, the Fraser brothers, Viscount Valentia, and Major General Claude Martin. The most famous is that of the Impey family, who created an enchanting menagerie of animals in their gardens in Calcutta and hired local artists to paint the surrounds, with more than half of their over 300-strong collection depicting birds. The Impey Collection was sold at auction in London in 1810, with several pieces held in international institutions, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York—with a similar dramatic image of the Great Indian Fruit Bat—and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Perhaps the person who sparked the fashion for such commissions was merchant, soldier, architect, hot air balloonist, and collector Major General Claude Martin, and the sale offers a Lesser Adjutant Stork from his collection, which survives as a masterpiece of the genre. More recently, these works have passed through such hands as those of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, who for many years owned the arresting study of a Stork Eating a Snail; renowned South Asian paintings collector Edwin Binney 3rd; leading scholar and curator Stuart Cary Welch; and former United States Ambassador to Morocco, The Hon. Joseph Verner Reed, Jr.

Prior to the stand-alone auction in London on 27 October, highlights of In an Indian Garden went on view in Sotheby’s galleries in New York (17–20 September), Hong Kong (7–11 October), and London (22–26 October).

Print Market | Mad about Mezzotint at the Court of George III

Posted in Art Market, catalogues by Editor on October 15, 2021

From Isaac and Ede:

Mad about Mezzotint at the Court of George III
Reindeer Antiques, London, 6 October — 5 November 2021

This exhibition organized by David Isaac of Isaac and Ede celebrates the bicentenary of the 60-year reign of King George III (1738–1820) through one mezzotint portrait for each year of his reign. Meet the movers and shakers, the courtiers and courtesans, the duchesses and dandies of the period. Each mezzotint was printed in the year it represents, so there are 61 prints to cover the years 1760–1820 with a couple of extras thrown in for good measure. Royalty and aristocracy dominate throughout the opening decades, but as the country finds itself increasingly at war with America, France, Spain (and practically everyone else), we see a predominance of naval and military heroes taking centre stage. Towards the end of our period, we begin to see the emergence of the self-made man, and the entrepreneurial spirit of that would come to symbolize the Victorian era. To be held at Reindeer Antiques, 81, Kensington Church Street, London W8 4BG.

Printed catalogues are available: UK £30 including P&P / USA £47 including P&P. View a PDF of the catalogue on Issuu.

Exhibition | Mary Ronayne: Fool’s Paradise

Posted in Art Market, today in light of the 18th century by Editor on September 16, 2021

From the press release, via ArtFix Daily:

Mary Ronayne: Fool’s Paradise
HOFA Gallery, London, 16–29 September 2021

Mary Ronayne, The Farthington Family Portrait with Settee, 2021, enamel and emulsion on wood panel, 120 × 90 cm.

Irish figurative painter and multimedia artist known for her whimsical portraits is billed to unveil new, large-scale artworks at HOFA Gallery, London.

In this solo show, Mary Ronayne elevates comedy, wit, and fun to a level of purpose never seen in her work, paving the way for farcical elements like melting faces and candy pop colours to become celebrations of the fluidity of time, identity, and life. This fluidity, which underpins the resilience of a world gleefully returning to normalcy after the harrowing experience of a pandemic, is both literal and symbolic. Juxtaposed with scenes drawn from historical narratives and classical literature, it affirms the enduring elements of humanity in the carefree spirit fans have come to love about her work.

Ronayne’s technique of combining enamel and domestic paints is as much to credit for her charming style as her widely sourced subject matter. It plays a major role in the look and finish of her works which often contrast a glossy, vitreous shine with a more staid, matte texture. Enamel paint is also how the artist creates the gooey, farcical look, almost like candy—an unmistakable element of her signature style.

Drawing inspiration from a rich and diverse universe that includes magazine cut-outs, classical art, historical literature, movies, plays, and operas, Ronayne’s artworks are a tribute to life even when their undercurrent of Hogarthian satire and allegory are hard to deny. Ronayne has always employed humour as a tool to break the ice, disarming and drawing viewers in for a closer look while also conveying poignant critiques of the times.

At Sotheby’s | Oppenheimer Meissen Collection

Posted in Art Market by Editor on September 1, 2021

Lot 78: A unique Meissen armorial waste bowl from the service made for Clemens August, Elector of Cologne, ca. 1735, 18 cm diameter.
Estimate: $40,000–60,000.

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From the press release, via Art Daily (27 August 2021) for the Oppenheimer sale:

Sammlung Oppenheimer | Important Meissen Porcelain
Sotheby’s New York, 14 September 2021

Sotheby’s announces highlights from one of the greatest pre-war collections of Meissen porcelain to appear at auction in more than 60 years. Meticulously assembled by Dr. Franz and Margarethe Oppenheimer in the early decades of the 20th century, this exquisite group of 117 lots is among the most significant ensembles of early 18th-century Meissen porcelain from Europe’s first porcelain manufactory—many of which are distinguished by illustrious royal and noble provenance, including pieces from the collection of Augustus the Strong, Elector of Saxony and King of Poland, and founder of the Meissen porcelain factory. Presented in a dedicated live auction on 14 September in New York, the collection is poised to achieve more than $2 million, with individual estimates ranging from $300 to $400,000 and approximately one third of the lots offered without reserve.

All of the works on offer will be on view in Sotheby’s York Avenue galleries beginning 7 September, ahead of the live auction.

The Collection

Franz and Margarethe Oppenheimer were connoisseur collectors, determined to build a magnificent Meissen collection at a time when it was still possible to acquire important pieces as they were being deaccessioned from the royal collections in Dresden. Dr. Franz Oppenheimer, a native of Hamburg, was a lawyer and became part owner and CEO of Emanuel Friedlaender und Co, a private company that dominated the Silesian coal industry before World War II. Margarethe, whom he married in 1902, was born in Vienna and was his partner in building their porcelain collection.

An Oppenheimer family portrait from the mid-1930s (Sotheby’s).

The couple lived in a grand apartment block on Regentenstrasse in Berlin, immediately next to the Tiergarten—the heart of Berlin’s collecting community in the early 20th century. In 1927, like many serious Berlin connoisseurs, the couple commissioned a private catalogue of their collection to be written by Professor Ludwig Schnorr von Carolsfeld, curator of the nearby Berliner Schlossmuseum. Professor von Carolsfeld catalogued 240 sets and individual pieces of porcelain, a number of which are featured in the September sale. The couple continued to collect after the 1927 catalogue and added at least 126 objects to their holdings, each of which were marked with red inventory numbers.

Once the Nazis came to power Franz Oppenheimer was persecuted because of his Jewish origins. As a consequence, in around December 1936, he and Margarethe fled from Berlin to the comparative safety of Vienna, having paid punitive emigration taxes to the Nazi Government. They rented an apartment close to the Belvedere in Vienna’s third district and were able to take some possessions, including part of their Meissen collection, with them.

The couple’s exile in Vienna did not last long. German troops entered Austria on 12 March 1938, and Adolf Hitler proclaimed the Anschluss of Austria into Germany the following day. The Oppenheimers escaped to Budapest the day before the Anschluss carrying only hand luggage. From Hungary they travelled via Sweden and Colombia before finally reaching their new home in New York three and a half years later—in December 1941. By 1941, their resources had been further eroded by another tranche of Flight Tax that they had to pay to emigrate from Austria. The couple chose to spend the remainder of their lives in an apartment on East 86th Street in Manhattan, just a few blocks from Sotheby’s present-day headquarters.

The Nazi authorities confiscated everything that they found in the Oppenheimers’ Vienna apartment but discovered that the collectors had succeeded in removing at least two crates of their most valuable porcelain before their flight. It is likely that some of the porcelain in this sale was smuggled out of Vienna to keep it out of Nazi hands. It is not known precisely when the objects in this sale were lost to the Oppenheimers, however they were with their next owner, another great connoisseur-collector and an active opponent of the Nazi regime, Fritz Mannheimer, before his premature death in 1939.

Mannheimer was born in Germany in 1890 and moved as a young man to Amsterdam where he established the Dutch branch of the Berlin based Mendelssohn Bank in 1920. In less than 20 years, he built both a thriving bank and an art collection of outstanding breadth and quality. Like the Oppenheimers, he commissioned a scholar, Otto von Falke, late director of the Berlin Kunstgewerbemuseum, to catalogue his collection. The porcelain in this sale was all acquired after von Falke completed his work in March 1936.

After Kristallnacht, on 9 November 1938, the Mendelssohn Bank was shuttered by the Nazis and Fritz Mannheimer lost its collaboration, and its balance sheet, for his Amsterdam bank. While Mannheimer kept trading, his last major deal was the refinancing of a part of the French National debt in 1939; this failed—partly due to the deteriorating political situation in Europe—and the young banker was obliged to buy back unplaced French bonds at his own expense. This triggered a severe liquidity crisis for his bank and for himself. On 8 August 1939, in the midst of the bank’s crisis, Mannheimer left for a break in France. Upon his arrival in Vaucresson, he suffered a massive heart attack and died only a few hours later.

Mannheimer’s bank stopped its operations immediately after his death. An audit showed the bank carried a large debt of over 42 million guilders, for which the collector’s personal estate was jointly liable. Experts from the Rijksmuseum were brought in and valued the art collection at six and a half million guilders and Mannheimer’s executors decided to liquidate it as a contribution to the Bank’s losses. A member of the SS based in Holland acquired the collection for Adolf Hitler in 1941.

As Allied bombing placed the Führer’s art holdings in peril, the Meissen that had been acquired from Mannheimer’s estate was moved for safe keeping first to Vyšší Brod Monastery in Bohemia and later to the salt mines in Bad Aussee. The porcelain was eventually discovered by Allied Monuments Officers and was transferred to the Central Collecting Point in Munich in 1946. The collection was sent back to the Netherlands between 1945 and 1949. After the recovery of the Mannheimer Collection, the collector’s executors did not seek restitution, as they would have been obligated to refund the price paid by the Führer’s curators, and the collection passed into Dutch State holdings. Of the porcelain, some was held as property available for restitution and some was transferred to the Rijksmuseum.

Earlier this year the Restitution Commission of the Netherlands accepted that the porcelain in this sale that had belonged to the Oppenheimers must be restituted to their heirs.

Auction Highlights

The collection of Franz and Margarethe Oppenheimer exemplifies their penchant for chinoiserie taste, an all-encompassing term from the Victorian era that was applied to pseudo-Asian forms and decorations invented in Europe from the 17th century onward, in response to the exoticism and novelty of contemporary Asian imports. The origins of many of the pieces collected by the Oppenheimers can be associated with royal commissions for Meissen porcelain to decorate the interiors of Augustus the Strong’s colossal ‘porcelain palace’, conventionally known as the Japanese Palace, on the banks of the river Elbe in Dresden-Neustadt.

Meissen mantel clock case, 1727, the gilt-bronze mount probably German, mid-18th century, the movement signed Barrey à Paris, ca. 1700, 44 cm. high.

The September auction is led by an important Documentary and Dated Meissen Mantel Clock Case from 1727 (lot 64)—undoubtedly the rarest piece in the Oppenheimer Collection and illustrative of the Chinoiserie style they so loved (estimate $200–400,000). This magnificent Meissen clock case can be counted among the most ambitious and successful of sculptural models produced at the factory at this early date. The Oppenheimers were able acquire the clock case after it had passed through two prestigious 19th-century English collections, at some point between 1923 and 1927. The present clock was originally owned by Ralph Bernal, a politician and discerning art collector, who later became president of the British Archaeological Society in 1853 and whose collection garnered the attention of prestigious museums and connoisseurs alike, including the Rothschilds, the Marquess of Hertford, Marlborough House, the South Kensington Museum, the Tower Armory, and the British Museum. Sir Anthony de Rothschild acquired this particular clock in April 1855 for £120.

At least five varying clock case models were produced at Meissen in the late 1720s and early 1730s, and one can presume that Meissen clocks from this date were intended for the royal industry’s principal client and patron, Augustus the Strong, and were to be included in the rooms of the Japanese Palace. According to the 1733 Specification von Porcilan—a listing of the Meissen porcelain ordered for the Japanese Palace, though not necessarily produced—a total of fourteen clocks were ordered. The dating of this compilation—the year of Augustus the Strong’s death—is largely a reflection of the initial orders of the late 1720s. The fourteen clocks were allocated to four rooms in the piano nobile, and it is even known exactly where on the walls the clocks were intended to be placed. Only five clocks of this model appear to have survived by the early 20th century, each with slight variations in the modeling, rendering all of them unique. Of the five, two are in museum collections: in the Hermitage in St. Petersburg and the Hetjens-Museum in Düsseldorf.

Lot 104: Pair of Meissen Augustus Rex yellow-ground baluster vases and covers, ca. 1735, 47 cm and 46.2 cm high.
Estimate $150–250,000.

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A Pair of Meissen Augustus Rex Yellow-Ground Baluster Vases and Covers further distinguishes the offering (estimate $150–250,000). According to the 1733 Specification, ‘Hoch-Gelb-Couleur’, or deep-yellow-color, Meissen porcelain was allocated to so-designated Room 3 of the Japanese Palace, in between rooms for seladon, a shade of green, and dark-blue-ground Meissen porcelains. This large order of yellow-ground porcelain included approximately 267 vases, bottles and beakers, including six garnitures formed of seven vases and two garnitures formed of five vases, among other pieces. A yellow-ground ogee vase decorated in the same manner and formerly in the Royal Collections of Saxony, Dresden, may once have formed a garniture with the present vases. That vase, missing since 1945, was originally installed in the tower room of the Royal Palace. In addition, the somewhat unusual leaf-form cartouches seen on the present vases are recorded on Chinese Kangxi vases, examples of which were in Augustus the Strong’s collection, now in the Porzellansammlung, Dresden.

A very rare Pair of Meissen Augustus Rex Underglaze Blue-Ground Beaker Vases are also in the sale (estimate $70,000–100,000). An unusual feature of the present pair of vases is the use of two alternating different green enamels on the cartouches, the significance of which is uncertain and invites further research. One possibility is that painters worked in their own personalized enamel palettes which could indicate two different hands painted these vases. The same feature is seen on a smaller underglaze blue-ground vase of this form, in the collection of the Porzellansammlung, Dresden.

An extremely rare and probably unique Pair of Meissen Augustus Rex Hexagonal Vases and Covers, likely to be the only pair of Meissen vases of this type recorded in literature, also highlights the September sale (estimate $80,000–120,000). While the 18th-century provenance of these vases remains unknown, the survival of at least three rare red-anchor Chelsea porcelain vases, ca. 1752–56, which appear to be direct copies, suggests a possible English ownership by the mid-18th century. Whilst it cannot be proven with certainty, it seems probable that the Chelsea porcelain factory had access to the present vases. A potential 18th-century owner of the vases is Sir Charles Hanbury Williams, who was British Envoy to the Saxon Court between 1747–49 and 1751–54.

An extremely rare Pair of Meissen Augustus Rex Underglaze-Blue-Ground Beaker Vases round out this spectacular group (estimate $80,000–120,000). After the death of Augustus the Strong, beaker vases of this type were sent to the Dresden residence to be installed in the Turmzimmer. A remarkable early series of photographs show how the Meissen porcelain was displayed in Turmzimmer and shows surviving vases of this form. A powder blue beaker vase of this form and size, which features the same painted floral band at the center, remains in the Porzellansammlung, Dresden, while another is in the Reiss-Museum, Mannheim. The Oppenheimers acquired these vases separately and only owned one by 1927.

Additional highlights from the sale include: a very rare Meissen Augustus Rex Large Seladon-Ground Vase (estimate $50,000–70,000), likely one of five large Meissen porcelain bottle vases in this color that were listed as delivered to the Japanese Palace in December 1737; a unique Meissen Armorial Waste Bowl from the Service Made for Clemens August, Elector of Cologne (estimate $40,000–60,000), a smaller version of which is now in the Museum für Angewandte Kunst, Cologne, together with other pieces from the service; and an extremely rare Meissen Famille Verte Goblet (estimate $50,000–70,000), one of only five or six pieces of Meissen porcelain painted in this distinctive style that appear to be recorded.

Christie’s Two Classic Week Evening Sales Top £64million

Posted in Art Market by Editor on July 10, 2021

Lot 9: Bernardo Bellotto, View of Verona with the Ponte delle Navi, 1745-47, oil on canvas, 53 × 93 inches (133 × 235 cm). The lot essay for the painting suggests that “this justly-celebrated picture and its erstwhile companion, Verona from the Ponte Nuova looking upstream with the Castel San Pietro (Powis Castle, the National Trust), are the supreme masterpieces of Bellotto’s early career.” On 8 July 2021 the painting sold at Christie’s for over £10.5million. Slightly below its low estimate of £12million, the price was nevertheless an auction record for Bellotto.

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Christie’s press release, via Art Daily (9 July 2021) . . .

On 8 July 2021, the wealth of works offered across Christie’s two Classic Week Evening sales—the Exceptional Sale [with 30 lots] and the Old Masters Evening Sale [with 46 lots]—realised a combined total of £64.6million ($89 / €75million). Welcoming registered bidders from 102 countries across four continents, the top lot of the evening was Bernardo Bellotto’s View of Verona with the Ponte delle Navi, which achieved £10.6million ($14.6 / €12.3million) (estimate: £12–18million). Bringing the running total for Classic Week sales to date to £70,214,250 / $96,723,68 / €81,867,274. The auctions continue until 15 July, and with estimates starting from £500 to £18 million, this marquee week presents rare opportunities for new and established collectors across price levels.

Exceptional Sale
Christie’s, London, 8 July 2021

Lot 20: Leonardo da Vinci, Head of a Bear, silverpoint on pink-beige prepared paper, top corners cut, 3 × 3 inches (7 × 7 cm). The earliest provenance of the small drawing places it in the possession of Sir Thomas Lawrence.

Christie’s Exceptional Sale (No. 19443) realised £19,537,500 / $26,903,138 / €22,780,725, selling 77% by lot and 85% by value. The top lot of the sale was Head of a Bear by Leonardo da Vinci, which set a new world auction record for a drawing by the artist, achieving £8,857,500 / $12,196,778/ €10,327,845.

Stijn Alsteens, International Head of the Department of Old Master Drawings at Christie’s, comments: “Christie’s is greatly honoured to have brought this small but magnificent Old Master drawing to the market in the Exceptional Sale this evening in London. The drawing attracted attention from all around the world, and I was confident that the great quality and rarity of the work would lead to an exceptional result—the fifth highest price ever achieved for an Old Master drawing at auction.”

Giles Forster, Head of the Exceptional Sale, noted: “The breadth and depth of bidding across periods and categories in this sale is notable, highlighted by the top lots spanning Old Master drawings, decorative arts, and manuscripts. In addition to the stellar result for the record breaking top lot by Leonardo da Vinci, the price realised for the remarkable Charles I inkstand attributed to silversmith Christiaen van Vianen of £1.9million ($2.7 / €2.3million) (estimate: £1–1.5million) reflects the museum quality nature of this work, which was previously on long term loan to the Victoria and Albert Museum. The new auction record established for an Isaac Newton manuscript £1,702,500 / $2,344,343 / €1,985,115 (estimate: £600,000–900,000) highlights that autograph scientific manuscripts by Newton are of the greatest rarity on the market. We are also pleased to have established new auction records for a meteorite and for furniture by the bronzier Ferdinand Barbedienne with the remarkable ‘Japonisme’ aquarium, which show the unique ability of the Exceptional Sale to bring record prices for ‘wow factor’ works of art.”

Old Masters Evening Sale
Christie’s, London, 8 July 2021

Lot 14: Angelica Kauffman, R.A., Group Portrait of Lady Elizabeth Smith-Stanley, Countess of Derby, with Her Infant Son Edward, later 13th Earl of Derby and Her Half-Sister, Lady Augusta Campbell, Playing the Harp, oil on canvas, 50 × 40 inches (127 × 102 cm). The painting sold for £562,500, just above it its low estimate. The lot essay acknowledges Bettina Baumgärtel and Wendy Wassyng Roworth for their help in cataloguing the painting.

The Old Masters Evening Sale (No. 20053) realised £45,083,250 / $62,079,635/ €52,567,070, selling 94% by value and 78% by lot. The top lot of the sale was Bernardo Bellotto’s View of Verona with the Ponte delle Navi, which achieved £10,575,000 / $14,561,775 / €12,330,450 (estimate: £12–18million).

Clementine Sinclair, Head of the Old Masters Evening Sale, comments: “We are thrilled with the results of this Old Masters sale, which at £45million was the strongest evening sale since July 2016. Only two evening sales have exceeded this total over the past ten years. The prices realised for Bellotto’s majestic view of Verona and George de La Tour’s arresting image of Saint Andrew set new record prices for the artists at auction. The wealth of fresh material prompted competitive bidding with the exquisite cabinet picture by Frans van Mieris making more than four times the low estimate. All three works by female artists in the sale [Artemisia Gentileschi, Michaelina Wautier, and Angelica Kauffman] sold successfully, with two more than tripling their original low estimates. This evening was a real boost for the Old Masters market and underlines the continued demand for great works that are fresh to the market with exceptional provenance.”

At Christie’s | Women in Art

Posted in Art Market by Editor on June 6, 2021

From the press release, via Art Daily (3 May 2021) for the upcoming sale . . .

Women in Art, Sale 19614
Christie’s, Paris, 16 June 2021

Lot 10: Anne Vallayer-Coster, Vase of Flowers and Grapes on a Stone Ledge, 1781, oil on canvas, unlined, 18 × 15 inches. Estimate: 150,000–250,000€.

For the first time, Christie’s in France will hold a sale dedicated to women artists, covering all mediums—paintings, sculptures, books and autographed letters, photographs, engravings, design, jewels, and fashion (Sale 19614). The panorama will pay tribute to women artists working over five centuries, of different nationalities, all of whom have marked art history, from the 16th to the 21st century.

Alice Chevrier, specialist in the Rare Books and Manuscripts Department, and Bérénice Verdier, specialist in the Old Master Paintings Department, are in charge of the sale and note: “We are very proud to organise in France the first sale dedicated to women artists. In recent months, we have watched as events devoted to women artists were held by museums, including the exhibition Peintres femmes, 1780–1830 at the Musée du Luxembourg; the upcoming exhibition at the Centre Pompidou, Elles font l’abstraction; and the MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses), Female Artistic Creation, created by the Centre Pompidou and the Musée d’Orsay through their collaboration with the Aware association. It seemed therefore a good moment for Christie’s Paris to organize a sale with this focus for the art market and we have had great support from consignors and colleagues. We have been able to assemble an impressive selection of works from different periods and mediums, which should widen the appeal to many collectors, with estimates ranging from 200 to 300,000 Euros. We hope that the sale will throw light on the careers of these women artists, some of whom have remained in the shadow for too long!”

This sale focuses on artists from the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries who have often been treated unequally in art history. In the Old Master Paintings section is a beautiful painting by Louise Moillon (1610–1696), Still Life (1636), the highlight of the sale, estimated at €300,000–500,000. A leader in the genre of fruit still lifes, Moillon is one of the few female painters from 17th-century France whose work is now well identified. Still LIfe is dated and signed, allowing scholars to situate it precisely in a body of work with only sixty-nine works attributed with certainty to the artist. The meticulous realism of Moillon’s works, the precise touch, full colors, and the rendering of the velvetiness or transparency of the fruits are a testament to the painter’s mastery of her craft, inherited from Flemish art and acquired by her familiarity with the work of a group of Dutch painters working in Saint-Germain.

Further highlights include a delicate autumnal composition by Anne Vallayer-Coster (1744–1818), Vase of Flowers and Grapes on Entablature (estimate: €150,000–250,000), executed in 1781 during the artist’s mature period, after her admission to the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture. In an excellent state of conservation, the work has never been presented at auction and has not been exhibited since its last appearance at an exhibition in London in 1954. An artist of great modernity recognized by her peers, Vallayer-Coster inspired the Impressionists, notably Fantin La Tour.

Lot 104: Adélaïde Labille-Guiard, Madame Charles Mitoire, née Christine-Geneviève Bron (1760–1842), avec ses enfants, allaitant l’un d’eux, 1783, pastel on paper laid down on canvas, 36 × 26 inches. Estimate: 150,000–250,000€.

Another important work in the section is a beautiful Portrait of a Woman by Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun (1755–1842). Counted among the greatest portraitists of her time, the artist was successively the painter of the Court of France, the Kingdom of Naples, the Court of the Emperor of Vienna, and finally the Emperor of Russia. This is a rediscovery, as the work has never been published or offered for sale (estimate: €80,000–120,000). Collectors should be seduced by this beautiful testimony of the artist’s Parisian period.

Lavinia Fontana (1552–1614), an Italian painter who imposed her talent and erudition in the 16th century as the first woman artist elected to the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome, offers here in full-length a portrait of a young boy with a dog (1585–90) a fine example of her art. A preparatory drawing for this painting is in the Uffizi Museum in Florence. The portrait is estimated at €60,000–100,000.

The sale, which will also feature a section devoted to decorative arts, includes a refined marquetry tray made by Rosalie Duvinage (Veuve ‘Widow’ Duvinage). It is one of the most original productions of the 1870s. Influenced by Japanese art, both in its technique and its iconography, it testifies by its forms to the eclecticism characteristic of the late 19th century.

The Rare Books and Manuscripts Department will offer a magnificent eight-page letter by George Sand (1804–1876) addressed to Gustave Flaubert, estimated at €6,000–8,000. The writer changed her name to that of a man to ensure her work was more widely read. This letter-confession is one of the most beautiful and moving of Sand’s correspondence: “Your letters fall on me like a rain that wets, and makes what is in germ in the ground grow right away. . . .” Collectors will also be able to purchase a letter which has never been published from Edith Piaf (1915–1963) to her lover, the Italian-French actor Yves Montand (estimate: €2,000–3,000), which she wrote to him while on tour in the North of France. She announced their breakup, after receiving a telegram from Montand, saying, “You may be right—I am too young for you— Wishing you with all my heart the happiness you deserve.”

In the field of science, women have also worked in a revolutionary way, and Marie Curie (1867–1934) is perhaps one of the most important figures, especially thanks to her 1903 thesis devoted to radioactivity, for which she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics, six months after its publication. Scientific bibliophiles will certainly be aware of the historical value of the book, offered in its first edition and signed by her hand (estimate: €10,000–15,000).

Dorothea Tanning (1910–2012) is represented in this sale through her engraved masterpiece: The 7 Spectral Perils (€25,000–35,000). Produced in 1950, these seven surrealist lithographs in exceptional condition will be presented in their original portfolio. The edition includes only 50 copies, some of which are already in the collections of the greatest international museums (including MoMA, Reina Sofia, Smithsonian American Art Museum).

Other important figures of the 20th century include Niki de Saint Phalle (1930–2002), Sarah Morris (b. 1967), Dora Maar (1907–1997), Sheila Hicks (b. 1934), and Maria Helena Vieira da Silva (1908–1992). The latter’s work La ville, la nuit, estimated at €30,000–50,000, is one of the highlights of the 20th-century section. This work comes from the collection of Max-Pol Fouchet, a renowned man of culture, who was a poet, novelist, art historian, literary and music critic. This work was a gift from the artist to Max-Pol Fouchet after their meeting on the shooting of a documentary dedicated to the artist.

Fashion will also be represented with a few pieces by the daring avant-garde couturier Elsa Schiaparelli, from her personal archives and recorded by her granddaughter Marisa Berenson, as well as a few dresses by the famous Madame Grès, including a draped dress from the 1930s that was exhibited in the major retrospective La couture à l’œuvre at the Bourdelle Museum in 2011. The art of jewelry will also be present with a splendid necklace, made by the surrealist artist Leonor Fini, estimated at €10,000–15,000. It is a true sculpture-necklace stylizing ‘Horns’ in yellow gold, wearable as a head jewel or a torque necklace.

Finally, Christie’s will give carte blanche to Inès Longevial (b. 1990) who will occupy an exhibition space in parallel with the pre-sale exhibition. Longevial executes drawings and paintings in resonance with impressions, feelings, sensations from which she naturally extracts the palette. The artist approaches her memories in color and gives form to candid and absorbed faces. If, in the artist’s work, faces often become the site of whimsical ornamentation, finding their roots in a patchwork of bright colors through, this new series tends towards a greater simplicity and plays above all on chromatic variations. The silent attitude of this woman, declined in several ranges of colors and caught in a convoluted set of arms is inspired by several women artists such as Dorothea Tanning, Leonor Fini. The exhibition is created in collaboration with the Ketabi Projects gallery.

Artists and writers presented in the sale: Carole Benzaken, Claude Cahun, Anne Vallayer-Coster, Marie Curie, Dadamaino, Sonia Delaunay, Veuve Duvinage, Lavinia Fontana, Leonor Fini, Sarah Morris, Maria Lai, Marie Laurencin, Vernon Lee, Suzette Lemaire, Dora Maar, Louyse Moillon, Berthe Morisot, Meret Oppenheim, Alice Paalen, Alicia Penalba, Maria Pergay, Edith Piaf, Jiang Qiong Er, Bettina Rheims, Ayako Rokkaku, Niki de Saint Phalle, George Sand, Claire Stansfi, Dorothea Tanning, Boi Tran, Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun, Renée Vivien.

At Auction | Vase Designed by Thomas Hope

Posted in Art Market, museums by Editor on June 4, 2021

Gilt bronze-mounted patinated copper two-handled vase (detail) by Alexis Decaix, designed by Thomas Hope for his Duchess Street Mansion in London, ca. 1802–03, 26 × 13 × 12 inches (65 × 34 × 31 cm). Heritage Auctions, 18 June 2021, Sale 8046, Lot #61046, estimate: $40,000 to $60,000.

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From the press release, via Art Daily:

An extraordinarily rare and important early 19th-century urn, thought lost to history, was recently discovered by Heritage Auctions and is set to go to auction June 18 in Dallas, Texas (Sale 8046, Lot 61046). Designed by Thomas Hope, the urn was found in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in the collection of David D. Denham, where it had been modified into a side table. Heritage has set a conservative pre-auction estimate of $40,000 to $60,000 on the rare bronze. According to research, the urn’s mate resides in London’s Victoria and Albert Museum (M.33-1983), the world’s largest museum of applied and decorative arts and design.

Gilt bronze-mounted patinated copper two-handled vase by Alexis Decaix, designed by Thomas Hope for his Duchess Street Mansion in London, ca. 1802–03.

“This important discovery was a remarkable surprise,” said Karen Rigdon, Director of Fine & Decorative Art at Heritage Auctions. “No one knew where the urn was for decades until we recognized it during a house call.”

Hope commissioned the vase, decorated with ormolu (gilt-bronze) mounts, for the dining room of his mansion located on Duchess Street in London. It was made by acclaimed French artist Alexis Decaix based on Hope’s design, which mirrored a classical volute krater (an ancient Greek vase with two handles which was used for mixing wine and water). Hope likely commissioned the one-of-a-kind pair of bronze urns directly from Decaix. Experts working with Heritage matched the urn’s historical background with telltale details confirming the vase is the pair to the one at the V&A. The newly-discovered vase’s specific placement of the mask mounts at the obverse and reverse matched the vase in the museum’s collection, as does the placement of specific notches and scratches made to each vase.

Hope, the scion of a wealthy banking family, made his London home into an outstanding example of Neo-classical design. In 1807, Hope published in London an illustrated account of the house and its furnishings in a book titled Household Furniture and Interior Decoration. The book had a considerable influence on other architects and designers working in the Greek Revival style.

“The appearance of this second example confirms Hope clearly took great care to ensure the vases would be displayed in perfect harmony, which supports what is known about his incredibly meticulous nature and approach to collecting,” according to Hope experts Philip Hewat-Jaboor and William Iselin, who worked with Heritage to confirm the vase’s authenticity.

Heritage experts discovered the urn in Tulsa in the collection of the late David Denham. “Denham was a well-known social figure in the area and admired for his collector’s eye and meticulous attention to detail,” Rigdon said. “The estate is unsure when the vase first entered Denham’s collection or when it was made into a side table,” she added. “But its discovery closes a chapter on the unknown history of this important artwork.”

Online Talks from London Art Week, March 2021

Posted in Art Market, lectures (to attend), online learning by Editor on March 14, 2021

John Carter, View of the Library at Strawberry Hill, watercolour, 23.7 × 28.8 cm, from Horace Walpole, A Description of the Villa … at Strawberry-Hill (Strawberry Hill, 1784). The Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University.

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From the press release (via Art Daily) for this month’s Art History in Focus series:

London Art Week’s Art History in Focus
March 2021

Last October, London Art Week introduced a new series of interim online events, Art History in Focus. Another impressive line-up of insightful and lively talks is scheduled for March. All events will take place from 17.00 to 18.00 GMT.

16 March — The Female Artists, Actresses, and Playwrights of Strawberry Hill Theatricals

Introduced and moderated by Emanuela Tarizzo (Gallery Director of Tomasso Brothers Fine Art), this webinar will explore the role of female artists, actresses, and playwrights involved with theatre at Horace Walpole’s Strawberry Hill. The session will address illustrations of Walpole’s scandalous gothic play The Mysterious Mother by the artist Diana Beauclerk and the closet built to house them at Strawberry Hill. It will also touch on Walpole’s literary executor Mary Berry’s play Fashionable Friends, performed at Strawberry Hill with sets designed by her sister Agnes and with herself and the sculptor Anne Damer in the leading roles. Damer had a close relationship with the famous actress Eliza Farren, re-imagined in Emma Donoghue’s historical novel Life Mask.

Speakers include Judith Hawley (Professor of English, Royal Holloway, University of London), Cynthia Roman (Curator, Prints, Drawings, and Paintings, The Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University), and Laura Engel (Professor of English, Duquesne University).

23 March — Medieval Women: Subjects and Makers of Art

Arranged with Sam Fogg in conjunction with their online exhibition Medieval Women: Subjects and Makers of Art (25 February – 31 March 2021), the session provides a tour of the exhibition in its gallery setting, accompanied by commentary and an in-depth look at select individual works. With Jana Gajdošová of Sam Fogg, curator of the Medieval Women exhibition, and Alexandra Gajewski FSA, reviews editor at The Burlington Magazine and from 2010 to 2015, senior researcher at the CSIC in Madrid on a European Research Council funded project called Reassessing the Roles of Women as Makers of Medieval Art and Architecture.

24 March — Dürer’s Journeys

An in-depth discussion of the much-heralded National Gallery exhibition Dürer’s Journeys: Travels of a Renaissance Artist (opening soon) with Imogen Tedbury (National Gallery), Anthony Crichton-Stuart (Agnews), and Katrin Bellinger (Collector and Founder, Tavolozza Foundation). Dr. Tedbury is the Simon Sainsbury Curatorial Fellow for Paintings before 1500 at the National Gallery, where she is currently working on Dürer’s Journeys. Katrin Bellinger began collecting in 1985 in parallel to her career as a dealer in Old Master drawings; she was a partner at Colnaghi until the Gallery was sold in 2015. Fascinated by the artistic process and the mystique surrounding it, she chose to focus on one theme of the artist at work. She is a Trustee of the National Gallery and sits on the Board of the Tate.

25 March — Thomas Lawrence: Coming of Age

Amina Wright, author of a new book on Thomas Lawrence’s first twenty-five years, discusses the early works of this young prodigy with LAW dealers Lowell Libson (Lowell Libson & Jonny Yarker Ltd) and Ben Elwes (Ben Elwes Fine Art). Both galleries have recently handled early works by Lawrence that will feature in a forthcoming online exhibition at the website of the Holburne Museum in Bath entitled Thomas Lawrence: Coming of Age. Registrants to this talk can benefit from a discount on the book of the same title written by Amina Wright (Philip Wilson Publishers).

29 March — The Impact of the 20th Century on Women Artists

Florrie Evans and Jo Baring discuss the views and barriers surrounding women artists in 20th-century Britain. In 1955 a review in The Times described Elisabeth Frink’s first solo show as “Here is a sculptor of rare promise, indeed of rare quality, for Miss Frink’s handling of the problems of sculptural form is such that one has to make no allowances for her youth, or her sex.” This will be a reference point for the talk in which Jo will focus on women sculptors in particular, and Florrie will look at some of the key female artists handled by The Fine Art Society.

London Art Week, 1–16 July 2021

London Art Week will take place as a dual aspect event: online in a digital format, allowing participants from across the globe to take part, and as physical exhibitions in galleries as local guidelines allow.

A new introduction to LAW Digital Summer 2021 will be Revolution and Renewal, an online themed exhibition. London Art Week is delighted to welcome as guest curator the art historian, curator, and scholar Arturo Galansino, Director General of the Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi in Florence. Well-known among the London Art Week community, Dr. Galansino has been invited to curate this special exhibition by the LAW Board who have long admired his exceptional track record in curating and co-curating incredible shows spanning Old Masters to contemporary art: from Moroni, Giorgione and Rubens at the Royal Academy to Ai Weiwei, Bill Viola and Marina Abramović at the Palazzo Strozzi. “It will be interesting to see what thread, narrow or broad, he weaves from the submitted works to Revolution and Renewal,” comments Amelia Higgins, Director, London Art Week.

“The online exhibition will have its own section on the LAW website,” explains Luce Garrigues, Director, London Art Week Digital, “and all participants will be invited to submit a work on the theme for consideration by Dr. Galansino. As a collegial, curator-led exhibition, Arturo will select his highlights and write his own introduction on the theme. To give our dealers greater voice, we will be asking each participant to explain why they submit their chosen work.”

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