Mia Receives Funding for Empathy and Diversity Initiatives

Posted in museums by Editor on December 16, 2017

Installation view of Living Rooms: The Many Voices of Colonial America, on view in the Charleston Drawing Room at Mia from 22 April 2017 until 15 April 2018 (Minneapolis Institute of Art)

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Press release (13 December 2017) from Mia:

The Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia) announced today that it has received two major grants: a $750,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in support of the museum’s Center for Empathy and the Visual Arts and a $520,000 grant from the Ford Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation supporting Mia’s ongoing Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility (IDEA) initiative.

Center for Empathy and Visual Arts / Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation funding will enable Mia to establish the first-ever Center for Empathy and the Visual Arts (CEVA) within an art museum. Mia is spearheading the project, collaborating with researchers, scholars, philosophers, content experts, artists, thought leaders, and colleagues at other museums to explore and research best practices to foster compassion and enhance related emotional skills. This ambitious initiative will span nearly five years, providing Mia and other art museums ample opportunities to purposefully build empathy into their learning practices as a strategy for impacting positive social change.

Kaywin Feldman, Nivin and Duncan MacMillan Director and President of Mia, said, “A visitor to our museum has the opportunity to experience works of art made over the course of some 5,000 years, from every corner of the globe. One of the most meaningful aspects of this encounter is the awareness it can awaken of a common humanity—an immediate sense of connection between the viewer and someone who may have lived in a very different time and place. Thanks to the Mellon Foundation, we’re proud to take the lead with partners across the country, in studying how to spark and nurture empathy through the visual arts, so that Mia and all art museums can contribute even more toward building a just and harmonious society.”

The first phase of this initiative kicked off in October, when Mia invited experts from fields as diverse as the social sciences, empathy research, virtual reality, and neuroscience fields, as well as museum curators and directors, artists, and educators, to discuss empathy and the art museum at the University of California, Berkeley—a partner in this research project. The ideas generated by the think tank will be developed and tested with the aim of fostering greater awareness and understanding, wonder, and/or global awareness among visitors.

“To be human is to express our emotions in art,” said Dacher Keltner, PhD, Professor of Psychology at University of California, Berkeley, Director of the Berkeley Social Interaction Lab and Co-Director of the Greater Good Science Center. “Aesthetic experiences—in viewing a painting, sculpture, photograph, or dance, or in music—are sources of awe and wonder. They enable us to solve a complex mystery—to understand what our fellow humans think and feel. For these reasons, the museum may be one of the great catalysts of human empathy and compassion. That possibility is the focus of Mia’s new scientific initiative with UC Berkeley and the Greater Good Science Center.”

During the initiative’s second phase, the Center will disseminate easy-to-use tools that guide museum educators and curators in using their collections to foster empathy among their own visitors. The initiative’s leaders at Mia hope that museums across the country and abroad will be inspired to build upon this work by incorporating the key learnings into their own practices, resulting in far-reaching impact inside the field and beyond.

Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility / Ford Foundation and Walton Family Foundation

The Ford Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation will provide resources for Mia’s Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility (IDEA) efforts, which strengthen the pipeline of art museum leadership positions for those who have been historically underrepresented: people of color and indigenous people. With the funding, the museum will hire a Diversity & Inclusion Manager, who will research, develop, and launch a robust fellowship program for college students of diverse cultural backgrounds. The IDEA program expands upon Mia’s current Native American Fellowship Program, which has been active for more than 10 years through financial support from the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community.

“At Mia, we believe that embracing diversity as a core value, not just as a program, will bring more voices, perspectives, and experiences to the field and its practice,” Feldman said. “Within the next decade, we hope to see a significant impact on young leadership in the museum field.”

Mia will collaborate with Twin Cities’ colleges and other organizations to develop networks to recruit candidates for fellowships, full-time openings, unpaid internships, and volunteer opportunities. To do so, it will work with other institutions’ H.R. and diversity inclusion departments, college career advisors, and campus student groups.

“We are delighted to partner with Mia on this important initiative,” said Patricia Pratt-Cook, Senior Vice President for Human Resources, Equity and Inclusion at St. Catherine University. “St. Kate’s, home to one of the nation’s largest colleges for women and a student population that is 37.7% diverse, serves diverse students with an innovative approach to learning and a faculty that has been recognized nationally for their commitment to teaching. We look forward to supporting Mia’s success through this grant by sharing our experiences with the museum and connecting our students to opportunities available through Mia’s IDEA project.”

Ghislain d’Humieres To Oversee Core Operations at Williamsburg

Posted in interviews, museums by Editor on December 14, 2017

Press release (via Art Daily). . .

As part of a streamlining of its leadership team, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation has named Ghislain d’Humières as its executive director and senior vice president, core operations, a newly created position that will report to President and CEO Mitchell B. Reiss. In this new role, d’Humières will carry out the vision of Reiss and the Foundation’s Board of Trustees to attract new audiences, engage and entertain guests and instill a lifelong love of Colonial Williamsburg and its enduring role in the American story. d’Humières will oversee the Collections, Conservation and Museums Division and Colonial Williamsburg’s Education, Research and Historical Interpretation Division, as well as its Strategic Communications and Development divisions. He will begin his new role on January 15, 2018.

“Colonial Williamsburg’s commitment to history education and the arts is strong,” said Reiss. “We believe that hiring a seasoned arts professional to lead the Foundation’s core experience will further enhance our ability to captivate visitors through even more engaging programming within the Historic Area and the Art Museums. Ghislain’s leadership of day-to-day operations will enable me to foster critical relationships with the community, supporters and other partners to elevate Colonial Williamsburg and its mission to share America’s enduring story.”

Most recently the director and CEO of the Speed Art Museum in Louisville, Kentucky, from 2013 to earlier this year, d’Humières oversaw an extensive $60 million renovation that transformed the state’s only fine arts museum and enabled it to further expand its audience’s diversity. Previously, he served as the director and chief curator of the Fred Jones, Jr. Museum of Art at the University of Oklahoma in Norman from 2007 to 2013; he has also held positions at Sotheby’s, Christies, and Heritage Auctions. d’Humières is a former member of the French armed forces and served as aide-de-camp to the grand chancelier of the Order de La Libération. He was also an assistant curator of Paris’ Ordre de La Libération Museum. He is a graduate of the Sorbonne and Paris Nanterre University.

“Colonial Williamsburg is a treasure that preserves the birthplace of American democracy and enshrines ideals that still guide the nation and world,” d’Humières said. “I am honored to join this institution, especially amid its re-imagination and commitment to engage new and wider audiences. I look forward to sharing the journey with the team, our community, and most of all, our guests.”

Among key areas of the Foundation that will now be included under d’Humières’s umbrella of responsibilities are major areas of investments in the Campaign for History and Citizenship, the $600 million capital campaign initiated to both reinforce and reimagine Colonial Williamsburg’s role in the 21st century as a leader in history education and historical preservation, which was publicly announced in 2014. One such area is the $41.7-million donor-funded expansion of the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg, home of the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum, the oldest continuously operating institution in the United States dedicated solely to the collection, exhibition and preservation of American folk art now celebrating its 60th anniversary. It is also home to the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum, which marked its 30th anniversary in 2015 and features premier examples of British and American fine and decorative arts from 1670 to 1840. Combined, these diverse and extensive collections play critical roles in Colonial Williamsburg’s goal of engaging audiences with the dramatic story of America’s founding. Under the direction of Ronald L. Hurst, Carlisle H. Humelsine chief curator and vice president for collections, conservation and museums, both the Abby Aldrich and DeWitt Wallace museums will remain open through construction, which began on Oct. 1. It will add 60,000 square feet to the building for a 22-percent increase in gallery space, as well as significantly improve public access through a new visitor-friendly entrance and other enhancements. It is projected that by late summer 2018 the enlarged space will be completely enclosed and new climate control systems will be fully functioning. Construction is expected to be complete by late 2019.

Other vital areas of the Foundation’s mission that also are within d’Humières’s area of responsibility include:
• Continued re-imagination of Historic Area programming with diverse, new character interpretation and technology enhancements, including the Colonial Williamsburg Explorer mobile app; supervising 24 historic trades, modern entertainment and tours, signature events (such as Grand Illumination and Fourth of July), the Costume Design Center that crafts and maintains clothing worn by the Historic Area personnel, the Coach and Livestock department that operates the Rare Breeds Program, and the Colonial Williamsburg Fifes & Drums
• Development of compelling outreach programs that reach national and even global audiences, including teacher professional development programs and digital technology initiatives in order for Colonial Williamsburg to continue to support and supplement the teaching of American history and civics in home and school settings
• Directing historical research and training, along with the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Library and the Colonial Williamsburg corporate archives
• Oversight of the departments that conduct archaeological research and care for the more than 60 million archaeological items in the Foundation’s collections
• Leadership of the departments that preserve 88 original and roughly 500 reconstructed Historic Area structures, as well as daily care of Historic Area interiors and collection items on display throughout Colonial Williamsburg properties
• Management of Colonial Williamsburg’s state-of-the-art DeWitt Wallace Collections and Conservation Building, which includes eight discipline-specific labs—Archaeological Materials, Wooden Artifacts, Instruments and Mechanical Arts, Objects, Paintings, Paper, Textiles and Upholstery—as well as the Preventive Conservation group. There, analysis, examination, treatment, and documentation are performed in strict accordance with the Code of Ethics of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic & Artistic Works.

Frick Acquires Gérard’s Portrait of Prince Camillo Borghese

Posted in museums by Editor on December 8, 2017

Press release (5 December 2017) from The Frick Collection:

François-Pascal-Simon Gérard, Camillo Borghese, ca. 1810, oil on canvas, 84 x 55 (New York: The Frick Collection).

The Frick Collection announces its most important painting purchase since 1991 with the acquisition of François-Pascal-Simon Gérard’s full-length portrait of Prince Camillo Borghese, a notable art patron and the brother-in-law of Napoleon Bonaparte. Gérard (1770–1837) was one of the most significant French artists of the first half of the nineteenth century, and this stunning canvas will coalesce seamlessly with the museum’s holdings, which until now have not included his work. Chronologically, the painting sits between the museum’s French masterpieces by Boucher and Fragonard and later works by Ingres, Renoir, Monet, and Manet, while joining contemporaneous portraits by Chinard and David. It will, likewise, find good company in major works of portraiture by Bronzino, Rembrandt, Titian, Holbein, Van Dyck, Gainsborough, Reynolds, Romney, and Hogarth, Goya, and Whistler. Following conservation and technical study this winter and spring at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Prince Camillo Borghese will go on view at the Frick later in 2018.

Comments Chairman of the Board of Trustees Elizabeth Eveillard, “The Frick’s holdings, as a group, have been compared to a necklace assembled one precious pearl at a time. The sentiment reflects the modest scale of the collection born of its founder’s individual taste, balanced by the absolute requirement of quality. Just as Henry Clay Frick (1849–1919) made a series of unrushed choices, the growth of the collection in nearly one hundred years since his passing has been steady but measured, including sculpture and decorative arts, always meeting the criteria of high quality. With this striking painting, coming to the Frick with an unbroken provenance from the Borghese family, still on its original, unlined canvas, and in its original frame, the Frick has found a rare masterpiece to harmonize with its esteemed holdings.” Adds Director Ian Wardropper, “The last opportunity the Frick had to purchase a major French School painting was nearly thirty years ago, with the acquisition of Watteau’s Portal of Valenciennes. Today, it is deeply rewarding to have the rare opportunity to bring to the museum such an important work as this one, a historic portrait we feel would have compelled Henry Clay Frick. While the portrait has been shown in Rome, it has never been seen publicly in America. We look forward to sharing it in the atmospheric setting of the former Frick residence and among equally well chosen works.”

About the Artist, Portraitist to the Bonaparte Family

Gérard studied with the painter Jacques-Louis David (1748–1825), becoming one of his most talented pupils. At the time of the French Revolution, Gérard produced a number of historic paintings, including his celebrated Belisarius and Cupid and Psyche. In 1796, he painted a portrait of his friend the miniaturist Jean-Baptiste Isabey (1767–1855) and his daughter (all three works can be seen at the Musée du Louvre, Paris). The latter work marked Gérard’s public success as portraitist, and it soon became the primary genre in which he worked. With the advent of Napoleon, the artist found enormous favor with the emperor and his immediate family. Made a Baron of the Empire in 1809, Gérard exhibited a vast number of portraits at the various Paris Salon exhibitions almost every year during the first quarter of the nineteenth century. Even after the fall of Napoleon, in 1815, Gérard’s stellar career continued under the Bourbon Restoration in France.

Gérard’s role as portraitist to the Bonaparte family was the apex of his career. From the early 1800s until the fall of the empire in 1815, he portrayed most members of the imperial family, works that are today highlights of major collections internationally. These include Napoleon in coronation robes (Château de Versailles), his mother, Letizia Ramolino (Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh), and the Empress Josephine (Hermitage, Saint Petersburg). Napoleon’s brothers Joseph and Louis, brother-in-law Joachim Murat, sisters Elisa and Caroline, and sister-in-law Hortense de Beauharnais also sat at different times for him. The Metropolitan Museum of Art owns large portraits by Gérard of Madame Talleyrand and her celebrated husband, politician Charles Maurice de Talleyrand Périgord.

The Borghese Family: Aristocratic Collectors and Patrons of the Arts

Camillo Borghese was born to one of the most important families of the Roman aristocracy. The family acquired substantial works of fine and decorative arts, patronizing sculptor Giovan Lorenzo Bernini in the seventeenth century and figures such as the silversmith and decorator Luigi Valadier in the eighteenth century. They were also interested in antiquities, and today their collection remains the foundation of the Greek and Roman holdings of the Musée du Louvre. Also a patron of the arts, Prince Borghese is most famously remembered for commissioning from Antonio Canova a full-length sculpture of his wife in the nude, as Victorious Venus. One of the best-known and beloved sculptures in Rome from the moment it was carved, this marble statue of Paolina Borghese is today one of the glories of Villa Borghese.

The family was known for its Napoleonic sympathies, and Camillo moved to Paris in 1796. In 1803 he married Napoleon’s favorite sister, Paolina Bonaparte (1780–1825). It was a tempestuous marriage. At first, the couple lived in gilded splendor between Paris and Rome, where they refurbished the apartments of Camillo’s parents in the Palazzo Borghese; however, they soon became estranged and each took lovers. Paolina was still officially at her husband’s side when, in February 1808, Napoleon effectively put him in charge of Piedmont, Liguria, Parma, and Piacenza. Camillo and Paolina moved from Paris to Turin in April of that year and lived between the Piedmontese capital, Paris, and Rome until April 1814. In 1808, when Camillo and Paolina moved to Turin, they shipped most of the paintings, sculptures, silver, and porcelain from the Palazzo Borghese in Rome to their new residence. In 1814, they returned to Rome, and an inventory drafted on April 25, 1814—lists a portrait of the prince, likely this one, which has become the official and most famous image of him, and is understood from the iconography in the work to have been painted around 1810 in Paris.

Tim Knox Named as New Director of the Royal Collection Trust

Posted in museums by Editor on December 3, 2017

From The Fitzwilliam (November 2017) . . .

Her Majesty The Queen has appointed Mr Tim Knox as the new Director of the Royal Collection Trust. As Director, Mr Knox will be responsible for the care of the Royal Collection, its presentation to the public, and for the management of the public opening of the official residences of The Queen.

Tim Knox has been Director of the Fitzwilliam since April 2013. An eminent architectural historian and curator of country houses, he was previously Director of the Sir John Soane’s Museum and Head Curator at the National Trust. A graduate of the Courtauld Institute of Art, Tim’s early career was spent at the Royal Institute of British Architects, before he joined the National Trust in 1995. He will leave the Fitzwilliam Museum and take up the Royal Collection directorship in the new year.

Nationalmuseum Sweden Acquires Three Master Drawings

Posted in museums by Editor on November 20, 2017

Press release (November 2017) from the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm:

Edme Bochardon, Little Girl in a Bonnet, Portrait of Geneviève-Thérèse Mariette, the daughter of Pierre-Jean Mariette, 1736 (Stockholm: Nationalmuseum, photo by Cecilia Heisser).

Nationalmuseum has acquired three drawings by Edme Bouchardon (1698–1762), François Boucher (1703–1770), and Nicolas Bernard Lépicié (1735–1784), some of the leading artists of the French 18th century. The works comprise two portraits and a figure study for one of the museum’s most famous paintings, The Triumph of Venus. Each exemplifies how drawing had become a significant art form in its own right in 18th-century France.

The drawing by Edme Bouchardon is a portrait of Geneviève-Thérèse Mariette, the daughter of Bouchardon’s close friend Pierre-Jean Mariette (1694–1774), an engraver and art collector. Mariette had catalogued the collection of the banker Pierre Crozat (1665–1740), sold at auction in Paris in 1741, from which Carl-Gustaf Tessin acquired a number of drawings now owned by Nationalmuseum. On the back of the drawing, Mariette has noted that this is a portrait of his daughter drawn by Edme Bouchardon in 1736. The following year the artist exhibited six drawings at the Paris Salon, two of them depicting Mariette’s children. The catalogue describes the piece acquired by Nationalmuseum as “little girl in a bonnet.”

The portrait, an exquisite example of Bouchardon’s mastery of the art and techniques of drawing, is a fully fledged work of art. The model is seen in profile, gazing out a little shyly beneath her bonnet. Through sharp outlines and graduated shading in sanguine, Bouchardon has formed blocks that create almost a three-dimensional effect. Works like this, coupled with the fact that the artist exhibited them at the Salon, helped entrench the status of drawing as an art form in its own right.

François Boucher, Study of a Triton, 1740 (Stockholm: Nationalmuseum, photo by Cecilia Heisser).

The recently acquired Boucher drawing is a study for one of the central figures in The Triumph of Venus, regarded by many as the artist’s foremost work. The drawing corresponds to the triton at right in the painting, who is lifting and supporting a naiad. She in turn is holding out a seashell, offering Venus a pearl necklace. As the triton lifts the naiad, he twists his body, and Boucher has captured the action of the muscles in a way that appears free yet exact. The lines of red and black chalk are drawn with a strong, confident hand. The sensual touch typical of the artist and so readily apparent in the painting is perhaps even more pronounced in this study. Boucher has not yet clothed the naked naiad, and the triton’s lift in this work also becomes an ardent embrace. This drawing is the only known preparatory study for The Triumph of Venus.

The last of the three drawings is also a preparatory study but gives the impression of being a fully fledged work. Nicolas Bernard Lépicié studied under Carle van Loo (1705–1765) and, as a historical painter, was admitted to the Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture in 1769. He later focused increasingly on genre painting. The Lépicié drawing is a study for the man in the painting Old Beggar with Child, signed and dated 1777 and now in an American private collection. The drawing is a complete work in which the beggar’s doleful expression is as powerful as in the finished painting. Although the drawing started out as a preparatory study, it seems that, as he worked on it, Lépicié became convinced of its merits as a standalone piece. This may be the reason why he signed it.

These three works are superb examples of 18th-century French drawing. The Bouchardon and Boucher drawings in particular are significant acquisitions in art history terms: the former with its direct connection to Pierre-Jean Mariette and the emergence of drawing as an art form at the Salon; the latter as the sole surviving preliminary study for The Triumph of Venus, a major work in 18th-century art history.

Expansion of Gainsborough’s House in Sudbury

Posted in museums by Editor on November 20, 2017

Plans by ZMMA for the Gainsborough Museum in Sudbury, Suffolk.

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As reported by the BBC (17 November 2017). . .

The latest plans for an £8.5m centre to commemorate a world-renowned artist have been revealed. Gainsborough’s House wants to redevelop a former labour exchange building at the rear of its existing museum in the centre of Sudbury, Suffolk. The plans include a gallery showing the best of Thomas Gainsborough’s full-length portraits.

Museum director Mark Bills said the project would “give the nation a centre for one of its greatest artists.”

The plans were drawn up following a public consultation earlier this year.

Thomas Gainsborough was born in 1727, the youngest of nine children, and spent much of his childhood sketching in the woods and fields surrounding Sudbury. . .

The full article is available here»

AAMC Foundation Engagement Program for International Curators

Posted in museums, resources by Editor on October 6, 2017

From the Association of Art Museum Curators:

AAMC Foundation Engagement Program for International Curators
Applications due by 20 October 2017

The AAMC Foundation Engagement Program for International Curators, made possible with major support from the Terra Foundation for American Art, is a two-year Program for three non-US based curators and three US Liaisons working on or having worked within exhibitions and projects that explore historic American Art (c. 1500–1980), including painting; sculpture; works on paper, including prints, drawing and photography; decorative arts; and excluding architecture; design; and performance. The Program offers numerous benefits for Awardees, including travel funding.

Through fostering international relationships between curators, the Program aims to not only provide opportunities for professional development and exchange, but also to expand and strengthen the international curatorial community and give primacy to the curatorial voice in the international dialogue between museum professionals.The Program will be an active part of building international partnerships, leading cross-border conversations, and spearheading international representation within AAMC’s membership & AAMC Foundation’s efforts.

Program Goals
• Form new international relationships and partnerships through the interaction of each International Awardee with their US Liaison and the larger AAMC community of members & supporters
• Provide opportunities for International Awardee to engage with US museum networks and professional development opportunities through AAMC membership benefits, including travel funding to the AAMC Annual Conference; Program-specific webinars and access to past AAMC webinars; AAMC Committee or Task Force participation; an Annual Alumni reception; visit to US Liaison’s institution, and more
• Foster awareness of the concerns and needs of curators working outside the US within AAMC’s membership and within the AAMC Foundation programming
• Establish a long lasting relationship between AAMC, AAMC Foundation, the International Awardees, and community of international scholars
• Bring an international voice to AAMC’s leadership through engagement with the organization’s donor groups and involvement on an AAMC Committee

Additional information, including details for International Curators and US Liaisons, is available here»

Cleveland Acquires Wright’s Portrait of Charles Heathcote

Posted in museums by Editor on October 2, 2017

From the museum’s press release (27 September 2017). . .

Joseph Wright of Derby, Portrait of Colonel Charles Heathcote, ca. 1771–72; oil on canvas, 50 × 40 inches (The Cleveland Museum of Art).

The Cleveland Museum of Art’s recent acquisitions include a portrait of Colonel Charles Heathcote by British artist Joseph Wright of Derby; a drawing by German Expressionist Oskar Kokoschka; a 14th-century Japanese hanging scroll featuring the Buddhist deity Aizen Myōō, Wisdom King of Passion; and a monumental oil painting on canvas by contemporary Chinese artist Liu Wei.

Often described as among the artist’s most successful and appealing portraits, Joseph Wright of Derby’s Portrait of Colonel Charles Heathcote is one of a limited group of small-scale likenesses made in the early 1770s, depicting the figures at full length in a landscape setting. The subject, Charles Heathcote, of Derby, joined the army in 1745 at the age of 15 and rose through the ranks. At the time of his retirement in 1772, Heathcote was a Lieutenant-Colonel in the 35th Foot (Royal Sussex).

The figure is painted in a relatively soft and smooth technique: facial features are carefully characterized and minute attention paid to rendering details of costume. However, the landscape is painted in a more energetic, almost impressionistic, technique. Indeed, Wright gave the landscape as much personality and presence as he did Heathcote himself. The group of small-scale portraits to which the Portrait of Colonel Charles Heathcote belongs mark the beginnings of Wright’s interest in landscape painting.

This innovative approach to combining figure and landscape was not particularly well received by critics at the time, who were more accustomed to portraits entirely dominated by a figure alone. When viewed close up, the variance in technique can seem jarring, but when viewed from the intended few steps away, Wright’s radical approach results in a compelling image of an elegant figure in verdant natural surroundings. Wright painted the landscape in bold, broad brushstrokes that call attention to artistic process in a way that seems dazzlingly modern for a painting executed in 1771–72.

Joseph Wright’s Portrait of Colonel Charles Heathcote makes a striking addition to the museum’s display of eighteenth-century British art. It complements and offers a counterpoint to the full-length, life-sized Grand Manner portraits by Thomas Gainsborough, Thomas Lawrence, and Joshua Reynolds in the collection. . .

The full press release is available here»




Eike Schmidt Named Director of Vienna’s Kunsthistorisches Museum

Posted in museums by Editor on September 2, 2017

As reported by The Art Newspaper (1 September 2017). . .

The director of the Uffizi galleries in Florence, Eike Schmidt, is stepping down to become head of Vienna’s Kunsthistorisches Museum (KHM). The German-born sculpture specialist will replace Sabine Haag in 2019, announced the Austrian culture minister, Thomas Drozda, at a press conference today (1 September).

Schmidt made waves when he was named the first non-Italian to lead the Uffizi in 2015, among 20 new ‘super directors’ appointed to modernise Italy’s top museums and heritage sites. Following curatorial posts at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC (2001–06), the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles (2006–08), and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (2009–15), and a stint in charge of the European sculpture and works of art department at Sotheby’s London (2008–09), it was his first museum directorship. . .

The full article is available here»

Bellotto’s ‘Fortress of Königstein’ Acquired by NG, London

Posted in museums by Editor on August 24, 2017

Bernardo Bellotto, The Fortress of Königstein from the North, ca. 1756–58; oil on canvas, 132 × 236 cm
(London: The National Gallery)

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Press release from The National Gallery:

The Fortress of Königstein from the North by Bernardo Bellotto (1722–1780), which was due to be exported from Britain, has been saved for the nation and went on display in Trafalgar Square today (Tuesday, 22 August 2017).

Bernardo Bellotto’s works are among the very greatest of 18th-century view paintings, and The Fortress of Königstein from the North is one of the finest examples. It stands out as a highly evocative and beautiful depiction of a fortified location within an extensive panoramic landscape, and has no real parallel in European painting. If Bellotto was once overlooked in favour of his more famous uncle, Canaletto, today he is recognised as one of the most distinctive artistic personalities of his century. The acquisition of this masterpiece by the National Gallery will cement Bellotto’s reputation with both British and international visitors, giving him a significant place on the walls at Trafalgar Square that is long overdue.

The National Gallery is very strong in 18th-century view paintings; however, almost all of its works are of Italian sites. Bellotto’s The Fortress of Königstein from the North is the first major 18th-century landscape at the National Gallery to depict a Northern European view, and so this acquisition creates a bridge between Northern and Southern European painting in the collection.

The £11,670,000 acquisition was made possible thanks to a generous legacy from Mrs. Madeline Swallow, a £550,000 grant from Art Fund, contributions from the American Friends of the National Gallery and the National Gallery Trust, and the support of Howard and Roberta Ahmanson, the Deborah Loeb Brice Foundation, the Manny and Brigitta Davidson Charitable Foundation, the Sackler Trust, and other individual donors, trusts, and foundations.

The vast panoramic painting (132 × 236cm) depicts the Fortress of Königstein, near Dresden, and is one of a series of five large-scale views of the ancient hilltop fortress commissioned by Augustus III, King of Poland and Elector of Saxony, in about 1756. Here, the fortress is seen perched atop a crag, its fortifications providing an imposing contrast to the verdant landscape that surrounds it, in which peasants talk and work. Bellotto combines topographical accuracy in the fortress with pastoral invention in the figures. Imbued with a monumentality rarely seen in 18th-century Italian view painting, The Fortress of Königstein from the North dramatically illustrates the very different direction in which Bellotto took the Venetian tradition of the veduta.

The escalation of the Seven Years’ War in Saxony—a war that reshaped the balance of power in Europe—just after the series was commissioned meant that the views of Konigstein were never delivered. All five paintings were imported into Britain, probably during Bellotto’s lifetime, and they all remained in this country until 1993 when one of them was sold to Washington.* Unlike Canaletto, Bellotto is today underrepresented in the UK: there are just thirteen Bellotto paintings in British public collections, nearly all Italian views and mostly minor works.

Visitors can see The Fortress of Königstein from the North as part of a special display in Room 40 dedicated to its purchase. In early 2018 it will move to Room 38 and hang alongside works by fellow Italian view painters, his uncle Canaletto, and Canaletto’s successor in Venice, Francesco Guardi. The painting will also be the focus of wide-ranging public programmes engaging audiences nationwide, including a touring exhibition and educational programmes at museums across the UK.

* Locations of the other four works in the series: The Fortress of Königstein from the South (Knowsley Hall, UK), The Fortress of Königstein from the North-West (The National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.), The Fortress of Königstein: Courtyard with the Brunnenhaus and The Fortress of Königstein: Courtyard with the Magdalenenburg, (both Manchester Art Gallery).