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).




Exhibition | Project Blue Boy

Posted in exhibitions, museums by Editor on August 6, 2017

Press release (3 August 2017) from The Huntington:

Project Blue Boy
The Huntington, San Marino, September 2018 — September 2019

Thomas Gainsborough, The Blue Boy, ca. 1770; oil on canvas, 71 × 49 inches (San Marino: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens).

One of the most famous paintings in British and American history, The Blue Boy, made around 1770 by English painter Thomas Gainsborough (1727–1788), will undergo its first major technical examination and conservation treatment. Project Blue Boy begins on August 8, 2017, when the life-size image of a young man in an iconic blue satin costume will go off public view for preliminary conservation analysis until November 1. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens, home to The Blue Boy since its acquisition by founder Henry E. Huntington in 1921, will conduct the conservation project over a two-year period. The final part of the project will largely take place in public view, during a year-long exhibition, also called Project Blue Boy, presented from September 2018 to September 2019 in the Thornton Portrait Gallery, where the painting traditionally hangs.

“We are profoundly conscious of our duty of care towards this unique and remarkable treasure,” said Steve Hindle, The Huntington’s Interim President and W.M. Keck Foundation Director of Research. “The Blue Boy has been the most beloved work of art at The Huntington since it opened its doors in 1928. It is with great pride that we launch this thoughtful and painstaking endeavor to study, restore, and preserve Gainsborough’s masterpiece. The fact that we are able to do so while inviting the public to watch and to learn is both gratifying and exciting—not least since the project is so perfectly suited to our mission.”

The Blue Boy requires conservation to address both structural and visual concerns. The painting is so important and popular that it has been on almost constant display since The Huntington opened to the public almost 100 years ago. “The most recent conservation treatments have mainly involved adding new layers of varnish as temporary solutions to keep The Blue Boy on view as much as possible,” said Christina O’Connell, The Huntington’s senior paintings conservator and co-curator of the exhibition. “The original colors now appear hazy and dull, and many of the details are obscured.” According to O’Connell, there are also several areas where the paint is beginning to lift and flake, making the work vulnerable to loss and permanent damage; and the adhesive that binds the canvas to its lining is failing, meaning the painting does not have adequate support for long-term display. These issues and more will be addressed by Project Blue Boy.

In addition to contributing to scholarship in the field of conservation, the undertaking will likely uncover new information of interest to art historians. O’Connell will use a Haag-Streit surgical microscope to closely examine the painting. To gather material information, she will employ imaging techniques including digital x-radiography, infrared reflectography, ultraviolet fluorescence, and x-ray fluorescence. The data from these analytical techniques will contribute to a better understanding of the materials Gainsborough procured to create The Blue Boy while at the same time revealing information about earlier conservation treatments. The Huntington will address several questions. “One area we’d like to better understand is, what technical means did Gainsborough use to achieve his spectacular visual effects?” said Melinda McCurdy, The Huntington’s associate curator for British art and co-curator of the exhibition. “He was known for his lively brushwork and brilliant, multifaceted color. Did he develop special pigments, create new materials, pioneer new techniques?” She and O’Connell will build upon clues gleaned from previous conservation projects to learn more. “We know from earlier x-rays that The Blue Boy was painted on a used canvas, on which the artist had begun the portrait of a man,” she said. “What might new technologies tell us about this earlier abandoned portrait? Where does this lost painting fit into his career? How does it compare with other portraits from the 1760s?” McCurdy also looks forward to discovering other anomalies that may become visible beneath the surface paint, and what they might indicate about Gainsborough’s painting practice.

The Huntington’s website will track the project as it unfolds.



National Museum Wales Acquires Rare Richard Wilson Portrait

Posted in museums by Editor on August 4, 2017

Press release (7 July 2017) from the UK’s Art Fund:

With support from Art Fund, National Museum Wales has acquired the painting Portrait of a Lady (ca. 1750), which is now on display at National Museum Cardiff. Thought to be an image of Miss Mary Jenkins, whose family owned Priston Manor in Somerset, the work joins only one other female portrait by Wilson in National Museum Wales’ collection. It offers insight into Wilson’s early career, when he first trained in London as a society portrait painter, before later becoming best known for his landscapes.

The acquisition has also enabled further research, which is currently trying to establish whether this may in fact be a marriage portrait, rather than one of a pair of siblings (Wilson also painted Jenkins’ sister, Elizabeth, in the same year). The woman’s hand clasps a sprig of white blossom, which may be choisya (orange blossom), sometimes used to symbolise an eternal bond.

“This striking and intriguing Portrait of a Lady is a strong example of Wilson’s early practice, and further enriches Amgueddfa Cymru’s collection of works by the artist,” said Andrew Renton, keeper of art at National Museum Wales. “This portrait not only strengthens the female presence in our 18th-century displays but it also enables us to undertake interesting further research—the identity of the sitter is speculative and we’d love to be sure who she really is!”

“Richard Wilson is of course one of Wales’ most celebrated landscape painters, but his portraits are particularly rare,” said Stephen Deuchar, director of Art Fund. “We’re very pleased to support this acquisition for Amgueddfa Cymru—National Museum Wales, a leading centre for his work in all its range and depth.”

The Getty Purchases Watteau’s La Surprise and 16 Master Drawings

Posted in museums by Editor on July 31, 2017

As reported by Jori Finkel in The New York Times (20 July 2017) . . .

The Getty Museum has made the biggest financial outlay for art in its history . . . . Judging from sales records for several of these artworks during weaker art-market periods, the Getty’s purchase price could have easily topped $100 million. The museum’s director, Timothy Potts, would not confirm the amount except to say that the deal was “the Getty’s biggest in terms of financial value. . . ”

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Paul Jeromack writes in The Art Newspaper (26 July 2017) . . .

According to sources in the field, the windfall comes from the collection of the 62-year-old collector Luca Padulli, the co-founder of the British investment management company Camomille Associates, who bought the works at auction over the last 17 years, through the British Old Master dealer, Jean-Luc Baroni. . .

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La Surprise was believed to have been destroyed until it re-emerged in 2007; it sold at Christie’s in 2008 for over $24million. Press release (20 July 2017) from The Getty:

Jean Antoine Watteau, La Surprise, ca. 1718; oil on panel, 36 × 28 cm (Los Angeles: The Getty Museum).

The J. Paul Getty Museum announced today the most important acquisition in the history of the Museum’s Department of Drawings. Acquired as a group from a British private collection, the 16 drawings are by many of the greatest artists of western art history, including Michelangelo, Lorenzo di Credi, Andrea del Sarto, Parmigianino, Rubens, Barocci, Goya, Degas, and others. From the same collection, the Museum has acquired a celebrated painting by the great eighteenth-century French artist Jean Antoine Watteau.

“This acquisition is truly a transformative event in the history of the Getty Museum,” said Timothy Potts, director of the J. Paul Getty Museum. “It brings into our collection many of the finest drawings of the Renaissance through 19th century that have come to market over the past 30 years, including a number of masterpieces that are among the most famous works on paper by these artists: Michelangelo’s Study of a Mourning Woman, Parmigianino’s Head of a Young Man, and Andrea del Sarto’s Study for the Head of St Joseph (the highlight of the Getty’s recent exhibition on that artist). It is very unlikely that there will ever be another opportunity to elevate so significantly our representation of these artists, and, more importantly, the status of the Getty collection overall.”

“Beyond the core of Renaissance through Rococo works, our modern holdings too are magnificently enhanced by one of Goya’s late, bizarre subjects, The Eagle Hunter, and Degas’s majestic pastel After the Bath (Woman Drying Herself).”

Potts added, “No less exciting for the Department of Paintings is the addition of one of Watteau’s most famous and canonical works, La Surprise. It was indeed a very welcome surprise when this lost masterpiece reappeared ten years ago in Britain. And one can see why: the act of seduction portrayed in the painting is matched only by the artist’s delicately flickering brushwork—the combination of titillating subject and charming rendition that made him the most esteemed painter of his day. It will be very much at home at the Getty, where it crowns our other exceptional eighteenth-century French paintings by Lancret, Chardin, Greuze, Fragonard, and Boucher.”

La Surprise is a fête galante, a popular genre depicting outdoor revelry that Watteau invented and which epitomizes the light-hearted spirit of French painting in the early eighteenth century. The scene features a young woman and man in passionate embrace seemingly oblivious to the musician seated next to them. He is Mezzetin, the trouble maker, a stock comic character from the commedia dell’arte. Throughout Watteau’s short but illustrious career—he died when he was only 27 years old—the characters of the commedia dell’arte figured prominently in his paintings, often mingling with elegant contemporary figures in a park or landscape.

Highly admired in the eighteenth century, the painting was thought lost and for centuries was known to art historians only from a 1731 engraving and a copy in the British Royal Collection. In 2007 it was found in an English private collection, becoming the most important work by Watteau to be rediscovered in recent times.

La Surprise exemplifies Watteau’s delightful pictorial inventions, brilliant brushwork, and refined, elegant compositions,” said Davide Gasparotto, senior curator of paintings at the Getty Museum. “It is undoubtedly one of the most exquisite and important Watteau paintings to become available in modern times. We are now able to present to the public a seminal genre of French eighteenth-century painting in a masterwork by its inventor. La Surprise will no doubt become one of our most beloved and recognizable paintings.”

The painting and all of the 16 drawings were purchased as a group from a British private collection. The drawings are mostly Italian but there are also exceptional works by British, Dutch, Flemish, French, and Spanish artists. A nucleus of Italian Renaissance works anchors the group, including a rare and beautiful ‘cartoon’ (full-sized direct transfer drawing for a painting) by Lorenzo di Credi; one of Andrea del Sarto’s finest drawings (from the collection of artist-writer Giorgio Vasari); and Michelangelo’s powerful pen and ink study of a mourning woman, a famous discovery made at Castle Howard, England in 2000.

Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo, Punchinello Riding a Camel at the Head of a Caravan, late 1790s (Los Angeles: The Getty Museum).

Other highlights include Parmigianino’s ink drawing of the head of a young man; Savoldo’s Study for St Peter; Beccafumi’s Head of a Youth; and Sebastiano del Piombo’s Study for the Figure of Christ Carrying the Cross. From the post-Renaissance period, the collection features Barocci’s masterful Head Study of St Joseph; Rubens’s powerful oil-on-paper Study of an African Man Wearing a Turban; Cuyp’s panoramic View of Dordrecht, one of the great landscape drawings of the Dutch Golden Age; and Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo’s Punchinello Riding a Camel at the Head of a Caravan, a brilliant example of the narrative mastery for which Tiepolo was admired.

Goya’s The Eagle Hunter, a darkly satirical brush and ink drawing depicts a hunter wearing a metal cooking pot for a helmet while precariously suspending himself over a cliff to try to snatch young eagles from a nest. Degas, arguably the greatest draftsman of the nineteenth century, is represented by two drawings, a sheet with two chalk studies of ballet dancers, used by the artist for no fewer than three paintings, and a large and startlingly bold pastel showing his unrivaled innovation in that medium.

“Any one of these sheets on its own is truly extraordinary and would be a worthy and meaningful acquisition for the Getty. Together, the 16 drawings form an unparalleled roll call of the ‘best of the best,’ with iconic sheets by some of the world’s most celebrated artists,” said Julian Brooks, senior curator of drawings at the Getty Museum. “This powerful group of works represent the finest aspects of Western art history captured on paper. I am eagerly anticipating sharing these masterworks with our visitors as well as our international scholarly and museum community.”

While the majority of works are currently at the Getty Museum, some are still pending export licenses from the U.K. Research on further drawings from the same collection, with a view to possible acquisition, is currently underway. Plans are also proceeding to display the group together at the Getty Museum in a special installation in the near future.

The 16 Drawings
Study of a Mourning Woman, about 1500-05, by Michelangelo Buonarroti (Italian, 1475–1564)
Head of a Young Boy Crowned with Laurel, about 1500-05, by Lorenzo di Credi (Italian, c. 1457–1537)
Heads of Two Dominican Friars, about 1511, by Fra Bartolommeo (Italian, 1472–1517)
Study for the Head of Saint Joseph, about 1526–27, Andrea del Sarto (Italian, 1486–1530)
Study for the Figure of Christ Carrying the Cross, about 1513–14, by Sebastiano del Piombo (c. 1485–1547)
The Head of a Young Man, about 1539–40, by Parmigianino (Girolamo Francesco Maria Mazzola) (Italian, 1503–1540)
Head of a Youth, about 1530, by Domenico Beccafumi (Italian, 1484–1551)
Study for Saint Peter, about 1533, by Giovanni Girolamo Savoldo (Italian, c. 1480–1540)
Head of Saint Joseph, about 1586, by Federico Barocci (Italian, c. 1535–1612)
Head of an African Man Wearing a Turban, about 1609–13, by Peter Paul Rubens (Flemish, 1577–1640)
Panoramic View of Dordrecht and the River Maas, about 1645–52, by Aelbert Cuyp (Dutch, 1620–1692)
Punchinello Riding a Camel at the Head of a Caravan, late 1790s, by Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo (Italian, 1727–1804)
The Eagle Hunter, about 1812–20, by Francisco Jose de Goya y Lucientes (Spanish, 1746–1828)
The Destruction of Pharaoh’s Host, 1836, by John Martin (British, 1789–1854)
Two Studies of Dancers, about 1873, by Edgar Degas (French, 1834–1917)
After the Bath (Woman Drying Herself), about 1886, by Edgar Degas (French, 1834–1917)

















Thomas Campbell Receives Getty/Rothschild Fellowship

Posted in fellowships, museums by Editor on July 31, 2017

Press release (27 July 2017) from The Getty:

The Getty and the Rothschild Foundation today announced Dr. Thomas P. Campbell as the second recipient of the Getty Rothschild Fellowship. The fellowship supports innovative scholarship in the history of art, collecting, and conservation, using the collection and resources of both institutions. It offers art historians, museum professionals, or conservators the opportunity to research and study at both the Getty in Los Angeles and Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire, England.

As the ninth director of The Metropolitan Museum of Art from 2009 to 2017, Campbell pursued a groundbreaking agenda that combined scholarship with accessibility. He reinforced the Museum’s excellence in its collections, exhibitions, publications and international engagement while reimagining the visitor experience both in the galleries and via an industry-leading digital presence. During his tenure, the museum increased its audience by 40%. His project for the Getty Rothschild fellowship will focus on the changing environment in which museums are operating and the ways art and cultural heritage can be used to promote mutual understanding.

The selection process for the Getty Rothschild fellowship considers a number of criteria, including whether the applicant’s work would benefit from proximity to the Getty and Rothschild collections. Fellowships are for up to eight months, with the time split equally between the Getty and Waddesdon Manor. Campbell will be at the Getty from November 2017 to February 2018 and at Waddesdon Manor from March to June 2018. Fellows also receive a stipend during their time at both locations. The fellowship is administered by the Getty Foundation.

Campbell says of his selection for the fellowship: “I am honored to be named a Getty/Rothschild fellow and to be given the opportunity to devote the coming year to examine, first, the fundamental question of where the cultural sector is heading as it responds to various geo-political, economic and digital challenges. And second, the related question of how we can use art and culture as a gateway to promote understanding in an ever-more connected but ever-more divided world.”

The inaugural recipient of the fellowship was Dr. David Saunders, a foremost expert in the area of conservation science who worked on museum and gallery lighting during the fellowship. In 2014, Lord Jacob Rothschild received the Getty Medal for his contributions to the practice, understanding, and support of the arts.

The Bilbao Fine Arts Museum Acquires Paret’s ‘View of Bermeo’

Posted in museums by Editor on July 18, 2017

Luis Paret y Alcázar, View of Bermeo, 1783
(Bilbao: El Museo de Bellas Artes)

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The Bilbao Fine Arts Museum presents View of Bermeo of 1783 by Luis Paret y Alcázar (1746–1799), acquired from the heirs of José Luis Várez Fisa. The painting has been obtained with an interest-free loan thanks to the sponsorship of BBK, to be repaid over the following years with the contribution from the Friends of the Museum.

In addition to its undoubted artistic value, View of Bermeo of 1783 is of enormous historical interest given that it is considered the first work in a series of paintings depicting the ports of Cantabria and is the first view of the Basque Country painted by this artist from Madrid. Born in the same year as Goya, Paret led a storied life, resulting in his banishment, first to Puerto Rico and then to Bilbao, which prevented him from maintaining his prominent position at Court, a fact that to some extent favoured Goya’s professional success. At that point the Basque Country had almost no artistic tradition, for which reason the presence of a painter of Paret’s importance can be considered a remarkable artistic event and one that was decisive for its artistic and cultural evolution.

View of Bermeo is one of the most outstanding works of 18th-century Spanish painting and can be considered the first surviving modern and purely artistic image of a location in the Basque Country. This oil, which is in excellent condition despite its delicate copper support, perfectly combines a carefully devised composition and setting with an exquisite, detailed finish. Paret presented the scene as a social encounter in which he dignified local people and customs, offering an unprecedented visual record in the context of the Basque Country. The panel was painted in 1783 for the future Charles IV, son of Charles III and at that date Prince of Asturias, possibly with the aim of facilitating the end of Paret’s banishment which was imposed on him in 1775 due to his involvement in the dissolute life of the Infante don Luis, younger brother of Charles III. Paret’s imposed exile was finally repealed in 1785. The artist conceived the work as a pair to another view of Bermeo (present whereabouts unknown) in which he depicted the port during a squall.

The Bilbao Fine Arts Museum has thus increased its holdings of the work of Luis Paret y Alcázar, and its collection now includes View of El Arenal in Bilbao, 1783–84; Scene of Villagers (fragment), 1786; View of Fuenterrabía (fragment), 1786; The Triumph of Love over War, 1784; The Virgin with the Christ Child and Saint James the Greater, 1786; The Holy Shepherd, 1782; and the recently acquired View of Bermeo, 1783.

More information about the painting and the artist are available here»

Early Gainsborough Drawings Discovered at Windsor

Posted in museums by Editor on July 12, 2017

Rosie Razzall (left) and Lindsay Stainton (right) in the Print Room at Windsor Castle. Still from the BBC video describing the discovery (102 seconds), by video journalist Alex Stanger.

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As Rebecca Jones reports for the BBC (10 July 2017). . .

An album of drawings by 18th-century painter Thomas Gainsborough has been discovered in the Royal Collection at Windsor Castle. The drawings had been misattributed to another artist, Sir Edwin Landseer, since the reign of Queen Victoria. But after studying the 25 black-and-white chalk sketches, historian Lindsay Stainton confirmed they are actually early works by one of Britain’s most famous painters.

“It’s thrilling,” she told the BBC. “It’s the very best collection of Gainsborough’s early drawings in existence.” . . .

“We’re very much convinced that these are an important group of early drawings by Thomas Gainsborough,” agrees Rosie Razzall, curator of prints and drawings at the Royal Library. “It’s an extremely significant discovery. It means we are able to re-appraise the early work of Gainsborough.” . . .

The full article and video are available here»