Wednesday, 26 November 2014

John Smart 2

Yesterday Philip Mould & Company opened John Smart: A Genius Magnified at the Philip Mould Gallery, 29 Dover Street, London. The portrait shown here is John Smart's Portrait of an Unknown Lady (1777). Since first mentioning this exhibition I've identified the "Unknown Lady". She is Ann Hurlock. CLICK to see her miniature portrait on a snuff box and note she appears to be wearing the same dress in both portraits.

NEAC at Mall

On Friday 28 November the New English Art Club opens its Annual Exhibition at the Mall Galleries in central London. Over 400 paintings, prints and drawings by NEAC members, as well as selected work submitted by the public, will be on display, showcasing some of today's finest figurative painters. Shown is Town Hall, La Paz, Mexico by Jacqueline Williams NEAC. Entry costs £3 or £2.50 silver surfers (CLICK).

First Folio Found

This valuable, if begrimed, Shakespeare First Folio published in 1623 has been discovered by Remy Cordonnier, a French librarian in Saint-Omer, near Calais, while he was selecting books for an exhibition on historic links between the local region and England. Only about 230 copies of the First Folio were published. This find brings the number up to 233. On Saturday the book was authenticated by Eric Rasmussen, a First Folio expert from the University of Nevada, USA. This is the first new find in a decade (CLICK).

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Pin-up Art

It had to happen. Christie's London has been seduced by cheesecake. It's holding its first collaborative online sale of Vintage Posters and Photographs: The Art of the Pin-Up. Shown are two very famous examples of 20th Century pin-up art: Jean-Gabriel Domergue's L’Été á Monte-Carlo (c.1937) and Andre de Diene's photo of Marilyn Monroe on Tobey Beach (1949). The former is estimated at £2,000 to £3,000, the latter at £3,000 to £5,000. There are male pin-ups too. The sale closes on 3 December. CLICK to register.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Cumberland Suite

A new art gallery has opened at Hampton Court Palace. The Cumberland Art Gallery occupies a recently restored Georgian suite of rooms at the heart of the palace. The suite was designed by William Kent for William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, the youngest son of King George II. The new gallery will display changing exhibitions of paintings mainly from the Royal Collection. I was interested to note that two scandalous women were chosen for inclusion in the inaugural exhibition, put side by side. On the left is Sir Anthony van Dyck's portrait of his mistress Margaret Lemon (c. 1635-1640) with breast coyly exposed. On the right is Artemisia Gentileschi's feminist statement Self-Portrait as the Allegory of Painting (1630-1639). There are also masterpieces by Holbein, Rembrandt, Caravaggio, Bassano and Gainsborough plus a room full of Canalettos (CLICK). Admission costs £18.20.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Hamilton Wins

Congratulations to Lewis Hamilton for winning his second drivers' World Championship at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix today. Here he is celebrating with his girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger. It's also a celebration for Mercedes GP, which built his winning car in Great Britain (CLICK).

Tate Worlds

Tate has teamed up with leading Minecraft mapmakers to create virtual 3-D worlds for your edification. This Minecraft map (2014) is based on Christopher Nevinson’s painting The Soul of the Soulless City (1920) depicting New York. From tomorrow onwards Tate Worlds maps will be available free to players of Minecraft on PC or Mac only. They were created in Minecraft V1.8. Players will need the latest version of Minecraft to explore the new maps (CLICK). I must admit I got hooked on Sim City and Populous, but I've not tried Minecraft.

Paul Cézanne

I'm no fan of artist Paul Cézanne, whose quality of work I believe is wildly overestimated, but his daubs do fetch a pretty penny. The Paintings of Paul Cézanne is an online catalogue raisonné under the direction of Walter Feilchenfeldt, Jayne Warman and David Nash. For the very first time the new database allows free public access to full-colour images of all known paintings by Cézanne, updated from John Rewald's 1996 print version of the catalogue raisonné. You need to register to use the database, but that's a doddle. Coxsoft is registered. CLICK to begin. The image shown is Cézanne's La Montagne Sainte-Victoire et Noir (1904-06).

Hitler Sold

A watercolour by Adolf Hitler, together with the original bill of sale, has been sold for 130,000 euro thingies (£103,000) at an auction by Weidler in of all places the central German town of Nuremberg, where the Nazi war crimes trials were held. Munich City Hall (1914) was put up for sale by two elderly sisters whose grandfather had bought the painting in 1916, when Hitler was still a struggling artist rejected by the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts. If only they'd accepted crap artists as modern art schools do, World War II and the deaths of millions of people, including six million Jews in concentration camps, might have been averted (CLICK).

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Mike Nichols RIP

Recognize her? If you haven't seen Closer (2004) you'll find it difficult to recognize Natalie Portman. She won an Oscar for best supporting actress in the film. It was directed by Mike Nichols, who died this week at the age of 83. BBC News has posted stills from his movies to illustrate his career: CLICK.

Two Women

The most interesting painting I've seen today is George Bellows' Two Women (1924) which fetched $1,265,000 in Bonhams New York auction of American Art. Leading light of the Ashcan School, Bellows was renown for the gritty realism of his paintings of the urban poor in New York City. He painted Two Women a year before he died. The work is less impressionistic than some of his earlier paintings, but the gritty realism is still there in this double portrait of a brothel madam and a beautiful young prostitute (CLICK).

Friday, 21 November 2014

$44m Jimson Weed

Behold the most expensive painting by a female artist ever sold at auction. Jimson Weed/White Flower No 1 by late US artist Georgia O'Keeffe sold for $44.4m (£28.8m) at Sotheby’s New York auction of American Art. The painting was one of three O'Keeffe works put up for auction by the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico, sold to benefit its Acquisitions Fund (CLICK). Wanna Picasso?

Lost Wilkie Found

A generous legacy from art teacher Miss Marcia Lay has helped The National Gallery in London buy Scottish artist Sir David Wilkie's A Young Woman Kneeling at a Prayer Desk (1813). The painting was lost for more than 140 years. London-based art dealer Ben Elwes recognised the painting as a Wilkie when he saw it in the catalogue for a sale in New York. The sitter is thought to be Lady Augusta Phipps, who died in 1813 aged just 12. The painting needs a good clean. I've tweaked its gamma setting to bring out its colours (CLICK).

Venus Disrobing

This morning I chanced upon Lord Frederick Leighton's Venus Disrobing (not to be confused with his Venus Disrobing For The Bath) and noticed this little girl sitting at the feet of Venus, gazing up at her. The girl's dress looks totally out of keeping with Greek mythology. In fact as Venus's handmaiden she should be in the nude. Her dress appears Victorian. So is this an example of Trompe-l'œil (French for "to deceive the eye"? The Victorian viewer would be drawn into the picture by the illusion of a little girl sitting at Venus's feet. Sadly, the painting is in a private collection and I can't even find its date, let alone a commentary. CLICK to see it.