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New Acquisitions by the Met, LACMA, Nat’l Galleries of Scotland & the Meadows

June 17, 2013
Jan van Huysum, Still Life of Roses, Tulips, Peonies and other Flowers in a Sculpted Vase and a Bird’s Nest on a Ledge, about 1718. Scottish National Gallery. Oil on copper. Photo © Chris Watt.

Jan van Huysum, Still Life of Roses, Tulips, Peonies and other Flowers in a Sculpted Vase and a Bird’s Nest on a Ledge, about 1718. Scottish National Gallery. Oil on copper. Photo © Chris Watt.

Multiple reports about new museum acquisitions ranging from small, 12th century English champlevé enamel plaque depicting Saints Peter and Andrew to a riotous, 18th century floral still by Jan van Huysum still life.  According to ArtDaily, the van Huysum still life acquired by the National Galleries of Scotland is the artist’s largest work on copper.  The museum’s press announcement notes the acquisition was made:

 … through the Acceptance in Lieu scheme. It is the first Dutch flower still life to enter the Scottish National Gallery’s collection. The tax settlement value of the painting is £2.45million.

The painting is the first work by this artist to enter the National collection. Indeed, no painting from this period of van Huysum’s career is in any Scottish public collection.

The Acceptance in Lieu (AIL) scheme allows a deceased person’s estate to  gift significant items to the nation and satisfy more tax than by selling items on the open market. This also allows the nation to acquire important works of art at favourable prices.

Meanwhile, the Art Tribune carries word of painting acquisitions by LACMA, sculpture by the Meadows, and this impressive enamel by the Met.

Exceptional copper plaque with champlevé enamel, engraved and gilded, representing the Vocation of Peter and Andrew. Dark blue, mid-blue, light blue, white, mauve, dark purple, mid-green, light green, yellow enamel. Rectangular plaque with embossed edges and fixation holes in the corners. The scene shows the moment when Jesus catches sight of the brothers Peter and Andrew throwing their nets in their boat on Lake Tiberias. He calls to them asking them to join him (Matthew IV, 18-20; Mark 1, 16). On the left Christ is standing, in a dancing position, his legs crossed, his right arm raised as if in blessing, his feet running over onto the frame; a banner in front of his face carries the inscription VENITE.P(ost) ME ET FACIAM VOS FIERI PISCATORES HOMINUM («?Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.?»). The rest of the composition is made up of the two brothers in their boat, under-sized in comparison to the figures, who are turning their heads towards Christ. Peter, recognisable by his baldness, puts his right leg over the side of the boat, taking in one hand a panel of his robe and holding the bow in the other; Andrew seems to arch his back, both hands pulling on the string of the net; in the stylised, figurative waves there are half a dozen fish. The slats of wood which form the hull of the boat are decorated with indentations whereas the bottom of the boat is engraved with diamond-shaped netting, each intersection highlighted by small flowers. All around, the frame consists of three coloured stripes, one of which is beaded, with, at each corner, an engraved oak leaf. England, around 1170-1180 H. 8,6 cm - L. 12.4cm (some enamel missing on two frame corners, some of the gilding is worn away) Origin: private collection Lyon

Exceptional copper plaque with champlevé enamel, engraved and gilded, representing the Vocation of Peter and Andrew. Dark blue, mid-blue, light blue, white, mauve, dark purple, mid-green, light green, yellow enamel. Rectangular plaque with embossed edges and fixation holes in the corners. The scene shows the moment when Jesus catches sight of the brothers Peter and Andrew throwing their nets in their boat on Lake Tiberias. He calls to them asking them to join him (Matthew IV, 18-20; Mark 1, 16). On the left Christ is standing, in a dancing position, his legs crossed, his right arm raised as if in blessing, his feet running over onto the frame; a banner in front of his face carries the inscription VENITE.P(ost) ME ET FACIAM VOS FIERI PISCATORES HOMINUM («?Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.?»). The rest of the composition is made up of the two brothers in their boat, under-sized in comparison to the figures, who are turning their heads towards Christ. Peter, recognisable by his baldness, puts his right leg over the side of the boat, taking in one hand a panel of his robe and holding the bow in the other; Andrew seems to arch his back, both hands pulling on the
string of the net; in the stylised, figurative waves there are half a dozen fish. The slats of wood which form the hull of the boat are decorated with indentations whereas the bottom of the boat is engraved with diamond-shaped netting, each intersection highlighted by small flowers. All around, the frame consists of three coloured stripes, one of which is beaded, with, at each corner, an engraved oak leaf.
England, around 1170-1180, H. 8,6 cm – L. 12.4cm
(some enamel missing on two frame corners, some of the gilding is worn away)
Origin: private collection Lyon
Click on image to enlarge.

The enamel surfaced at an auction organized by De Baecque & Associés in Lyon, France. According to the auction catalogue, this “previously unheard of … plaque can be added to the seven others kept in French and foreign museums,” including one in the Met.  “These eight plaques adorned the facing of the same object, a large altarpiece or reliquary casket, which was broken up during the XIXth century. They show the lives of Peter and Paul, the two patron saints of Rome. The plaque presented here is the first showing the life of Peter when, fishing with his brother Andrew, he was enlisted by Christ.” The work sold for 680,000, well in excess of its € 50,000-200,000 estimate.

Meanwhile, LACMA picked up two paintings – a sinuous Daniel Crespi Mocking of Christ and an eloquent Francesco Trevisani Pieta. 

Daniele Crespi (c. 1595 ?-1630)) Mocking of Christ Oil on Canvas - 108 x 91 cm Los Angeles, County Museum of Art Photo : Lacma

Daniele Crespi (c. 1595 ?-1630))
Mocking of Christ
Oil on Canvas – 108 x 91 cm
Los Angeles, County Museum of Art
Photo : Lacma

The Crespi is from Giovanni Sarti gallery in Paris. It was at Sarti’s booth in Maastricht in 2007 and is currently in their Caravaggism exhibition. According to the Art Tribune account: “A student of Giovanni Battista Crespi, known as Il Cerano, Daniele Crespi reveals here Caravaggio’s realism … [and] the influence of three Milanese painters who made the transition between Mannerism and the Baroque, Cerano himself, Pier Francesco Mazzucchelli, known as Il Morazzone and Giulio Cesare Procaccini.”

The Trevisani was also seen at Maastricht with Adams Williams Fine Art in 2013. From the Art Tribune: “This is a small copper by Francesco Trevisani … a painter who trained in Venice then arrived in Rome in 1676, spending the rest of his life there. His masterpiece is the décor of a chapel in the church of San Silvestro in Capite (1696), done in a “tenebrist” style he would later abandon.”

Francesco Trevisani (1656-1746) Pietà Oil on Copper - 22.5 x 17.5 cm Los Angeles, County Museum of Art Photo : Adam Williams Fine Art

Francesco Trevisani (1656-1746)
Pietà
Oil on Copper – 22.5 x 17.5 cm
Los Angeles, County Museum of Art
Photo : Adam Williams Fine Art

Finally, the Meadows Museum in Dallas has acquired a striking early 18th century polychromed terra cotta sculpture of Saint Paul by the Spanish artist Juan Alonso Villabrille y Ron.

Juan Alonso Villabrille y Ron (c. 1663-1732),  Saint Paul anchorite, c. 1715 Terracotta Dallas, Meadows Museum, Photo : Dimitris Skliris Click on image to enlarge.

Juan Alonso Villabrille y Ron (c. 1663-1732),
Saint Paul anchorite, c. 1715
Terracotta
Dallas, Meadows Museum,
Photo : Dimitris Skliris
Click on image to enlarge.

This is an exquisite example of late Spanish Baroque naturalism and the only known terra cotta work by the artist who typically worked in polychromed stone and wood. The subject, as the Art Tribune reports, is “Saint Paul, the first Christian anchorite, often represented as here dressed in a cloth of woven palm leaves.”

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