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$35 Million Picasso Sculpture Starts 2013 Fall Impressionist & Modern Art Auctions in New York – UPDATED WITH SALE RESULTS

October 25, 2013
Lot. 21 Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)  Tête (Maquette pour la sculpture en plein air du Chicago Civic Center) cut and welded steel  height: 41½ in. (105.5 cm.); width: 27½ in. (70 cm.); depth: 17¾ in. (45 cm.) conceived in Mougins, 1962-1964 and executed in 1964; unique  Provenance Estate of the artist. Marina Picasso (by descent from the above). Jan Krugier, acquired from the above. Estimate: $25 - 35 million.

Lot. 21 Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)
Tête (Maquette pour la sculpture en plein air du Chicago Civic Center)
cut and welded steel
height: 41½ in. (105.5 cm.); width: 27½ in. (70 cm.); depth: 17¾ in. (45 cm.)
conceived in Mougins, 1962-1964 and executed in 1964; unique
Provenance
Estate of the artist.
Marina Picasso (by descent from the above).
Jan Krugier, acquired from the above.
Estimate: $25 – 35 million. Bidding on this lot stopped at $19 million and it failed to sell.

UPDATE: What a train wreck of a sale. The sale, subtitled “A Dialogue Through Art” was largely a one-way conversation with buyer’s frequently saying: “No thanks.” Exaggerated estimates for works, many of which have been on the market for a while according to the New York Times, resulted in a steep buy in rate for many of the top lots in the sale.  The final result, $92,533,000 (including buyers’ premiums) was no where near the low estimate of $147 million (which does not include the buyers’ premiums). The complete list of results.  According to Bloomberg News, “China’s richest man, Wang Jianlin, bought Picasso’s painting of his young children, Claude and Paloma, for $28.2 million” (below).

ORIGINAL POST: The 2103 Fall season of Impressionist and Modern art auctions in New York will kick off November 4, 2013 at Christie’s with the sale of works owned by art dealer Jan Krugier, and the top lot in the sale is a 41½ in. tall steel maquette for Picasso’s Tête in the Chicago Civic Center. According to the lot notes, this is one of two maquettes for the finished sculpture:

The completed freestanding sculpture measures 65 feet (20 m) in height, and occupies today, as it did when it was unveiled 15 August 1967, the plaza in front of the Civic Center building, since 1976 known as the Richard J. Daley Center in honor of the late mayor, in downtown Chicago. Picasso made a gift of the maquette sent to America to the Art Institute of Chicago. The present maquette remained in Picasso’s possession during his lifetime; following his death in 1973 the sculpture was bequeathed to his grand-daughter Marina, and subsequently entered the collection of Mr. Krugier.

Lot. 21 Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) Tête (Maquette pour la sculpture en plein air du Chicago Civic Center)

Lot. 21 Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)
Tête (Maquette pour la sculpture en plein air du Chicago Civic Center)

Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944)  Herbstlandschaft  signed and dated 'KANDINSKY 1911.' (lower right)  oil on canvas  28 1/8 x 39 1/8 in. (71.6 x 99.3 cm.)  painted on 31 January 1911  Provenance Nierendorf Gallery, New York. Mies van der Rohe, Chicago (acquired from the above, 1941). Lora F. Marx, Chicago (gift from the above, circa 1942); sale, Sotheby's, New York, 9 May 1989, lot 33. Jan Krugier, acquired at the above sale. Estimate: $20 - 25 million.

Lot 41. Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944)
Herbstlandschaft
signed and dated ‘KANDINSKY 1911.’ (lower right)
oil on canvas
28 1/8 x 39 1/8 in. (71.6 x 99.3 cm.)
painted on 31 January 1911
Provenance
Nierendorf Gallery, New York.
Mies van der Rohe, Chicago (acquired from the above, 1941).
Lora F. Marx, Chicago (gift from the above, circa 1942); sale, Sotheby’s, New York, 9 May 1989, lot 33.
Jan Krugier, acquired at the above sale.
Estimate: $20 – 25 million. Bidding on this lot stopped at $14 million and it failed to sell.

This Kandinsky was at one time owned by the architect Mies van der Rohe.  From the lot notes:

According to Kandinsky’s personal handlist, he painted this canvas on 31 January 1911. Several weeks earlier, on 2 January, the artist attended in Munich a concert of the music of the Viennese composer Arnold Schoenberg, to whom he wrote on the 18th: “what we are striving for and our whole manner of thought and feeling have so much in common… In your works you have realized what I have so greatly longed for in music” (quoted inSchoenberg, Kandinsky and the Blue Rider, exh. cat., The Jewish Museum, New York, 2003, p. 79).

Lot 45. Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966)  Femme de Venise I  signed and numbered 'Alberto Giacometti 2/6' (on the left side of the base); inscribed with foundry mark 'SUSSE FONDEUR PARIS' (on the back of the base) bronze with dark brown patina  height: 41¼ in. (104.8 cm.)  conceived in 1956 and cast in 1957  Estimate: $9 - 12 million

Lot 45. Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966)
Femme de Venise I
signed and numbered ‘Alberto Giacometti 2/6’ (on the left side of the base); inscribed with foundry mark ‘SUSSE FONDEUR PARIS’ (on the back of the base)
bronze with dark brown patina
height: 41¼ in. (104.8 cm.)
conceived in 1956 and cast in 1957
Estimate: $9 – 12 million. Bidding on this lot stopped at $6.8 million and it failed to sell.

From the lot notes:

The sculptures known as the Femmes de Venise, a series comprising nine individual but closely related figures executed in plaster during 1956 and subsequently cast in bronze, are probably Giacometti’s best-known works, and are generally regarded as having significantly contributed to his reputation and fame as the most important sculptor of the postwar era. “The Women of Venice mark the halfway point in Giacometti’s mature work,” Christian Klemm has stated, “they bring together the different characteristics of his figures. The evocative name, which binds the individual figures into one group despite their differences, had an enhancing effect: as the figures became legendary, they came to be regarded as the epitome of his art. The extremely small, distant heads and the innovatively sloping pedestals, from which the over-size feet grow, still make them seem like revelatory, illusionistic visions. The tension in the mingling of goddess and concubine, of Egyptian cult image and decomposing corpse, is seen nowhere as vividly as in this group” (Alberto Giacometti, exh. cat., The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2001, p. 218).

Lot 17. Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)  Claude et Paloma  dated and inscribed 'vendredi 20.1.50. Vallauris' (on the reverse)  oil and ripolin on panel  45 5/8 x 35 in. (116 x 89 cm.)  painted in Vallauris, 20 January 1950  Estimate: $ 9 - 12 million

Lot 17. Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)
Claude et Paloma
dated and inscribed ‘vendredi 20.1.50. Vallauris’ (on the reverse)
oil and ripolin on panel
45 5/8 x 35 in. (116 x 89 cm.)
painted in Vallauris, 20 January 1950
Estimate: $ 9 – 12 million. This lot sold for a hammer price of $25 million ($28,165,000 with the buyer’s premium).

From the lot notes:

Kirk Varnedoe has written, “Whether in recognition of a new age of permissive thinking about early childhood or out of a greater concern to absorb for himself some of the budding vitality of their youth, Picasso in the early 1950s doted on the childishness of Paloma and Claude; rather than imposing premature adulthood on them in his work, he often let their games, their toys, their own creations–as well as the mercurial intensity of their emotional life–inform his art” (Picasso and Portraiture: Representation and Transformation, exh. cat., The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1996, p. 160).

Lot 23. Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966)  Nu debout  signed and dated 'Alberto Giacometti 1958' (lower right)  oil on canvas  61 x 27½ in. (155 x 69.7 cm.)  painted in 1958  Estimate: $8 - 12 million

Lot 23. Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966)
Nu debout
signed and dated ‘Alberto Giacometti 1958’ (lower right)
oil on canvas
61 x 27½ in. (155 x 69.7 cm.)
painted in 1958
Estimate: $8 – 12 million. Bidding on this lot stopped at $4.8 million and it failed to sell.

From the lot notes:

Giacometti painted this large Nu debout in 1958, as he was consolidating his efforts following a crisis he had experienced in his painting while working, over a period of two years, on a portrait which the Japanese professor Isaku Yanaihara had commissioned from him. The artist had been previously painting to his satisfaction and with great success since the late 1940s, when he turned away from the visionary, attenuated and weightless figure sculptures that had won him world-wide acclaim. He thereafter decided to resume painting and to place this component in his work on an equal footing with his sculpture.

The 1958 series of painted standing nudes have as their immediate sculptural antecedents the celebrated Femmes de Venise of 1956, and they in turn prefigure the Grande femme debout sculptures that would occupy Giacometti during 1959-1960, after he received the nod to submit designs for monumental works to be installed at the Chase Manhattan Bank Plaza in lower Manhattan. Giacometti always desired that his achievement in painting should be recognized as commensurate with his reputation as a sculptor.

Lot 31. Joan Miró (1893-1983)  Peinture--L'Oiseau  signed and dated 'Miró. 1926.' (lower right); signed and dated again 'Joan Miró 1926' (on the reverse) oil on canvas  28¾ x 36¼ in. (73.2 x 92.2 cm.)  painted in 1926  Estimate: $8 - 12 million

Lot 31. Joan Miró (1893-1983)
Peinture–L’Oiseau
signed and dated ‘Miró. 1926.’ (lower right); signed and dated again ‘Joan Miró 1926’ (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
28¾ x 36¼ in. (73.2 x 92.2 cm.)
painted in 1926
Estimate: $8 – 12 million. Bidding on this lot stopped at $6.2 million and it failed to sell.

The catalogue begins by saying: “Audaciously spare in its motifs … ” but not in its estimate. Then again, what might be called audacious now will be chump change in just a few years.

The Nerve! Art Thief May Sue Museum for Making Heist Too Easy – Says Museum is Negligent

October 24, 2013
Radu Dogaru msn

Accused thief Radu Dogaru claims museum he allegedly robbed was negligent for having too “little security.”
msn

Artfix Daily has a story that is a new twist on “blaming the victim”:

Accused thief Radu Dogaru says he’s a victim in the $24-million art heist that he perpetrated. Dogaru says the crime was too easy and that the Kunsthal Museum should be sued for negligence .

Dogaru and six other Romanians stole paintings by Picasso, Monet, and Gauguin from Rotterdam’s Kunsthal museum in only three minutes last October.

“I could not imagine that a museum would exhibit such valuable works with so little security,” said Dogaru during a Tuesday court hearing.

Dogaru faces a maximum of 20 years in prison. He confessed his crime to the Dutch police.

His lawyer, Catalin Dancu, says the Kunsthal is responsible for the poor security given to the loaned artworks. If the museum is found guilty, contend Dogaru’s lawyers, it may have to pay some of the claims, the AFP reports. Dogaru’s mother stated that she burned the paintings, but later retracted her claim.

“We can clearly speak of negligence with serious consequences,” said Dancu. ”If we do not receive answers about who is guilty, we are considering hiring Dutch lawyers to start a legal case in The Netherlands or in Romania.”

Meadows Museum purchases Late Goya Portrait

October 15, 2013

Lot 103. FRANCISCO JOSÉ DE GOYA Y LUCIENTES FUENDETODOS 1746 - 1828 BORDEAUX PORTRAIT OF MARIANO GOYA, THE ARTIST'S GRANDSON inscribed by the artist on the reverse:  Goya á su/ nieto en 1827/ á/ los 81 de su/ edad [Goya, to his grandson, at 81 years old] oil on canvas: 20 1/2  by 16 1/4  in.; 52 by 41.2 cm. Estimate: $6-8 million

Lot 103. FRANCISCO JOSÉ DE GOYA Y LUCIENTES
FUENDETODOS 1746 – 1828 BORDEAUX
PORTRAIT OF MARIANO GOYA, THE ARTIST’S GRANDSON
inscribed by the artist on the reverse: Goya á su/ nieto en 1827/ á/ los 81 de su/ edad [Goya, to his grandson, at 81 years old]
oil on canvas: 20 1/2 by 16 1/4 in.; 52 by 41.2 cm.
Estimate: $6-8 million

In January 2013 at the New York Old Master sales at Sotheby’s, this portrait by Goya went unsold after bidding stopped at $5.6 million and the work missed its $6-8 million estimate.  Now word comes that the Meadows Museum in Dallas, TX, has purchased the painting in advance of its 50th anniversary in 2015. According to the museum’s press release: “The work — which has not been on display for more than 40 years — is one of Goya’s last paintings, finished just months before his death.” In addition, “Funding for the acquisition was provided by The Meadows Foundation and a gift from Mrs. Eugene McDermott.”

The release continues:

The Meadows has one of the foremost collections of Spanish art in the world — spanning the 10th through 21st centuries — enabling the museum to present this masterwork within the context of the historic sweep of art from Spain. As a leader in research on the art of Spain, the Meadows will foster scholarship on the new Goya work and its significance.

“The Meadows Museum will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2015, and the acquisition of this extraordinary work by Goya is a wonderful way to begin that celebration,” said Mark A. Roglán, the Linda P. and William A. Custard Director of the Meadows Museum and Centennial Chair in the Meadows School of the Arts, SMU.

The Goya is a late portrait painted a year before the artist’s death in 1828; it depicts his grandson Mariano.  According to the Sotheby’s auction catalogue lot notes:

Goya adored his grandson.  In September 1823 he had given him the Quinta del Sordo, his house on the outskirts of Madrid, which was decorated with the celebrated Black Paintings.  In Bordeaux he set aside a large portion of his pension in order to provide for Mariano and in 1827, on his brief visit to Madrid, he painted the present work, showing a remarkably handsome young man not yet twenty-one years old.  As depicted by his grandfather, Mariano looks frank and straightforward, but unfortunately he did not live up to his portrait.  He was a reckless and wasteful young man, who bought an aristocratic title to prop himself up and squandered the money his grandfather left him.   Eventually he sold all the works by Goya that belonged to the family, although how and when this portrait left the collection remains undocumented.  Fortunately Goya died in 1828 and so did not witness any of this.

The work went on view on October 9, 2013.

National Gallery of Art Acquires Four Elegant Still Life Paintings

October 13, 2013
Jacob van Hulsdonck (1582 - 1647) Wild Strawberries and Carnation  in a Wan-Li Bowl, c. 1620 Oil on Copper - 28.3 × 36.2 cm Washington, National Gallery of Art

Jacob van Hulsdonck (1582 – 1647)
Wild Strawberries and Carnation
in a Wan-Li Bowl, c. 1620
Oil on Copper – 28.3 × 36.2 cm
Washington, National Gallery of Art

The Art Tribune notes the acquisition of four still life paintings by the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.  Two paintings were purchased, including one by the Flemish artist Jacob von Hulsdonck (above), which was Lot 32 at Sotheby’s Old Masters sale on December 5, 2012.  The picture was estimate at £300,000-500,000 and sold for £361,250, inclusive of the buyer’s premium. About the painting, the Art Tribune notes:

The painter treats the color red depicting different kinds of fruit – cherries, redcurrants, strawberries – while the carnation occupies the upper portion of the composition. The porcelain provides a contrast as well as a visual reference, acting as a focal point on which the composition is centered, while the butterfly and the green leaves into which it blends in fact, bring life to the ensemble. The neutral background, the frontal disposition, the studied dispersion of the elements and the carefully wrought execution can be found in other paintings by the artist.

Van Hulsdonck trained in Middelburg where he was probably influenced by Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder, before returning to his hometown, Antwerp ; he became master of Saint Luke’s guild in 1608 and probably saw the works of Osias Beert. The motif of the strawberries in a porcelain bowl, accompanied by a flower and sometimes a butterfly can be seen in many artists, such as the Antwerp native Frans Snyders or Adriaen Coorte who was active in Middelburg from 1683 to 1707, as well as Sebastien Stoskopff.

Thanks to the generosity of Mrs. Clarice Smith, the Gallery received two works by Peter Binoit, a contemporary of Hulsdonck who was born in Cologne.

Peter Binoit (active around 1611-1627) Still-life with Irises, 1623 Oil on Copper - 24.1 × 19 cm Washington, National Gallery of Art

Peter Binoit (active around 1611-1627)
Still-life with Irises, 1623
Oil on Copper – 24.1 × 19 cm
Washington, National Gallery of Art

Peter Binoit (active around 1611-1627) Still-life with Tulips, 1623 Oil on Copper - 24.1 × 19 cm Washington, National Gallery of Art

Peter Binoit (active around 1611-1627)
Still-life with Tulips, 1623
Oil on Copper – 24.1 × 19 cm
Washington, National Gallery of Art

Of the painter, the Tribune says:

The artist probably studied in Daniel Soreau’s studio in Hanau where Sebastien Stoskopff also trained, then married his master’s niece in 1627 and was active not only in Hanau but also in Frankfurt. Working in a decorative mode, the artist disposes the flowers on a neutral background, face on. These paintings also recall Beert’s manner, as well as that of Velvet Breughel.

Finally, “a still-life by François Desportes, purchased in 2012 from the Stair Sainty Ltd. gallery in London, represents dotted partridges, pheasants, racks of lamb, fruit and William’s pears.”

François Desportes (1661-1743) Still-life with partridges, pheasants, racks  of lamb and William’s pears, 1734 Oil on Canvas - 121 x 95 cm Washington, National Gallery of Art

François Desportes (1661-1743)
Still-life with partridges, pheasants, racks
of lamb and William’s pears, 1734
Oil on Canvas – 121 x 95 cm
Washington, National Gallery of Art

The various pieces of game are wrapped in pork fat and are obviously ready for roasting. Dating from 1734, it was probably exhibited at the Salon of 1738. The scene repeats that in an oval painting from 1716 which Desportes produced for the Regent, at the Palais Royal, and which today resides at the Musée de la Chasse in Paris. Dezailler d’Argenville explains that this painting was intended for a particular kitchen, where the Regent amused himself by doing experimental cooking ; he thus commissioned three paintings from the artist and chose the subjects himself : one was to represent feathered game, another to depict different vegetables and the third meats ready to be put on a spit.

Unfortunately, until the US Government shut down is resolved, nothing inside the National Gallery of Art can be seen.

Must See Exhibition – The heritage of Rogier van der Weyden. Painting in Brussels 1450-1520.

October 12, 2013
Visitors look at "Triptych with the miracles of Christ" by early Flemish painter Rogier van der Weyden at the opening of the exhibition entitled "The heritage of Rogier van der Weyden" presenting his works at the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium in Brussels on October 10, 2013. AFP PHOTO/BELGA/BENOIT DOPPAGNE

Visitors look at “Triptych with the miracles of Christ” by early Flemish painter Rogier van der Weyden at the opening of the exhibition entitled “The heritage of Rogier van der Weyden” presenting his works at the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium in Brussels on October 10, 2013. AFP PHOTO/BELGA/BENOIT DOPPAGNE.

Here’s an exhibition that should be high on everyone’s list – The Heritage of Rogier van der Weyden now on view at the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium in Brussels through January 26, 2014.

The exhibition, according to the press release, is, “devoted to painting in Brussels in the period between the death of Rogier van der Weyden (1464) and the activity of Bernard van Orley (1515- 1541). The Web site devoted to the exhibition states:

When Van der Weyden died in 1464, he left a large studio in Brussels that must have employed several artists. None has been identified except for his son Pieter, to whom no work can be attributed. The presence of Hugo van der Goes at the priory of Rood Klooster from around 1475 until his death in 1482 also played an important role.

A visitor looks at "Pieta" at the opening of the exhibition entitled "The heritage of Rogier van der Weyden" presenting the works of early Flemish painter Rogier van der Weyden at the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium in Brussels on October 10, 2013. AFP PHOTO/BELGA/BENOIT DOPPAGNE.

A visitor looks at “Pieta” at the opening of the exhibition entitled “The heritage of Rogier van der Weyden” presenting the works of early Flemish painter Rogier van der Weyden at the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium in Brussels on October 10, 2013. AFP PHOTO/BELGA/BENOIT DOPPAGNE.

Many painters are mentioned in Brussels archives but, with the exception of Aert van den Bossche and Jacop Sourdiaus, no painting can be attributed to them. The great majority of the works conserved are anonymous. It is partly for this reason that, excluding the attention of specialists, little interest has been shown in them.

Nevertheless, through their individual contributions and their desire to pursue an esteemed tradition while also searching for new paths, the painters of Brussels at the end of the fifteenth century proposed original solutions in terms both of spatial organization and expressive and narrative development. In their fulfilment of the many commissions from the court, prelates, nobility, rich foreign merchants, clergy and patriciate who followed in the wake of the Dukes of Burgundy, the artists helped to spread the painting of Brussels far beyond the boundaries of the city, and opened the way to the renewal of the 1520s represented by the person of Bernard van Orley.

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“The exhibition presents the results of a four-year research programme financed by the Politique Scientifique Fédérale under the presidency of Philippe Mettens. It is accompanied by a richly illustrated scientific book that presents the results of the research and contributions by a number of specialists.”

“The catalogue is only available in French and Dutch” – let’s hope there’s ultimately an English language version, too.

Lost Leonardo da Vinci painting found in Swiss Bank Vault

October 6, 2013
The painting appears to be a completed, painted version of a pencil sketch drawn by Leonardo da Vinci in Mantua in the Lombardy region of northern Italy in 1499.

The painting appears to be a completed, painted version of a pencil sketch drawn by Leonardo da Vinci in Mantua in the Lombardy region of northern Italy in 1499.

The Guardian has an attention grabbing story about a newly discovered portrait of Isabella d’Este purportedly painted by Leonardo da Vinci that was found in a Swiss bank vault.  This would be the fifth Leonardo discovered in the past two years – we’ve already seen an earlier version of the Mona Lisa, an ink and chalk image of the Duke of Milan, Ludovico Sforza’s illegitimate daughter Bianca, an unfinished Madonna and Child with St. John the Baptist, and a portrait of Christ recently included in Leonardo exhibition at the National Gallery in London.  Of those four, only the last has been accepted as autograph.

According to the article:

Scientific tests suggest that the oil portrait is indeed the work of da Vinci, according to Carlo Pedretti, a professor emeritus of art history and an expert in Leonardo studies at the University of California, Los Angeles.

“There are no doubts that the portrait is the work of Leonardo,” Prof Pedretti, a recognised expert in authenticating disputed works by Da Vinci, told Corriere della Sera newspaper.

“I can immediately recognise Da Vinci’s handiwork, particularly in the woman’s face.”

However, another art historian has his doubts:

Martin Kemp, professor emeritus of the history of art at Trinity College, Oxford, and one of the world’s foremost experts on da Vinci, said if the find was authenticated it would be worth “tens of millions of pounds” because there are only 15 to 20 genuine da Vinci works in the world.

But he raised doubts about whether the painting was really the work of Leonardo.

The portrait found in Switzerland is painted on canvas, whereas Leonardo favoured wooden boards.

“Canvas was not used by Leonardo or anyone in his production line,” Prof Kemp told The Daily Telegraph. “Although with Leonardo, the one thing I have learnt is never to be surprised.”

There are further doubts – Leonardo gave away his original sketch to the marquesa, so he would not have been able to refer to it later in order to paint a full oil version.

There’s more in that bank vault – some 400 works, all owned by an Italian family. Let’s see what else shows up.

Van Gogh Painting Discovered in Norwegian Attic

September 9, 2013
"Sunset at Montmajour" by Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh is seen during a press conference at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Monday.

“Sunset at Montmajour” by Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh is seen during a press conference at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Monday.

What’s in your attic? According to the Associated Press, a painting stashed in a Norwegian attic that had been declared not an authentic work by Vincent Van Gogh has just bee declared legit:

The Van Gogh Museum says it has identified a long-lost Vincent Van Gogh painting that spent years in a Norwegian attic and was believed to be by another painter. It is the first full-size canvas by the Dutch master discovered since 1928.

“Sunset at Montmajour” depicts trees, bushes and sky, painted with Van Gogh’s familiar thick brush strokes. It can be dated to the exact day it was painted because Vincent described it in a letter to his brother, Theo, and said he painted it the previous day — July 4, 1888.

Museum experts said the painting was authenticated by letters, style and the physical materials used, and they had traced its history.

Museum director Axel Rueger described the discovery as a “once-in-a-lifetime experience” at an unveiling ceremony.

The museum said the painting now belongs to an unidentified private collector and will be on display at the museum from Sept. 24.

Rueger said the museum had itself rejected the painting’s authenticity in the 1990s, in part because it was not signed. But new research techniques and a two-year investigation had convinced them.

Rueger described “Sunset” as ambitious, because the canvas is relatively large, at 93.3 by 73.3 centimeters (36.7 by 28.9 inches).

Van Gogh referred to the work in two other letters in the same summer it was painted, but he said he considered it a failure in several respects.

The location it depicts can be identified: It is near Arles, France, where Van Gogh was living at the time, near Montmajour hill, and the ruins of an abbey of the same name. The ruins can be seen in the background of the work, on the left side.

Burmese Treasures Coming to New York

September 2, 2013
Melissa Chiu, center, museum director of the Asia Society, near a sculpture of Buddha descending from heaven at a museum in Bagan, Myanmar. Adam Dean for The New York Times.

Melissa Chiu, center, museum director of the Asia Society, near a sculpture of Buddha descending from heaven at a museum in Bagan, Myanmar. Adam Dean for The New York Times.

A fascinating New York Times story gives insights into the delicate negotiations involved in bringing scores of Burmese treasures to New York for a 2015 exhibition at the Asia Society:

“The show will be a coming out for Burma,” said Melissa Chiu, museum director of the Asia Society. “The country has been closed off for so many years, we hope the show will assume a bigger significance, and shed new light on material not seen before. Buddhism is the state religion and plays such a major role in daily life.”

02myanmar-map-articleInlineThe curators searched in the former capital, Yangon; in the new capital, Naypyidaw; in Prome; and … in Bagan, which from the ninth century to the 13th century was the center of a royal kingdom where the creative energy was so intense that nearly 2,000 brick and gilded temples were built across a vast plain. In Bagan, a popular destination for tourists imagining the glory days among faded temples, farmers still unearth ancient gold jewelry.

The antiquities hunt has the support of President Thein Sein. During a visit to the United States last year, he approved the loan of dozens of artworks for the 2015 show, ensuring that the curators were welcomed in usually off-limits inner sanctums. Of the estimated 70 objects planned for the exhibit, about three-quarters will come from Myanmar and the remainder from collections in the United States, Ms. Chiu said.

In exchange for the right to borrow the art, the Asia Society has pledged to provide training in conservation techniques to Myanmar’s museum employees, who must make do with a scant $100,000 budget that leaves the nation’s museums with little electricity, poor air-conditioning and no money for acquisitions.

“Biggest theft to hit an Egyptian museum in living memory”

August 22, 2013
Damaged pharaonic objects lie on the floor and in broken cases in the Malawi Antiquities Museum after it was ransacked and looted. (AP Photo/Roger Anis, El Shorouk Newspaper)

Damaged pharaonic objects lie on the floor and in broken cases in the Malawi Antiquities Museum after it was ransacked and looted. (AP Photo/Roger Anis, El Shorouk Newspaper)

Sadly, it was a matter of time before Egypt’s political turmoil resulted in the looting of art and artifacts.  The Associated Press reports more than 1,000 works were stolen from the Malawi Museum in Minya, “[T]he biggest theft to hit an Egyptian museum in living memory.”  The Ministry of State for Antiquities subsequently requested additional military and police to guard the Al-Bahnasa archaeological galleries following the receipt of an anonymous letter threatening to loot and set the galleries ablaze, reports ahramonline.  From Cultural Heritage Lawyer Rick St. Hilaire, a photographic inventory of the stolen objects and a statement from the UNESCO Director General about the looting.

Of the damage at the Museum, AP reports:

For days after vandals ransacked the building Wednesday, there were no police or soldiers in sight as groups of teenage boys burned mummies and broke limestone sculptures too heavy for the thieves to carry away. The security situation remained precarious Monday as gunmen atop nearby buildings fired on a police station near the museum.

Among the stolen antiquities was a statue of the daughter of Pharaoh Akhenaten, who ruled during the 18th dynasty. Archaeologist Monica Hanna described it as a “masterpiece”. Other looted items included gold and bronze Greco-Roman coins, pottery and bronze-detailed sculptures of animals sacred to Thoth, a deity often represented with the head of an ibis or a baboon.

The museum’s ticket agent was killed during the storming of the building, according to the Antiquities Ministry.

Under the threat of sniper fire on Saturday, Hanna and a local security official were able to salvage five ancient Egyptian sarcophagi, two mummies and several dozen other items left behind by the thieves.

National Geographic has disturbing images of the damage along with this distressing “before” and “after”:

Devoted Couple Photograph by Salina Ikram, the American University in Cairo   A stone statue from the time of the great Egyptian pyramids (fifth dynasty, 2494-2345 B.C.) shows a man and his wife. It was likely placed in their tomb at the cemetery of Tehna as a focal point for the family, friends, and neighbors who visited to perform rituals of devotion.

Devoted Couple
Photograph by Salina Ikram, the American University in Cairo
A stone statue from the time of the great Egyptian pyramids (fifth dynasty, 2494-2345 B.C.) shows a man and his wife. It was likely placed in their tomb at the cemetery of Tehna as a focal point for the family, friends, and neighbors who visited to perform rituals of devotion.

Broken Marriage Photograph by Salina Ikram, the American University in Cairo   Marauding teenagers smashed this statue of the married couple from Tehna. "It was fine for almost 5,000 years until that moment," says Salima Ikram, a former National Geographic research grantee. Looters probably left it behind because it was too heavy to carry.

Broken Marriage
Photograph by Salina Ikram, the American University in Cairo
Marauding teenagers smashed this statue of the married couple from Tehna. “It was fine for almost 5,000 years until that moment,” says Salima Ikram, a former National Geographic research grantee. Looters probably left it behind because it was too heavy to carry.

 

Hyperallergic: Jasper Johns Assistant Charged With $6.5M Theft of 22 Unauthorized Works

August 15, 2013
Jasper Johns and James Meyer in the studio. Photo by Hans Namuth. according to James Meyer, the photo was taken in Johns’ Houston Street studio, the old Provident Loan Society lobby. (image used by permission of Flickr user Roberta Fallon; image originally appeared in a story on The Artblog by Matthew Rose)

Jasper Johns and James Meyer in the studio. Photo by Hans Namuth. according to James Meyer, the photo was taken in Johns’ Houston Street studio, the old Provident Loan Society lobby. (image used by permission of Flickr user Roberta Fallon; image originally appeared in a story on The Artblog by Matthew Rose)

A long time studio assistant for Jasper Johns has been charged with stealing millions of dollars worth of “unauthorized” Johns works, according to Hyperallergic.:

According to documents released this morning, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and the New York Office of the FBI have charged a former studio assistant to Jasper Johns with the theft of 22 “unauthorized” Johns works. The assistant, 51-year-old James Meyer of Salisbury, Connecticut (pictured above), had worked for Johns for over 25 years, and allegedly stole the pieces from a file he was responsible for keeping of artworks specifically prohibited by the artist from being sold. The works grossed $6.5 million when Meyer unloaded them through an unnamed Manhattan gallery from September 2006 to February 2012, netting him $3.4 million. Neither the indictment nor the press release name the gallery involved, presumably because they are not suspected of any wrongdoing — the accused provided sworn statements of authenticity and a host of other falsified supporting documents.

In addition to seeking the forfeiture of his proceeds from the sales, the state is charging Meyer with one count of interstate transportation of stolen property and one count of wire fraud. The former carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, the latter a maximum sentence of 20 years.

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