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Michelangelo’s ”David” has been unveiled in Florence [may 25, 2004]
FLORENCE, ITALY.- Michelangelo’s "David" has been unveiled in Florence after its restoration. Antonio Paolucci, the superintendent of Florentine art called it “an invisible cleaning…like washing the face of a child."...
Impressionist and Modern Art Sale at Sothebys London [may 25, 2004]
LONDON, ENGLAND. - Sotheby’s is delighted to announce the finest sale of Impressionist and Modern Art to be held in London in recent years...
Turner: The Late Seascapes [May 24, 2004]
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND.  - The Glasgow Museum has just completed the exhibition “Turner: The Late Seascapes”. One of the greatest of all British artists, Joseph Mallord...
Virginia Museum To Return Painting Stolen By Nazis [May 23, 2004]
RICHMOND, VA.- Roy Proctor of the Times-Dispatch reported that the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts has concluded that a French Renaissance portrait that entered its collections...
 
 

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Michelangelo’s ”David” has been unveiled in Florence


Restoration work on Michelangelo’s masterpiece David is completed, May 24, 2004 at the Galleria dell’Accademia.

FLORENCE, ITALY.- Michelangelo’s "David" has been unveiled in Florence after its restoration. Antonio Paolucci, the superintendent of Florentine art called it “an invisible cleaning…like washing the face of a child."

The year 2004 will mark five hundred years since Michelangelo’s David was completed and unveiled in Piazza della Signoria. The Galleria dell’Accademia, where the masterpiece is housed, has organized a series of exhibitions, publications and restorations to commemorate the event. The main events, that are either in progress or have already been completed are:

The restoration of Saint Matthew (1997) - Project supervisor: Annamaria Giusti (Opificio delle Pietre Dure); restorer: Angelo Venticonti (Opificio delle Pietre Dure); financed by: Ministry for Cultural and Enviornmental Assets; The restoration of the Prisoners (2000-2002) - Project supervisor: Franca Falletti (Galleria dell’Accademia); restorer: Cinzia Parnigoni; financed by: Ars Longa Stichting Foundation - Non Profit; Replacement of the bases of the Prisoners (2001) - Project supervisor: Luciano Marchetti (Superintendent of the Government Service for Environmental and Architectural Assets); contractor: Figli di Augusto Lorenzini s.p.a.; financed by: Ars Longa Stichting Foundation - Non Profit; Complete rebuilding of the skylight above the David (2001-2002), that dates from 1882. The new skylight will be identical in shape, but will be made with materials that provide better guarantees as to safety and visibility. Project Supervisor: Maria Cristina Valenti (Galleria dell’Accademia); contractor: Figli di Augusto Lorenzini s.p.a.; financed by: Ministry for Cultural and Enviornmental Assets; Restoration of all the paintings in the lateral wings of the Tribute (2002-2003). These are primarily panel paintings by Michelangelo’s contemporaries (Pontormo, Agnolo Bronzino, Alessandro Allori, Francesco Granacci, etc.). Project Supervisor: Franca Falletti (Galleria dell’Accademia) and Magnolia Scudieri (Restoration Service of the Polo Museale Fiorentino); restorers: Lucia Biondi; Renato Castorrini; Lucia Dori; Sandra Freschi and Nicola MacGregor; Rossella Lari; Anna Teresa Monti; Luisella Pennucci; Marzio Pieralli; Mariarita Signorini; Lisa Venerosi Pesciolini; Silvio Verdianelli; Muriel Vervat; financed by: Friends of Florence Foundation – Non-Profit; Temporary Exhibit: “Venere e Amore. Michelangelo e la nuova bellezza ideale” - [Venus and Cupid. Michelangelo and the new ideal of beauty]” Florence, Galleria dell’Accademia, David Tribune, from 26 June to 3 November 2002. Coordinated by Franca Falletti (Galleria dell’Accademia) and Jonathan Katz Nelson; financed by: Ministry for Cultural and Enviornmental Assets.

Impressionist and Modern Art Sale at Sothebys London


Pablo Picasso
Femme couchee a la meche blonde, 1932

LONDON, ENGLAND. - Sotheby’s is delighted to announce the finest sale of Impressionist and Modern Art to be held in London in recent years. The sale offers an extraordinary range of impressionist and modern works, from a masterpiece of early Impressionism by Renoir, to a highly important group of watercolors by Schiele. Building on the success of our May Impressionist sales in New York, the sale on Monday, June 21, 2004 of some 60 lots, is estimated to bring in the region of £50 million.

A group of fifteen works on paper by Egon Schiele (1890-1918) represents the most important and wide-ranging collection of drawings by the artist ever to come to auction. Dating from 1910 to 1917, the works, which cover all of the main themes so typical of the artist, were mostly acquired by the present owner from the Estate of the renowned collector and dealer, Serge Sabarsky, who assembled one of the finest collections of German and Austrian Expressionist art.

One of the highlights of the group is the magnificent gouache, Liebespaar from 1913, depicting lovers entwined in an erotic embrace. It is executed with all the intensity of brushstroke and brilliant color typical of Schiele’s most expressive and powerful works. It is estimated at £1,200,000-1,800,000. The collection also features the beautiful Reclining woman in yellow dress from 1914, estimated at £600,000-800,000 and an iconic Self-Portrait with Folded Hands from 1913, estimated at £500,000-700,000.

Last June Sotheby’s London established the highest price at auction for a painting by Schiele when Krumauer Landschaft sold for £12.6 million. Then in February this year, the gouache, Mädchen mit grüner Schürze sold for the exceptional price of £1.5 million. The appearance of this unique and important collection at auction, at a time when good quality works by Schiele are in great demand, is therefore likely to attract considerable interest.

Among a number of outstanding works by French Impressionist masters in the sale, is a beautiful late work by Claude Monet (1840-1926) from his Nymphéas series. Painted between 1914-17, it is an impressive painting, featuring all the brilliant brushstrokes and abstract qualities that characterize the late waterlily paintings. Monet moved to Giverny in 1883, but it was not until 1890 that he was finally able to buy the property he was living in. By the end of the 1890s he had transformed the garden surrounding the house into a horticultural paradise, with its familiar lily pond which was to provide one of the central motifs in the artists’s ouvre. In these masterly late works, light and color play on the surface of the water, with an abstraction that places Monet firmly at the forefront of the modernism. The oil on canvas, measuring 150 by 200 cm, is estimated at £4,000,000-6,000,000.

One of 4 works by Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) in the sale is Plante de Tomate from the collection of Ray Stark, the famed Hollywood producer. Picasso’s paintings of a tomato plant in bloom are considered some of the most important works that the artist produced during the war years. It was painted in Paris on August 3rd, 1944, towards the end of the Nazi occupation, while Picasso was staying with his mistress Marie-Thérèse and their daughter Maya. This is the first from the series of nine canvases that he completed over the course of several days that month, the blooming tomato plant symbolizing the flowering of hope. In the present work, the branches of the plant are weighed down with the heavy tomatoes, ripe and ready to be picked. It is estimated at £1,800,000-2,500,000.

Femme couchée à la mèche blonde, is one of Picasso’s most monumental and sensual depictions of Marie-Thérèse Walter, and one of only a few canvases of this large format executed in 1932. The artist met Marie-Thérèse in January 1927, when she was 17. With the words "I am Picasso. You and I are going to do great things together", he introduced himself to the young woman, who would soon become his mistress and muse for more than a decade. Picasso was instantly captivated by the youthful, unpredictable spirit of Marie-Thérèse, as well as by her voluptuous physique. Her soft, pale skin, blonde hair and characteristic profile are all recognisable in the painting. It is expected to fetch £2,000,000-3,000,000.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s (1841-1919) masterpiece of early Impressionism, Portrait de Rapha Maître, is a beautiful work from 1871. It belongs to an important group of commissioned portraits that helped establish him at the forefront of the Parisian avant-garde. With its rich colors and the freedom of its brushstrokes, it represents a significant milestone in the early development of Impressionism. The portrait was once in the collection of Auguste Pellerin, the industrialist and art collector. It is estimated to fetch £6,000,000-8,000,000.

A second work by Renoir, Jeune Femme se baignant, is one of the artist’s most accomplished depictions of a bather. Painted in 1888, it depicts the nude as the modern-day Venus and like Renoir’s recent predecessors Manet and Courbet, he invests the composition with references to the old masters. It is estimated at £3,500,000-5,000,000.

Edgar Degas (1834-1917) was a passionate observer of modern life, fascinated with performance and ritual. He developed two main themes throughout his artistic career: ballet dancers and horse races. During the 1860s and 1870s, he depicted racehorses only occasionally; but he increasingly focused on the subject throughout the 1880s. Les Chevaux de courses, begun in 1872, is one of his most important early racing scenes. It was formerly in the collection of the pioneer Impressionist patron, Jean-Baptiste Faure. It is estimated to fetch £3,500,000-4,500,000.

Vincent van Gogh’s (1853-90), Deux Crabes was painted in Arles, probably in January 1889, just after the tragic rupture with Gauguin that led to the infamous incident in which van Gogh cut off a part of his own ear. This extraordinarily well-observed and expressively painted work seems to have been among the first paintings that van Gogh executed on his recovery. It has not been exhibited in public since 1960, so its reappearance now will be of enormous interest to scholars and collectors. It is estimated at £1,200,000-1,500,000.

Garcon à la veste bleue by Amedeo Modigliani (1884-1920) executed in 1918, was formerly in the Collection of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. The mannerist, elongated features of the boy’s face, his dreamy, melancholy expression and posture, as well as the undefined setting, make this one of  Modigliani’s most sensitive and accomplished portraits. It is expected to fetch £3,500,000-4,500,000.

From the collection of Madeleine Castaing, one of the leading interior decorators of her day, are four works by Chaim Soutine (1893-1943). Castaing met Soutine in Montparnasse in 1920, beginning a life-long friendship and association. In the early years of the 1930s, Soutine was a regular visitor to the Castaing’s country house at Lèves, close to Chartres. This became known as the artist’s ’Chartres period’, when his mature work was characterised by an increased naturalism and an assured technique, influenced by earlier masters such as Courbet and Rembrandt. In La Sieste (est: £500,000-700,000), Soutine borrows his subject from Courbet, while he is clearly indebted to Rembrandt for the theme of La Femme entrant dans l’eau (est: £350,000-500,000), which was painted in one of the more secluded spots of the park in Lèves, beside a small stream.

[The contents of the Castaing house in Lèves, in addition to the remaining stock of Madeleine Castaing’s famous gallery, will be sold by Sotheby’s Paris in September 2004.]

Turner: The Late Seascapes [May 24, 2004]


Joseph Mallord William Turner
Port Ruysdael, 1827
Oil On Canvas
detail

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND.  - The Glasgow Museum has just completed the exhibition “Turner: The Late Seascapes”. One of the greatest of all British artists, Joseph Mallord William Turner ‘s paintings evoke the power of nature to a degree matched by few others. The exhibition presented a rare and exciting chance to see forty-one of his oils and watercolors. These works are from the later decades of Turner’s long career, from the period around 1825 when he was 50 years old, to his death in 1851. As many of the works on show are from collections in the United States, this is a rare opportunity to see them in the UK.

Turner was fascinated by the sea and used it as a stage for all the drama of human life. Steamboats and whaling ships reflect his great interest in new technologies and contemporary life, and the whaling pictures were an important inspiration for Melville’s Moby Dick. Equally spectacular is Turner’s treatment of historical and mythological themes, while more private studies of waves and sky wonderfully illustrate his preoccupation with color, light and the power of nature.

An interactive zone offered an opportunity to explore Turner’s world further, and a running a series of free lectures and workshops were also given. A lavishly illustrated catalogue was also available for purchase from the museum shop. Turner: The Late Seascapes is jointly organized by the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts and Manchester City Galleries.

Virginia Museum To Return Painting Stolen By Nazis

Portrait of Jean d’Albon Corneille de Lyon Oil On Canvas
RICHMOND, VA.- Roy Proctor of the Times-Dispatch reported that the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts has concluded that a French Renaissance portrait that entered its collections as an anonymous gift in 1950 had been stolen from an Austrian Jew by Hitler’s Gestapo six years before and that the museum’s trustees voted unanimously yesterday to remove from its collection the small oil-on-panel work, "Portrait of Jean d’Albon," which is attributed to Dutch-born French School painter Corneille de Lyon, and to return it to its rightful owner in the United Kingdom. Museum Director Michael Brand said that, faced with compelling evidence, returning the painting is "simply the correct thing to do."

Currently the painting, from the 16th-century, has been in a storage area together with other older French paintings, since the museum’s original French galleries were dismantled in 1984 to accommodate the building of the West Wing. The Museum will put the painting, “Portrait of Jean d’Albon” on view for two weeks only beginning this Wednesday in the North Wing’s rotunda before shipping it off to its owner, Kurt H. Schindler, who lives in England.

"I’m absolutely thrilled and so is my wife," Schindler, who is 78, said yesterday by telephone from his home in Hampshire.

Although Schindler did not inherit the painting directly from its owner, Austrian collector Julius Priester, Schindler is now the sole executor, heir and beneficiary of Priester’s estate, according to the museum. Priester stored his art collection in Vienna before he fled Austria for Mexico in 1938 in the face of increasing Nazi aggression against Jews. His collection was seized by the Gestapo in 1944.

The Virginia Museum had no inkling it harbored a stolen painting when it received a telephone call, followed quickly by a fax, from Schindler on Feb. 17, according to Kathleen Morris, the museum’s associate director in charge of collections management.

"This has been an enormous sleuthing job," said Morris, who worked in tandem with Karen Daly, the museum’s assistant registrar and Nazi-era provenance administrator, to assemble evidence in the case.

"We took this seriously from the very beginning. We knew, based on the nature of Mr. Schindler’s inquiry, that he had a serious claim. He had names, dates, facts and, most important, a photograph of the painting. We did not know about any of these documents before Mr. Schindler brought them to our attention.

"In 1954, a reproduction of the stolen portrait was published in a Vienna police report, along with reproductions of other paintings from the Priester collection that had been stolen in 1944. The Viennese police report did not find its way to the VMFA. The museum first learned of the 1954 police report from Mr. Schindler."

The painting was bought from New York’s Newhouse Galleries in December 1949 and entered the museum’s collections as an anonymous gift the following year.

Its donor died about that time, Morris said.

When her husband died in 1952, the donor was identified as Wilkins C. Williams, who, with husband Adolph D. Williams, established the museum’s large art-purchase endowment fund, which bears their names.

Newhouse Galleries had acquired the painting from Frederick Mont, a dealer alleged to have had ties to other paintings confiscated by the Nazis during World War II, according to the museum’s research.

The Virginia Museum painting is one of eight versions of the same image that are attributed to Corneille de Lyon.

"Mr. Schindler had been trying to track down Mr. Priester’s paintings, including this one," Morris said. "He tracked one down at the Louvre, where one of the curators told him that there were many versions and that the one matching his photograph was in the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

"The most important evidence is that Mr. Priester’s black-and-white photograph, which dates from the 1920s, matches the painting we had exactly. There is no doubt that photograph is of our painting."

When the painting entered the Virginia Museum collection in 1950, it was valued at $22,500, according to Morris. Corneille de Lyon paintings have fetched between $18,000 and $220,000 at auction in recent years.

Morris wouldn’t speculate on the current value of "Portrait of Jean d’Albon."

"Obviously, we will miss this painting," she said. "Even though it hasn’t been on view in a while, it’s a beautiful painting. If it had remained here, it almost certainly would have gone back on view when our expansion is complete.

"On the other hand, it was clear to us that this painting was stolen during the Nazi era from its rightful owner. We felt strongly that that’s the kind of wrong that had to be righted. So it was not a hard decision in this case.

"It was not only the right thing for us to do. It was the only thing."

Morris said she didn’t know if the Virginia Museum would try to buy back the painting if it’s put up for sale.

"It depends on when it comes on the market and what the estimate is," Morris said. "We have no idea of what he plans to do with the painting, and that’s not our business."

Schindler’s claim to the painting was pressed on his behalf by the New York State Banking Department’s Claims Holocaust Processing Office, which has recovered a number of works stolen from Jews by the Nazis since it was founded in 1997.

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