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Can You Discern What Is A Caravaggio And What Isn’t?


If experts can't agree, I probably can't tell (though I might have an opinion). Nonetheless, in this age of crowd-sourcing virtually everything that can be crowd-sourced, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston is asking its visitors to answer that question. Since Apr. 12, the museum has presented a small exhibit of four paintings by the artist in Visiting Masterpieces: Caravaggio and Connoisseurship. Two, Fortune Teller (c 1594–95) and Fra Antonio Martelli, Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Malta (c 1608), are accepted as by the master -- though … [Read more...]

Is That A Rembrandt In The Closet? Yes.


More discoveries in the storeroom, and this time it's a Rembrandt. Yes, the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha has been told that a painting in its collection for 72 years, acquired as a Rembrandt but downgraded to School of Rembrandt -- and relegated to storage -- is in fact by the master after all. At least in the view of Rembrandt scholar Ernst van de Wetering, who says the work is “Portrait of Dirck van Os." No date was given in the Omaha World-Herald, which published the news today. Here's the backstory: In 1942 the museum purchased “Portrait … [Read more...]

San Francisco Museums Land A Great Gift


There are at least three notable aspects of the gift announced the other day by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco: the Thomas W. Weisel Family has donated about 200 objects of Native American art to the museum. They were amassed over three decades by Weisel, an investment banker who profited mightily as a pioneer of the tech industry in Silicon Valley. It's a good match for the FAMSF. The gift includes works that span nearly a thousand years, "from 11th century Mimbres ceramics to 19th century works," according to the press release … [Read more...]

Friendship Outs: Giant Gift Of Marin Watercolors Goes To…

Tree, Stonington, Deer Isle

Not a museum in Maine, where he painted for much of his last 40 years. Not a museum in New York, the center of the U.S. art world, or in Los Angeles, the west coast hub. Or New Jersey, Marin's birthplace. No, Norma B. Marin, the artist's daughter-in-law, recently donated nearly 300 watercolors, drawings and sketchbooks to the Arkansas Arts Center in Little Rock, according to the Kennebec Journal. ...Norma Marin’s gift to the Arkansas Arts Center was neither random nor the result of a falling out with Maine’s cultural institutions, as some … [Read more...]

Picasso Museum: Reopening With What?

Picasso museum in Paris prepares for reopening

"It beggars belief that some urgent "conservation" necessity should have struck all of these modern works at the same time...." That's Michael Daley, the conservation watchdog, opining on the reopening of the Picasso Museum in Paris, which is set for June. When it does readmit the public to the building -- an operation of "restoration, renovation and extension" that began in 2009 and "was far more extensive than the preceding work in terms of both objectives and cost -- it will be completely restructured (pictured at right), raised to new … [Read more...]

Another Find In the Basement!


This time, the basement is in Honolulu, not New Haven or Brooklyn or Denver. According to KITV, the Honolulu Museum of  Art made a discovery when a group of Korean art historians were looking at uncatalogued art works in a vault. They found a Korean ink painting on silk, dating back to 1586. They said this is very important. That's when we knew we came across something special when that happened," recalled [Shawn] Eichman, [the museum's curator].... We found the one that is the gem among gems," said Eichman. "Ten years after painting … [Read more...]

Speed to the Speed For a Discovery


I'm giving you really good news from the Speed Art Museum, because the news from my orthopedist today was really bad. I have to take it easy with my arm, which is getting a new cast on Tuesday, for six weeks. And typing with one hand isn't easy. But the Speed news is a simple story: while the museum is expanding, it has been assessing the condition of works in its collection, planning to repair damage suffered over the years. Looking through a 1998 gift from General Dillman A. Rash and Nancy Baton Rash, which included paintings by Picasso, … [Read more...]

Crystal Bridges Buys A Koons

5-KOONS Hanging  Heart close up

Just in time for Valentine's Day, Crystal Bridges has gone soggy on a sculpture by Jeff Koons -- a Hanging Heart in gold! Measuring about 9 1/2 feet wide, and tied with a magenta stainless steel “ribbon,” the heart is one of five Koons has created, each in a different color. The museum says that he keep this one and sold it directly to Crystal Bridges in 2013. It is now suspended from the ribbed ceiling of one of the museum’s glass-walled bridges. In the press release, Koons said: "Hanging Heart, ultimately, is a symbol of warmth, … [Read more...]

Poor Trade-Off — Bellows To London — But One Bright Side


Of course I have mixed emotions about the sale by Randolph College of its beautiful painting, Men of the Docks, by George Bellows, to raise money for its endowment. Remedying financial mismanagement elsewhere is not what art in museums is supposed to do, especially as this painting was purchased by students for the college in 1920. That part is very sad. But the great news is that the National Gallery in London bought the work and paid $25.5 million, finally adding a major American painting to its collection. As Nicholas Penny, the NG … [Read more...]

The Cost of Poor Care: Multi-millions


When I saw a digital image of the Pontormo portrait of Cosimo I de Medici, which was up for sale at Christie's yesterday, I fell in love with it. It's a beautiful pose, a study in black. But then I heard from art historians about how abraded the surface was -- some said they could not even stand to look at it. And surely, the presale estimate was a giveaway: $300,000 to $500,000 for a Pontormo? It would, some experts said, be worth $30 million to $50 million if it were in good condition. The Metropolitan Museum doesn't even own a Pontormo. … [Read more...]

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