Seven for seven: From Sijena to Washington.

1. Italy, capital Sijena.

Photo: Stuker

Among this season’s sleepers, this powerful Adoration of the Magi (155,5 x 130,5 cm) stands out. It came as “Italian School, 16th century” at Stuker Bern last June, 20th. It rocketed from a modest CHF 5,000 estimate to a CHF 130,000 result and can safely be assigned to the Aragonese Master of Sijena, probably for the main retable in the monastery of the same town – his Nativity from the same retable now at the Prado measures 171,5 x 130,5 cm, a difference of 16 cm that may be explained by some trimming on the bottom of the piece.

2. Sunnier days for Venusti?

Photo: Christie’s

At Christie’s last Old Masters Day Sale (July 7th), this fine Deposition attributed to Marcello Venusti (?1512/1515 – 1579) rose from an estimate of GBP 20,000 to a final price of GBP 115,000 (including buyer’s premium). It is a record for an artist who, as the title of the forthcoming catalogue by Dr Francesca Parrilla points out, has yet to come out from his friend Michelangelo’s long shadow (Marcello Venusti, un pittore all’ombra di Michelangelo, ed. Campisano, Rome). For a good report on the best results of the rest of the Old Masters sales, see this article at The Telegraph.

3. Already here.

Photo: Yale

Quite ahead from the opening day, the catalog for the upcoming exhibition “Murillo. The Self-portraits” in the Frick Collection, NY (30.10.2017-10.02.2018) and then in the National Gallery, London (28.02.2018 – 21.05.2018) is already on sale – edited by Xavier F. Salomon, Chief Curator at the Frick, and Letizia Treves, curator of later Italian, Spanish, and French 17th-century paintings at the National Gallery.

4. Rigaud reopens.

Photo: L’Indépendant

After a 9M€ refurbishment, the Musée Rigaud reopened last May. Didier Rikner dislikes the result.  Anyway, you will still find there the great Retable of the Trinity, by the anonymous Master of the Llotja de Mar de Perpinyà, and also some new loans of works by Aristides Maillol from the Foundation Dina Vierny.

5. Challenging Nonell.

Photo: NCWAW

In this interesting article in Nineteenth Century Art Worldwide, Illinois University PhD student Maria A. Dorofeeva explores the reasons behind the negative contemporary reaction to Isidre Nonell’s exhibition in 1903, at the all-conservative Sala Pares, Barcelona: the gipsy, destitute women portrayed in his  paintings challenged stablished and reassuring conventions about them.

6. It’s a hospital… are the new NATO’s headquarters …. no, it’s a museum!

The new but not opened Museo de Colecciones Reales (Madrid) has been bestowed with the FAD Architecture Award 2017. Not my taste.

7. Alternatives.

Photo: Artsy

Artsy has a nice piece about fine new buildings for art – among them, David Adjaye’s strong and elegant National Museum of African American Art, Wahington.

Seven for seven: From Torroella to the Courtauld Institute

1. After beach time.

The Fundació Mascort in Torroella de Montgrí (in North Catalonia, close to the coast) is showing the Selected Pieces of its founder’s collection, until October 15th. They are displaying them as they were the normal furnishings of their lovely house, the Casa Galibern, and the effect is refreshing. You will find, among other interesting items, a splendid cross from 15th century Barcelona, attributed to Pere Barnès. For good ice cream, try the local Gelats Angelo (at Bohème or El Cruixent shops).

2. A Catalan in Texas.

Appollo Magazine  informs us the Meadows Museum bought this panel with Saints Benedict and Onophrius attributed to Pere Vall. Dated c. 1410, it is only the third work before 1450 in the collection. The happy seller was Sam Fogg.

3. Now it is public.

José Ángel Montañes reviews in El País the Generalitat of Catalonia’s 2016 acquisitions list (“Más patrimonio para todos”, May 1st, 2017). It includes this Saint James Apostle by Ramon Solà II, a painter from Girona. It was found by yours truly, and it will join the Museu d’Art de Girona’s fine Medieval collection.

4. Great job in a great work.

Bartolomé Bermejo’s masterpiece The Pietat Desplà  looks spectacular after its restoration (paid by Fundació Banc Sabadell). It has now returned to the small museum in the Barcelona’s Cathedral cloister. Otherwise, between in October 2018 and February 2019 the Prado in Madrid will host a comprehensive retrospective of Bermejo’s works, curated by Joan Molina from the Universitat de Girona.

5. They found gold.

The Centre de Restauració de Béns Mobles de la Generalitat has published this tape of its excellent cleaning of the Romanesque Portal in Santa Maria of Ripoll – in collaboration with Arcovaleno. Perhaps you can spot a golden beard. Here you can download an executive summary (in Catalan). In Arcovaleno’s website there is some extra material.

6. Leonardo shines again.

After a year of research and discussion, followed by five and a half years of actual cleaning and restauration work, Leonardo’s Adoration of the Magi is hanging again in the Uffizi (“Firenze, l’Adorazione dei Magi restaurata debutta ai Uffizzi”, La Reppublica, 27.03.2017). Specialist Frank Zöllner hails it as a brilliant answer to the restorer’s permanent dilemma: to erase or not to erase the work’s physical past. (“Ist Mückenschiss keine wahrhafte Geschichtsspur?”, F.A.Z., 26.04.2017).

7. Medieval ivories, now less rare.

When looking for 14th and 15th century ivory caskets, I came across the impressive Gothic Ivories Project mantained by the Courtauld Institute, which includes the medieval ivory collections of more han 400 than institutions and archives, for a total of over 5100 objects.