15 September 2012

1.  The big picture.

Not directly related to arts (unless you consider the 1859 – 1863 Idelfons Cerdà city plan an artwork in itself), but certainly to history. Barcelona, September 11th, 2012, between 18.00 pm and 20.00 pm:  the red-brown highlighting is in fact given by a cheerful crowd of 1.5 million asking for a new star in the European flag – name it Catalonia. See the editorial in the Financial Times.

2. Bussiness with the unusual.


After the great day, everyone has come back to business. For antiques dealers, that means dealing with the uncommon. This week they can find exactly that in the sale by Kohn in Paris, coinciding with the Biennale des Antiquaries. They are offering a sketch by Picasso for Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (gouache on paper, 62,9 cm x 47,3 cm, €400,000 – 500,000) a newly discovered Saint Francis by young Guercino (oil on canvas, 124 x 99 cm, €100,000 – 140,000), and a a range of items from Renaissance jewllery to the skelletion of a Plestoceine wild bear. But the lot that caught my eye, because of its sheer rarity, is this 13th century baptismal  fount (marble, high 11cm, diam 65 cm, €120,000 – 150,000), which belonged to the collection of Dupont de Nermous, after being removed from the Palazzo de la Rocca Albornoz in Viterbo.

3. Fancy a Fra Angelico?

Also of great rarity, this small panel by none else but Fra Angelico (c. 1395 – 1455) and his studio will be offered by Leclere, an auction House in Marseille, in October, 27th. The work (27.5 x 37.5 cm, 1430 – 1435) shows the Thebaid, or the lives of the Fathers of the Church in the desert, and it was cut – off in the 19th century from a larger panel, of which four other fragments exists in different museums (see the reconstruction here). La Tribune de l’Art explains that the deferral of its export license expired in February, and that the Louvre showed not interest for it. It is certainly not a great composition, and its conditions is an issue, but I am quite sure the auction house has already been asked about the unpublished estimate.

4. Books: Peinture espagnole at the Musée de Beaux Arts, Lyon.

Thanks to Aficion.fr we learn that the Musée des Beaux Arts of Lyon has published a new catalogue of its small, yeat interesting Spanish Old Master paintings (Phillipe Merlo, La peinture espagnole au musée des Beaux – Arts de Lyon. Les peintures anciennes, Lyon, 2012, 130 pages, for €14,25 at Amazon). Famous for its Saint Francis  (oil on canvas, 209 x 110 cm, v. 1650-1660), by Francisco de Zurbarán, its oldest holdings include such challenging works as this large Crucifixion (145 x 174.5 cm, oil on panel) by an anonymous (probably Catalan)  master of the 15th century.

5. Meeting in Madrid.

Form 29 to 31 October, the Spanish Ministry of Culture will hold the first official meeting on illegal trade of cultural goods  (Encuentro profesional para la Lucha contra el tráfico Ilícito de Bienes Culturales; Auditorio de la Secretaría de Estado de Cultura, Plaza del Rey 1, Madrid;  free admission, but only for professionals).  It will feature top ranking officials from the same Ministery of Culture, the Ministery of Foreing Affairs, and the Ministery of Justice, alongside the State and Border Police and the director of the Archaeology Museum in Alicante. Autonomous governments, Church and Trade have been allowed three of the fourteen presentations – the trade one will be delivered by Artur Navarro, one of the dealing dealers in Barcelona.

6. A night with Michelangelo.


Just in case you set for a stay to Rome, Adkronos remembers us that the Vatican Museums are retaking their night openings on Friday (from 19h to 23 h, until October 26th). Even more important, visits need to be booked on line here. Then, with a little planning, there is chance of meeting the Last Judgement in the actual nightfall.

7. Poor Renoir, he was not Chinese. 

Everyone is talking about the presumed Renoir found in a flea market in Virginia, but this year’s crown for finds in the US will go further north. This Rare Blue and White Moonflask (Baoyueping), Ming Dinasty, Yongle Period (30.2 cm), lot 277 in the catalogue for Sotheby’s sale of September, 12th, doubled its low estimate of USD 600,000, selling for USD 1,314,000. Very good news for its consignors, a New York family with a house in Long Island, in which they used the precious little wine bottle, completed with a wooden stand, as a doorstop – see a report at artdaily.

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