From Goya to Beltracchi

1. Sold!

The “new” Goya with a long literature on its back ((lot 3034, Francisco de Goya, Lot and his daughters, oil on canvas, 91 x 125 cm), about which this blog reported in early August, is finally gone. It was expected to surpass its higher estimate of CHF 800,000, but its long ride up to CHF 2,665,000 (€2,204,000, including buyer’s premium) showed that size, and good condition do matter. The auction house’s press release reveals its new owner was bidding from the Netherlands. 

2. How great is Great British art.


Rachel Escott, a good friend and keen supporter of this blog, made me aware of the opening in Fundación March, Madrid, of Treasure Island. British art from Holbein to Hockney (up to January 20, 2013; free entry at c. Castelló 77; catalogue available). It is guest curator Richard Humphrey’s 180 piece strong review of the art produced during the last half millennium in the island, traditionally revered as a better collector of other places’ output.  Will the show make a stop in Barcelona? The rooms in Gaudi’s La Pedrera could be a good candidate for housing it, since they showed, as early as 1996, the pioneering From London: Bacon, Freud, Kossoff, Andrews, Auerbach, Kitaj, in collaboration with the British Institute and the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (a second-hand catalogue for €85.92 at Amazon).

3. Spanish Old Master drawings are hot among Anglo-Americans museums.


The current Renaissance to Goya: Prints and Drawings from Spain in the British Museum (up to January 6th, free entry to room 90; with a 320 p. catalogue for a bargain GBP 25.- paperback or GBP 45.- hardcover) is the result of a research project lead by curator Mark McDonald, and supported by the AHRC, the J. Paul Getty Trust and the little-known, yet very effective Centro de Estudios Europa Hispánica. It also follows a marked trend in New York and London museums. Between October 2010 and January 2011, CEEH’s sister organisation Center for Spain in America funded the catalogue for The Spanish Manner: Drawings from Ribera to Goya in the Frick Collection, the first ever exhibition in the Big Apple in the field (curated by Jonathan Brown and Susan Grace Galassi, catalogue for USD 65.- or USD 40.- in the Frick’s online shop). One year later, between October 2011 and January 2012, the Courtauld Institute presented The Spanish Line: Drawings from Ribera to Picasso, and the accompanying Spanish Drawings at the Courtauld Gallery: A Complete Catalogue by Dr. Zahira Véliz ( GBP 80.- at the publisher’s website).

4. Goya’s surprises.

No wonder that the unchartered waters of Spanish Old Master’s drawings attract researcher attention, for even Goya’s works kept for a long time in the Prado can deliver some surprises. While restoring a group of 17 drawings by the Aragonese master, they discovered a View of the Royal Astronomical Observatory in Madrid on the back of the already known View of a Street (11.6 x 19.4 cm). The temporary installation of all of them in a single room in the Museum will be also remembered for the return to its clean original condition of the so-called “yellow Caprichos”, a group of preparatory drawings which yellowed over time under an overprotective coating of starch.

5. Martínez’ surprise.


PradoMedia, the online branch of the Museo del Prado, has recently hanged a presentation (only in Spanish) of very interesting recent purchase, Gregorio Martínez’  (1576 – 1636) Chained Prometeus (oil on canvas, 173 x 233 cm, c. 1590 – 1596). Martinez’s great mythological work, made for a private client in Valladolid, challenges the cliché about 16th century Spanish painting as a religious or courtly Madrid-centered art. It was purchased last year from Coll & Cortés, a rising start in the Spanish capital’s Old Masters dealing community.


6. Francesc is working.


Francesc Ruiz Quesada has kindly sent me the link to Retrotabulum n.5, the new issue of his online publishing effort of his own investigations into 15th century painting in Catalonia, Aragon and Valencia. This issue deals with Gonçal Peris (1380-1451), giving new documentation that clarifies his Aragonese years and establishes the provenance of his important Altarpiece with Scenes from the Life of the Virgin (1420-1430, tempera and gold leaf on wood panel, 396 x 288 cm), now at The Nelson – Atkins Art Museum, Kansas.


7. Expensive charm.


One year ago, Wolfgang Beltracchi was sentenced to six years in jail for forgery. He was the head of a family-gang that was proved to have earned €16 million with 14 forgeries – although Beltracchi later admitted up to 50 forgeries. The mild sentence came with reports about Beltracchi’s charm, and general admiration for this cunny dumping of the posh art world. However, someone had to foot the bill. This October, according to Le Journal des Arts, the judges of the Rhineland – North Westphalia Land found the answer: not the seller, nor the buyer, but the middleman. They fined auction house Lempertz in Cologne €2.9 million euros for selling Beltracchi’s fake of a painting by Heinrich Campendock. The sum adds €800,000 to selling price, €100,000 in interest and an impressive €2 million in damages, the last for not having conducted the relevant due diligence – exactly the same blame you can put on the vendor and the purchaser, especially when it turns to be an investment fund.


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