File under: Things I should have done online from Chattanooga in June.
I got so busy this mid-summer that I let something slide.
A book about the Elgin Marbles I wanted for my First Year Seminar is out of print (of course), but should be fairly easy to reconstruct with PDFs of articles. After all, it started as a Christopher Hitchens screed somewhere.
But there turns out to be an oversupply of good essays about the Elgin Marbles – and I can’t decide!
I’m teaching a First Year Seminar this fall on cultural property and just found another article for them to read. A regional museum in England sells an Egyptian statue to pay for building a new wing – and everyone is getting up in arms.
I’m especially amused by the Egyptian ambassador’s fulminations. I’ve BEEN to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo - it’s a museological disaster. And, though there are plenty of packing crates just sitting around in the public areas, they have works in storage, too.
A priest in England picked up an old portrait in an antique store for £400. He took it to a Roadshow where someone suspected it might be a Van Dyke. Lots of study later and it is – and worth about £400,000. He’s going to sell it and buy bells. My parents and I were watching the PBS of Roadshow last night – someone had a student work by Chuck Close. They told her at auction it might go for $100,000. So there are treasures out there!
Wow – this is a find – an 18th C illlustrated Haggadah. No one in the family could have known what it was. Estimates start at £100,000.
Virginia Postrel explains. And I’m convinced – the works the city paid for are probably fair game! Quick excerpt:
In 1931, the man who built the collection, director William Valentiner, argued for continued city funding by citing how much the works’ value had appreciated. “The Brueghel painting we purchased for $38,000 is valued at more than $150,000,” he said. “If the city were to sell, piece by piece, the objects of art it has purchased, they would realize more than five times the amount paid for them.” Valentiner certainly wasn’t advocating such sales, but his statement demonstrates that they weren’t inconceivable.
Acquire with city funds, go down with the sinking ship. Maybe the van Gogh self portrait would keep some fire stations open for another year?
A British effort to put pictures of all the oil paintings in the UK online pays off – an art historian spotted a previously unknown Van Dyck portrait.
The painting, which was not thought to be important and in a bad condition, was covered in layers of dirt and varnish and was not on display at the Bowes Museum.
But it was photographed as part of the Public Catalogue Foundation’s mission to document every oil painting in public ownership and added to the BBC’s Your Paintings website, where it was spotted by art historian and dealer Dr Bendor Grosvenor.
“Although as part of our national heritage values are irrelevant, for insurance purposes it should now be valued at anything up to £1m,” Dr Grosvenor said.
“Had it appeared at auction as a copy, and in its dirty state, it would probably only have been estimated at about £3,000-5,000.”
Grosvenor runs Art History News – here’s an example of what he’s doing with this picture.
The general initiative is called Your Paintings.
The Met owns Jacques Louis David’s Death of Socrates. One of their curators managed to buy a David preparatory drawing for $700 at auction because it was misattributed!
Catalogued and illustrated . . . as “French school, early 19th century”, the 24.5cm by 38.2cm sheet (est $500-$700) depicting The Death of Socrates in brush, black ink and grey wash was described as “lightly squared for transfer in pencil. After the painting by Jacques-Louis David in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.” [my emphasis]
Instead of “after the painting” it was “for the painting.” Good call!
Professor Cowen was asking about the deadweight loss of stuff in storage in museums. Look at one way the Met tries to get around that. Suboptimal viewing experience – but they’re still up. This is the The Henry R. Luce Center for the Study of American Art, which they claim is everything that’s not up in the main galleries.
A Matisse stolen from a Swedish museum was recently recovered in the UK. I can’t decide if the standard line is meaningless optimism or just a negotiating tactic:
At the time of the theft, a spokesman for the museum said the painting was too “well-known” to “sell on the open market”.
Mr Marinello agreed with the sentiment, adding: “I commend the museum for not giving in to ransom demands a quarter century ago.
“Stolen artwork has no real value in the legitimate marketplace and will eventually resurface… it’s just a matter of waiting it out.”
Well, they had to wait 25 years. Is that optimism?
This is encouraging. The Dallas Museum of Art is returning looted art to Turkey even before the Turkish government asked for it (click and see – there’s an ok photograph of the mosaic in question). Compare that to the Met, which is still stonewalling. In exchange, Dallas hopes to get some good loan materials. I hadn’t noticed that Max Anderson is now the director at Dallas – his first director position was at Emory’s Carlos Museum.
The Tate has a show up about (can’t be OF) lost, stolen, erased, or discarded art – from impressionist paintings stolen by the Gestapo to portraits torn off the wall of a gallery in 1988. Here’s the link – go look!
I saw this bike rack as a design competition winner back in 2010 at the Cooper-Hewitt — here it is now in the wild on 8th Avenue!