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The Meadows Museum at the Southern Methodist University in Dallas has acquired an album of drawings, photographs and letters amassed by the sugar tycoon and art collector William Hood Stewart. Stewart was an avid collector of European art and the Modern Spanish School and his holdings include correspondence with artists such as Jean-August-Dominique Ingres (1780-1867) and Jéan-Léon Gerôme as well as with fellow collectors. The Meadows Museum acquired the album from New York’s Spanierman Gallery for an undisclosed amount.

The collection will be presented at the Meadows Museum in the exhibition The Stewart Album: Art, Letters and Souvenirs to an American Patron in Paris from August 25 through November 10, 2013. While Stewart had a sizable estate in his hometown of Philadelphia, he spent much of time in Paris, socializing with the artists he so admired. Stewart’s unique collection provides a glimpse into the careers, personal lives and artistic developments of a number of important European artists.

In 1898, Seven years after Stewart’s death, his collection was broken up at an auction and paintings were dispersed among the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and a handful of other institutions. The Meadows Museum is planning to organize an exhibition that will reunite parts of Stewart’s collection that were separated over 100 years ago.

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On May 23, 2013, after a two and a half year renovation, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York unveiled 45 updated and expanded galleries of European paintings. The new space, which has increased by about a third, boasts 600 works of art dating from 1250 to 1800. Arranged in chronological order and grouped by country, the collection includes the Met’s renowned holdings of early Dutch, French, and Italian paintings.

The reimagined European painting galleries include 23 high profile loans, mainly from private collections. Works by Jan Van Eyck (1395-1441), Nicolas Poussin (1594-1665), Sandro Botticelli (1445-1510), and Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) will be on view for at least six months thanks to the generosity of the Met’s trustees, and patrons.

The Met’s European painting galleries have not been fully renovated since the early 1950s and this is the first overall reinstallation of the collection since 1972.

 

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Tuesday, 14 May 2013 16:43

Getty Museum Makes Two Major Acquisitions

The J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles has acquired two major works of European art -- a self-portrait of Rembrandt (1606-1669) and a view of Venice’s Grand Canal by the Italian painter Canaletto (1697-1768). The portrait, titled Rembrandt Laughing (circa 1628), will round out the Getty’s collection of early works by the artist, which is the finest if its kind in the country.

The portrait of Rembrandt resided in private collections for centuries before appearing on the market in 2007. The work, which was only known through print reproductions, was attributed to a contemporary of Rembrandt until scholarly analysis and scientific testing proved it to be an authentic painting by the Dutch master. One of nearly 40 self-portraits by the artist, Rembrandt Laughing is the only one in which he appears in costume as he appears dressed like a soldier. The painting will be exhibited in the museum’s East Pavilion along with four other Rembrandt works – An Old Man in Military Costume (1630-31), The Abduction of Europa (1632), Daniel and Cyrus Before the Idol Bel (1633), and Saint Bartholomew (1661).

The painting by Canaletto, For the Grand Canal in Venice from Palazzo Flangini to Campo San Marcuola, is a superior work by the artist depicting everyday life in Venice during the 18th century. The painting will be exhibited alongside Francesco Guardi’s (1712-1793) The Grand Canal in Venice with Palazzo Bembo (circa 1768), which features the same stretch of the Grand Canal as Canaletto’s painting.

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Wednesday, 24 April 2013 18:36

Columbus Museum of Art Wins National Medal

The Columbus Museum of Art in Ohio is the only art museum to receive a 2013 National Medal for Museum and Library Service. The Columbus Metropolitan Library received the award back in 2011, making Columbus the 16th American city to receive the medal twice. The National Medal, which is the highest honor for museums and libraries, will be presented to the city at a celebration in Washington, D.C. on May 8, 2013.

The Columbus Museum of Art, which was historically focused on European and American art through the early modern period, has placed more emphasis on contemporary art and photography in recent years. The museum has also made a substantial effort to engage visitors in creative ways as well as reinvent itself as a hub for social and creative happenings in the Midwest. The institution has partnered with 30 Ohio counties as well as Columbus city schools to create various programs that are aimed at engaging visitors of all ages in innovative ways.

The other National Medal-winning museums for 2013 included the Boston Children’s Museum; the Delta Blues Museum in Clarksdale, Mississippi; the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County; and the National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

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Lynn Orr, the former curator of European art at San Francisco’s Fine Art Museums, is suing the institution for illegally dismissing her. Orr claims she was let go for supporting a union demonstration and protesting financial deception. Orr has worked for the museums for 29 years and served as a curator for 11 years until her firing on November 20, 2013.

The lawsuit was filed on Tuesday, April 16, 2013 in San Francisco superior court. In her claim, Orr stated that the museums’ human resources director told her that she was being dismissed because of her performance but she had never been confronted about her work in the past. Orr did say that museum officials criticized her attendance at a demonstration held on September 7, 2013 at San Francisco’s M.H. de Young Museum, which was organized to oppose the museums’ management’s stance in labor negotiations.

Orr’s lawsuit also touched on an incident during which she and other employees claimed that the museums were undervaluing a painting that was to be shipped overseas, which she considered to be deceitful. A fellow employee who objected to the situation was fired within a few months of the incident. Orr is seeking unspecified damages from the city of San Francisco and the private corporation that runs the museums.

The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, which includes the modern-leaning M.H. de Young Memorial Museum and the neoclassical California Palace of the Legion of Honor, has been involved in a number of recent uproars. The tumult has included tense labor negotiations, firings of senior staff member such as Orr, and scathing criticism of the museums board’s president, Diane Wilsey.

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When the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art closes on June 2, 2013 for three years worth of renovations and an expansion, the institution will send some of its treasured holdings away. 23 masterpieces by Henri Matisse (1869-1954) won’t have far to travel as they will be exhibited at the Legion of Honor, San Francisco’s museum of European paintings and sculpture.

The Matisse works headed to the Legion of Honor include 16 paintings, 4 sculptures, and 3 works on paper, which will hang in one of the museum’s ground-floor galleries alongside two paintings already in the Legion’s collection. The only Matisse painting that will remain off view is Femme au Chapeau (1905) as the terms of its bequest by philanthropist Elise S. Haas state that the painting cannot travel.

Although details are still vague, the Legion of Honor will host two relevant shows while exhibiting the Matisse works – one will be a retrospective of Matisse’s older contemporary, Anders Zorn (1860-1920), and the other will be a survey of French paintings on loan from the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

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Marguerite Steed Hoffman, a current trustee and former chairman of the Dallas Museum of Art, has donated $17 million to the institution to create the Marguerite and Robert Hoffman Fund for European Art Before 1700. Hoffman specified that $13.6 million is to be used for acquisitions and the remaining $3.4 million is allotted for exhibitions and planning. Hoffman’s generous gift is one of the country’s largest geared towards the purchase and care of Old Master works.

While the Dallas Museum of Art has a substantial collection of late 19th and early 20th century works, its Old Master holdings are lacking. Hoffman’s donation will help expand its European Renaissance and Baroque collections; her gift also more than doubles the museum’s acquisition endowment.

Hoffman created the fund in honor of her late husband, Robert, who died in 2006. The two were important benefactors of the museum for years and participated in an important gift of modern and contemporary art that took place in 2005. The gift was part of a campaign that helped raise over $185 million for the museum.

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To this day, Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528) is widely considered the greatest German artist ever to live. A master of drawings, watercolors, and engravings, Dürer produced the earliest known self-portrait drawing in European art at the age of 13 as well as some of the first stand-alone landscapes. The craftsmanship of his woodcuts was so exceptional that he singlehandedly changed the public’s perception of the medium from commonplace to fine art.

The National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. is currently hosting the exhibition Albrecht Dürer: Master Drawings, Watercolors, and Prints from the Albertina. The Albertina in Vienna, Austria holds one of the finest and largest collections of Dürer’s work including masterpieces such as The Great Piece of Turf, a watercolor nature study of the Renaissance; the beyond iconic chiaroscuro drawing Praying Hands; and his famous self portrait.

Master Drawings, Watercolors, and Prints from the Albertina presents 91 remarkable works from the Albertina as well as 46 related engravings, woodcuts, drawings, and prints from the National Gallery’s own collection. This exhibition, which is the culmination of decades of acquisition, study, and exhibitions of early German art at the National Gallery, will be on view through June 9, 2013.

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Wednesday, 13 March 2013 13:25

Stolen Rembrandt Masterpiece Found in Serbia

Serbian police recovered Rembrandt’s (1606-1669) Portrait of a Father on Tuesday, March 12, 2013, seven years a after it was stolen from the Novi Sad City Museum located in the northern city of Novi Sad. Police arrested four people in connection to the 2006 heist that involved three other paintings including a work by the Flemish Baroque painter Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640), a 17th century piece by the Italian Baroque painter Francesco Mola (1612-1666), and another painting from the 16th century by an unknown German-Dutch artist.

Rembrandt, one of the greatest painters and printmakers in European art history, painted Portrait of Father in 1630 and it is estimated to be worth around $3.7 million. The painting was stolen 10 years prior to the 2006 robbery, but it was eventually recovered in Spain.

None of the other works involved in the Serbian heist have been found.

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Burst of Light: Caravaggio and His Legacy, which is currently on view at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, CT, is the first exhibition in over 25 years to focus on the legacy of the Italian master, Caravaggio (1571-1610). The show explores Caravaggio’s profound influence on 17th century European art and includes 30 works by followers of the artist known as “Caravaggisti.”

Burst of Life will present five original paintings by Caravaggio including the Wadsworth’s own Ecstasy of St. Francis, which was acquired by the museum in 1944, making it the first Caravaggio work to join an American museum’s collection. The other works on view are Martha and Mary Magdalen from the Detroit Institute of Arts, Salome Receives the Head of St. John the Baptist from the National Gallery in London, The Denial of St. Peter from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and Saint John the Baptist in the Wilderness from the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, MO.

Burst of Light explores Caravaggio’s renowned use of light, painstaking attention to detail, and emotionally captivating compositions. The exhibition will be on view through June 16, 2013.

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