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On March 4, 2013 the Philadelphia Museum of Art announced a number of important acquisitions that will enhance the institution’s European, Latin, and American art collections. The gifts came from various donors including collectors Roberta and Richard Huber, global healthcare company GlaxoSmithKline, and several Museum Trustees.

Among the recent acquisitions is Amaryllis Josephine, a double-page watercolor on vellum by Belgian painter and botanist Pierre Joseph Redouté (1759-1840). A pencil drawing of the flower’s bulb accompanies the watercolor. Both of the works were created as part of a series of engravings made under the patronage of the empress Joséphine, Napoleon Bonaparte’s first wife.

The museum also received four 18th century paintings that are currently on view as part of the exhibition Journeys to New Worlds: Spanish and Portuguese Colonial Art from the Roberta and Richard Huber Collection (on view through May 19, 2013). The works include King Luis I of Spain on Horseback (unknown artist, Peru); Saint Anthony of Padua Preaching Before Pope Gregory IX (unknown artist Peru); The House at Nazareth (unknown artist, Bolivia); and Our Lady of the Reedbed or Irún with Donor, Captain Joaquín Elorrieta by Ecuadorian artist José Cortés de Alcocer.    

Other acquisitions include 236 photographs by pioneering modern photographer Paul Strand (1890-1976); N.C. Wyeth’s (1890-1976) Trial of the Bow, the first painting to enter the museum’s collection by the artist; and an early 20th century stained glass and bronze chandelier by Tiffany Studios under the artistic direction of Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848-1933).

The Philadelphia Museum of Art will hold an exhibition of its recent acquisitions this summer.

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Wednesday, 27 February 2013 13:50

Early Picasso Drawing Discovered in Spain

Staff members at the Picasso Museum in Barcelona, Spain discovered an early portrait by Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) while restoring a different work by the 20th century Spanish artist. Workers removed the cardboard backing on Portrait of the Artist’s Mother (1896), which was executed by a 15-year-old Picasso, revealing a charcoal drawing of a man with a pipe.

Reyes Jimenez, head of restoration at the Picasso Museum, believes that the charcoal work is older than the portrait of the artist’s mother. The charcoal drawing is an important piece because it illustrates Picasso’s artistic tenacity as well as his mastery of challenging techniques from a young age. The newly discovered drawing suggests that Picasso’s early knowledge was greater than previously believed.

The Picasso Museum, which opened to the public in 1963, houses one of the most extensive collections of artworks by Picasso. It was the first museum dedicated solely to the work of Picasso and the only one created during the artist’s lifetime.  

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The 1913 International Exhibition of Modern Art, referred to today as the Armory Show, was one of the most influential art events to take place during the 20th century. The show, which was held in New York City’s 69th Regiment Armory, introduced the American public to experimental European art movements including Fauvism, Cubism, and Futurism. While realistic movements dominated the country’s art scene, works by Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), Henri Matisse (1869-1954), Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944), and Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968) left the Armory Show’s American visitors awestruck.

On February 17, 2013, 100 years after the Armory Show took place, the Montclair Art Museum in Montclair, New Jersey presented The New Spirit: American Art in the Armory Show, 1913. The exhibition does more than just celebrate the significant art event; it commends the American artists who presented two-thirds of the nearly 1,200 works on view. While European art was a hugely important part of the Armory Show, The New Spirit aims to disprove the notion that the American art featured at the show was largely provincial.        

The New Spirit brings together 40 diverse works of American modern art including realist works from the Ashcan School as well as more experimental pieces executed by the painters associated with the influential photographer and art dealer, Alfred Stieglitz (1864-1946). The Montclair exhibition presents works by well-known artists such as Edward Hopper (1882-1967), William Glackens (1870-1938), Marsden Hartley (1877-1943), Charles Sheeler (1883-1965), Robert Henri (1865-1929), and John Marin (1870-1953) alongside works by lesser-known artists including Manierre Dawson (1887-1969), Kathleen McEnery (1885-1971), and E. Ambrose Webster (1869-1935). The exhibition will also feature works by Paul Cézanne (1839-1906) and Matisse to illustrate the influence of European modern art on its American counterpart.

The New Spirit will be on view through June 16, 2013.  

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Officials at Harvard University in Cambridge, MA announced that they will open the newly renovated and expanded Harvard Art Museums in the fall of 2014. The project, which began in 2008, has entailed a complete reinvention of Harvard’s museum system and will place the Busch-Reisinger Museum, the Arthur M. Sackler Museum, and the Fogg Museum of Art under one state-of-the-art roof.  

Renowned architect Renzo Piano was enlisted to transform 32 Quincy Street, the landmark building that currently houses the Fogg and Busch-Reisinger museums, into Harvard’s artistic hub. The new facility will combine the 32 Quincy Street building, which was constructed in 1927, with a new addition and a striking glass rooftop structure that will allow controlled natural light into the facility’s conservation lab, study centers, and galleries. The overhaul also includes a theater for lectures and public programming.

The Arthur M. Sackler Museum, which was established in 1985 in a separate building from the Fogg and Busch-Reisinger, has remained open during the recent construction. The Sackler will close June 1, 2013 to prepare for the relocation of its remarkable Asian art collection to 32 Quincy Street.

The Bush-Reisinger Museum, which was founded in 1903, is the only museum in North America dedicated to the art from the German-speaking countries of Central and Northern Europe. The Fogg Art Museum, which opened to the public in 1896, boasts extensive holdings of American and European art from the Middle Ages to the present.  

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A painting by the Italian master Tiziano Vecellio (circa 1488/1490-1576), who is known in English as Titian, was recently discovered in London’s National Gallery. Located in Trafalgar Square, the museum houses the country’s collection of Western European paintings from the 13th to 19th centuries.

The portrait by Titian, a pivotal member of the 16th century Venetian school of painters, depicts Girolamo Fracastoro, a well-respected doctor at the time, draped in lynx fur. The National Gallery has owned the portrait of Fracastoro since 1924 but until recently attribution has been uncertain. The Fracastoro portrait underwent thorough restoration, revealing new information about the canvas and technique, prompting scholars and curators to uphold the attribution.

The painting is now being displayed as part of the National Gallery’s main collection. The portrait of Fracastoro is the third Titian painting to join the museum’s holdings since 2009 making the National Gallery’s Titian collection one of the finest in the world.

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The fate of Berlin’s collection of Old Masters painting has been a source of controversy for nearly a year. While museum space in the city dwindles, the works are currently being held in the Gemäldegalerie, a museum devoted to European art from the 13th to 18th centuries, fueling concerns that the paintings may soon be banished to a storage facility.

German culture minister Bernd Neumann attempted to nix fears by reassuring the public that a new institution will be built to house the collection within five to six years. However, there is still some concern as to where the collection, which boasts masterworks by Rembrandt (1606-1669), Sandro Boticelli (1445-1510), Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675), and Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640), will be exhibited until then.

Initial plans had the Old Masters collection going to the Bode Museum while the new Museum of 20th Century and Modern Art took over the Gemäldegalerie. However, Neumann has suggested a number of other options. One of the plans has the Old Masters remaining in the Gemäldegalerie and building an entirely new modern art museum. Another one of Neumann’s strategies has the Bode Museum swapping out its sculpture collection in exchange for the Old Masters paintings.

Neumann’s various plans will be proposed to the Prussian Foundation and a decision will be reached this spring.

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Designed by Renzo Piano, the museum that houses the collection of John de Menil and Dominique de Menil opened to the public 25 years ago. A sold-out gala is being held tonight, November 29, to celebrate. The fete has raised $2.2 million, exceeding its $1.5 million goal. This is only the third gala held by the Menil Collection as the institution already boasts an endowment of approximately $200 million thanks to support from the board, donors, and corporate sponsors.

The theme of the night will be “Celebration in Blue,” a tribute to Yves Klein, an important figure in post-war European art and a personal friend of the Menils. Among the 700 guests will be Pablo Picasso’s grandson, Bernard Ruiz-Picasso, philanthropist Agnes Gund, president emerita of the Museum of Modern Art, and hedge fund chief John D. Arnold.

A silent auction will also be held at the gala. The 31 lots include works by Ed Ruscha, Olafur Eliasson, and Richard Serra. Proceeds will support operations and exhibitions. The museum plans to expand their contemporary art collection and hope to build the Menil Drawing Institute to house and exhibit modern and contemporary works.

The free museum features over 15,000 paintings, sculptures, prints, drawings, photographs, and rare books from the 20th century, all of which were once part of the Menils extensive private art holdings. Included in the impressive collection are works by Paul Cezanne, Mark Rothko, Andy Warhol, Rene Magritte, Max Ernst, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, and Jackson Pollack.

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The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, unveiled on September 8 its newly renovated William I. Koch Gallery, one of the Museum's grandest spaces, evocative of a great hall in a European palace. Masterpieces from the 16th- and 17th-century Italy, France, Spain, and Flanders hang on walls covered in red damask, complemented by a spectacular display of German silver and four tapestries from the Palazzo Barberini in Rome.

"The Koch Gallery is the most majestic architectural space in the MFA, and the new installation enhances this effort, with an astonishing display of European paintings and silver, virtually unparalleled in America," said Malcolm Rogers, Ann and Graham Gund Director of the MFA, who is overseeing the project and a team of Art of Europe curators and designers.

The iconic Koch Gallery features masterpieces drawn from the Museum's renowned European collection. Among the approximately 40 paintings on view are Nicolas Poussin's Mars and Venus (about 1630), Diego Rodriguez de Silva y Velazquez's Don Baltasar Carlos and Dwarf (1632), Peter Paul Rubens's Head of Cyrus Brought to Queen Tomyris (about 1622-23), and Guercino's Semiramis Receiving Word of the Revolt of Babylon (1624). A major conservation effort was undertaking to treat Anthony van Dyck's Isabella, Lady de la Warr (about 1638), which was acquired by the MFA in 1930. It was recently rediscovered in storage, badly in need of attention and a new frame. Also featured in the gallery are select loans, including Frans Francken's Allegory of Man's Choice between Virtue and Vice (Private Collection, 1635).

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When the Japanese collector Michimasa Murauchi decided to sell Gustave Courbet’s painting “Le Chêne de Flagey” (“The Flagey Oak Tree”), it was a chance for the recently renovated Courbet Museum in the artist’s hometown of Ornans to acquire one of his most emblematic works. With support from the French government, the department of Doubs in eastern France, where Ornans is located, will pay €4 million ($5 million) for the painting, which measures 43 by 35 inches and was painted in 1864.

“Le Chêne de Flagey” has a brief and illustrious provenance. The American banker and philanthropist Henry C. Gibson bought it from the artist’s sister Juliette Courbet in 1896, and he bequeathed it to the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. The Philadelphia institution parted with it in 1987, and it entered Murauchi’s private museum outside Tokyo.

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A British-born nun has said she is willing to undergo DNA tests to establish whether she is the grandchild of Edvard Munch.

Janet Weber believes her grandmother, Eva Mudocci, had a fling with Munch which resulted in her becoming pregnant with twins in 1908. Mudocci never told Munch and the artist, in official histories, is said to have died childless.

Weber had never publicly spoken about her possible link to the artist until recently, when she was approached more or less at the same time by a Norwegian broadcast journalist and a British PR man researching a show in Milton Keynes by the contemporary Norwegian artist Pushwagner.

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