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The Cleveland Museum of Art acquired a rare enamel-on-copper copy of Titian’s (1485-1576) iconic 16th century masterpiece Bacchus and Ariadne by the English enamel painter Henry Bone (1755-1834). The museum purchased the 19th century work at Christie’s London on July 4, 2013 for $478,346. Curator John Seydl made the winning bid over the telephone from a London hotel in an effort to disguise the museum’s interest from other bidders.

The enamel measures 16 inches by 18 inches, which is exceptionally large for the medium typically used to execute portrait miniatures. The work includes an ornate gilt-wood and gesso frame and serves as a prime example of Bone’s innovative and widely admired enamel technique.

After being shipping to Cleveland, the Titian copy is expected to hang in the museum’s early 19th century gallery, which features French and English art.  

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Maine Sublime: Frederic Edwin Church’s Landscapes of Mount Desert and Mount Katahdin will open on June 9, 2013 at Olana in Hudson, NY. Olana State Historic Site was the home of Frederic Edwin Church (1826-1900), a major figure in the Hudson River School, and includes the artist’s studio. The villa is a mixture of Victorian, Persian, and Moorish styles and overlooks the Hudson River valley, the Catskill Mountains, and the Taconic Ridge.

The upcoming exhibition focuses on the 50-year period during which Church traveled and painted landscapes of Maine. Maine Sublime presents 10 oil and 13 pencil sketches from Olana’s collection and many of works will be on public view for the first time. The show will include loans from the Portland Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and two private collections.

Church first visited Maine in 1850 and spent six weeks on Mount Desert. In 1852, Church explored the Mount Katahdin region and in the coming decades he would continue to visit and be captivated by Maine’s natural beauty. The plein-air sketch Wood Interior Near Mount Katahdin (circa 1877) is one of the works that has never been on public view but will be part of the upcoming exhibition.

Maine Sublime will be on view at Olana through October 31, 2013. The exhibition will then be on view at the Cleveland Museum of Art through the summer of 2014.

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On January 21, 2013, the Cleveland Museum of Art opened Gallery One, an interactive gallery that brings together art and technology to enhance as well as personalize each museum visitor’s experience. Gallery One features the largest multi-touch screen in the United States, which displays images of over 3,500 objects from the institution’s permanent collection. Known as the Collection Wall, the touchscreen spans 40 feet and helps patrons create their own tactile tour of the museum while rotating works according to theme, time period, and technique.

Gallery One, which includes works by Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), Auguste Rodin (1840-1917), and Chuck Close (b. 1940), employs different hands-on activities to engage visitors using the power of technology. For example, one game asks viewers to recreate the poses of sculptures in the museum’s collection; the ArtLens ipad application illustrates how works of art were made, where they came from, and what inspired their creation. The ArtLens application uses image recognition software and allows visitors to scan objects and access additional multimedia content such as audio tours and educational information for up to 9 hours after their visit.

David Franklin, the Cleveland Museum’s Sarah S. and Alexander M. Cutler Director, said, “Gallery One offers an unparalleled experience for visitors of all ages. The space connects art and people, art and ideas, and people with people…we are especially proud to lead the way internationally in using technology to enhance and customize the art museum experience.”

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On view through April 12, 2013 at the Cleveland Museum of Art, Picasso and the Mysteries of Life: Deconstructing La Vie is the first exhibition devoted to Pablo Picasso’s (1881-1973) complex masterpiece, which defined his well-known Blue Period. A cornerstone of the museum’s collection, La Vie (1903) is accompanied by related works on loan from Barcelona’s Museu Picasso as well as works by Francisco Goya (1746-1828), Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528), and Auguste Rodin (1840-1917) from the Cleveland Museum’s own collection.

The exhibition uses x-radiographs, infrared reflectographs, and other scientific methods to delve into the process behind La Vie. Displayed on iPads, the technological investigation illustrates Picasso’s creative process and how he altered the painting’s composition considerably before deeming the work complete.

Picasso drew preliminary sketches for La Vie in May of 1903. At the time, he was a young, unknown artist who still lived in his parents’ home in Barcelona. The first sketches depicted an artist in his studio and evolved into a more intricate scene meant to evoke thoughts about life and art and the intersection of the two. A solid analysis of La Vie has always eluded scholars due to its enigmatic subject, early history, and its relationship to Picasso’s other works from this time. However, the painting has never been examined as thoroughly and in-depth as by the Cleveland Museum of Art.

Picasso and the Mysteries of Life strives to make sense of the work by exploring the subjects of the painting. Carles Casagemas, the gaunt man featured in the work’s left foreground, was a friend of Picasso’s and a fellow artist. Casagemas committed suicide in 1901, prompting Picasso to contemplate the glorification of suicide and the bohemian lifestyle in modern art and culture. The woman standing behind Casagemas in La Vie has been identified as Germaine Pichot, his lover and a contributor to his suicide. Pichot stands as a symbol of Picasso’s coded representation of women and in a broader sense, as the fatal woman often portrayed in modern art.

A 163-page book by William H. Robinson, the Cleveland Museum’s curator of modern European art, accompanies the exhibition. The book further explores the role of La Vie in Picasso’s creative process as well as the important issues in the modernist culture of the 19th and 20th centuries that affected Picasso and his work. Robinson explores how Spanish and French literature affected Picasso’s Blue Period paintings, the impact of Rodin’s large retrospective of 1900 on the young artist, and Picasso’s ongoing struggle to fully understand the notions of fate and destiny.

Deconstructing La Vie is the inaugural exhibition in the Cleveland Museum of Art’s new Focus Gallery.

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On November 5th, the Cleveland Museum of Art will auction off one of its six Claude Monet paintings in New York. Wheat Field (1881) carries an estimated price of $5–$7 million and the museum hopes to use the funds from the sale to strengthen its early 20th century European painting and sculpture collection, an area that has been lacking.

The Museum decided to auction Wheat Fields shortly after David Franklin was named the Museum’s director in 2010. Franklin did not think the painting could hold its own next to to the other five Monets in the museum’s collection including a widely admired Water Lily painting and the seminal, Red Kerchief.

Since Wheat Field was donated to the museum in 1947 as an unrestricted gift of Mrs. Henry White Cannon, the museum is able to sell the painting without fear of complaint from the donor’s family. The Museum would like to acquire a painting by The Scream artist, Edvard Munch, or Wassily Kandinsky, the pioneering Russian abstractionist, to help round out their collection.

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“Diego Velazquez: The Early Court Portraits” opened at Dallas’ Meadows Museum this past Sunday and in preparing for the exhibition, researchers may have uncovered the artist’s first portrait of his life-long subject, King Philip IV of Spain. Named the king’s court painting in 1623 at the age of 24, Velazquez upheld this position until his death in 1660, forming one of the most significant relationships in art history.

In order to make the Velazquez exhibition possible, the Meadows Museum teamed up with Spain’s national art museum, Museo del Prado. The show includes a portrait of the poet Gongora y Argote from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, a portrait of a court jester painted in the early 1630s that is on loan from the Cleveland Museum of Art, and a never-before-seen portrait of Philip IV from a private Spanish collection.

The Meadows Museum is proud to bring together two of Velazquez’s early portraits of the king for the first time in four centuries. One is the Prado’s full-length portrait painted in the 1620s of the king dressed entirely in black and the other is the Meadows’ own bust-length portrait. Before the show opened, both portraits underwent analysis at the Prado and X-rays revealed hesitant brush strokes on the Meadows portrait indicating that this was Velazquez’s first attempt at drawing the king.

“The Early Court Portraits” will be on view through January 13, 2013.

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Over the last five years, the Cleveland Museum of Art has been at work on one of the largest building programs of any art institution in the country, a $350 million project that has been unveiled in sleek new stages and will be completed by 2013, adding 35,000 more square feet of gallery space.

But the museum has also been building in less visible ways and is set to announce on Monday the acquisition of two high-profile ancient artifacts that seem certain to draw attention not only to the institution’s expansion but also to the complicated long-running debate about antiquities collecting by museums.

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