Published: April 10, 2001
Trade News from around the World
A Renoir stolen from Sweden’s National Museum more than three months ago was found April 5 during an unrelated drug bust in Stockholm. Police found Renoir’s “Conversation” in a bag when detaining three drug suspects. “It wasn’t expected that they should have the painting; it just happened,” police superintendent Kurt Hansson told the Associated Press. Another Renoir and a Rembrandt are still missing from the December 22 theft in which three men sped away from the waterfront museum in a motor boat. The recovered painting is a close-up of a man and a woman with her back turned to the viewer.
The Prado Museum, Madrid, Spain, told Ciaran Giles of AP on April 4 it had strong reason to believe that two of the most famous paintings attributed to Francisco de Goya, “The Colossus” and “The Milkmaid of Bordeaux” are in fact not the work of the Spanish master. The Prado’s admission followed an article by British art historian Juliet Wilson-Bareau in The Art Newspaper, in which she reported that X-rays of “The Milkmaid of Bordeaux” showed sketches of other figures underneath the painting – unusual for Goya’s work. Regarding “The Colossus,” Wilson-Bareau wrote, “Almost all of us specialists are agreed that it’s not by Goya.” The Prado’s top Spanish art expert and Goya specialist Manuela Mena concurred. “I’m convinced they are not Goyas,” Mena said. “But until every area of investigation is exhausted we will have to leave them as they are, albeit changing how they are attributed.”
A New York City “decency commission,” created to judge the morality of publicly funded art, will include three artists, three clergy members, Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa and the mayor’s own divorce lawyer. Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who named the panel’s 20 members April 3, told Timothy Williams of the Associated Press that he had hoped they could issue a report on decency standards within three months, but they said it would likely take longer. Giuliani, a Republican, has nine months left in office. “It is certainly appropriate for this advisory group to take a look at what standards, if any, should be applied, [given that] the city of New York currently provides $115 million in annual operating funding to cultural institutions,” Giuliani said.
A Boston University professor, Kenneth Lapatin, says a statuette labeled as the work of Minoan craftsmen in ancient Crete could be as much as 98 years old, but certainly not 3,500 years old. Lapatin, a professor of art history and a leading specialist in ancient ivory statuettes, concluded that the snake goddess housed in the Museum of Fine Arts is a fake after more than a decade of research. He told AP he had an unprecedented amount of cooperation from the museum during his research. He published the findings in the January/February issue of Archeology. John Herrmann, the museum’s curator of classical arts, said Lapatin’s conclusions were open to interppretation. However Herrmann said that a battery of scientific tests conducted on the piece have been inconclusive, and that the six-inch-tall statuette’s authenticity “is still open to question.” Archeologists agreed that Lapatin is a well-recognized scholar whose challenge should be taken seriously, but they told The Boston Globe that his findings would still leave the community divided.
Four institutions opposed to the sale of a five-ton, 49-foot-long glass mosaic that dominates the lobby of a building near Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell will now have a say in the mural’s fate. AP reports that the debate over the future of the Dream Garden, a Maxfield Parrish-Louis Comfort Tiffany creation, may have reached a turning point, precipitated by the death last month of Elizabeth Merriam, who was the widow of art patron John Merriam, owner of the mural. The mural – a shimmering landscape of pink and purple mountain slopes, spreading trees and flowers, and a river spilling into waterfalls – has been part of the Curtis Center for more than 80 years. Elizabeth Merriam was sole executor of the $119 million estate, which has been seeking to remove and sell the mural since 1998. The Philadelphia Historical Commission had denied an application for removal, citing the effect on the historical and architectural character of the building and the neighborhood. Under terms of John Merriam’s will, his wife’s death means that three parties, including one representative chosen by four art and educational institutions that are the estate’s principal beneficiaries, will now share the duties of executor, according to attorneys and others associated with the case. The institutions – the University of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the University of the Arts, and Bryn Mawr College – have maintained that they oppose removal of the mural.
The financially strapped Barnes Foundation, Merion, Pa., is seeking court approval to lend some of its stored paintings and artifacts to other museums in order to raise its profile as well as some badly needed funds. Almost none of the paintings, vases, rugs, ancient Greek and Roman artifacts and other works have been seen publicly in 50 years. Some hang in administrative offices, while others are in the basement, many in less than ideal conditions. In the early 1990s, the foundation waged a controversial but ultimately successful court fight for permission to send its most famous impressionist and postimpressionist masterpieces on a lucrative world tour. The current petition applies only to works stored outside the public gallery, but may raise some of the same questions of donor intent that arose in earlier Montgomery County Court proceedings, reports AP.
A 51,000-square-foot museum dedicated to artisans and craftsmen who made Arkansas their home during the past 200 years is set to open in Little Rock, according to Kelly P. Kissel of AP. The museum’s vaults hold priceless paintings, charts, tables, quilts and clothing – all made by hand and all telling a part of the state’s history: beloved slaves looking on from the shadows over a family sitting for a portrait, hand-drawn maps, intricate inlaid wood. After the museum opens April 28, visitors will find a glassed-in reception area resting on Block 32’s old alley, allowing people to look east from the same perspective as townspeople 170 years ago. The museum and collection of old buildings is two blocks south of the city’s refurbished riverfront and just west of where the Bill Clinton Presidential Library will be built. Tours of the territorial buildings cost $2. Visits to exhibition halls will be free, including hands-on exhibits for children, traveling shows and rotating exhibits of Arkansas furniture, fabrics and weapons gathered since the Arkansas Territorial Restoration museum opened in 1941.
New curators of a 200-year-old museum known as the White House, the first family is dusting off furniture and paintings long in storage, moving portraits around, hanging new drapes, repainting walls. The Treaty Room got fresh taupe-gold paint and “new” furniture that was once used by President Ulysses Grant, including a Victorian settee and two chairs. “I actually was not that wild about the furniture,” first lady Laura Bush said in an interview April 1 with The Associated Press. “‘But he said, ‘Oh, no, I want furniture like this in my office.'” Among the changes Mrs. Bush has made already was to pull from storage a French desk acquired by Mrs. Kennedy in 1962, and placing it in the Center Hall, a drawing room for the first family and presidential guests. Gone from the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden is Hillary Rodham Clinton’s outdoor collection of contemporary sculpture. The grant that financed the large, colorful pieces ran out, Mrs. Bush said, adding she doubted she would continue the Clinton-initiated “White House Collection.”
Art dealer Ray Sacks, 76, died on January 2 of cancer in New York City. He and his wife, Beverly Sacks, were active New York City art dealers for the past 30 years. His specialty was late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Century American paintings.
Life after Harvard for outgoing president Neil L. Rudenstine will combine his lifelong passion for art with technology in a project designed to bring a huge collection of digital art to students, teachers and scholars. Rudenstine, who leaves Harvard in June, will serve as chairman of a new nonprofit organization called “ArtSTOR,” which plans to create an extensive catalogue of high-resolution digital images of art, architecture, design and other rdf_Descriptions. The project is being sponsored by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in New York City. Rudenstine, reports AP, a scholar of Renaissance literature and an art lover, will lead an advisory group within the organization to determine the content of the archive and the way the database will be designed. He will also serve as chairman of its board of trustees.
Gifts and pledges from the New York State Council on the Arts and New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation totaling $100,000 will help underwrite an exhibition and provide general operating support at The American Craft Museum, New York City.
Theriault’s, the Annapolis, Md. doll auction firm, has announced the addition of Deborah Thompson to its staff as marketing director after eight years at Doll Reader magazine.
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