Lost Alma-Tadema painting found again


The lost Alma Tadema painting, being hanged at the Fries Museum exhibition, photo by Marchje Andringa

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

A lost painting by Dutch-British painter Lawrence Alma-Tadema has surfaced in the BBC television program Antiques Roadshow.

Alma-Tadema was in the 19th century one of the most successful painters in the world. He was born in the Frisian village Dronryp, and later moved to London and became a naturalized Englishman. Alma-Tadema, who died in 1913, is buried in St. Paul’s Cathedral in London.

Bewilderment

The painting shows the engraver Leopold Löwenstein. Alma-Tadema gave it to Löwenstein’s wife. She was the nanny of the painter’s daughters. In 1913 the painting was last seen in public. A great-grandson of the engraver took it to the Antiques Roadshow, where the discovery caused bewilderment.

The episode of Antiques Roadshow will be broadcast tomorrow night on BBC One. Then the value of the painting will also be disclosed. The painting was restored after the discovery and added by the Fries Museum to their exhibition about Alma-Tadema which opens on 1 October.

This 20 September 2016 video is about that Alma Tadema exhibition, and the inspiration by that painter on Hollywood films about antiquity.

Colours in painting, video


This is a September 2016 video in Dutch, with English subtitles.

In it, Dutch artist Monica Rotgans discusses paint and other material used by visual artists.

According to Ms Rotgans, the colours in many old paintings have deteriorated through the ages, as, eg, paint decayed.

Eg, the painting The Potato Eaters by Vincent van Gogh now looks grimy and dark; while, just after Van Gogh had painted it, there was much more light in it.

The cause, Ms Rotgans says, is Van Gogh’s use of Prussian blue paint, which makes paintings darker as it decays eventually.

New Hercules Segers paintings discovered


This video shows the painting by Hercules Segers: View of Rhenen.

Music: Bach: Pastorale BWV 590.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

Rijksmuseum discovers six new paintings by Hercules Segers

Today, 00:48

A team of specialists from the Amsterdam Rijksmuseum has discovered during the preparation of an exhibition on Hercules Segers six new paintings by the seventeenth-century artist. Segers’ work is very rare. Until this discovery art historians ascribed ten to twelve paintings to the painter and graphic artist. The total number of known works by Segers is now sixteen paintings and two oil sketches. …

Segers had his own technique for etching and printmaking. Art historians call him a pioneer of colour printing. Rembrandt owned eight of his paintings.

Between October 7 and January 8, 2017 a complete overview of Segers’ works will be in the Rijksmuseum. The exhibition consists of 18 paintings, 110 print outs and 54 prints. After January 8 the collection will travel to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

See also here.

17th-century painting found again after 200 years


This 24 August 2016 Dutch video shows how five seventeenth century paintings, depicting local militia officers of Delft city, are brought together for the first time in over 200 years for an exhibition in the Prinsenhof museum in Delft, which will open to the public on Friday 26 August 2016.

Until recently, one of these five paintings was missing. It was the 1648 portrait by Jacob Delff II of the officers Willem Reyersz de Langue and Daniel Fransz van der Brugge. That work of art had disappeared at the end of the eighteenth century.

After more than 200 years, last year it suddenly turned up at an auction in Paris. The Prinsenhof museum was able to buy it. Then, they restored it.

This 24 August 2016 Dutch video shows the restoration of Jacob Delff II’s painting at the Prinsenhof museum.

This video shows that restoration as well.

Painter Hieronymus Bosch’s fantastic animals


Garden of Earthly Delights, by Hieronymus Bosch, detail

This photo shows a detail of the painting The Garden of Earthly Delights, by Hieronymus Bosch.

As I blogged before, on 8 July 2016 we were in the natural history museum in Tilburg, the Netherlands, for the exhibition about animals in the paintings by Hieronymus Bosch.

Many animals in Bosch’ age were used as symbols, eg of sinful or good human qualities: eg, peacocks for vanity. The catalogue of the exhibition says that many of these late medieval-early Renaissance symbolic meanings have become lost and are unclear now. We don’t know whether Bosch interpreted animals as symbols 100% like some contemporaries did. There are doves in Bosch’ paintings. Symbols of peace? Or symbols of prostitution, which they also used to be sometimes? We cannot be sure.

There are four types of animals in Hieronymus Bosch’s paintings. First, autochthonous west European animals which Bosch knew well. Like little owls: in The Garden of Earthly Delights, in The Wayfarer, and in St. Jerome at Prayer.

Or like the great tit in The Wayfarer.

Or like the magpie in The Wayfarer. According to the exhibition organisation, the magpie used to be a symbol of a soul liberated from sin. Also to Bosch? We cannot be completely sure.

The second category in Bosch’s work are exotic animals new for west Europeans; like giraffes. In his The Garden of Earthly Delights, in its left panel, Bosch depicted a giraffe. He very probably never had seen a living giraffe. The animal looks much like a picture from a book by fifteenth century Italian humanist Cyriacus of Ancona.

Cyriacus, according to a biography:

was not a religious man – not in the manner of most of his contemporaries.

Cyriacus’ ideas about science were at variance with Catholic Church doctrine. Much of his work got lost. That Bosch knew it and referred to it may be another sign of him being critical of religious (and secular) authority, besides other signs of that in his art.

Camel, by Hieronymus Bosch

Camels were then also considered exotic, like this one in the Garden of Earthly Delights.

In Bosch’s work there are also two kinds of fantasy animals. Animals which traditionally were supposed to exist, like unicorns and griffons. And animals which were products of Bosch’s own imagination; often half one animal species, half another animal species or object. Like the half spoonbill half ship in the Triptych of the Temptation of St. Anthony. In this blog post we will now discuss mainly the last two categories, especially in the Garden of Earthly Delights.

Unicorn and birds

This detail of the painting shows, eg, a unicorn; a bird with three heads; a bird with an arrow-like tongue and a bird vaguely looking like a hummingbird.

The Tilburg exhibition also includes work by twenty-first century artists like Neige, inspired by Bosch’s fantasy animals.

Bird by Hieronymus Bosch

Here are two other birds in which Bosch used his imagination. One standing; one drinking.

Bird drinking, by Hieronymus Bosch

Birds by Hieronymus Bosch

And many more birds here; some may be real, some imaginary.

Griffon and deer by Hieronymus Bosch

In this detail are people riding not only on a horse, but also on a wild boar, on a deer with a surrealist kind of antlers, and on a griffon.

Griffon and deer and wild boar, by Hieronymus Bosch

Real birds in Hieronymus Bosch’s fantastic paintings


Little owl, Bosch, Garden of earthly delights

This picture shows a little owl, by famous painter Hieronymus Bosch. It is in his painting The Garden of Earthly Delights.

Little owl, Hieronymus Bosch

This photo shows a little owl as well. In Bosch’s painting The Wayfarer.

Hieronymus Bosch, The Wayfarer

That little owl, like many other animals in Bosch’s work, is a little detail in a painting full of little details.

We saw these owls on 8 July 2016, when we were in the natural history museum in Tilburg, the Netherlands.

The Tilburg exhibition on animals in Bosch’s works did not show the original works of art. These had been earlier this year in the exhibition in Den Bosch; and are now in the exhibition in the Prado museum in Madrid.

The Tilburg exhibition had reproductions of Bosch’s paintings. And also many stuffed animals of species shown by Bosch. I think there was a mistake in these stuffed animals: they included a North American black bear. A species not known to Bosch as far as I know. The bears in Bosch’s work are European brown bears; not present among the stuffed animals in the exhibition.

Why did Bosch depict so many animals? We cannot be sure. As far as we know, Bosch never wrote about his work. Many animals in Bosch’ age were used as symbols, eg of sinful or good human qualities: eg, peacocks for vanity. The catalogue of the exhibition says that many of these late medieval-early Renaissance symbolic meanings have become lost and are unclear now.

Did Bosch agree 100% with what his contemporaries thought about symbolic meanings of animals? Maybe he did not agree 100%. His works show signs of non-conformism. In west European medieval social thought, the clergy were the first estate. The nobility was the second estate. Town-dwelling bourgeois, like Bosch in Den Bosch town, were the third estate.

Tradition said that bourgeois had to mind that they did not have as many rights as clergymen, kings, counts or barons (though more than peasant serfs). However, in his The Haywain, Bosch depicted the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire and the pope as sinners who might end up in hell. He depicted a nun as a money-grabbing half pig, half human in The Garden of Earthly Delights. He depicted an armoured knight as a partly human, partly other mammal, partly bird being in hell in the same painting.

Art historian Marrigje Rikken recently wrote about images of animals between 1550 and 1630 becoming an art genre in themselves. In the dominant medieval view on art, artists worked mainly for the Roman Catholic church. They made art with religious subjects. Depicting animals could be a part of that, if it fitted in religious frameworks like the Garden of Eden or Noah’s Ark. In the sixteenth and seventeenth countries, certainly in the Low Countries, the link between artists, the Catholic church and the nobility became looser. According to Ms Rikken, there was a gradual change from earlier emblematic, symbolic depictions of animals in a religious framework to more scientific depictions; in which religion faded more and more into the background.

According to Rikken, the number of animals featured in works of art gradually increased. More and more, animals became subjects in themselves, not minor parts of religious depictions.

Was Hieronymus Bosch an early pioneer of this evolution, at least in some respects? Maybe; we don’t know for sure. He did depict many hundreds of animals. The emblematic-religious framework was still there. We may never know whether Bosch was a true believer in it. Or whether it was convenient for him as a pretext for painting or drawing animals which he loved for its own sake.

There are four types of animals in Hieronymus Bosch’s paintings. Autochthonous west European animals which Bosch knew well. Exotic animals new for west Europeans; like giraffes. And two kinds of fantasy animals. Animals which traditionally were supposed to exist, like unicorns and griffons. And animals which were products of Bosch’s own imagination; often half one animal species, half another species.

In the rest of this blog post we will confine ourselves to real animals; especially non-exotic birds; in The Garden of Earthly Delights.

Spoonbills, Hieronymus Bosch

Like these real spoonbills behind the bathing women.

Spoonbills on goat, Hieronymus Bosch

And these two real spoonbills on the back of a real goat, walking behind fantastic animals.

White storks and barn owl, Hieronymus Bosch

And these two white storks on a pig’s back. With above them, a real barn owl sitting on an ‘unreal’ unicorn’s horn. Another proof that Bosch knew the differences between various owl species.

Hooded crow, Hieronymus Bosch

And finally, this hooded crow. A species which used to be common in the Netherlands in winter; but is rare there now.

There will be more on this blog about that Hieronymus Bosch exhibition. So, stay tuned!

Abstract expressionist painting in Cornwall


This video says about itself:

21 July 2016

While Abstract Expressionism was mostly associated with New York City and its vibrant arts scene, it also had an outpost in St Ives, a small coastal town in Cornwall, England. Julian Stallabrass speaks to curator Chris Stephens about the art of two of its main protagonists, art critic and painter Patrick Heron and artist Peter Lanyon. How did their work incorporate the movements key themes of abstraction, landscape and the sublime?