Sunday, 21 December 2008

Damien Hirst sale. An entirely legal scam?

That Damien Hirst sale. Was it an entirely legal scam?
This is Robin Simon's editorial in The British Art Journal, Vo. IX, No. 2 (Autumn 2008)
Left hand, right hand
We promise not to mention the Turner Prize ever again. With any luck, euthanasia will soon be applied to what is clearly a very sick patient: the Turner Prize has been moribund for years. Finally, this time, even the national press appears to have despaired and its otherwise gallant troopers, the several art critics who have become accustomed to just reprinting the press release or repeating the jargon of a ‘curator of interpretation’, have decided to criticize the quality of what is on offer. This long drawn-out exercise in pseudo-competition, complete with a pretence of public nominations, has done good service. Not in the cause of art, but in public relations, promoting to prominence one limited kind of art that no member of the public would voluntarily have paid real money to see, and in gaining vast publicity for the empire Tate buildings.
The appearance of the latest array has coincided with some more than usually odd goings-on within the world of art PR. The strangest was undoubtedly the Damien Hirst auction at Sotheby’s, which is still being reported as having ‘made’ £111m. For whom? This was an operation along similar lines to the ‘sale’ of Hirst’s diamond-encrusted skull for a purported £50m, one of those adapatations of existing designs that might be termed ‘derivatives’: and about as risky an investment as those speculative vehicles that have brought the world’s financial market to its knees. In the case of the skull, it transpired that the major shareholder in the supposed purchasing partnership was none other than… Damien Hirst. Did he hand over money from left hand to right hand? Could it be that this was not what is usually understood by the term purchase?
Certainly, the ‘auction’ was a farce. Hirst announced that he was going to take the bold step of going to auction and cutting out his dealers. There was nothing bold about it. For who should turn out to have been a major bidder and ‘buyer’ but Hirst’s dealer, Jay Jopling. The whole thing looks very much as though it was a ploy whereby the value of Hirst stocks was maintained at little or, conceivably, no cost to either the artist or the dealer (and there was no seller’s premium to pay). Indeed, two other bidders at the auction were also Hirst dealers. And so was the money supposedly involved , one might wonder, merely passing back and forth again, from one hand to the other?
The elaborate net thus cast at Sotheby’s caught a mere dozen or so genuine suckers who did not know what was going on and who paid prices that in some instances were pushed up by underbidding on the part of experienced dealers with a vested interest in keeping prices high. These foolish virgins (they were mostly first-time buyers from such well-known art-loving countries as Kazakhstan) should take heed of the lessons of history and the experience of those ruined by the bursting of the South Sea and Mississippi bubbles in the 18th century. Similar exercises took place then in the manipulation of evidence to make it appear that the relevant stocks had genuine value. But the lucky ones – chiefly those operating the scam – sold out and got out before the bubble burst. One of those fortunate to escape with their profits, incidentally, was Sir James Thornhill, who had been tipped off by Robert Knight, cashier of the South Sea Company, whose house he was decorating. Knight nipped off to a long and happy retirement in France; Thornhill bought back the family estate in Dorset. The time for holders of Hirst stocks to be worried is at the merest hint of either the artist or his dealers genuinely getting rid of their holdings…
One of the more tiresome myths peddled by Hirst and co., and dutifully repeated by the press, is that this was the first time an artist had gone direct to auction with his own work. Thornhill’s son-in-law William Hogarth did it in 1745, the difference being that the sales on that occasion were all to genuine buyers – and that they were acquiring works of art of lasting value.

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Leonardo da Vinci drawings: look at the back!

Robin Simon on the Leonardo da Vinci drawings on the back of the Virgin and Child with St Anne…

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Robin Simon's Daily Mail weekly choice

Opening historic houses (right)

‘Cartoons & Coronets. The Genius of Osbert Lancaster’
Wallace Collection, Manchester Square London W1
Free admission

Genius is not too strong a word for this much loved inventor of the pocket cartoon. Sir Osbert also produced theatre designs and elaborate satires on architecture and social life. Far from looking dated his wit will enchant new generations. The accompanying illustrated book by James Knox is scintillating.
'The Vulture', Daily Mail, 31 October 2008

Friday, 24 October 2008

Byzantium at the Royal Academy

St Catherine's Monastery, Sinai (the subject of the final room in the exhibition). Photo RS

Robin Simon's review of 'Byzantium 330-1453' at the Royal Academy (Daily Mail, 24 October 2008):

Byzantium is synonymous with splendour, and the treasures on view will live up to your wildest expectations. Here is the sixth-century Antioch Chalice, once believed to be the Holy Grail, and the greatest piece of silverware to survive from the fourth century, the Projecta Casket. There are icons, mosaics, manuscripts, ivories, gilded ornaments, silver plates, medallions, amulets, tapestries, and plenty of Byzantine bling. Wags will be getting all sorts of ideas from the gold body-chains studded with gems.

This is a blockbuster show about a blockbuster subject, one of the greatest empires the world has ever known. As the title tells us, it lasted for more than a thousand years, from its foundation by Constantine, the first Christian emperor of Rome, until it finally succumbed to the Islamic Ottoman Turks.

Despite the quantity and complexity of the material, the display is a model of clarity. It reveals how the classical world of Rome was transformed into that of the Christian era. Constantinople, built upon the earlier city of Byzantium, was at the centre of an empire whose riches were directed towards the creation of what we call ‘Byzantine’ art, although the emperor continued to rule over what he considered ‘The Empire of the Romans’.

The first room makes the point. Here are Late Antique sculptures of Christian significance from as early as the third century. These exquisite marble carvings in classical style tell the story of Jonah, which prefigured the death and resurrection of Christ. Nearby is a complete floor mosaic and a magnificent bronze head of Constantine himself, and even an early fifth-century tomb complete with wall paintings showing the tale of Susanna and the Elders, understood as an allegory of the triumph of the Christian church over heresy.

And then, of course, there are icons. Not any old icons, but some of the rarest in existence and some of the largest. Lots of them. And, in a suitably over-the-top gesture, a pair of gigantic bronze doors brought all the way from the church of S Salvatore in the southern Italian town of Atrani.

The exhibition continues until 22 March 2009

Robin Simon's Daily Mail weekly choice

‘Renaissance Faces’
National Gallery, London
Until 18 January 2009
Admission charge

Stunning array of masterpieces. Sculptures, paintings and drawings, including works by Van Eyck, Botticelli, Ghirlandaio, Dürer, Memling and Pontormo. The marble bust of Niccolo Strozzi by Mino da Fiesole is a work of cruel realism and almost steals the show from Titian’s penetrating portrait of Pope Paul III.
'The Vulture', Daily Mail, 24 October 2008

Robin Simon's Daily Mail weekly choice

‘Sporting Art’
James Harvey British Art
15 Langton Street London SW10 OJL
Free. 10-6 Mon-Fri, 10-4 Sat

Attractive new gallery showing no fewer than ten rediscovered paintings by Sir Alfred Munnings, whose painting, once so sniffed at, is looking better and better. Typical mixture of romantic gypsy lads and posh people hunting. Splendid animals by the likes of John Wootton, Sawrey Gilpin, John Sartorius and J.F. Herring Jr.
'The Vulture', Daily Mail, 17 October 2008

Robin Simon's Daily Mail weekly choice

‘Miró, Calder, Giacometti, Braque: Aimé Maeght and his artists’
Royal Academy, London, until 2 January 2009
Admission charge

The highlights of this show are works by Bonnard and Matisse, who do not appear in the title, although Braque is represented by major work. The rest reveals how the dealer Aimé Maeght conjured major reputations out of the whimsical creations of Miró and Calder. The jury is still out on Giacometti.
'The Vulture', Daily Mail, 10 October 2008

Robin Simon's Daily Mail weekly choice

‘Horses & Landscapes: George Stubbs at Welbeck’
Until 21 December 2008
Admission charge

Magnificent paintings by Stubbs star in a show exploring the historic significance of nearby beauty spot Cresswell Crags. Also near-life-size paintings of horses commissioned by the 1st Duke of Newcastle in the early 17th century are on public display for the first time, in a striking new gallery.
'The Vulture', Daily Mail, 3 October 2008

Saturday, 4 October 2008

Lily Cole and Playboy: definitely art

Some seriously philosophical and aesthetic reflections on Lily Cole by Robin Simon in The Independent

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Robin Simon reviews 'Miró, Calder, Giacometti and Braque: Aimé Maeght and his Artists'

Robin Simon's review of 'Miró, Calder, Giacometti and Braque: Aimé Maeght and his Artists' (Royal Academy, London, until 2 January 2009) in the New Statesman might make you think about how the reputations of some 20th-century artists were created and how they have since been shored up.
One vehicle for maintaining the reputations of 'Aimé Maeght's artists' has been the impressive-sounding Fondation Maeght in St Paul de Vence. The commercial Galerie Maeght in Paris continues to flourish…

Entrance Garden of Fondation Maeght. Photo RS

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Robin Simon's Daily Mail weekly choice

‘Tea and Coffee in the Age of Johnson’
Dr Johnson’s House,
17 Gough Square, London EC4A 3DE
Until 13 December

Coffee houses were well established when Samuel Johnson was growing up in the early 1700s, but tea was rare and expensive. By the end of his life tea was a favourite with all classes and Johnson would drink 25 cups in an evening. Excellent exhibits and accompanying events in this evocative location.

'The Vulture', Daily Mail, 26 September 2008

Monday, 22 September 2008

Robin Simon's Daily Mail weekly choice

'Francis Bacon'
Tate Britain
Until 4 January 2009

How good was Bacon? This shrewd selection gives him every chance to shine and there are undoubted masterpieces, such as the Crucifixion triptych of 1962 and the 1965 Study from portrait of Pope Innocent X. Room 7 has portraits of lyricism and wit amid all the blood and guts.
The Vulture, Daily Mail, 19 September 2008

And another thing:
One of the finest paintings on view is the Study for Crouching Nude of 1952. It is at the Detroit Institute of Arts, a gift from its former director William Valentiner because (wait for it) the museum of which he was currently director, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, turned it down… ouch.

There is a brief but enjoyable interview with Bacon online:
BBC interview

Monday, 15 September 2008

Robin Simon's Daily Mail weekly choice

Crikey, get this price:
Lifeguards on the Mall, 66 x 91cm, oil on canvas. Yours for £125,000…

‘Edward Seago: the Artist’s Artist’
Colnaghi, 15 Old Bond Street, London W1, until 19 September (closed Sunday)

Seago was not so much the artist’s artist as the people’s artist. Until his death in 1974, Seago defied the trendy art establishment to become the most popular of ‘traditional’ painters, loved by high and low alike. Splendid show filled out with loans from Prince Philip, his admirer and painting companion.

The Vulture, Daily Mail, 12 September 2008

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Robin Simon's Daily Mail weekly choice

Lucian Freud, Girl with White Dog, 1950-1, oil on canvas ©Tate, London 2008

‘The Naked and the Nude’
Mima, Middlesborough

Lucian Freud’s 1951 Girl with white dog features in a fine selection of paintings from Tate Britain at the swish new Middlesborough Institute of Modern Art. The building is fun and holds an impressive permanent collection of 20th-century British works, with plenty of contemporary ‘cutting edge’ art on view. 'The Vulture', Daily Mail, 5 September 2008

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Robin Simon's Daily Mail weekly choice

'BP Exhibition: Drawn from the Collection'
Tate Britain
Until 1 March 2009
Free admission

Selection of rarely seen treasures from the Tate's drawings collection. Superb draughtsmanship from the likes of Cozens, Cotman, Turner and Burne-Jones, a tradition continued in the twentieth century by such as Nevinson, Kennington and Spencer. The Tate's insistence upon displaying stuff by Tracey Emin and chums amid such skill is self-defeating.

The Vulture, Daily Mail, 29 August 2008

PS what I did not mention in the paper is that the efforts of Tracey Emin and David Shrigley are so poor that, to quote Shrigley, 'You've got to laugh.'
Or weep, for British art…
What Shrigley actually said, with unconscious irony, was: 'It’s a matter of making fun of the things you could get depressed about. You've got to laugh.'
See for yourselves on this link: feeble stuff

Robin Simon's Daily Mail weekly choice

'Reunited. Gwen John, Mere Poussepin and the Catholic Church'
Barber Institute, Birmingham
Until 21 September

If you like Gwen John, you will like this lugubrious display of nuns. After her disastrous love affair with the sculptor Rodin, John converted to Roman Catholicism. The six portraits of the local Mother Superior were commissioned, one for each room in the convent. It suited the artist's repetitious nature.

The Vulture, Daily Mail, 22 August 2008

The Nun (Late 1910s). Oil on board.

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Robin Simon's Daily Mail weekly choice

Wyndham Lewis PortraitsNational Portrait Gallery
London. Until 19 October
Admission charge

Wyndham Lewis seemed the epitome of ‘modern art’ after World War I. Now his portraits looks like charming pastiches. The RA turned down his portrait of TS Eliot in 1938, although Sickert called him ‘the greatest portraitist of this or any other time’. A baffling episode in the history of taste.

The Vulture, Daily Mail, 8 August 2008

Saturday, 2 August 2008

Robin Simon's Daily Mail weekly choice

Edgar Degas, l'Absinthe

'Impressionism & Scotland'
National Gallery Complex, Edinburgh
Until 12 October
Admission charge

Magnificent display of over 100 masterpieces telling the story of the powerful relationship between the French Impressionists and Scotland. The Glasgow draper Arthur Kay bought Degas’s great l’Absinthe (see illustration) as early as 1892, while Scotland boasted its own ‘Glasgow Boys’ and ‘Scottish Colourists’. Knockout works by Van Gogh, Monet (Poplars on the Epte illustrated here), … the lot.

The Vulture, Daily Mail, 1 August 2008

Saturday, 26 July 2008

Robin Simon's Daily Mail weekly choice

Winifred Coombe Tennant: A Life through Art
National Museum Cardiff
26 July-9 November
Free admission

The Davies sisters gave incomparable Impressionist painting to the National Museum of Wales. Now a new exhibition celebrates Winifred Coombe Tennant who donated outstanding Welsh paintings. Eighty works on view include plenty by Kyffin Williams (see picture) and also Gwen John who linked Tennant’s two great loves, Wales and France.

The Vulture, Daily Mail, 25 July 2008

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Courtauld 75th anniversary

Enjoying a joke… his own. Robin Simon giving the welcoming speech at the Courtauld Institute's 75th anniversary evening at Somerset House, London, on 5 July 2008.
For more pics click Courtauld at 75.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Doing a runner at the Tate (whoops! 'Tate')

Another Tate stunt… I forbear to mention the stunt artiste responsible and you will have to look at this link to an Oz paper that knows a piece of nonsense when it hears of it. 
I was trying to teach in the Tate when this began. We were greeted by a health and safety adviser when we arrived. As we passed, for various reasons, through the bowels of the Tate 'back stage', with relays of sweaty runners under our feet and we under theirs, I warned my students not to touch 'the art works'. The sprinters, some of whom were clearly swifter and fitter than others, were under no illusions about the absurdity of the exercise but then, they were being paid quite well to trot back and forth.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Lars Tharp new director of Foundling Museum

The amiable and brilliant Lars Tharp is the new director of the Foundling Museum where he will begin work on 1 October 2008. Lars follows the remarkable Rhian Harris who has overseen every stage of the creation of the Foundling in its new form as one of the outstanding museums in Britain and  is moving on to take over as Director of the V&A's Museum of Childhood.
Lars is familiar as one of the long-term stars of BBC1's The Antiques Road Show. He is a leading ceramics expert and general all-round Hogarth nut, which is just as well since the Foundling contains three of Hogarth's greatest paintings as well as works by Allan Ramsay, John Michael Rysbrack, Joshua Reynolds and John Singleton Copley. It also houses the Gerald Coke Handel Collection and the fair copy of the score of Handel's Messiah. Louis-François Roubiliac's terracotta bust of Handel is one of the glories of the Foundling's Picture Gallery, which is dominated by Hogarth's unforgettable portrait of Captain Coram.

Saturday, 5 July 2008

The BP Portrait Award 2008

The BP Portrait Award 2008 is the worst yet, a dismal array of photo-realist images: if they were not executed with a spray-gun, they look like it. This annual show at the National Portrait Gallery in London used to be one of the few places left where those still engaged in the skilful use of brush, oil and canvas were recognized. In 2003, this ceased to be the case. I wrote at the time in the Daily Mail:

'This annual show, now in its twenty-second year, performs the invaluable task of reminding us that each generation is bursting with young people still determined to paint people, and to find fresh ways of doing so.

These are the hardy souls who survive the scorn of their supposed teachers at the art schools, where they are often forbidden to draw from the model, and sneered at for painting the world as they see it.

Naturally, they are ignored by the likes of Charles Saatchi and have to scrounge a living without the massive subsidies of the state-sponsored art of the Tate and its Turner Prize parade of charlatans.

And yet… this year I smell a rat. I arrived full of optimism and carried out my usual exercise of spotting the works I admired without looking at the labels or knowing which had won the four awards. The nominations – my four nominations – were: Eddie by Jack Scouller; Jack by Toby Wiggins; Self-portrait, postman by Jason Walker; and Libby Sheldon by Emma Wesley. And my winner is… Emma Welsey for her portrait of Libby Sheldon.

Well, I was wrong, wasn’t I? At least so far as the official awards are concerned. Not one of my winners picked up any of the awards, from the £25,000 first prize to the £1,000 fourth. The trouble, I discovered, is that I was still judging the pictures on the ludicrously old-fashioned basis of how well they were painted.

Three of the official prizes all went to images of slick hyper-realistic trickery that look suspiciously as though they were painted with a spray-gun on top of a colour transparency projected onto canvas. Technically, it is clever, of course, just as spray-painting a stolen vehicle has to be cleverly done. But without the excitement of the brush mark on the canvas, it is all sterile stuff. Only the fourth prize looked as though it had any life in it, and there the brush had actually intervened.

This "snap, enlarge and spray" method is not a new trick, not by any means. And judging by the evidence of this competition it is the predominant technique now taught in the colleges, and approved by the BP judges. It has long been the only kind of realistic art approved by the Tate, and the winner adhered to that dubious formula…'

That was 2003. Now, in 2008, there are NO worthwhile portraits in this selection that have been made by traditional brushwork. It is not that excellent examples of this kind of painting do not exist. They still continue to be made, in the teeth of official discouragement. It is that they have been here, as everywhere else, deliberately excluded. Such artists are now 'non-people'. As a result, the once-marvellous BP Portrait Award no longer serves any useful purpose.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

John Harris wins the Berger Prize

The doyen of architectural history, indeed the maverick of architectural history, John Harris, OBE, has won the £5000 William MB Berger Prize for British Art History 2007 for Moving Rooms: the Trade in Architectural Salvages, published by Yale University Press for the Paul Mellon Centre. The prize is awarded annually by The British Art Journal together with the Berger Collection Educational Trust of Denver. 
In a reception at the Paul Mellon Centre for British Art in London on 2 July 2008 the presentation was made by Tim Knox, Director of Sir John Soane's Museum. 
The assessors commented: 'The author wears his immense knowledge and scholarship lightly, and lifts the lid on so many subjects. The tale he has to tell is rich in its implications. The book forces us to reconsider fundamental questions about the nature of authenticity in all fields, so radically indeed, that this study could almost be reckoned a "postmodern" achievement. It opens up endless possibilities for future research. No-one else could have written it.'
Guests at the reception included Professor Brian Allen, Director of the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art; Dr Martin Postle, Assistant Director, Paul Mellon Centre; Eileen Harris; Richard Ormond (formerly Director of the National Portrait Gallery and of the National Maritime Museum) and Professor Leonee Ormond; Dr John Martin Robinson; Dr Paula Henderson (winner of the 2006 William MB Berger Prize); Dr Wendy Baron; Dr Gert-Rudolf Flick; William Drummond; Elizabeth Einberg; Dr Celina Fox; Dr Susan Jenkins (English Heritage, Apsley House); Emeritus Professor Andrew Sanders; Jane Martineau (Burlington Magazine); Kim Sloan (British Museum); Professor Edward Chaney; Sally Salvesen (Yale University Press).

Friday, 27 June 2008

Berger Prize 2007

The British Art Journal  announces the Short List of six titles for the £5000 Berger Prize for British Art History

The winner will be announced in London at 7.15 pm on 2 July 2008 in a reception at the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art.

The six books short-listed for the 2007 prize (for an outstanding book published between 1 September 2006 and 31 August 2007) are:

Inigo Jones and The European Classicist Tradition
Giles Worsley
Yale ISBN 978-0-300-11729-5 £40

A New World, England’s First View of America
Kim Sloan
British Museum ISBN 978 0 7141 2650 0 [PB] £19.99

Moving Rooms: The Trade in Architectural Salvage
John Harris
Yale for the Paul Mellon Centre ISBN 9780300124200, £30

War Paint: Art, War, State and Identity
in Britain (1939-1945)
Brian Foss
Yale for the Paul Mellon Centre ISBN 978-0-300-10890-3 £35

Pictures and Popery. Art an Religion in England, 1660-1760
Clare Haynes
Ashgate ISBN 978-0-7546-5506-0 £55

James ‘Athenian’ Stuart. The Rediscovery of Antiquity
Ed Susan Weber Soros
Bard Graduate Center/Yale ISBN 9780300117134, £60

Since its inception in 2001, the Berger Prize has come to be recognized as the most prestigious in the field. It celebrates outstanding achievement in the history of British art and is administered by The British Art Journal, the leading research journal, and awarded jointly with the Berger Collection Educational Trust of Denver. The Denver Art Museum houses the important collection of British art assembled by the late William MB Berger in honour of whose memory the prize was established.

A panel of no fewer than five and no more than seven assessors selects the recipient. The assessors committee includes the editor of The British Art Journal (Robin Simon), and is chaired by Dr. Timothy J. Standring, Gates Foundation Curator of Painting and Sculpture, Denver Art Museum, and Trustee of the Berger Collection Educational Trust.
The other assessors for the 2007 prize are:
Professor Linda Colley, Princeton University
Dr. Ann Bermingham, University of California at Santa Barbara
Olivier Meslay, Musée du Louvre, Paris
Dr. Martin Postle, Assistant Director, Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art

The Long List can be seen in the current issue of The British Art Journal (IX, 1).

The following titles were deemed Hors Concours

Hogarth France and British Art
The Rise of the Arts in Eighteenth-Century Britain

Robin Simon
Paul Holberton Publishing/Hogarth Arts
ISBN 978-0-9554063-0-0, £45

Inigo Jones’s ‘Roman Sketchbook’
Edward Chaney
ISBN 0901953121 Maggs Bros/Roxburghe Club, £200

Monday, 23 June 2008

Some day my plinth will come

Boris, our new Mayor of London, has inherited the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square… This classic exercise in fake democracy ('vote for the project you want to see on the plinth') had a short list of the usual suspects presented to the public by the usual suspects, who then picked the final two (each gets a year of the plinth). 
The 'winners' are Anthony Gormley and Yinka Shonibare
Gormley proposes getting members of the public to stand on the plinth in a rota so that it is occupied 24 hours a day for a year. Sounds simple enough, doesn't it? 
But listen to Gormley: 
'Through elevation onto the plinth and removal from common ground the subjective living body becomes both representation and representative, encouraging consideration of diversity, vulnerability and the individual in contemporary society.'
Or, of course, not… 
And the same goes for Shonibare's offering of a ship in a bottle. It comes with the customary assertion of profundity without which the object would, as usual, be completely meaningless:
'For me it's a celebration of London's immense ethnic wealth, giving expression to and honouring the many cultures and ethnicities that are still breathing precious wind into the sails of the UK.'
The wind is hot air, we presume. The sails get in to this guff because the model will have sails made out of pretty (vaguely ethnic) fabric bought in Brixton market. (He's used this stuff before. It's a trademark gimmick.)
Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Bonnie Prince Charlie earlier suspicions

Portrait painter Sandy Cheyne had come to the conclusion that the Scottish National Portrait Gallery had got the wrong prince in 2002 in an article in The Leopard

Saturday, 21 June 2008

The Courtauld at 75

The Courtauld Institute of Art celebrates 75 years with a festive weekend 4-6 July 2008. Robin Simon will be there as Chairman of the Courtauld Association and he has written about the place on a number of occasions (see the links in Spectator Papers below).

NOT Bonnie Prince Charlie

The new issue of The British Art Journal (Vol IX, No. 1) publishes a revelation about the best-known portrait of Bonnie Prince Charlie in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. Here's a funny thing: it isn't – a portrait of Bonnie Prince Charlie, that is. Instead, as Bendor Grosvenor reveals, it shows his brother Cardinal Henry Stuart, or 'Cardinal York' as he was known, who later preferred to be known by the title of 'King Henry IX'. A story, in fact, of all sorts of pretenders…
Other versions of the story can be found at these links

Thursday, 19 June 2008

The Parthenon and the Elgin Marbles

A new book by James Cuno (reviewed by Robin Simon) offers some powerful arguments in favour of keeping all the marbles just where they are…
The archaeologist Dorothy King agrees.
And so does Jonathan Keates.

Hammershoi at the Royal Academy

Villhelm Hammershoi is at the Royal Academy. Robin Simon went to Copenhagen to have a look and wrote a preview.