For those of you who are new to my blogging, each week I do a writeup of some interesting items that I’ve come across in the art press, which I refer to as the “Art News Roundup” – even though I’m still not hugely satisfied with that moniker. For one thing, I don’t just write about “art” per se, but also about architecture, archaeology, design, and other things that catch my eye. Since I haven’t come up with a better title to date, I’m sticking with what I’ve got for the sake of continuity from the old blog. While Tuesdays hereabouts are for long-format articles, Thursdays are for curated links and short commentaries, where I get to tell you about things like interesting discoveries, new exhibitions, forthcoming books, etc.
So without further ado, let’s dive in, shall we?
Leonardo Lunacy in London
An Italian scholar has postulated that this statue of the Madonna and Child in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London is by Leonardo Da Vinci. It obviously (to me, anyway) isn’t, and I’d chalk this theory up to wishful thinking coupled with the latitude provided by an uncertain provenance, but slap the name “Da Vinci” on anything these days and you’re assured of your fifteen minutes of fame in the art press. Have a gander and decide for yourself, but there are plenty of examples of smiling Madonnas, angels, and the like from around the beginning of the 14th through the end of the 16th centuries in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and elsewhere, none of which have anything at all to do with Leonardo.
Viewing de Vuez
Quelle surprise! Workers renovating a townhouse in Paris recently stumbled across a huge 17th century painting hidden behind a false wall. The circa 1674 canvas, by Arnould de Vuez (1644-1720), depicts the arrival in Jerusalem of the Marquis de Nointel, Louis XIV’s Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire. The cityscape in the background appears to be a reasonably faithful view of the holy city at the time of the visit, and on closer inspection one can make out major landmarks such as the Wailing Wall and the Dome of the Rock. No one is quite sure why the piece ended up being affixed to the wall and then covered over, although speculation is that the owners did this during World War II, when the Nazis were looting art from all over Paris and occupied France. The painting is currently undergoing cleaning and restoration, which is expected to be completed in May; it will form the design centerpiece of the new Oscar de la Renta boutique that will be occupying the space.
Seeing Spain in San Diego
“Art & Empire: The Golden Age of Spain” will open at the San Diego Museum of Art on May 18th and it looks to be well-worth seeing; if I happen to find myself out that way, this is definitely a show I’ll go along to check out for myself. It’s not often the case in this country that one gets to take in a survey of Golden Age Spanish art (which is roughly the period from about 1500-1700) alongside works related to the Spanish empire. Along with works by El Greco, Murillo, Velázquez, Zurbarán, and others from its own collections as well as on loan, the Museum has one of my favorite Spanish bodegónes (still life paintings), the circa 1602 “Still Life with Quince, Cabbage, Melon, and Cucumber” by Juan Sánchez Cotán, which will be part of the exhibition. Some of the art in the show will be from Spain, while some will be from the Spanish colonies, or pieces produced in Spain for export to those colonies, so it should prove to be quite an interesting juxtaposition of styles, materials, and historical information.