Friday, September 4, 2015

The Botticelli Renaissance

24th September 2015 – 24th January 2016 | Gemäldegalerie - Staatliche  Museen zu Berlin  

5th March 2016 – 3 d July 2016 | Victoria and Albert Museum, London   

The Florentine painter Sandro Botticelli (1445-1510 ) is considered one of  the most important artists of the Renaissance. Countless reproductions  have been made of his works, with some creators add ing a slant or  “modern touch”, resulting in a work that has acquired a momentum and  trajectory in its own right. Many of these re-workings are so removed from  the originals that Botticelli has become a household name and can be used as a touchstone for fashion and lifestyle with out any mention being  made of his paintings. Products are named after him, popular-culture personalities allude to his motifs in fashioning their own image, and some of the characters portrayed in his works – particularly his “Venus” – are now firmly embedded in collective awareness. 

Yet our apparent familiarity with his opus was not inevitable. Sandro Botticelli was largely forgotten after his death, only to be rediscovered around 1800. From the mid-19th century onwards the Pre-Raphaelite movement in England and the  associated admiration of Botticelli were instrumental in the artist’s  resurgence, which caught the imagination of increasing numbers of artists  and a steadily growing public.

Since then, Botticelli’s work has been subject to wildly different interpretations and poses numerous questions.  How did the artist come to be so famous? How did he get to be a pop icon? Why are his paintings considered timeless and “European”, to the  extent that they even feature on Euro coins? One thing is certain: few old  masters can equal Botticelli as a source of inspiration for modern art and  present-day artists.   

The exhibition, which includes more than forty original works, explores a touching story of appropriation and appreciation th at began in the early 19th century and continues to this day. For the first time ever, Sandro  Botticelli’s works are presented in the context of subsequent interpretations and paraphrases. The 130 works on show will include many masterpieces of European art and important wor ks on loan from the  great collections of the world. Among them represented are Dante Gabriele Rossetti, Edward Burne-Jones, René Magritte, Elsa Schiaparelli, Andy Warhol and Bill Viola. 

The exhibition also features drawings, photographs, videos, fashion and design objects. The visual aspect of the exhibition is largely a reflection of the partnership  between the Gemäldegalerie and the Victoria and Alb ert Museum. Since  the beginning of Botticelli’s comeback in the early years of the 19 th century  Berlin has possessed a significant number of the master’s works. The  largest collection of Botticellis outside of the painter’s own city of Florence  has always been housed in the Gemäldegalerie of the Staatliche – formerly Königliche – Museen zu Berlin, founded in 1830. 

Sandro Botticelli: Venus, 1490
Staatliche Museen zu Berlin / Jörg P. Anders



Thursday, September 3, 2015

Canaletto Celebrating Britain

The Holburne Museum Great Pulteney Street Bath June 27, 2015 – October 4, 2015  Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Kendal, Cumbria, 22 October 2015 — 14 February 2016

When the Venetian painter Antonio Canal arrived in London in 1746, Britain was booming. During his nine-year stay, the artist captured the latest achievements of British architecture and engineering. Including loans from Compton Verney, The National Trust, The British Museum, Royal Collection Trust and Tate this exhibition also features Canaletto’s British contemporaries and a review of John Wood’s reinvention of architecture in Bath.

Giovanni Antonio Canal (1697-1768), known popularly as Canaletto, is today remembered as one of Italy’s greatest view painters. His images of Venice were particularly popular with Grand Tourists from Britain. When war caused the flow of British visitors to Venice to dry up, Canaletto followed his patrons home to Britain, where he stayed for almost nine years from 1746 to 1755.

Through a series of astonishing canvases and drawings, Canaletto celebrated the accomplishment, success and prosperity of the rising British nation and its latest achievements of architecture and engineering. Canaletto’s London is busy but beautiful with its wealth of new landmarks: Wren’s Baroque churches, the majestic St Paul’s Cathedral and the naval palaces of Greenwich; Hawksmoor’s ‘Gothick’ towers for Westminster Abbey, William Kent’s new Palladian Horse Guards building and the Rococo pleasure gardens at Vauxhall and Ranelagh. The construction of two marvels of engineering, the new bridges across the Thames at Westminster and Walton, is documented in detail.

From the Guardian: (Some images aadded)

One highlight of the show is bringing together for the first time

The Old Horse Guards, Canaletto Copyright The Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation
Canaletto’s spectacular view of The Old Horse Guards from St James’s Park, being lent by Andrew Lloyd Webber, alongside what it became four years later,

The New Horse Guards from St James’s Park, a rarely seen work being lent from a private collection.

There are many loans from the Queen’s Canaletto collection including two spectacular views of the Thames from Somerset House,


Canaletto, London The Thames from Somerset House Terrace towards Westminster © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014
one looking towards Westminster


London: The Thames from Somerset House Terrace towards the City, 1750-51. ©-Her-Majesty-Queen-Elizabeth-II-2015. Royal Collection Trust
and the other to St Paul’s Cathedral and the City with a forest of new church spires pointing into the sky from the churches built after the Great Fire of London.

Canaletto, London Westminster Bridge with a procession of civic barges Royal Collection Trust© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014 

Also in the show are views of Westminster Bridge, an engineering triumph respected throughout Europe.

More images from the exhibition:

Canaletto, The Grand Walk Vauxhall Gardens, c.1751

Canaletto, The Interior of the Rotunda, Ranelagh, 1754

Celebrating Britain: Canaletto, Hogarth and Patriotism

Paperback, 260 x 216 mm 128 pages, 55 colour illus.
PRICE: £25.00
ISBN: 978 1 907372 78 0

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Wrath of the Gods: Masterpieces by Rubens, Michelangelo, and Titian

Philadelphia Museum of Art September 12-December 6, 2015

This fall, the Philadelphia Museum of Art will present The Wrath of the Gods: Masterpieces by Rubens, Michelangelo, and Titian.

Prometheus Bound
Peter Paul Rubens, Flemish (active Italy, Antwerp, and England), 1577 - 1640, and Frans Snyders, Flemish (active Antwerp), 1579 - 1657. (The eagle was painted by Snyders.)

The exhibition focuses on one of the finest works by the great Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640), Prometheus Bound. This ambitious, large-scale painting, described by the artist himself as “the flower of my stock,” will be presented alongside works by the Renaissance and Baroque masters who inspired Rubens’s dramatic treatment of the eternal torment to which the Titan Prometheus was condemned by Zeus for giving the gift of fire to humanity. These include Michelangelo’s famous drawing of the Titan Tityus, on loan from the British Royal Collection, and Titian’s large canvas depicting the same subject from the collection of the Museo del Prado. Neither work has ever been displayed together with Prometheus Bound by Rubens.

In depicting Prometheus chained to a rocky outcropping, Rubens recast the story of an immortal rebel who suffered for humanity, making this painterly tour-de-force an allegory for creation and ambition. He conceived it at a formative moment in his career, having returned to Antwerp after eight years in Italy, where he had widely studied the art of the Renaissance and antiquity. He fused these inspirations to create a revolutionary style that helped give rise to the Baroque movement of the seventeenth century.

In Prometheus Bound, Rubens created a horrific, yet emotionally gripping scene. The massive semi-nude male figure tumbles on his back, writhing, kicking, and clenching his fist as an eagle rips open his chest to devour his liver, the eternal punishment inflicted by Zeus who was outraged when Prometheus stole the fire of Olympus and gave it to humanity.

Tityus, 1548 1549. Titian (Tiziano Vecellio), (Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid) 

The artist’s debt to Titian is vividly reflected in the exhibition, evident in the precarious placement and foreboding color treatment of the figure in the Venetian painter’s Tityus. Like Rubens’s Prometheus Bound, it portrays the terrible punishment of a Titan, similarly attacked by a raptor.

Michelangelo’s double-sided drawing, like Titian’s painting, also bears striking affinities to Rubens’s canvas, especially in the poses of its figures and the expressive rendering of their musculature. Famous even in his own lifetime, Michelangelo’s Tityus depicts a heroically-scaled figure in torment as well.

On the other side of Michelangelo’s drawing, this figure is reworked into a sketch of the resurrected Christ, an image that foreshadows Michelangelo’s depiction of the Risen Christ in the Last Judgment in the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel. Both sides of this drawing will be seen in the exhibition, conveying a direct parallel between Prometheus and Christ, each of whom sacrificed himself for the benefit of mankind. The relations between the two subjects will be explored further through examples of Rubens’s simultaneous interest in representing the torment that Christ suffered during his crucifixion.

Also on display will be an 1805 cast of the ancient Greek sculpture called Laocöon, on loan from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, which depicts a Trojan priest and his two sons attacked by giant snakes. The near life-size work was discovered early in the sixteenth century and became widely known as the most intense exploration of pain and punishment in the history of art. Rubens drew directly upon the example of the Laocöon for developing his own aesthetic of horror.

 Works by northern European artists such as Michiel Coxcie and Hendrik Goltzius are included. The impact of these Dutch and Flemish artists on his painting further illuminates Rubens’s process of creation and the ways in which ideas circulated before the modern era, at a time when the Baroque movement was being formed.

About Peter Paul Rubens

Peter Paul Rubens was raised in Antwerp and became one of the major painters of the Counter-Reformation. He was the preeminent painter of his day, an international celebrity. A prolific artist, he traveled to Italy in 1600 to study the Renaissance masters, returning to Antwerp in 1608 where he was appointed court painter to Archduke Albert, who governed the Netherlands on behalf of Spain. He worked for the leading courts of Europe, including the kings of Spain and England as well as the regent of France. Rubens’s style is distinguished by sensuality, rich color, and dramatic sense of movement, qualities that make him a leading figure of the Baroque era. His works number more than 1,400 yet only a handful of his large-scale paintings are found in American collections.

More images from the exhibition:

Death of Abel, 1539. Michiel Coxcie, (Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid)

Phaeton, 1588. Hendrick Goltzius, Dutch, (Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Charles M. Lea Collection) 

Study for Prometheus, 1612. Frans Snyders, (On loan from The British Museum, London, (Donated by Count Antoine Seilern)


The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue, published by the Philadelphia Museum of Art in association with Yale University Press (112 pages, 75 color illustrations). It offers an in-depth case study of the Flemish artist’s process and style and demonstrates why this painting has appealed to viewers throughout the centuries. Christopher Atkins presents a new interpretation of Prometheus Bound, showing how Rubens created parallels between the pagan hero Prometheus and Michelangelo’s Risen Christ from the Sistine Chapel’s Last Judgment. He explores how Rubens synthesized the works he saw in Italy, Spain, and his native Antwerp, and how Prometheus Bound in turn influenced Dutch, Flemish, and Italian artists. By emulating Rubens’s composition, these artists circulated it throughout Europe, broadening its influence from his day to ours.
Paper over board, $35
ISBN: 9780300215243

Monday, August 24, 2015

New Exhibition at Heather James Fine Art: Matisse, Cassat, Glackens, Ruscha

An exhibition spanning more than 100 years and including some of the biggest names in art — from Mary Cassatt to Pablo Picasso to Andy Warhol — has opened for the summer at Heather James Fine Art and is on view through September.

An exquisite mixed media piece by Robert Rauschenberg and a bronze horse by Deborah Butterfield share a space with a stunning Cubist work by Pablo Picasso, and works on paper by by Anish Kapoor and Sean Scully. The Impressionist and Modern salon includes early California paintings, including a portrait by Joseph Kleitsch, and landscapes by William Wendt. This salon also features an intimate pastel by Mary Cassatt, a Surrealist canvas by Salvador Dalí, a Cubist painting by Maria Blanchard, and one of the earliest and best bronze sculptures by Henri Matisse.
The exhibition also includes paintings by Hung Lui, sculptures by Sophie Ryder, and Pop prints by Chuck Close, Jim Dine, Damien Hirst, Ed Ruscha, and Andy Warhol. Heather James Fine Art welcomes you to visit the gallery and enjoy a world-class, museum-quality experience in the heart of beautiful Jackson.
Exhibition Video