Archive for March, 2010

New push to recover Vermeer’s stolen Concert

March 16th, 2010

In the early morning hours of March 18, 1990, two men dressed as Boston police officers talked their way into the Gardner museum, bound two guards, and stole artwork valued at $500 million, including three Rembrandts,  Vermeer’s  Concert and five sketches by Degas.

The identity of the thieves and the whereabouts of the artwork remain a mystery. Two decades after a pair of thieves dressed as Boston police officers pulled off  the biggest art heist in history, the FBI is trying to stir up new leads with two billboards on Boston-area freeways that promise a $5 million reward.

The FBI has also resubmitted DNA samples for updated testing, the Associated Press reports.

The Gardner museum is offering the $5 million reward.

Gail Marcinkiewicz, a spokeswoman for the FBI in Boston, said Clear Channel Outdoor  began running an FBI poster yesterday on two of its digital for more information. The billboards are on I-93 in Stoneham and I-495 in Lawrence.

He said the FBI poster seeking information on the Gardner theft will probably remain on the billboards for at least four weeks. He estimated that 117,000 people pass by the Stoneham billboard and about 81,000 pass by the one in Lawrence daily.

Woman in Blue to be restored

March 13th, 2010

The Rijksmuseum has just announced that as a part of an ambitious conservation program Vermeer’s Woman in Blue Reading a Letter will be thoroughly restored.

Other than Vermeer’s masterwork, other pieces will restored and ready for the 2013 reopening of the Rijksmuseum. They include Six burial figures from the T’ang Dynasty, a mahogany period room from 1748 called The Beuning room, and the Silver table ornament by Jamnitzer which is one of the absolute highlights of the museum’s collection of European silversmither.

from the Rijksmuseum website:

As it is flanked in the exhibition room by Vermeer’s two other masterpieces, The Milkmaid and The Little Street, it is even more noticeable that Woman in Blue Reading a Letter is in distinct need of restoration. The coat of varnish has turned yellow, the blue is worn, the uneven layer of paint is peppered with minor irregularities, the retouches have faded, etc. Precisely that which is so appealing in Vermeer’s paintings – i.e. the bright colours and the incidence of light – is now hidden behind an irregular yellowed layer of varnish.

Gabriel Metsu overview in Dublin

March 7th, 2010

Gabriel Metsu (1629-1667)
4 September – 5 December, 2010

National Gallery of Ireland , Dublin
Curator: Dr. Adriaan E. Waiboer

from the museum website:

This exhibition will pay homage to the Dutch seventeenth-century artist, Gabriel Metsu (1629-1667) and his exquisite scenes of daily life, which rank among the finest of the Dutch Golden Age. It will also highlight some of Metsu’s lesser known achievements in the fields of history painting, portraiture and still life. Metsu started his career in Leiden, where he painted biblical scenes on a large format. After his move to Amsterdam in the middle of the 1650s, he changed his specialisation to intimate scenes of daily life. As Metsu’s style became more meticulous in the 1660s, he focused increasingly on representing the pastimes of the upper class. He died at the age of thirty-seven, having painted a varied oeuvre of more than 130 paintings. Few of his colleagues were as versatile as Metsu and his handling of the brush was almost unrivalled. Moreover, his paintings display a unique approach to daily activities, marked by a psychological interest in the people he portrayed. An accompanying catalogue will be published to coincide with the exhibition.

other venues:

Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum (16 December 2010 – 20 March 2011)

Washington, DC, National Gallery of Art (17 April – 24 July 2011)

Online: The Montias Database of 17th-Century Dutch Art Inventories

March 7th, 2010

John Michael Montias, the American economist, can be credited to have “completed” Vermeer’s portrait after analyzing every shred of evidence directly concerning the Delft master and any person who in one way or another came into contact with him. He worked with passion and discovered new, important documents which have lead to a serious revision of the artist’s life, art and dealings with his principle patron, Pieter van Ruijven. A Delft archivist raccounts that Montias was often the very first to enter and the last to leave the archive’s premises. The fascinating results of his study can be read in Vermeer and His Milieu: A Web of Social History (Princeton University Press, 1989).

Very recently, the Frick Library has provided an invaluable internet interface with the database compiled Montias during his studies.

from the Frick website:

The Montias database, compiled by late Yale University Professor John Michael Montias, contains information from 1,280 inventories of goods (paintings, prints, sculpture, furniture, etc.) owned by people living in 17th century Amsterdam. Drawn from the Gemeentearchief (now known as the Stadsarchief), the actual dates of the inventories range from 1597-1681. Nearly half of the inventories were made by the Orphan Chamber for auction purposes, while almost as many were notarial death inventories for estate purposes. The remainder were bankruptcy inventories. The database includes detailed information on the 51,071 individual works of art listed in the inventories. Searches may be performed on specific artists, types of objects (painting, prints, drawings), subject matter etc. There is also extensive information on the owners, as well as on buyers and prices paid when the goods were actually in a sale. While not a complete record of all inventories in Amsterdam during this time period, the database contains a wealth of information that can elucidate patterns of buying, selling, inventorying and collecting art in Holland during the Dutch Golden Age.

The Dulwich at the Frick

March 7th, 2010

Masterpieces of European Painting from Dulwich Picture Gallery
March 9 – May 30, 2010
Frick Collection
1 East 70th Street, New York

For those particularly keen on Dutch painting, the London Dulwich Picture Gallery is lending the Frick a selection of some of the extraordinary works including two Dutch masterpieces which makes the Dulwich one of the major collections of 17th- and 18th century. This work has frequently been designated as a direct influence for Vermeer’s Lady Seated at the Virginals in both theme and composition.

Obviously, the other works included in the exhibition cannot be overlooked. They include Rembrandt van Rijn’s iconic  Girl at a Window, Van Dyck’s  Samson and Delilah, Canaletto’s Old Walton Bridge over the Thames, Watteau’s Les Plaisirs du Bal,  Murillo’s The Flower Girl, 1665–70; and Nicolas Poussin’s  The Nurture of Jupiter.

Masterpieces of European Painting from Dulwich Picture Gallery is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue written by Dr. Xavier F. Salomon that includes an essay on the origins of the collection at Dulwich as well as comprehensive entries on the nine works.