National Gallery Purchases £3.6M Artemisia Gentileschi; Transforming How It ‘Tells The Story of Women Artists’

In further news: German government buys Giambologna at the eleventh hour; LACMA’s new expansion delayed

IMAGE: Artemisia Gentileschi, Self-Portrait as Saint Catherine, c. 1615-17, oil on canvas. Courtesy: Robilant + Voena, London

Artemisia Gentileschi, Self-Portrait as Saint Catherine, c. 1615-17, oil on canvas. Courtesy: Robilant + Voena, London

Artemisia Gentileschi, Self-Portrait as Saint Catherine, c.1615–17, oil on canvas. Courtesy: Robilant + Voena, London

The National Gallery in London has bought a 17th century Artemisia Gentileschi self-portrait for a record GBP£3.6 million. The gallery has just 20 works by female artists in its collection of 2,300 Western European paintings. In Self-Portrait as Saint Catherine (c. 1615–17), the artist took on the guise of the 4th century martyr, leant over a spiked wheel (the torture instrument associated with the saint). Some critics have read the work as an allusion to Gentileschi’s own experience of sexual violence, and the ensuing trial in which the artist was subjected to torture. Gallery trustee Hannah Rothschild said that the acquisition of the masterpiece realizes a long-held dream of increasing the collection’s women artists, adding that ‘Gentileschi was a pioneer, a master storyteller and one of the most progressive and expressive painters of the period. One of a handful of women who was able to shatter the confines of her time, she overcame extreme personal difficulties to succeed in the art of painting.’ Larry Keith, the National Gallery’s head of conservation, will lead the painting’s restoration process over the next six to nine months before the work will go on show in 2019.

The German government has bought a Giambologna just two days before it was to go for auction at Sotheby’s in London. Partnering with a number of foundations, the government acquired the bronze sculpture, known as the Dresden Mars (1587) for Dresden’s State Art Collections (the price paid was not revealed). The artwork belonged to chemicals company Bayer AG, who at short notice, had consigned the sculpture to Sotheby’s for auction with a price estimated between GBP£3 million to GBP£5 million. German culture minister Monika Grütters expressed frustration at the last-minute sale, telling the DPA that ‘Bayer AG should be really ashamed of wanting to auction a work of such importance to the nation to the highest bidder, instead of donating it to the people of Dresden’.

A Cézanne painting from a controversial Nazi-looted trove has gone on show for the first time since before the Second World War. The artwork went on view after the family of Paul Cézanne and Kunstmuseum Bern reached a settlement over the artwork. The family of the artist have acknowledged the museum as the rightful owners of La Montagne Sainte-Victoire (1897) – it was one of the most famous works in the Nazi-looted hoard belonging to Cornelius Gurlitt, who inherited the collection from his father Hildebrand Gurlitt, a dealer for the Nazis. It was discovered during raids in 2012 at Gurlitt’s Munich home after being untraceable for over seven decades. ‘From our knowledge today, the work was not Nazi looted art, the work was confiscated by Nazis in Paris, but subsequently returned to the owners,’ museum director Nina Zimmer told The Art Newspaper.

Haptic gloves could help people with vision impairments ‘see’ pieces of art with their hands. The ‘Touching Masterpieces’ exhibition created in collaboration with Neurodigital, Leontka Fundation and the National Gallery of Prague, has digitally replicated three of the world’s most famous sculptures; the Nefertiti Bust, the Venus de Milo and Michelangelo’s David and through the use of haptic feedback gloves, blind people can ‘see’ the artworks through their sense of touch. The 3D models were created from laser scans of the original sculptures and the detail of each work can be felt through 1024 different vibration variations, the BBC reports.

The cost to restore an Ilya Repin painting after it was vandalized with a metal pole at Moscow’s State Tretyakov Gallery in May is now 60 times higher than the original USD$7,900 sum first reported. The repair estimate for Ivan the Terrible and His Son Ivan (1885) now stands at USD$474,000. The painting, which was torn in three places by an intoxicated man who said it ‘offends the feelings of religious believers’, had previously undergone restoration by the painter himself after being attacked by a mentally-ill man in 1913.

LACMA’s new expansion plans have been delayed amid fundraising and construction hurdles. The groundbreaking for the museum’s ambitious new building was set for 2018, but director Michael Govan told the Los Angeles Times that work on the building will now begin in late 2019 due to a lack of financial resources and increased construction costs. Inflation and US president Trump’s tariff on steel imports have further complicated the renovation project with USD$100m still to be raised to cover the total cost of the USD$650m renovation project. The construction period is expected to last four and a half years, with additional setbacks likely to result in increased project costs.

In appointments: former documenta CEO Annette Kulenkampff has been named director of the German Institute for Urban Design in Dortmund; Otto Naumann is to join Sotheby’s Old Master department in New York as Senior Vice President and Client Development Director – the dealer sold most of his inventory at the auction house just six months ago, announcing his retirement; and the Director of Paris’s École des Beaux-Arts, Jean-Marc Bustamante has resigned from his position – his departure follows a spate of student complaints over the school’s failure to address incidents of sexual harassment and racism.

In awards news: The newly-renovated Tate St Ives has won the GBP£100,000 Museum of the Year prize awarded by the Art Fund; The Singapore Art Museum and Asia Pacific Breweries Foundation have named the winners of the 2018 APB Signature Art Prize – the Grand Prize went to Vietnamese artist Phan Thao-Nguyen, with Singaporean artist Shubigi Rao and Thai artist Thasnai Sethaseree taking Jurors’s Choice Awards; and Iranian architect Alireza Taghaboni has won the inaugural GBP£10,000 Royal Academy Dorfman Award which recognizes talent that ‘represents the future of architecture’.

And finally, Solange Knowles has funded 12 Houston high school students’s trip to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. The singer has partnered with nonprofit Project Row Houses to give a group of young minority students the opportunity to meet with Smithsonian staff and discuss the institution’s role in African American history. Project Row Houses Executive Director Eureka Gilkey commented: ‘Seeing their community represented at this level will provide the students with a more profound understanding of themselves, their history, and their culture.’

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