Nation loses Old Master painting after pound plummets

London’s National Gallery confirmed on Thursday (16 February) that it lost the bid to acquire Pontormo’s ‘Portrait of a Young Man in a Red Cap’ (1530).

One of only 15 surviving portraits by the Italian Old Master, real name Jacopo Carrucci, it was sold to US hedge fund owner, Tom Hill, by the Earl of Caledon in 2015. In December 2015, it was temporarily barred from export by the former Minister for Culture Ed Vaizey who was concerned to help save the painting for the British nation. With the export bar in place, the National Gallery set to work raising the £30,618,987 necessary to match the sale price.  Continue reading

National Gallery sued over stolen Matisse portrait

London’s National Gallery was sued in a New York court last Wednesday (7 September) for the return of a 1908 portrait by Henri Matisse.

The three grandchildren of the portrait’s subject, Margarete Moll (known as Greta), filed suit for the oil painting or at least US$30 million in compensation (£23 million) in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan. Oliver Williams and Margarete Green of Great Britain and Iris Filmer of Germany claim the ‘Portrait of Greta Moll’ was stolen from their grandmother in the aftermath of World War II. Prior to her departure for the United Kingdom, Greta entrusted the painting to her husband’s art student. Agreeing to transfer the portrait to an art dealer in Switzerland for safekeeping from looters the student instead sold it to the dealer and absconded to the Middle East. From Switzerland, the painting moved to the US and passed through several collections including Manhattan’s now defunct Knoedler & Co art gallery before the National Gallery of London purchased it in 1979.  Continue reading

Strike action over modernisation plan continues at the National Gallery

There is limited access at the National Gallery today due to ongoing strike action by the Public and Commercial Services Union, which opposes the gallery’s modernisation programme. The modernisation programme includes privatising up to two-thirds of the gallery’s 600 staff, including those who look after the security of paintings, deal with the public, and respond to requests for information about the collection. Continue reading

Portrait deaccessioned by the Met believed to be authentic Rubens

Leading scholars have revealed that a vivid portrait of a young girl, which the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York believed to be one of the least valuable pictures in their collection, is a genuine work by the girl’s father, Peter Paul Rubens. It will go on display as a fully attributed work in the Flemish master painter’s own house in Antwerp, as part of the upcoming exhibition: “Rubens in Private: the Master Portrays his Family”.  Continue reading

Numbers of UK visitors to top galleries in decline

Last week the Department of Culture Media and Sport announced that visitor numbers to the UK’s galleries and museums had enjoyed a rise – up 2 million since last year. A more in-depth look, however, reveals that in fact these figures show that the major art galleries – the Tate Galleries and the National Gallery – have seen a significant decline in their UK visitor numbers, according to the BBC Arts Editor Will Gompertz, speaking this morning on the Today program. Continue reading