Recent links of note:
“Restoration of Courtauld Gallery’s Botticelli altarpiece yields surprising new discoveries”
Alison Cole, The Art Newspaper
The Courtauld Gallery, located in the eighteenth-century Somerset House in London, reopened to the public today after a three-year refurbishment. Perhaps best known for its collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings by Manet, Degas, Van Gogh, and Cézanne, the gallery also has a considerable number of medieval and Renaissance pieces on display, such as The Trinity with Saints Mary Magdalene and John the Baptist (ca. 1491–94), an altarpiece by Boticelli and his workshop. The egg tempera painting, which had been under restoration since 2018, has strong links to the Sant’Elisabetta delle Convertite, a convent that welcomed reformed prostitutes in Florence—hence the prominent position of Mary Magdalene and John the Baptist, the patron saints of the convent and city respectively. The varying quality of the angel heads encircling the crucified Christ suggests that they were painted by members of Botticelli’s workshop, while the master himself was likely responsible for finer elements such as the small figures of Tobias and the Archangel Raphael in the foreground. In time for its unveiling, the conservators have also constructed a new gold tabernacle frame for the altarpiece based on sketches they discovered on the back of the painting. Look out for a review of “Botticelli: Artist and Designer” at the Musée Jacquemart-André in Paris by David Platzer in an upcoming issue.
“Greece’s Elgin Marbles ‘swap’ would be a bad deal for Britain”
Daisy Dunn, The Telegraph
This week in The Telegraph, the classicist Daisy Dunn dips her toe into the Elgin Marbles debate and weighs the current offer from the Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to exchange the marbles for a number of rotating artifacts thought to include the so-called Mask of Agamemnon, a sixteenth-century B.C. gold death mask from the National Archaeological Museum of Athens. Dunn questions the fairness of the hypothetical deal—“you’d at least expect permanent to be met with permanent rather than ‘rotating’”—and whether it is even possible to determine the value of one ancient object versus another. She also makes the point that, since the Marbles have been on display in the United Kingdom since 1817 (in a building inspired by the Parthenon, no less), they have also accrued cultural significance among the citizens of that country. As the debate seems far from over, she concludes that “we could do worse than to do something really radical, and look afresh at the marbles for the quality of their art alone.”
“Music for a While #54: Joy in music.”Jay Nordlinger, The New Criterion’s music critic, talks music—but, more important, plays music.