EARLY EL GRECO WITH A CHEQUERED PAST WITHDRAWN FROM EXHIBITION
Shortly before the El Greco exhibition is scheduled to open in the Sainsbury Wing one of the artist's early Cretan landscapes has been barred from travelling to the National Gallery. Mount Sinai
– yes, I know it's not in Crete, but The Times
is even more confusing in its report: 'Mount Sinai
is regarded as an important early work. It shows Mount Horeb, where Moses received the tablets of the Ten Commandments') is suspected of having been looted on Adolf Eichmann's orders from a Hungarian Jewish collector during the Holocaust. It will be returned to the Iraklion Archæological Museum in Crete, despite being on display in the exhibition during its first stop in the Metropolitian Museum in New York. While there its provenance came to the attention of the Supreme Court.
The small panel painting was alleged looted from a bank vault in Budapest in 1944 during the Nazi occupation of Hungary, and belonged to Ferenc Hatvany, a prominent Jew in the city. While the picture is from a rare period in El Greco's career it is in no sense the 'masterpiece' that the Times article suggests it is, nor will his earlier years be under-represented in the exhibition according to a NG spokesman, one Neil Evans. "We have another painting from El Greco’s Cretan period — Dormition of the Virgin
. This is still used as an icon in a church on Syros."
THE WOMEN COME AND GO, TALKING OF MICHELANGELO(Reposted 5:2:04)
On a truly bizarre note, Pepsi
held the première for its latest advert in Trafalgar Square, and a drinks party (no prizes given for guessing what they had to drink) in the National Gallery
in which Beyoncé Knowles, Britney Spears, Pink and the surviving members of Queen were present! In what must have been the sales oppurtunity of his life, one spokesman tried to explain the relevance of having these synthetic beauties at the National Gallery: "Once inside the gallery, Pepsi’s guests will be surrounded by some of its most beautiful and inspiring paintings such as Titian’s Bacchus and Ariadne
and Veronese’s Family of Darius
." As if selling out to Hewlett Packard
wasn't bad enough.
It is, however, charming to read from the official website that Ms. Knowles inquired about the two Michelangelo paintings, having just been to the Sistine Chapel while she was Rome filming the commercial. How sweet of her.
AWARD-WINNERS AND COMPETITION ENTRIES
There's been very little news directly regarding the National Gallery in the three months since the last news item, but there are still a few things worth mentioning: The Gallery, or rather the design consultancy NYKRIS
have won a BAFTA Access Award for the interactive program Titian's Venice
which visitors could use in the Sainsbury Wing Foyer for the duration of the Titian exhibition.
The official website announces an affliation with Euromuse.net
, which looks like another of those undervisited, underupdated websites which purport to 'bring all the European museums together'. For more examples of these, look at EuroGallery
, The 24 Hour Museum
(probably the most successful of these) and my own earlier effort, The Warden
(definitely not the most successful of websites). The site does provide some useful information about foreign museums, but certainly nowhere near enough to be a truly useful resource – most museum pages just contain links to the appropriate official websites.
Lastly, the most widely reported news and that which has the most to do with the National Gallery itself: Six artists have produced their proposals for sculpture to temporarily fill the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square. The round-up is incredibly disappointing, the ideas jejune or nonexistent. Facile 'protest art' isn't the witty counterpoint to the imperialism of the other sculpture in the Square that too many of the artists involved think it is.
The three successful contemporary sculptures that have stood on the plinth in recent years can be said to be loosely dealing either with history or with Trafalgar Square's historical meaning. What we have in the shortlist is the very worst sort of up-to-the-minute anti-war tripe and some 'humourous' references to the pigeons. The first three were able to show up the other statues in the Square by acheiving a similar or greater grace and dignity, the most notable being Mark Wallinger's Ecce Homo
. For that reason Stefan Gec
's cruise missiles built from the same wood as HMS Victory
, by far the best concept but with a target range even less precise than their real life counterparts, must lose out to Marc Quinn
's entry (above, © the artist
), as almost all critics agree. The cast of a pregnant and practically limbless woman is superficially weak but obviously defiant, the complete opposite to the other entries.
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