The Easel

6th June 2017

Spanish Treasures Overlooked in New York Find Love in Madrid

Museums that attract few visitors can raise money by loaning out key works. New York’s Hispanic Society has been doing just this, given that they have one of the greatest collections of Spanish art. Some works were lent to the Met and now a large collection is on show at the Prado. It is a blockbuster. As part of the deal the Prado agreed to restore several key works. A fascinating short piece on this process is here.

‘The Carpet and the Collector’ combines art and history

New York’s Met currently features an old “Bellini carpet” on its website. The back story is an interesting one. Relegated to being a “decorative art” by some, rugs are for others the most distinctive art form of the Islamic world. Accurate dating is difficult but can be approximated for some very old rugs by reference to paintings in which they appear. For those with an appetite for detail, the history of carpets in painting is here.

“Independent Visions: Helene Schjerfbeck and Her Contemporaries” at Scandinavia House

Her art training had included Paris but by mid-career Schjerfbeck was in rural Finland caring for her mother. This semi-isolation may have helped her find her own voice. Her landscapes are “pleasant”; in contrast her portraits have a “nettlesome gravitas. You’d have to look to late Rembrandt or Bonnard to find a picture that confronts mortality with as much sobriety and candor. [She] deserves a place of prominence in the genre.”