Art Buzz September 15, 2013: Reassured about Syria, Italy loans Israel Botticelli’s The Annunciation of San Martino alla Scala



Reassured about Syria, Italy loans Israel a Botticelli work

Botticelli's 'Annunciation'

Botticelli’s ‘Annunciation.’ Photo by Bloomberg

Italy’s culture ministry had declined to send the 15th-century “The Annunciation of San Martino alla Scala” to the Israel Museum due to geopolitical and logistical considerations….READ MORE

Art Buzz April 15, 2012: Christie’s to unveil a very rare 15th century Renaissance Jewish prayer book in New York



Christie’s to unveil a very rare 15th century Jewish prayer book in New York

Offered at auction for the first time, the manuscript is estimated at $540,000-800,000. Photo: Christie’s Images Ltd 2012. 
On April 16-17, Christie’s New York will unveil a rare and splendid example of Renaissance Judaica, an illuminated manuscript Mahzor that will be included in the May 11, 2012 Books and Manuscripts auction at Christie’s Paris. Comprising over 400 pages, this illuminated manuscript on vellum is a festival prayer book written in Hebrew and was created in Tuscany, and probably Florence, circa 1490. Offered at auction for the first time, the manuscript is estimated at $540,000-800,000 (£360,000-530,000/€400,000-600,000).
The illuminating manuscript was purchased in Frankfurt before 1908 and was subsequently owned by Edmond Bicart-Sée. It has never been publicly exhibited and has remained in the possession of his descendants in Paris for over eighty years. This Mahzor, containing prayers for the entire liturgical year, is richly highlighted in gold with renaissance motifs and contains everyday customs, rituals and practices of Jewish life including daily prayers and blessings for Passover, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkoth. The striking frontispiece of the Mahzor is in the characteristic style of Giovanni di Giuliano Boccardi, known as Boccardino il vecchio (1460-1529) – ‘one of the last representatives of the golden age of Florentine Renaissance Illumination.’ The Jewish community of Florence flourished in the 15th century, their position closely linked to the fortunes of the Medici. While there are other Hebrew manuscripts illuminated by Christian Florentines, this Mahzor is the only example we know illuminated by Boccardino. The coat-of-arms on the frontispiece is azure, a rampant lion or holding a flaming chalice and sun; the lion is flanked by a crescent moon and a sun or star, having some resemblance to the coat of arms of the Ambron family. Coats of arms used by Jewish families in Italy were inventions, often using traditional Jewish symbols and often variable, making certain identification difficult. The 16th century binding of the Mahzor has a central medallion with another coat-of-arms of two affronted rampant lions flanking a palm tree, combined elements featuring in the arms of a number of families in Italy, including the Tedesco/Tedeschi and Uzielli in Tuscany.

Art Buzz April 13, 2012: ‘Offering of the Angels: Treasures from the Uffizi Gallery,’ Florence, Italy Exhibition at Michener Art Museum in Doylestown



Angelic host of paintings from Italy bound for Doylestown display

Source:, 4-13-12
uffizi gallery

Ufizi gallery art at the Michener Museum

Bruce Katsiff, director of the Michener Art Museum in Doylestown, is pleased to be bringing a Botticelli to Bucks County with “Offering of the Angels,” a selection of paintings and tapestries from the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy. (Emma Lee/for NewsWorks)

The Italians are coming to Doylestown.

Masterworks of the Italian Renaissance will be on view the Michener Museum in Doylestown for a limited run.

Forty-two paintings from the Uffizi Gallery in Florence — a museum with one of the largest and finest collections of Renaissance art in the world — have been culled for a traveling show. The James A. Michener Museum is one of four institutions in America to host the show, beginning April 21.

All the paintings in “Offering of the Angels: Treasures from the Uffizi,” as well as two tapestries and an illuminated manuscript, are from the 14th through 17th centuries. They depict events in the life of Jesus Christ.

“The association between art and the religious was very much the dominant relationship,” said Michener director Bruce Katsiff. “It’s only in the 18th, 19th, 20th centuries that there’s been a division between artists and religion. So much of art has been about service to religion.”

Just two years ago, the Michener Museum expanded its gallery space to handle large, traveling shows like this one. The Uffizi exhibition allows the Michener to prove itself on the international stage.

“These paintings are the mother’s milk of art history,” said Katsiff. “To have works of this caliber — we’re just a country museum. We aspire to behave as the best institutions in the country. It’s an important moment for the Michener.”

Many of the paintings have never been to America before; some have never been shown publicly, even in Italy.

Art Buzz February 8, 2012: Sinclair Bell: Northern Illinois University art historian co-edits book that explores cultural, societal impact of freed Roman slaves



NIU art historian co-edits book that explores cultural, societal impact of freed Roman slaves

Source: NIU Today, 2-8-12

Free At Last! book coverSinclair Bell, assistant professor of art history, has co-edited a volume on freed slaves in ancient Rome that was published this week.

“Free at Last! The Impact of Freed Slaves on the Roman Empire,” which he co-edited with Teresa Ramsby, was published by Bloomsbury Press in London, and will become available in the United States next month.

The book builds on recent dynamic work on Roman freedmen.

Contributors draw upon a rich and varied body of evidence – visual, literary, epigraphic and archaeological – to elucidate the impact of freed slaves on Roman society and culture amid the shadow of their former servitude.

The contributions span the period between the first century BCE and the early third century CE and survey the territories of the Roman Republic and Empire, while focusing on Italy and Rome.

Advance notice of the book has been highly positive.

Glenys Davies, senior lecturer in classical art and archaeology at the University of Edinburgh, writes: “The essays in this book explore the experiences of Roman freedmen (and women) from a new set of perspectives: they enrich our knowledge and understanding of a social group which has no exact equivalent in any other society.”

Eve D’Ambra, professor of art and the Agnes Rindge Claflin Chair at Vassar College as well as a noted authority on ancient art, writes: “Roman freedmen have taken central stage in historical and literary studies recently, but their role as independent actors (e.g. as patrons of art and architecture) has long been suspect. This compelling and lucid volume addresses this oversight and plots a course for future research.”

This is Bell’s fifth edited volume and his third book since arriving at NIU in 2008.

Art Buzz January 19, 2012: Art History On Display At Columbus Museum of Art Caravaggio & Monet to Matisse exhibits



Art History On Display At Columbus Museum Of Art

Source: ONN TV, 1-19-12

discover ohioBright colors, broad brush strokes and the height of Impressionism art graces the wall on one side of the Columbus Museum of Art.

Dark colors, human expressions and realistic settings grace the other walls.

“I think both exhibitions have been extremely popular, because they speak to different human needs and responses,” said Dominique Vasseur, Columbus Museum of Art curator.

Right now, art lovers can experience the best of both worlds at the museum, ONN’s Lisa Smith reported.

The Caravaggio exhibit is in recognition of the city’s bicentennial.

The famous painting, “behold the man” is on loan from Columbus’ sister-city in Genoa, Italy. It depicts Jesus and Pontius Pilot.

“He’s presenting Christ to the people, immediately before Christ’s crucifixion,” Vasseur said.

The face of Pontius Pilot is artist Michaelangelo Caravaggio.

“He was an extremely clever artist,” Vasseur said. “He was a very, very bright man. I think he took a great deal of pleasure in putting himself into his paintings. He was going to show the art establishment that Michaelangelo (Buonarroti) was not the only Michaelangelo in town and that he was going to equal him.”

The two exhibits cover several centuries of artistic masterpieces. You can look at art from the 17th century all the way up to the 20th century.

“Monet to Matisse” includes remarkable paintings by Claude Monet, Henri Matisse and others. It is all part of a 78 piece private collection.

“Most people love Monet and French Impressionists,” Vasseur said. “They love the color and they love the mood. I think there’s a timelessness about Impressionism that’s never going to become stale.”

This is the 20th anniversary of the Sirak Collection at the Columbus Museum of Art which features Monet and other works.

That exhibit runs through May 13, but the Caravaggio exhibit ends February 12.