Rubens ‘copy’ now fully attributed
A painting thought to be a copy of a Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) portrait when it was deaccessioned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art will now be offered at Christie’s in London with a full attribution, estimated at £3m-5m.
The small portrait of the artist’s daughter, Clara Serena, was ascribed to a follower of Rubens at the time the New York museum sold the work to the Christie’s vendor in 2013.
However, it has since been cleaned and restored, which has had a “quite transformative” effect, according to the auction house. Since the varnish and overpaint were removed, the 14 x 10½in (36 x 26cm) oil on panel has been exhibited at The Rubenshuis in Antwerp and Scottish National Galleries.
Head of Old Master paintings at Christie’s London Henry Pettifer said the attribution has been endorsed by, among others, Katlijne Van der Stighelen, art historian and professor at the University of Leuven.
The Met Museum issued a comment which appeared in the Financial Times: “The attribution of the picture has been debated in the past and we believe it will continue to be debated.
“Given the strength of our holdings in this area, we stand by the decision to deaccession the work.”
It will be offered at Christie’s Old Masters evening sale on July 5.
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Card signed by ‘Jack the Ripper’
A card signed I am Jack the Ripper that had been in police files until the case into the Victorian killer was eventually closed sold for £22,000 (plus premium) to a UK buyer at Grand Auctions of Folkestone, Kent. The estimate was £600-900.
The card was posted to Ealing Police Station and received on October 29, 1888, 11 days before the last of the Ripper’s victims, Mary Jane Kelly, was murdered.
Measuring 2¾ x 4¾in (7 x 12cm), it is written in ink and, according to the catalogue, had been in the police Ripper files until they decided to close the case with the identity of the Ripper never traced.
The catalogue says: “It was given to the vendor’s husband, a police constable and member of the Metropolitan Police Force, as a memento for his retirement from the force in 1966. Unwanted items were simply thrown away. One officer found and kept 300 such documents which he has now given to the National Records Office, who deface them with a stamp. The PC kept the card in a drawer until his death, where it has remained with his widow.”
Hobby Lobby antiquities return
US Immigration and Customs Enforcement returned 3800 ancient artefacts to Iraq last week. The artefacts had been smuggled into the US and shipped to Hobby Lobby, the arts-and-crafts retailer.
Documents filed in a US court last summer revealed that Hobby Lobby began to assemble a collection of antiquities and other cultural material in around 2009.
It had agreed to purchase more than 5500 items, some of which had originated in the region of modern-day Iraq and were smuggled into the US through the UAE and Israel, contrary to federal law.
The retailer agreed to the forfeiture of the artefacts and to pay a $3m fine.
Cuneiform tablets, cylinder seals and clay bullae were among the items returned during last Wednesday’s repatriation ceremony.
Joseph Wright of Derby export stop
An early painting by British artist Joseph Wright of Derby (1734-97) is at risk of being exported from the UK unless a buyer can be found to match its £7.46m asking price.
An Academy by Lamplight starred at Sotheby London’s Old Master sale last year when it was hammered down for £6.3m, an auction record for the artist (ATG No 2321).
Now, arts minister Michael Ellis has placed it under temporary export bar until July 31.
The picture is thought to have been completed in 1769.
The bar may be extended until January 31, 2019, if a serious intention to raise funds to purchase is made at the recommended price.
Lawrences of Crewkerne has told ATG it has withdrawn for further research a set of autographs purported to be those of the 1968 Manchester United team, depicted on page 3 and 24 of last week’s ATG, No 2340.
The number of minutes it took dealer Simon Spero to sell 90% of his personal collection of early English blue and white porcelain on the opening day of a May 3-12 exhibition. “Fifty-five years of collecting gone in nine minutes,” he told ATG. One buyer had queued outside the shop since 8am on May 1.
Among the sales on May 3 was the Limehouse cream jug c.1746-47 pictured below.