Blue plaque for Clarice Cliff

A graphic of the new blue plaque honouring pottery designer and factory art director Clarice Cliff. The plaque was unveiled at Snow Hill, Shelton, Stoke-on-Trent, on April 26.

Image copyright: Historic England

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Asian art event to be more compact

Asian Art in London is compressing the timeline of its annual autumn event this year, running it for 10 days from October 30-November 8.

Since 2020 the event has run over more than two weeks (last year it lasted 17 days), allowing separate weeks first for Indian and Islamic art then for East Asian art with some overlap in the middle. Now the two parts of the event are to run simultaneously.

The celebration of Asian art takes place across London galleries and auction houses and also hosts some overseas f irms. Among the new participants this year are Sundaram Tagore Gallery, Paul Ruitenbeek Chinese Art, Feng-Chun Ma Chinese & Japanese Art and Ming Gu Gallery.

The summer event, a smaller staging held at participants’ galleries in June and July for the last two years, is not taking place this year.

West London firm starts design sales

Josef Huber

Josef Huber of Olympia Auctions.

Olympia Auctions has continued its expansion and hired Josef Huber to run a new 20th century design department.

He previously worked as a specialist and head of 20th century design sales at Bonhams fol lowed by Sotheby’s. Huber most recently formed his own historical design consultancy working with private clients as well as public bodies and museums.

Previously he worked for architecture and design practices including Ron Arad Associates and David Chipperfield Architects before establishing his own practice, Huber Architects.

At Olympia the first 20th century design auction is scheduled for the autumn at Blythe Road in west London.

The Met returns sculpture to Iraq

The Metropolitan Museum of Art has returned a sculpture to Iraq following provenance research.

The New York museum recently launched a Cultural Property Initiative to review its “collecting practices”.

The third-millennium BC Sumerian figurative sculpture had been in its collection since it was bought in 1955.

However, recent analysis of the circumstances prior to this purchase by Met scholars established that the “work rightfully belongs to Iraq”.

The statue was repatriated during a ceremony in Washington DC with the prime minister of the Republic of Iraq, Mohamed Shia’ Al Sudani, and a number of senior figures from Iraq and from the museum.

The copper alloy depiction of a nude man carrying a box could represent a priest carrying an object for a temple foundation deposit or an offering related to the building of one.

Lennon’s lost guitar found and on offer

John Lennon’s long-lost Framus 12-string Hootenanny acoustic guitar has been rediscovered and is coming to auction next month.

It was used in the recording of The Beatles’ Help! album and featured in 1960s hits including Help! and You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away as well as on the rhythm track for Norwegian Wood played by George Harrison.

The guitar was recently found in an attic during a house move in the British countryside. The homeowners contacted US saleroom Julien’s Auctions. It still has the original Maton Australian-made guitar case.

The guitar will be offered at Julien’s Music Icons two-day auction on May 29-30 at Hard Rock Cafe in New York. It has an estimate of $600,000- 800,000 but the saleroom believes it could set an auction record for the highest-selling Beatles guitar.

Getty acquires a ‘Caravaggisti’ work

Bartolomeo Manfredi painting

The J Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles has acquired a painting by Bartolomeo Manfredi.

The J Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles has acquired a lively 17th century genre painting by Italian artist Bar tolomeo Manf redi (1582-1622).

As one of the leading ‘Caravaggisti’ – the group of artists who emulated the style of Caravaggio (c.1571-1610) – Manfredi’s works were often confused with the latter’s in the decades after the great master’s death. A Drinking and Musical Party was among the works attributed to Caravaggio until the hand of Manfredi was identified by 20th century scholars.

Manfredi is now considered as arguably the most important and innovative of Caravaggio’s early followers. While few of his works have ever appeared at auction, the commercial prominence of the most sought Caravaggisti has since risen significantly in recent decades as the supply of masterworks has dried up.

Depicting a group of seven young men gathered around a table, the Getty’s 4ft 4in x 6ft 5in (1.32 x 1.96m) oil on canvas was last seen in public in 2017 in the Beyond Caravaggio exhibition at the National Gallery in London. It was part of the collection of Alvaro Saieh and Ana Guzmán (known as the Alana Collection, a combination of the couple’s forenames) who owned a number of Caravaggisti paintings.

It then appeared at Christie’s New York as part a group of 23 works from their collection offered in June 2022. The picture was unsold against a hefty-looking $4m-6m estimate. It is unclear whether it subsequently changed hands but the Getty said it had been recently acquired from a private collector.

Following the acquisition, the work went on view at the Getty Center’s East Pavilion.

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In Numbers


The age that Clarice Cliff (1899-1972) left school to work in a local pottery firm in Stoke-on-Trent. Six years later she moved to AJ Wilkinson’s Royal Staffordshire Pottery factory in Burslem, where her talent was discovered and she later became art director.

The renowned ceramics designer has just been honoured with a blue plaque (pictured top) on one of the city’s streets as part of a new Historic England scheme. It now adorns her home in Shelton, at 20 Snow Hill.