Two Goya Paintings for St. Petersburg|
Two of Francisco Goya's masterpieces, the Maja Desnuda and the Maja Vestida, will be loaned by the Prado Museum to the Hermitage museum in St. Petersburg for 70 days beginning this coming November. This unprecedented new loan follows the 1991 exhibition of paintings by Leonardo da Vinci and Caravaggio from the Hermitage in Madrid. The Russian museum only owns one painting by Goya.
Toulouse-Lautrec on Film
A new movie on the life of French master Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, directed by Roger Planchon, is out in French theaters. Starring Régis Boyer as the artist, Elza Zylberstein as his girlfriend Suzanne Valadon (the mother of Utrillo) and Anémone and Claude Rich as the artist's parents, the picture is pretty true to life.
After all, how could fiction improve on the drama of a dwarfed artist who haunted bars, cabarets and whorehouses before sinking into drunkenness and dying at age 36? Lautrec, who was a practical joker and quite naughty, would probably have fallen asleep if he had watched this rather insipid fresco about his life.
Jose Ferrer starred in the 1952 Hollywood version, directed by John Huston.
Pompidou refuses to hand over Braque
The Pompidou Museum in Paris has refused to return The Guitar Player (1914) by Georges Braque to the heirs of Alphonse Kann, who say it was stolen during the war from Kann's collection. The Kann heirs, led by his nephew Francis Warin, have been actively trying to recover some 60 major works taken by the Nazis and their collaborators.
Negotiations with the Pompidou over the Braque began earlier this year. Museum officials at first claimed that the work had been legally acquired, since records showed it in the possession of a dealer who had bought it some years before the outbreak of World War Two.
But now Warin has managed to prove that it was only a study that had been in possession of the dealer, while the Pompidou Braque had disappeared only after Kann had fled to London in 1940.
The Pompidou has already returned a work by Cubist Albert Gleizes to Warin. The museum's decision to hold on to the Braque was unexpected. Warin told ArtNet that his battle was not yet over.
Royal Commode at Christie's
An 18th-century French commode of royal provenance with a Versailles palace inventory number -- unnoticed for years -- will be sold at Christie's New York on Nov. 24, 1998. The commode was exhibited at Christie's in Paris on Monday, Sept. 21, and made most antique dealers here salivate with envy.
This black-lacquered piece of furniture with Japanese decor, produced by the famous maker BVRB in 1745, had been on the French market for quite some time without anyone noticing the 1343 number inscribed in india ink on its back. It's provenance, however, is clear. First made in 1745 for the room of King Louis XV's daughter at Versailles, the commode was next auctioned for 28,000 gold francs in May 1894 at Drouot. It was sold several years later to Paris antique dealer Jacques Perrin for 1.03 million francs (about $180,000).
The latter never discovered the magic Versailles inventory mark and tried during eight long years to find a buyer for the piece, which was then sold at Drouot in a sale conducted by Jacques Tajan during the 1970s. Once again, the expert for this sale, Jean-Pierre Dillée, did not see that marking.
This rare commode, estimated now between $6 million and $9 million, was finally bought by U.S dealer Martin Zimet, who then tried unsuccessfully to sell it back to the Getty Museum.
The question now baffling observers here is how the commode, which might fetch a world record price in New York, managed to cross the Atlantic without being inspected by French museum officials, who are normally called up by customs authorities to deliver export licenses for all objects of art worth over $50,000.
Apparently, no one spotted the commode when it transited through French customs. As a result of this mishap, France lost a rare treasure. The Versailles museum is eager to have the commode back in its original place, but doesn't have the means to acquire it.