Monday, August 13, 2018

Art on Television #2: Bendor Grosvenor and Britain's Lost Masterpieces returns

Britain's Lost Masterpieces returns for a third series tonight - on BBC4 at 9.00pm - with "art sleuth" Dr Bendor Grosvenor and social historian Emma Dabiri

Home page for Britain's Lost Masterpieces

Britain's Lost Masterpieces

This is the third series of Britain's Lost Masterpieces. The series depends on:
  • visiting Britain’s local museums and country houses to look for lost and hidden public treasures.
  • being able to spot a painting which appears to be misattributed - which Bendor Grosvenor has a talent for and has developed a career on the back of it
  • looking beneath or undoing the work of earlier "restorers" who have obscured the original painting
His female sidekick's role is devoted to the social history of the time a painting was painted and/or the place where it was found.

To be honest, while interesting, I'd prefer more technical art history and less social history. However the latter makes sense if you know that Bendor Grosvenor started off as a historian rather than an art specialist.

I don't know how many episodes there are going to be because the BBC has not seen fit to share that information! However there are at least two!

The first episode is about this Rembrandt study

Episode 1: Devon - Rembrandt study 

Bendor discovers a small portrait of Rembrandt in the collection of a National Trust house, Knightshayes Court in Tiverton, Devon. The painting is thought to be a later copy of a self-portrait by Rembrandt now in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, but Bendor believes it is in fact a study for the finished picture by Rembrandt himself.
The programme also involves a visit to the world expert on Rembrandt, Ernst van de Wettering, in Amsterdam - who is chair of the Rembrandt Research Project, the team of scholars that is charged with tracking down Rembrandt's works, authenticating them and, when needed, conserving the paintings.

Epsidode 2: Manchester - Zoffany 

(and aspects of the history of the Manchester Art Gallery - including The Manchester Art Treasures Exhibition of 1857
At the Manchester Art Gallery, Dr Bendor Grosvenor discovers a painting of a country gentleman from the 1770s which he believes has been misattributed to Nathaniel Dance. He feels sure it is in fact by theGerman painter Johann Zoffany, a favourite portraitist of the royal family under King George III. While the painting is restored, Bendor investigates the life of Zoffany - a chancer and adventurer who squandered his royal patronage through a series of predictable errors of judgement.
Note: You can see the Catalogue of the art treasures of the United Kingdom: collected at Manchester in 1857 in an online archive - interleaved and extensively annotated by the original owner, John Peck, of Wisbech St. Mary!

Series 3 Episodes are available on iPlayer for 28 days AFTER being first broadcast - and they are typically repeated on different days and different times.  You can also see clips from all three series of the programme

I don't get the sense that the BBC is really backing this programme - or alternatively the people in the BBC Arts/Media Centre don't know what they're broadcasting.  It doesn't rate a mention in the Media Centre release about A sizzling summer of Arts TV on the BBC in June! It's a bit like producing a book and then forgetting to do the marketing for it!

However it might also be something to do with the fact that there was some sort of spat by Philip Mould of Fake or Fortune occurred when Bendor Grosvenor got to host the first series of this show in 2016.

Grosvenor used to be a Director of Mould's Gallery but left in 2014 and....
Grosvenor maintains that the two series are different, as "Fake or Fortune?" looks at art in private ownership while "Britain’s Lost Masterpieces" focused on paintings in public galleries.
So there! 

More about Bendor Grosvenor

I very much RECOMMEND Bendor Grosvenor's
  • blog Art History News - always a good and often very interesting read and 
  • his Twitter account @arthistorynews - which can be very to the point at times
I offer just one tweet by way of illustration - coincidentally posted the same day as the first episode of Fake or Fortune.....
By way of "street cred" for Bendor we have the following:


  • Pembroke College, Cambridge University - English history degree
  • University of East Anglia - PhD on ‘The Politics of Foreign Policy: Lord Derby and the Eastern Crisis, 1875-8,’ 


  • Grosvenor started his career in politics, as adviser to several members of parliament in the UK, including being an adviser to the Conservative Party on culture policy.
  • 2005 - 2014 Grosvenor worked in and for the London art trade - latterly as a Director of Philip Mould & Company
  • set up his his own company, specializing in establishing the authenticity of paintings by Old Masters. 
  • did the research for and appeared on the BBC programme Fake or Fortune? (2011-2016)
  • researcher and presenter for Britain's Lost Masterpieces since
  • also works as a journalist and writer - he writes regularly for The Financial Times and The Art Newspaper, and has written articles for The Guardian, the British Art Journal, History Today and Country Life.

    Notable achievements - discoveries

    • 2003: first major art discovery was a mis-catalogued portrait by Sir Thomas Lawrence
    • 2013: discovered the lost portrait of Charles Edward Stuart ("Bonnie Prince Charlie") by Scottish artist Allan Ramsay at Gosford House - now owned by Scottish National Portrait Gallery
    • 2014: recognised a painting put up for auction as being by Joan Carlile, Britain's forst pofessional artist - see Typical! How Britain's first professional female artist was assumed to be a man - now owned by the Tate
    • 2017: he discovered the ‘lost portrait’ of George Villiers, first Duke of Buckingham at Pollok House, Glasgow, Scotland. 

    Notable achievements - art history groups/committees/bodies

    • helped establish the All Party History Group in the Houses of Parliament;
    • member of the Arts Taskforce set up by David Cameron, under the Chairmanship of Sir John Tusa.
    • member of the Lord Chancellor’s Advisory Council on National Records and Archives
    • member of the Lord Chancellor’s Forum for Historical Manuscripts and Academic Research.Grosvenor often can be seen on British television shows. From 2011 until 2016, he appeared in the BBC1 series Fake or Fortune, the BBC’s highest-rated fine art program. As of last year, he presents the BBC4 series Britain’s Lost Masterpieces with art historian Jacky Klein.
    He's now based in Edinburgh, and is on the board of Scotland's leading auctioneers, Lyon & Turnbull.

    Paul Riley's New Lightweight Travelling Studio

    Many painters like to travel to paint. However it can be a challenge to take all the kit that you like to use! Especially if you want to make the kit lightweight and easy to mobilise so as to stay within any weight restrictions and not make life too difficult getting around.

    If you like to paint large using watercolour you have an even bigger challenge!

    Watercolour artist and author Paul Riley has been teaching his students watercolour painting in the studio and in the field in this country for a very long time - and has also been taking them abroad for over 25 years. Many of you will have read his articles for The Artist magazine.

    A long time ago - when I painted in watercolour - I was one of those students and used to be fascinated by what he'd come up with to resolve the challenge of painting large and travelling light 

    He's still coming up with new solutions.... and this is the latest.

    (This has been adapted with Paul's permission from a post in his (closed) Facebook Group for ex students Art Lovers, Students and Professionals)

    Paul Riley's NEW Lightweight Travelling Studio

    This is the latest version of his painting studio kit for his next course abroad - on the Greek island of Skopelos - September 9-19th 2018

    The Backpack

    The Backpack
    This is Paul's current - and simple - backpack solution - it's an Art storage bag by Kurtzy
    • Total loaded weight 5.5kilos
    • Dimensions: length of 43cm (16.9") and a width of 64cm (25.1")
    • Features:  5 outer pockets; can be carried on the back as a back pack or carried on the side
    • Benefits: comfortable, lightweight and compact A3 size
    Below you can see the bag and its numerous pockets in more detail showing - in particular:
    • Special round one for water pot and 
    • A long one for the Easel.
    Art storage bag by Kurtzy

    Additional Kit

    Sunday, August 12, 2018

    Art on Television #1: Fake or Fortune returns

    BBC has two new series starting this week

    Fake or Fortune

    The team for Series 7 is the same as the last series - Fiona Bruce and Philip Mould
    What's changed is that it now occupies a prime time slot of 9pm on BBC1 (albeit in  dead month TV wise).

    There are 5 episodes in this series programmes but we only know the artists involved in the first two episodes so far. What we know so far is.....

    Episode 1 - British artist William Nicholson

    The subject of Episode 1 of Series 7 - and those pears look a bit suspect to me...
    Can the team prove that a beautiful still life of a glass jug and pears is the work of celebrated British artist William Nicholson? 
    Portrait of William Nicholson
    Normally the first episode is a cracker - but I confess I've never heard of the artist, although had worked out it was likely that William Nicholson had a connection to Ben Nicholson (he's the father) !  I'm wondering if this one is a very good example of techniques used in a case.

    The problem with the painting is it cost £165,000 to buy - and Patricia Read, the expert on Nicholson, left it out of the Catalogue raisonne - which effectively reduces the painting to the value of a decorative item.

    If you want to do your homework and get acquainted with him before tonight.....

    Nicholson's wife, the painter Mabel Pryde, is standing by the door. Sitting at the table from left to right are the Nicholson children: Nancy, who married the writer Robert Graves; Tony, who died during the war in 1918; and Ben, who would become Britain's foremost abstract artist. Standing in the foreground is Christopher or 'Kit'

    'A Bloomsbury Family' depicts the artist William Nicholson and his family.

    Episode 2 - Toulouse Lautrec

    Saturday, August 11, 2018

    Comments are suspended on Making A Mark

    I've changed how comments work on Making A Mark i.e. you can't.

    This is what the preamble to the comment section on Making A Mark now says.....


    There are lots and lots of very silly people who don't understand that Google is not stupid and that links posted to a Blogger comment are:

    • NOT LIVE and
    They continue to post spam comments - despite this blog using both word verification and moderation that states very clearly that no spam will be published.

    So I've SUSPENDED COMMENTING BY EVERYBODY but me. This allows past comments to still be seen.
    Feel free to comment on my Facebook Page when my blog posts are posted there
    BUT but do note: 
    Spammers on Facebook will always be blocked and reported to Facebook if  they spam my FB Page.

    I'm left wondering if my NEW blog settings for comments  will mean most people wanting to leave a comment won't see the message.

    Whatever - it's better than having to get rid of the number of spam comments I have been receiving everyday!

    Google is very definitely NOT on top of spam comments and those who leave them and pay for them

    Google owns Blogger and needs to get a LOT better at removing those firms which keep sending/paying for the same spam comments - because I keep reporting the spam and the spam keeps on coming - with a significant proportion being from the same people.

    If their policy was to BURY every website in the Google Index that is left as an unrelated and spurious link in comments - UNLESS the blog owner approves it - that would be a start.

    What would be the point of paying for spam comments if you effectively achieved the reverse of what you, in theory, are trying to achieve?

    I think the message might get around pretty fast about that one.....

    Friday, August 10, 2018

    Call for Entries: ING Discerning Eye Drawing Bursary 2018

    The Call for Entries for the ING Discerning Eye Drawing Bursary - worth £1,500 to the winner - closes in just over a month - on 17th September at 5pm.

    Winner of the ING Discerning Eye Bursary 2017
    Painted Cave 1, 2 and 3 by Max Naylor

    The ING Discerning Eye Drawing Bursary 


    The purpose of the ING Discerning Eye Drawing Bursary is to offer the opportunity for artists to extend their practice through the offer of financial support.

    Call for Entries

    The call for entries is very low key.

    Information about

    • the fact there is a Bursary and 
    • how to enter is extremely minimal 
    to the point where i'm sure some would call it non-existent!

    Plenty of information (bottom of the main ING Discerning Eye page) about last year's Drawing Bursary exhibition and prizewinners (and previous years too - but no button to press to find out about this year.

    So basically you have to know a Drawing Bursary exists - which means students of art schools and drawing schools will - and that there is a Bursary Page

    Then there's the confusion about what it is called.

    So basically:
    • a bursary was created in 2002 
    • in 2005 it was decided that this should become a Drawing Bursary
    • in 2007 it was named the David Gluck Memorial Bursary
    which is doubtless why Parker Harris include it in their newsletter (the only way I know of finding out it's happening) as the ING Discerning Eye Drawing Bursary.

    Anyway - bottom line:
    • there is a Drawing Bursary
    • the winner gets £1,500
    • the other four shortlisted artists win £150 each
    • your work gets exhibited in the North Gallery of the Mall Galleries during the course of the ING Discerning Eye Exhibition in November (see Call for Entries: ING Discerning Eye 2018)

    How to Enter

    Shortlisted 2017
    The Stills by Susannah Douglas
    In order to enter you need to:
    • be an artist born or resident in the UK
    • read the terms and conditions Click here to enter
    • complete the online Application Form
    • PLUS submit a short CV with their application (maximum 1 A4 page in Word or PDF format)
    • PLUS provide a statement / written explanation (max. 100 words) to answer the question: “Why do you want the bursary?” i.e. how the bursary will benefit their current drawing practice
    • upload three digital images 
      • The artworks must not exceed 30cms square or 12″ sq in size. 
      • This must be the actual size of the support, be it paper or otherwise. 
      • Framing will be on top of this size.
    • pay an entry fee of £5
    I suggest you read about Past Winners (see below) before you start an entry

    Key dates

    Thursday, August 09, 2018

    Three book reviews about Botanical Art and Illustration

    On Monday, three new art instruction books arrived and I've been spending this week reading different perspectives on guidance and instruction for those interested in botanical art, painting and illustration - and then writing three book reviews.

    The books are:
    • Botanical Illustration - The Complete Guide by Leigh Ann Gale 
    • Botanical Art with Scientific Illustration by Sarah Jane Humphrey 
    • Botanical Painting by Margaret Stevens (with the SBA)

    BELOW you can find the links to the three book reviews and a short summary of each.

    Links are embedded in the title of the books reviews.  If you want to know more, read the full review on Botanical Art and Artist News

    Sunday, August 05, 2018

    RA Summer Exhibition - a curious exercise in pricing and sales

    One of the consequences of having the whole of Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts online - is that you can review which artists got their pricing right - and which got it wrong.

    That's a sweeping assertion so let me explain.

    But if you want to know what art has sold at the Summer Exhibition you can skip the explanation and go straight to my overview of what sort and size of artwork sold for what range of prices.

    I KNOW some artists are going to be very surprised - mostly those who have been over-pricing their work.

    I'm hoping my conclusions provide food for thought for those submitting work to next year's Summer Exhibition.

    Explore the artworks of the Summer Exhibition by Gallery

    The RA Summer Exhibition is the biggest open art exhibition in the world. It attracts an awful lot of visitors, many of whom come to buy - if only to say they bought something from the Summer Exhibition.

    That said, if you've got an awful lot of people viewing your work - and you've got it priced right - there's a reasonable expectation that you will sell it.

    Moreover, those Royal Academicians have knocked around a bit. They've developed their fans and they ought, by now, to know what their work is worth. One would think.

    So does that mean that they are any better or worse than the 'ordinary artist' who submits via the open at getting their pricing right?  It appears that some do and some don't...

    The aim is after all to sell the work - since the proceeds of the sales go to support the activities of the Royal Academy Schools. Surely no-one would be so mean as to overprice their work so it doesn't sell?

    What has sold - in terms of type, size and price range?

    The exhibition closes on 19th August - so it's reasonable to assume that the bulk of the buying has already taken place.

    You can review - as I have done - the artwork in the exhibition - and see whether or not it sold. You have a couple of options:
    • view the exhibition in person towards the end of its run - and look for the red dots
    • view the exhibition online - and look to see whether it has sold

    Friday, August 03, 2018

    Pastel Society - Call for Entries for 120th Annual Exhibition (2019)

    If you work in pastels, oil pastels, charcoal, pencil, conte, sanguine, or any other dry media you can submit your artwork to the 120th Annual Exhibition of The Pastel Society.

    It's an open exhibition at the Mall Galleries and last year around a third of the art hung was selected from the Open Entry.
    The Pastel Society seeks the best in contemporary dry media, combining traditional skills with creative originality
    This is a summary of the Call for Entries - complemented by images from the 2018 exhibition and comments on this open exhibition. For full terms and conditions, click here.

    The 120th Annual Exhibition will open on Tuesday 5 February and continue every day - from  10am to 5pm - until it closes at 3pm on Saturday 16 February 2019.

    A corner of the Annual Pastel Society Exhibition in 2018


    This is an art society which has managed to attract a lot of sponsorship for prizes for work in the competition.

    Prizes are mainly product prizes but also include some cash prizes - and the cash prizes are particularly attractive to younger artists

    Wednesday, August 01, 2018

    The Great Grayson Perry Lost Works Treasure Hunt

    Have you got one of Grayson Perry's early pots? Will Grayson Perry become the ceramic equivalent of Clarice Cliff?

    Whenever I switch on the television and there's an antiques type programme on, somebody seems to have just found a bit of Clarice Cliff in the attic or had it sat on a shelf forever.

    Apparently the same might be said for early works by Grayson Perry - who was none too meticulous about making a note about the creation of his earlier works or where they went.

    Crowdsourcing a Grayson Perry exhibition

    Biker Pot, 1992, Grayson Perry (c) Grayson Perry,
    Courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro, London & Venice

    The Holbourne Museum in Bath has an exhibition planned for 2020 that is intended to focus on the early ceramic works of Grayson Perry from the eighties and early nineties .

    Grayson Perry, 2016 (c) Richard Ansett

    However there's a bit of a problem - as Grayson Perry explains