In his latest Editor’s Letter, Thomas Marks discusses the impending sale of JMW Turner’s Rome, from Mount Aventine (1836) at Sotheby’s in December, and draws attention to the Art Fund’s campaign to save the Wedgwood Collection. With any luck, both will appear in our acquisitions round-up at some later date. Meanwhile, we celebrate the following significant additions to museum collections in Europe and the USA.
Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris
Composition (1911), Otto Freundlich; 11 paintings by Miklos Bokor
The Nazis deemed Otto Freundlich’s work degenerate and destroyed much of it, and the artist himself died in the Lublin-Majdanek concentration camp in 1943. His contribution to avant-garde circles in Europe (and particularly France, where he moved in 1908) ought to be better known. In this painting – his first abstract work – a diminishing wedge of earthy browns in the lower half, and a suggestion of blue top left, hint at a landscape which is left deliberately unresolved.
Miklos Bokor also suffered at the hands of the Nazis, enduring a string of internments in concentration camps before the liberation of Theresienstadt in 1943. He confronted his experiences directly early in his career, but subsequently evolved a more universal style; a dark, expressionistic shade of traditional history painting and its powerful emotional narratives. The artist has donated 10 works, and another has been given by François Ditesheim.
Ashmolean Museum, Oxford
The Feller Collection of 17th-century embroideries
Micheál and Elizabeth Feller’s extraordinary collection of 61 embroideries is valued at £500,000, and collectively reveals the skill and creativity of those who made a living from the discipline in 17th-century Britain. The couple have donated the works to the Ashmolean in honour of its director Christopher Brown, who retires this week. They’re already on display at the museum as part of a temporary exhibition ‘Eye of the Needle’ (until 12 October) alongside some of the items they’re about to join in the museum’s own collection.
San Diego Museum of Art
The Visitation (1673), Juan de Valdés Leal
The Virgin Mary embraces her cousin Elizabeth (mother to St John the Baptist) in this large painting from the Spanish Golden Age. The hovering white dove of the Holy Spirit marks the sanctity of the occasion – both women are with child. The work enters an already impressive collection of Spanish art at the museum, which the curators have been selectively adding to over the years.
Museo Reina Sofía, Madrid
Soledad Lorenzo promises 385 works of modern and contemporary art
The influential gallerist Soledad Lorenzo has worked with some of Spain’s leading artists. This group, which includes works by Miquel Barceló and Antoni Tàpíes, won’t officially enter the collection until after Lorenzo’s death, but the museum will enjoy it on loan for at least the next five years.
Whitney Museum of Art, New York
Promised gift of 75 photographs by leading 20th-century photographers
Sondra Gilman Gonzalez-Falla and Celso Gonzalez-Falla are longstanding supporters of the Whitney’s photography department, and this month promised to expand the museum’s collection with 75 iconic photographs from their own own. The gift includes 12 works by Walker Evans, and iconic photographs by Alfred Stieglitz, Ansel Adams, William Eggleston, Imogen Cunningham, Man Ray and Dorothea Lange, among many others.