Apollo Magazine

Acquisitions of the month: August 2017

This month's acquisitions include a major collection of African art, a treasure from Queen Victoria's personal collection, and a beautiful 18th-century landscape

The Fortress of Königstein from the North (around 1756–58), Bernardo Bellotto. © The National Gallery, London

The Fortress of Königstein from the North (c. 1756–58), Bernardo Bellotto. © The National Gallery, London

A round-up of the best works of art to enter public collections recently

Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Queen Victoria’s diamond and sapphire coronet

Designed by Prince Albert and produced by Joseph Kitching, the diamond and sapphire coronet is inspired by the Saxon Rautenkranz, or circlet of rue, which formed part of the Prince’s coat of arms. Gifted to the Queen in 1840, the coronet featured in the renowned portrait of the monarch painted by Franz Xaver Winterhalter in 1842. It will go on display in the V&A’s refurbished William and Judith Bollinger Jewellery Gallery in 2019, marking 200 years since both Victoria and Albert were born.

Queen Victoria’s diamond and sapphire coronet, made by Joseph Kitching (1840–42). © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

National Gallery, London
The Fortress of Königstein from the North (c. 1756–58), Bernardo Bellotto

Bernardo Bellotto may not be as well known as his uncle, Canaletto, but he is regarded as one of the great 18th-century European view painters. This vast panoramic landscape depicting an imposing fortification is considered one of his finest works. The painting was due to be exported from Britain, but has been saved for the nation through donations from the Art Fund and various foundations and individuals. This fills a gap in the gallery’s collection, which does not include another major 18th-century depiction of a Northern European view.

The Fortress of Königstein from the North (c. 1756–58), Bernardo Bellotto. © The National Gallery, London

Blanton Museum of Art, Texas
Three paintings and four works on paper by Leon Polk Smith

The Blanton Museum of Art has received a gift of seven works by pioneering abstract artist Leon Polk Smith. Donated by Austin-based collectors Jeanne and Michael Klein, and the Leon Polk Smith Foundation, the group consists of three paintings and four works on paper. The paintings – GWB (1945/94), Moon (1958­–59), and Yellow White Sun (1958–59) – will soon be on display in the museum, with the works on paper following in the first half of next year.

Untitled (1950), Leon Polk Smith. Courtesy of Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin

National Portrait Gallery, London
Thirty-seven portraits of distinguished Afro-Caribbean figures

Thirty-seven portraits of notable black Britons taken by artist and director Simon Frederick during the filming of the documentary Black is the New Black, have been acquired for the gallery’s main collection. Chosen for their achievements across politics, culture, religion, and science, the sitters include model Naomi Campbell, journalist Sir Trevor McDonald, and editor-in-chief of British Vogue Edward Enninful. The photographs will go on display in November 2018.

Sir Trevor McDonald (2016), Simon Frederick. © Simon Frederick

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.
Eleven photographs by Japanese artists

The Hirshhorn has recently announced a major acquisition of Japanese photography. The collection of 11 photographs includes work by major post-war figures such as Takashi Arai, Minoru Hirata, Eikoh Hosoe, and Tatsuo Kawaguchi, with examples of post-minimalism, conceptualism and the Mono-ha movement. The photographs follow the museum’s acquisition of a painting by acclaimed Japanese artist Natsuyuki Nakanishi.

Man and Woman #24 (1960), Eikoh Hosoe. © Eikoh Hosoe. Courtesy of Taka Ishii Gallery New York

Williams College Museum of Art, Massachusetts
Gift of more than 340 pieces of African art

Doctors and philanthropists Carolyn and Eli Newberger have donated more than 340 objects of African art, including decorative, religious, and utilitarian objects, to the museum. The collection includes works from the late 19th century through to the late 20th century and represents more than 15 different West African cultures, including the Ashanti, Igbo, Senufo, and Yoruba people. The landmark gift is a significant contribution to the museum’s African art holdings.

A calabash pot with a raffia handle produced by the Mossi people. Courtesy of Williams College Museum of Art