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Bernini elephant sculpture vandalised in Rome

Plus: Authenticity of newly discovered Van Gogh sketches in doubt | Export bar for Hogarth’s The Christening | Anglo Saxon graves discovered in Norfolk | Anne Barlow to replace Sam Thorne at Tate St Ives | and Claudio Rasano wins Taylor Wessing prize

16 November 2016

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

Rome’s Bernini elephant sculpture vandalised | Police in Rome are investigating damage caused to Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s statue Elephant and Obelisk in an apparent act of vandalism, reports the Daily Telegraph. The sculpture, which was commissioned as a pedestal for an ancient Egyptian obelisk in 1667, is thought to have been attacked on Sunday night. Authorities were alerted to the damage on Monday by Spanish tourists, and are reportedly scanning CCTV footage to establish the identity of the culprits. ‘The defaced image of Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s elephant hurts all Romans. For us the protection of the city’s heritage is crucial,’ said Rome’s mayor, Virginia Raggi.

Authenticity of newly discovered Van Gogh sketches in doubt | Experts at Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum have expressed doubt as to the authenticity of a series of more than 60 drawings an academic has attributed to the Dutch Post-Impressionist artist. At a press conference yesterday, Professor Bogomila Welsh-Ovcharov from the University of Toronto unveiled the sketchbook, which Van Gogh scholar Ronald Pickvance has described as ‘the most revolutionary discovery in the entire history of Van Gogh’s oeuvre’. Yet within minutes of the conference starting, the Amsterdam museum issued a statement describing the drawings as ‘imitations‘. The Van Gogh Museum says it has been aware of the claims for ‘some time’, and its researchers are in agreement that the drawings could not be attributed to the artist.

Export bar for Hogarth’s The Christening | UK culture minister Matt Hancock has placed a temporary export bar on William Hogarth’s satirical painting The Christening. The work, which has been in a British private collection for some time, is at risk of leaving the country unless a buyer can be found to match the asking price of £1,223,100. The decision on the export license will be deferred until February 2017, though this may be extended to May if an individual or body within the UK expresses serious intent to purchase. (Reports that the work, then priced in US Dollars, might potentially be sold to a recognised British museum or institution were published as early as May 2016.)

Anglo-Saxon graves discovered in Norfolk | Archaeologists in Norfolk have discovered a burial ground thought to contain the oldest Anglo-Saxon graves yet discovered in Britain, reports the Guardian. The team responsible for the discovery believe that the ‘startlingly well-preserved’ plank-lined graves date from between the 7th and the 9th centuries, and that the site may well have been a burial ground for an early Christian community. Tree ring dating is being carried out on the graves to establish a more precise date.

Anne Barlow to replace Sam Thorne at Tate St Ives | Anne Barlow, director of New York non-profit gallery Art In General, is to take the post of artistic director at Tate St Ives in 2017. The announcement comes more than a year after previous director Sam Thorne left St Ives to take the reins at Nottingham Contemporary. The museum has since been closed for an extensive refurbishment and expansion programme, and part of it will reopen as Barlow arrives in March.

Claudio Rasano wins Taylor Wessing prize | Swiss-Italian photographer Claudio Rasano has been awarded this year’s Taylor Wessing Prize for portrait photography. Judges praised Rasano’s winning image of  Johannesburg schoolboy Katlehong Matsenen for its ‘simplicity and powerful directness’, saying it created ‘something beautiful out of the everyday’. Runners-up were the American artists Joni Sternbach and Kovi Konowiecki and the UK’s Josh Redman.

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