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Botticelli ‘copy’ reattributed to artist’s studio

Plus: Contractor accuse Kochi-Muziris Biennale of non-payment | and Algeria defers participation in Venice Biennale

28 March 2019

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

Botticelli ‘copy’ reattributed to artist’s studio | English Heritage announced today that a round painting previously believed to have been a copy of Botticelli’s Madonna of the Pomegranate is in fact a rare original from the artist’s studio. The reattribution was made following conservation of the painting, during which the lifting of yellowing varnish allowed conservators to more closely examine the paintwork and match the style with Botticelli’s own workshop. X-rays and infrared examination also revealed preparatory under-drawings and other alterations not typical of straight imitations. The work came to the UK when it was bought by diamond magnate Julius Wernher in 1897, and, on long-term loan to English Heritage, had been on display at Ranger’s House in Greenwich, to which it returns on 1 April.

Contractor accuses Kochi-Muziris Biennale of non-payment | The organisers of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, which closes tomorrow, have been accused of not paying full fees to local contractors involved in venue construction for the biennial. ARTnews reports that Appu Thomas, director of the company that oversaw the building of a new pavilion, has sent a legal notice to the biennial asking for 7.76m rupees to cover bills incurred by the construction, which he alleges went unpaid after the work exceeded budgetary limits. The Instagram account @justicefrombiennale18_19 has posted accusations from several individual construction workers who helped build the pavilion. The Kochi Biennale Foundation has issued a statement claiming that an independent valuer has assessed the contractor’s submitted bills and found them to be ‘greatly inflated’ and quoting ‘arbitrary’ amounts, while emphasising that ‘the payment of on-ground workers is the responsibility of the contractors’.

Algeria defers its participation in Venice Biennale | The Algerian culture ministry announced via Facebook that the country would no longer take part in this year’s 58th Venice Biennale, which opens in May, ‘due to the closeness of the date of this cultural meeting and preparation imperatives’. Algeria’s inaugural pavilion at the event has been deferred until 2021. The first Kazakhstan pavilion at Venice was also cancelled earlier this month.

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