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Divers discover hoard of Roman artefacts off Caesarea

Plus: YouTube pranksters jailed for National Portrait Gallery stunt | Wang Zhongjun buys Song dynasty letter for $32 million | Five northern cultural institutions receive £730,000 Arts Council England award | Asbjørn Lunde donates two landscapes to the National Gallery | and Louisa Chase (19512016)

17 May 2016

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

Amateur divers discover Roman-era treasure trove off Israeli coast | A pair of scuba divers have chanced upon the biggest haul of marine artefacts to be found in Israel in 30 years. Ran Feinstein and Ofer Raanan were exploring the wreck of a 1,600-year-old ship off the coast of Caesarea National Park when they spotted a pair of Roman sculptures and alerted the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA). Further objects subsequently discovered include bronze statues, lamps and coins depicting the Roman emperors Constantine and Licinius. According to the IAA, it is likely that the ship was sunk in a storm. ‘The sand protected the statues; consequently they are in an amazing state of preservation—as though they were cast yesterday,’ Jacob Sharvit, director of the IAA’s Marine Archaeology Unit said in a statement.

YouTube pranksters jailed for National Portrait Gallery stunt | Four men have been handed a combined prison sentence of 72 weeks for a series of stunts in art galleries that they filmed for ‘Trollstation’, their YouTube channel. Last July, Daniel Jarvis, Endrit Ferizolli, Ebenezer Menzah and Helder Gomes were behind a fake robbery at the National Portrait Gallery that saw crowds stampeding towards the exits and left one woman unconscious. They then pretended to stage a kidnapping at Tate Britain. The stunt came shortly after the terrorist attack at a Tunisian beach resort that left 38 tourists dead, leading District Judge Mike Snow to describe it as ‘quite foreseeable’ that visitors to the gallery ‘would be terrified and panic. And that is what happened.’

Wang Zhongjun buys Song dynasty letter for $32 million | Chinese entertainment tycoon Wang Zhongjun has acquired a 124-character long letter penned by a Song dynasty scholar for a reported 207 million yuan (£21.9 million or $31.7 million). The letter, known as the Jushi Tie, was written in September 1080 by scholar and government official Zeng Gong. No other letters penned by him are known to survive.

Five northern cultural institutions receive £730,000 Arts Council award | The Arts Council England has granted a group of institutions including the Whitworth Art Gallery, the Manchester Art Gallery and the Liverpool Biennial an award of £730,000 for a three-year programme of artistic exchange between northern England and south Asia. The grant will see the institutions working in partnership with the Lahore, Kochi, Colombo and Karachi biennials and the Dhaka Art Summit to create a programme of new works and collaborations.

Asbjørn Lunde donates two landscapes to the National Gallery | Art collector Asbjørn Lunde has donated two 19th-century landscapes to the National Gallery in London, both of which are by highly regarded artists who remain underrepresented in the UK. The works – At Handeck (c. 1860) by Swiss painter Alexandre Calame and The Lower Falls of the Labrofoss (1827) by Norwegian artist Johan Christian Dahl – will help the National Gallery to tell the wider story of art across Europe prior to 1900.

Louisa Chase (1951–2016) | Artist Louisa Chase has died of cancer aged 65. Best known for her expressive gestural abstract paintings, she has been described by the New York Times as ‘one of the brightest young stars’ of New York’s painting resurgence in the 1980s. Born to an army family in Panama in 1951, Chase grew up in Pennsylvania before moving to New York City in the mid 1970s, having graduated from Yale with a master’s degree in fine art. She taught on several university programmes and captured the attention of many critics and curators.

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