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Gainsborough sketches discovered at Windsor Castle

Plus: Eritrea’s modernist capital is among new UNESCO World Heritage sites | Police uncover ancient Roman coins in anti-terrorist operation | Over 95 per cent of pre-Hispanic collection at Mexican Museum fails authentication | and recommended reading

10 July 2017

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

Album of Gainsborough sketches is discovered at Windsor Castle | Over two dozen sketches by Thomas Gainsborough have been discovered in the Royal Collection at Windsor Castle. The portfolio of black-and-white chalk drawings, which depict the Suffolk landscape of Gainsborough’s childhood, includes a preparatory study for his painting Cornard Wood (1748), which hangs in the National Gallery. Until now the sketches had been misattributed to Edwin Landseer, a favourite of Queen Victoria, who acquired the works for the Royal Collection in 1874 following Landseer’s death. Art historian Lindsay Stainton, who confirmed the new attribution, described the album as ‘the very best collection of Gainsborough’s early drawings in existence’.

Eritrea’s modernist capital is among new UNESCO World Heritage sites | UNESCO, which is currently holding the 41st session of its world heritage committee, has added over 20 new locations to its list of protected heritage sites. These include Asmara, the capital city of Eritrea famed for its modernist architecture. Benito Mussolini chose Asmara as the centre of Italian East Africa, recruiting Italy’s most radical architects to transform the city into a ‘little Rome’. In the Guardian’s report, Asmara is described as ‘the first modernist city in the world to be listed in its entirety’ by the UN’s cultural organisation, bringing Africa’s total number of inscribed sites to 48.

Police uncover ancient Roman coins in anti-terrorist operation | Anti-terrorist police, expecting to seize a hoard of weapons from suspected arms dealers at a port in Corsica’s Bastia, have instead discovered a valuable trove of ancient Roman coins believed to be part of the so-called ‘Corsica hoard’ of treasure which sunk in the 3rd century. According to the Times (£), 16 ancient Roman coins, worth between £17,000 and £660,000 each, were seized in the operation.

Over 95 per cent of pre-Hispanic collection at Mexican Museum fails authentication | An authentication study undertaken by San Francisco’s Mexican Museum on its pre-Hispanic collection has found that, of the 2,000 artefacts tested, only 83 could be certified as authentic and of museum quality. According to the independent report, commissioned by the museum in 2012, the other 1,917 objects are either forgeries or ‘decorative’ pieces. Andrew Kruger, the chair of the museum’s board of trustees, said that all of the items studied had been donated in its early years, and that the institution’s curators have become more selective in accepting gifted artefacts.

Recommended reading | The New Yorker profiles ‘conceptual entrepreneur’ Martine Syms, currently the subject of a solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, in a piece titled ‘How to be a successful black woman’. Elsewhere, Pakistan-born artist Rasheed Araeen, who curated the Hayward Gallery’s famed exhibition of Afro-Asian modernism ‘The Other Story’ (1989), pays homage to Anthony Caro, describing his first-hand encounter in 1985 with one of Caro’s sculptures ‘which enabled me to find my own place in history as an artist’.

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