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Historic England publishes 2017 list of at-risk sites

Plus: Hidden portrait of Mary, Queen of Scots portrait is found | Berkshire Museum members file second suit over deaccession sale | Mellon Foundation grants $3.5m to Seattle Art Museum for Asian art conservation centre | and activists target Roosevelt statue outside American Museum of Natural History

27 October 2017

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

Historic England publishes 2017 list of at-risk sites | Historic England has published its annual register of UK ‘at risk’ sites, which this year includes Brighton’s John Nash-designed Royal Pavilion Garden; the church of St George the Martyr in London; and an early Neolithic tomb in Cornwall. BBC News reports that a total of 328 new places judged as vulnerable and in need of preservation have been added to the list this year, although 387 entries have been removed thanks to successful care and restoration work. There are now 5,290 historic sites in total on the register, ranging from buildings and monuments to parks, gardens, and battlefields.

Hidden portrait of Mary, Queen of Scots found under 16th-century painting | A rare portrait of Mary, Queen of Scots created during the Catholic monarch’s lifetime has been discovered beneath the surface of another painting. The unfinished sketch was revealed through an x-ray of a National Trust collection portrait of Sir John Maitland, a late 16th-century chancellor of Scotland, by Dutch portrait artist Adrian Vanson. The date inscribed on the work is 1587, two years after Mary’s execution, which has led researchers to suggest that the original portrait was abandoned to avoid the risk of angering Queen Elizabeth I. X-ray images of the hidden portrait are shortly to go on public display alongside the Maitland painting at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh (the research project was co-funded by the National Galleries of Scotland and the Courtauld Institute of Art in London).

Berkshire Museum members file second suit over deaccession sale | Earlier this week three children of Norman Rockwell, along with members of the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, filed a lawsuit against the institution over its controversial plans to sell off works from its collection. Now a second suit has been lodged – this time by two current members of the museum, James and Kristin Hatt, and ex-member Elizabeth Weinberg. The plaintiffs have requested a preliminary injunction to halt the sale on the basis that the museum’s members should be understood as shareholders in the corporation. A museum spokesperson has stated that the new filing is under review, while a hearing for the Rockwell family suit is scheduled for 1 November.

Mellon Foundation grants $3.5m to Seattle Art Museum for Asian art conservation centre | The Seattle Times reports that the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded a $3.5m challenge grant to the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) for the creation of a new centre for the conservation of Asian art, on condition that the museum raise a further $2.5m in matching funds over the next four years. The new conservation and study facility will be located in the SAM’s Asian Art Museum, which is currently undergoing major renovations and expansion.

Activists target Roosevelt statue outside American Museum of Natural History | An equestrian statue of Theodore Roosevelt flanked by the figure of a Native American chief and a black man, which stands outside the American Museum of Natural History in New York, was yesterday targeted by a group of activists calling themselves the ‘Monument Removal Brigade’. The group threw red paint on to the statue, in a move that they described ‘not as an act of vandalism’ but as an ‘applied criticism’ of the ‘colonial mentality’ implied by the monument. A museum spokesperson has emphasised that, although the institution intends to address the issue, the statue’s location on public land means that its fate is ‘not solely at the museum’s discretion’.

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