Sunday, December 10, 2017

The Forbes Pigment Collection

The Forbes Pigment Collection contains an assortment of over 3,000 synthetic and organic pigments that helps conservators, curators, and students study and safeguard artworks.
Pigment is a very small particle of coloured material that is mixed in with a binding medium. The pigment gives paint its colour.Narayan Khandekar Director of the Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies and Senior Conservation Scientist
This post is about:
  • an overview of the history behind the collection
  • a video of what it looks like and what it does
  • images of pigments in the collection
  • reading material (at the end) for the colour nerds who love this sort of thing (like me!) 

Tubes of pigment 
The collection of pigments was created by the late Edward Waldo Forbes, former Director of the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University (1909-1945).

He regarded the Museum as a laboratory for art history. He founded the Center for Conservation and Technical Studies, which was later renamed the Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies at Harvard University.
  • the latter now houses the core collection of pigments from the Forbes Collection
  • Forbes' own private collection of pigments is located at the Institute for Fine Arts Conservation 
The collection provides material which enables pigments in paintings to be identified for both restoration and conservation - and to negate claims being made for fake paintings! 

This is a video about the collection and how they are protected

Interestingly the Museum of Fine Art in Boston has a page which unpicks the pigments down to their chemical composition.

To see what each pigment is made of:

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Putting on an Art Exhibition - Behind the Scenes at the Royal Ulster Academy

Anybody wondering how a prominent art society runs an open entry art exhibition would benefit from taking a look at a really informative video made by Northern Visions Television (NVTV).

Behind The Scenes at the RUA from Northern Visions NvTv on Vimeo.

The film is about the 136th annual exhibition of the Royal Ulster Academy of Artwhich runs for three months at the Ulster Museum, Botanic Gardens, Belfast, BT9 5AB (6th October 2017 – 7th January 2018)
Mo McDevitt goes behind the scenes in the build up to the 136th RUA exhibition at the Ulster Museum. The exhibition features 371 works in a variety of mediums.
It opens up and follows the entire process from the Academy's perspective of what happens in creating an exhibition from start to finish in terms of:
  • the artworks arriving at the second stage of the open entry. 
  • (Prior to this they had 1,800 digital entries from North and South of Ireland and 23 other countries - which were sent to 10 Adjudicators on a DVD for review to get them down to under 400)
  • the exercise of the three paddles by the 10 Adjudicators for accepted, rejected and not sure - and artists will be able to see what sort of distance their art gets looked at in person and for how long. (Some may be surprised - but the process used in this video is entirely normal)
  • comments about the difference between the digital image and the actual artwork
  • the anonymity of the presentation i.e. they are given the name of the artwork and the technique - and that's it
  • the use of one wildcard for each Adjudicator - to ensure one artist is exhibited
  • how submitting more than one artwork can create a more positive impression of the artist's work
  • how they use 10 selectors every year - and how the panel members change every year - so the selection is now skewed by a few people (and this is the first year of an all female jury)
Interestingly, the RUA only allows its members to have TWO artworks in the exhibition as a right - and these are NOT moderated.  They had seven new associates this year.

They also struggle with the fact that they do not have a home.

Hanging the exhibition

An opening still from the video - a crop of The Artists Children by Jackie Edwards
Oil on linen, 130 × 110 x 3.05
- which I thought was very effective
The video also looks at how they hang the exhibition - and I have to say both artwork and the exhibition looks absolutely splendid.  The co-ordination of colours and management of contrasts are excellent.
"It's not about putting the big names up front and the lesser names behind the door"
The video also looks at
  • the adjudication of the medals for work
  • artwork in the exhibition
  • the wider educational events associated with the exhibition.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

The Getty Museum under threat from Skirball Wild Fire

The Getty Centre is currently very close to the latest fire in California (the Skirball Fire) which shut down nine miles of I-405 - one of the busiest freeways in the USA during morning rush hour.

This post demonstrates people's concerns and the museum's current response.
The Getty is in a very restrained way communicating what is happening via its Twitter account above and website below. The announcement in red states
The Getty Center and the Getty Villa will be closed to the public Tuesday, December 5, and Wednesday, December 6, to protect the collections from smoke from fires in the region.
Getty Website
and on Facebook where they state

The latest from Twitter....

The current fire dubbed the Skirball Fire, was reported at 4:52 a.m. Wednesday.  The hillside which is engulfed in flame is just the other side of the freeway from the Museum and the obvious concern is that the fire might jump the freeway given the strength of the Santa Ana winds.

The Getty Centre is not in the mandatory evacuation area - it's in the yellow (be ready to go) zone to the left of the freeway

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

£35,000 BP Portrait Award 2018 - How to enter and how to get selected

The value of the awards for the BP Portrait Award 2018 have been significantly increased - but that's not the only reason to consider seriously why it's a good idea to enter this exhibition.

Yesterday I wrote about What do paintings by BP Portrait Award winners look like? going back to 1990. That's because 2018 marks the Portrait Award’s 39th year at the National Portrait Gallery and 29th year of sponsorship by BP - and over a decade of me being invited to the Awards Ceremony and taking photos of and interviewing artists who win the awards

Below you can read about:
  • why every aspiring portrait artist should enter the BP Portrait Award
  • how the awards have changed for 2018
  • my Annual Guide to the Call for Entries for the BP Portrait Award 2018 - how to enter
  • how to improve your chances of being selected for the major annual exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery next summer
before you submit your digital entry prior to  the deadline of 22 January 2018. 

In 2017, 53 artists had their portraits selected for the 2017 Annual Exhibition of the BP Portrait Award - from 2580 entries from 87 countries. (2016: comparable numbers were 2,557 entries from 80 countries)

People who win prizes read this post every year. Maybe this year it will be your turn?

Giving the awards a polish before the BP Portrait Awards Ceremony 2017 starts

Why you should enter the BP Portrait Award

As last year's winner, Ben Sullivan, emphasised in my video interview with him the REALLY IMPORTANT important thing is to be INCLUDED in the exhibition rather than win a prize.

That's because being included in the exhibition is the best possible marketing of your work to those who may be thinking of commissioning a portrait. 

Ben exhibited in 13 exhibitions in total and every one for the last 11 years prior to his win this year. His style is very attractive for those who want a realistic but not photographic portrait and he has earned a lot of commissions over the years.

Now that's he's won first prize we won't be seeing his portraits in the exhibition any more....

It's time for someone else to reap the benefit of being included in the exhibition.

8 Reasons to enter this competition

Monday, December 04, 2017

What do paintings by BP Portrait Award winners look like?

This is about BP Portrait Award Winners and 
  • the portraits they paint than won the BP Portrait Award; and 
  • the commissions they undertake for the National Portrait Gallery in London.
Below you can find a chronological list of names of all the past winners of the BP Portrait Award - together with
The BP Portrait award winners wall in 2017
- much smaller portraits compared to most previous years
What I didn't know before I produced this listing is that:
  • not all winners produce a commission. Typically the international artists have not painted a portrait of a 'significant Briton' commissioned by the NPG 
  • there is sometimes a very long gap between the BP Portrait Award win and the production of the commission. I can only imagine that this is because some effort is made to match sitter and painter and that prior commitments and available dates don't always work out as the NPG might wish.
ALERT This post a preamble to my next blog post which will be about the Call for Entries for the 2018 BP Portrait Award.

BP Portrait Award Winners

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Review - Royal Institute of Oil Painters Annual Exhibition 2017

I visited the annual exhibition of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters last week.

The exhibition was on Tuesday 28th November by Philip Mould the gallery owner who is also host of the popular TV programme ‘Fake or Fortune?’

View of one half of the Main Gallery
This blog post covers
  • how you can - and cannot - see the art
  • a summary of what I noticed about the show - in terms of both numbers and artwork
  • shout outs for 
    • the artists whose work I liked best in the show
    • those artists who have sold two or more paintings
    • the prizewinners  
  • and finally a listing of past blog reviews of this annual exhibition if you'd like to understand more about this exhibition prior to submitting your paintings next year.
Coastline and beach scenes in the North Gallery
The Royal Institute of Oil Painters (ROI) helped to develop the tradition of oil painting in the UK. Established in 1882, it gained royal status as an art society in 1909.

I RECOMMEND this year's exhibition:

  • it has LOTS of artwork of a high quality by both members and non-members - with a mixed hang across the main and north galleries 
  • a high percentage of the artwork is in oils (but not all). 
  • you can see many and varied ways of applying oil paint to a support to create a picture.  You can also see the extent to which the use of acrylic can mimic oil paint - or not.
  • The exhibition has a huge variety in terms of painting styles, palettes of colour, brushwork and subject matter.  
  • Most of it looks as if was painted using a brush and NOT photographed using a camera. The exhibition also includes some very painterly work.

I'm not quite sure when the ROI started to let people submit work in acrylics but I do wish they'd:
  • either change their name 
  • or stick rigidly to this being an exhibition of oil paintings.
I think it's misleading to do otherwise... It needs to be one or the other.  I was pleased to see the extremely high percentage of the exhibited work is in oils. Hopefully this is an aspect of the society that can be addressed over time.  

It's was VERY interesting to note that ALL the young artists selected for the Young Artist Award ALL painted in oil.

I used to go to the PV nut now tend to choose to see an exhibition in the mid/late afternoon (when it tends to be a bit quieter) just after it has opened. It means I can see the art properly and also get decent photographs of it hanging in the gallery - which is virtually impossible on PV days.

How you can - and cannot - see the art in the exhibition 

Some large paintings in the exhibition

You can see The Royal Institute of Oil Painters Annual Exhibition at the Mall Galleries until Sunday 10th December 2017. The galleries are located in The Mall (near Trafalgar Square), London SW1 - this is a google map showing the entrance. Hours are 10am-5pm daily including weekends, (and it loses at 1pm on the final day).

If you're a fan of ROI member and plein air painter Peter Brown ROI NEAC PS Hon RBA RP (aka Pete the Street) then, from Wednesday 6th December, you can also see Pete's solo exhibition at Messums in Cork Street as well as the ROI exhibition.

Next week, the members of the ROI are available to meet visitors include:
The first work you encounter in the North Galleries
You can see selected works from the exhibition online if you keep scrolling down the page.
  • If you click the TITLE of the painting you can find out more about it and how to buy it - and click again to find out more about the artist
  • You can make an enquiry about buying a painting online
However it's NOT actually possible to see ALL the artwork online - which I think is both a pity and not helpful to overall sales.

Now people are so used to buying artwork online, it's absolutely vital to have a very accessible virtual art exhibition (online) as well as a physical art exhibition (in the gallery) - especially if an art society wants to promote its online sales for all the artwork exhibited.

That means ALL members gearing up to produce good quality digital images - or not having their work online.  (Non members already have to do this as the submission is now based on digital files.)

It would seem that rather a lot of ROI members have not yet done this because, very oddly when I look at the oil paintings in the Mall Galleries own online "Buy Art" gallery, most of the oil paintings seem to be by artists from other art societies - or non members exhibiting in the ROI exhibition!  Which does really seem a bit odd!

A small selection of the paintings I liked

I loved this stunning painting of an apple with a Holbein blue background by Alex Callaway RBSA. A very strong contender for my "Visitors Choice" vote. Alex is a member of the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists (RBSA) and an Associate of the Art Renewal Center (ARC). While highly realistic it's also fantastic at both showing colour and form of the apple and its leaves. The background also reminded me somewhat of Holbein portrait paintings.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Call for Entries - New English Art Club Annual Exhibition 2018

Entries are now being accepted for the 2018 Annual Exhibition of the New English Art Club. The exhibition is an OPEN exhibition - however I suggest those wanting to enter review my analysis and comments below prior to submitting an entry

You have three months get your entry ready because the deadline for entries is noon on Friday 23 February 2018.

Below you can find
  • my commentary on the nature of this open exhibition
  • a review of the metrics associated with the annual exhibition in June 2017 - including the number of works selected from the open entry, the number of non-member artists who got to exhibit and the average number of artworks hung by a non-members.
  • a summary of how to enter the next annual exhibition.
    Members' paintings in the Main Gallery of the Mall Galleries at the NEAC Annual Exhibition 2017

    The annual exhibition in 2018 will be held at the Mall Galleries (15 - 23 June 2018). It opens at 10am and is open every day (10am - 5pm ) until 5pm on 23 June 2018

    You can also follow my summary of the Calls for Entries for the various exhibitions of the national art societies in the UK on my blog PAGE UK Art Societies: Open Exhibitions.

    The New English Art Club

    This is how NEAC explains its purpose and remit as follows
    The New English Art Club is a group of around ninety professional painters whose work is based principally upon direct observation of nature and the human figure. We aim to foster excellence in all our activities and continue to assist and encourage the art of painting to develop even more expressive possibilities.

    Our Annual Exhibition is a showcase for our members and gives aspiring artists an opportunity to be seen alongside some of the best figurative artists painting today.
    In relation to its annual exhibition, it states
    The New English Art Club seeks work which demonstrates excellence in both concept and draughtsmanship.
    The NEAC website has also recently had a makeover since I last looked at it and is greatly improved.

    Exhibition Metrics re. Open Exhibition 2017

    If you're thinking of entering the 2018 exhibition, I suggest you take a look at the numbers I crunched for last year's exhibition and my comments below.

    I think NEAC needs to be a lot more explicit about
    • the purpose of the Open Entry and 
    • what the benefits are to those who seek to exhibit - in terms of the practical reality. 
    The organisation of the exhibition and the number of works being exhibited by non-members in recent times does not persuade me that the open entry is seriously seen as a route through to membership of NEAC.  Candidates for membership need to be seen to be exhibiting more than one work - as they do in some of the other FBA Societies. (see the Artist Membership Application Process).

    Just two people were elected to membership in 2017. Both are established professional artists who were already members of other FBA Societies. One is the Treasurer of another society.  It's also very clear that NEAC sees itself as a community of professional artists.

    Suggesting that the route to entry of NEAC is via another FBA Society and becoming an established and professional artist and NOT via this particular open submission.....  Which may well come as a surprise to some people who have submitted in the past.

    Personally I'm also of the opinion that hanging just 25% of the exhibition from the open entry is not a great way to encourage people to enter. It makes it look like the open entry is being used to subsidise an exhibition which is overwhelmingly (75%) about members' works.

    Also hanging all the members work in the main galleries and most of the open submission in the North Gallery is somewhat pointed. Is this one exhibition or two?

    Frankly, in my opinion, the aim of an open exhibition should be to fund the majority of the cost of an exhibition by selecting artwork of merit - by whoever - that generates a healthy number of sales - OR charging a premium to members whose work does not sell.

    After all, let us not forget that art societies started out as a way of creating scale economies when putting on group exhibitions that enabled artists to raise their profile and have careers as a professional artist.

    Exhibition Metrics 2017

    Here's my summary of the 2017 exhibition (from my review)
    This is perhaps the most uneven exhibition I've ever seen in terms of the hang. By which I mean biased in a scientific sense. I think the best way of describing it is:
    • essentially an exhibition of artwork by the members 
    • a very low key and small "open" exhibition - in terms of nature and format of work selected
    Here's my summary of the metrics - the performance indicators - for the exhibition.
    • 415 artworks were exhibited in the 2017 open exhibition - across all three galleries of the Mall Galleries. Paintings included oils, acrylic, watercolour and mixed media. Drawings included charcoal, pastel and graphite.
    • Of these 415 exhibited artworks:
      • 312 (75.2%) artworks were by 79  members and 
      • 101 (24.3%) artworks were by 84 non-members plus 2 watercolour paintings by HRH Prince of Wales
    • Of the 84 artists from the open entry, 
      • 10 were members of other national societies (most of which are based at the Mall Galleries). 
      • Leaving 74 artists with no affiliation to a national art society
    • The majority of the 84 non-member artists only had ONE WORK selected from the open entry for the exhibition, with a few having two works.  
    • Average number of works exhibited by non-member - 1.2 artworks.
    Virtually all of the artwork selected from the open submission can be seen in the North Galleries. Most of the work hung in these galleries is small to medium size paintings. Review: New English Art Club Annual Exhibition 2017
    • Most of the sales after four days of the exhibition had come from smaller works (see my review) - and not a lot appeared to be coming from members' works.
    [Note: By way of comparison, back in 2015 some 1,000 entries resulted in 94 paintings, drawings, prints and watercolours (i.e. 9.4%) were hung alongside the 293 works by members. 

    Disappointingly, the number of entries in 2016 and 2017 were NOT highlighted in the catalogues.]

    Many artists are concerned about the cost of entering art competitions. Digital entry has totally eliminated the cost of framing and transporting work to London for all those who are unsuccessful in the first screening of their artwork. 

    However, given that entry fee and framing costs escalate with the number of works entered, I'd suggest people think carefully about the number of works entered. 

    Given that it's unlikely that more than one artwork will be selected and hung, I recommend that you consider entering no more than two works.  

    It also seems unlikely a large work will be selected based on the 2017 exhibition - since most works by non-members were small or medium sized works.

    You also need to ensure you enter two works likely to be compatible with the artwork hung in an exhibition like this!  (That's where reviewing artwork in person or online comes in!).

    You can find out more about the 2017 exhibition as follows:

    Call for Entries

    This is an OPEN EXHIBITION. Both members of NEAC and other artists are invited to submit artwork for consideration.

    Sunday, November 26, 2017

    Closure of the Courtauld Gallery - more details

    I was very surprised to learn last week
    • the bad news - The Courtauld Gallery is due to close
    • the good news - the closure is only for two years while the gallery undergoes a multi-million pound renovation / transformation project.
    • the good news - the art is going on tour!
    Self Portrait with a Bandaged Ear (1889)
    by Vincent Van Gogh
    oil on canvas
    Samuel Courtauld bequest / Courtauld Gallery
    I wrote to the Gallery find out more and now want to share with you
    • what I was told by their PR people.  
    • THE FACTS as per the website
    • a VIDEO about the project and what will happen
    • Plus links to where you can find out - and see - more about what is going to happen.

    Here's what I was told
    The project was announced in May 2016 and it’s currently in the development phase, but please find below some information about the project and more information about the Courtauld’s plans will be available early next year.

    Courtauld Connects is a multi-million pound transformation project which will see The Courtauld improve accessibility to its home at Somerset House and improve the experience for its visitors, staff and students. The Gallery is scheduled to go dark for two years from autumn 2018 while redevelopment work is underway. The Institute will remain open and a thriving centre for the study of art history, conservation and curating.

    The project will allow The Courtauld to develop new approaches to the interpretation, presentation, exhibition, and care of collections. It will open up The Courtauld’s collections and expertise with the widest public within and beyond London through new learning facilities, strategic partnerships with institutions across the UK, the digitisation of photographic collections, and events that will make art historical research accessible such as RESFEST in March 2018.
    My sketch of Monet's painting of Antibes in the Courtauld Gallery

    Courtauld Transformation - The FACTS

    It is the biggest development programme since The Courtauld Institute of Art moved to Somerset House in 1989. Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, it will enable The Courtauld significantly to improve teaching and research facilities, enhance the Gallery and widen and extend our reach locally, nationally and internationally.
    So the facts are:

    Saturday, November 25, 2017

    Evening Standard Contemporary Art Prize

    I'm not quite sure how I managed to miss the introduction, calls for entries and various videos about the NEW London Evening Standard Contemporary Art Prize - which offered a £10,000 prize for artwork about London. 

    Until I started to investigate how it was promoted that is....

    27th October 2017 - The article announcing the award of the prize to Helen A Pritchard

    People introducing new art prizes generally write to me early on, especially if they offer £10,000 prizes as that's my basic threshold for taking art prizes seriously and writing about them.

    However I guess if you are the Evening Standard you reckon that you can survive without me! ;)

    However, speaking personally, I only read the Evening Standard periodically and despite having various ways of picking up news about new art prizes I totally missed anything about it.

    Plus my many readers also tend to tell me about things they've read about or seen and also tell me about them and ask when I will be writing about them. However nobody wrote to me about it.

    So below is a summary of what my understanding is of what happened for those who might be interested should they repeat the exercise - which is unclear as I can't find any one website which provides information.

    Number of Entries - just 200!

    Before I start, I'd like to make the very important point that 200 entries - which is what they say they got - is about 10% of what I would expect for a serious art prize in the UK. 

    Let's be very generous and call it 20% of the sort of size of entry art prizes with a serious first prize get.

    As a result I did lots of interrogations of Google to find references to the Call for Entries - and could find nothing other than the Evening Standard posts.

    I did find a reference to it on the Evening Standard Facebook Page for Reader Offers - but absolutely no comments on it. 

    Then I did a search on Facebook and found incredibly few references to it. (Art Competitions with serious prizes generally generates lots of activity on Facebook - lots of likes and lots of comments. This one did neither)

    So I can only conclude that the marketing machinery didn't know WHO to contact to get coverage in terms of artists reading about this great opportunity.  There are listings of people who get told about art competitions - I know I'm on it and I get told about lots - but draw a line in relation to what I will cover. I would have covered this one - if I'd ever been told about it!

    So whatever else we can say about this prize, it's not difficult to conclude that:
    • getting the message out about this prize FAILED
    • the art competition could have had very many more entries if it had organised itself and promoted it rather better than it did
    • The Evening Standard is not enough to promote an art prize and get a serious entry!
    Bottom line if I was Hiscox, who were sponsoring the prize, I'd be pretty disappointed.

    What happened when and where

    What we have are:
    • a webpage for the London Evening Standard Contemporary Art Prize - which isn't a page with information. 
      • It's just a Topic Page on the Evening Standard website with lots of links to other URLs which focus on the pictures rather than what they are all about. 
      • There are no words and 
      • no Editorial input of "want to find out more - read this". I'm now becoming less confused as to how come I missed it.....
    • 27 April 2017Evening Standard Contemporary Art Prize: Artists can win £10,000 for putting London on canvas (8 shares) - Note the number of shares! There are a few details about who can enter (open to UK residents aged 18 and over) and the prize - and then it says To find out more and enter the London Evening Standard Contemporary Art Prize, go to - which takes is back to my first link above - which is sadly missing all the normal information for entering a prize e.g. like the deadline for entries!  The only links which look remotely like they might lead to the information about how to enter lead back to the article above - which doesn't say a single word about "how to enter". Am I missing something? Have I found found out why there are so few entries?
    They will be given “London” as their brief and asked to submit a painting with the winning work, chosen from a shortlist, announced at an event at the National Gallery on October 26.
    If you’ll be putting the finishing touches to your work right until the final hour, make note that no entries will be considered after midnight this Sunday (September 24).
    Entries cannot be bigger than 594 x 841 mm, and if shortlisted, need to be sent in for judging by October 16.
    • 26 October 2017 - Evening Standard Contemporary Art Prize: The shortlisted artists in the frame for £10k prize - Video of the Arts Editor of the Evening Standard at the offices of Hiscox talking about the competition. We see images of various artworks. There is no reference to what the title is and who the artist is. Very disappointing. Obviously this competition is all about the Evening Standard and Hiscox
    • 27 October 2017 - there is an article announcing the winner - Evening Standard Contemporary Art Prize: Helen A Pritchard's abstract 'love letter to London' wins £10k prize (144 shares) - The South African-born artist's painting beat over 200 other works to the £10k prize - another video with the announcement of who won the prize and why.  The event seems to be the sort where lots of people who know little about art drink Prosecco and talk to one another and pointedly ignore the art.  Then finally.... as I scrolled down the article I found a listing of the artists who got shortlisted for the prize (but no unique URL for the slideshow - which is a poor show!)
    I couldn't find any reference to any exhibition - so no opportunities for sales which are often an important incentive to artists entering art competitions.

    The shortlisted artists

    So here is the list of those who got shortlisted - and as I usually do, the links in their names are to their websites if you want to see more of their work

    and finally......

    I'd be very interested to hear from

    • those running art schools or teaching art or art students in London re. whether you heard about this prize and/or encouraged people to enter.
    • artists who did find out more about it - and where you found the information and what did it say.

    Thursday, November 23, 2017

    Thanksgiving DinDons

    Best wishes to all my American Readers who are celebrating Thanksgiving.

    Les Dindons
    a.k.a. The Turkeys at Montgeron
    (1877) by Claude Monet

    oil on canvas, 174 x 172cm
    Musee d'Orsay

    This is my photo, taken nearly a decade ago at the Musee d'Orsay, of a 140 year old painting of turkeys. Plus the accompanying label identifying its title as "Les Dindons" by Claude Monet

    They have a curious story.

    The turkeys - the Dindons - were painted by Monet in 1877 in the grounds of the Chateau of Rottenburg at Montgeron (just south of Paris) which was the home of Ernest Hoschedé, a wealthy department store magnate who was also an art collector and Monet's patron.

    This painting is unique insofar as:
    • this is the only painting I know in which Claude Monet painted birds. 
    • It was planned and painted as part of series of four decorative panels commissioned for the Chateau at Montgeron

    As it happens the same year that this painting was painted, Hoschedé went bankrupt and his wife Alice and their children moved in with the Monets at Vertheuil while Hoschedé continued to try and work in Paris and subsequently moved to Belgium.

    Monet's wife Camille had become ill with tuberculosis the previous year (1876). Then she gave birth to their second son in March 1878 - so having a second woman around may well have been a godsend.

    Camille subsequently died (of cancer) on 5 September 1879 at the age of thirty-two - and Alice Hoschedé then helped Monet to raise his two sons, Jean and Michel.

    Monet finally married Alice Hoschedé in 1892 after the death of her first husband.

    Alice died in 1911 and Monet in 1926.

    What happened to the painting?

    The painting was exhibited at the Third Impressionist Exhibition 140 years ago in 1877 - and seems to have been sold
    The third exhibition is considered “the most balanced and coherent” of the eight exhibitions held over a dozen years. Caillebotte contrived, solicited and arranged for what he wanted to see as a “democratic” exhibition of 230 works that represented 18 artists and attracted around fifteen thousand visitors in its thirty-day run. Gustave Caillebotte’s Dinner Invitation Leads to the Exquisite Third Impressionist Exhibition of 1877

    Timeline of Ownership 

    It's clear the painting was sold following the bankruptcy and the timeline of ownership is interesting.
    • from 1878, collection G. de Nittis, Paris
    • from 1884, in the Theodore Duret collection, Paris
    • 1894, sale of the Théodore Duret collection, paintings and pastels, Paris, Galerie Georges Petit, March 19, 1894, n ° 24
    • from 1894, in the Théodore Duret collection 
    • bought on sale on March 19, 1894
    • from 1903 to 1906, in the collection François Depeaux, Rouen1906, sale of the Depeaux collection, Paris, Georges Petit Gallery, May 31 and June 1, 1906, No. 27
    • from 1906 to 1944, in the collection of the princess Edmond de Polignac, born Miss Winnaretta Singer, then became princess of Scey-Montbéliard (acquired on the sale of Depeaux collection of May 31 and June 1)
    • 1947, accepted by the State as legacy of Princess Edmond de Polignac to the National Museums for the Louvre Museum (committee of 27/06/1945, council of 03/07/1945, decree of 19/01/1947)
    • from 1944 to 1947, Louvre Museum, Paris
    • 1947, attributed to the Louvre Museum, Paris
    • from 1947 to 1986, Louvre Museum, Jeu de Paume Gallery, Paris
    • 1986, assigned to the Musée d'Orsay, Paris


    After its exhibition in 1877 it didn't get out much - until 1980 - after which it has been exhibited all over the world!
    • Third impressionist exhibition, Paris, France, 1877
    • Claude Monet, A. Rodin, Paris, France, 1889
    • World and International Exhibition, Brussels, Belgium, 1910
    • Monet, Paris, France, 1928
    • Claude Monet: retrospective exhibition, Paris, France, 1931
    • Exhibition of masters of English 19th century painting, London, United Kingdom, 1936National Museums: New Acquisitions 1939-1945, Paris, France, 1945
    • French painting in the second half of the nineteenth and early twentieth century, Nice, France, 1955Tribute to Claude Monet, Paris, France, 1980
    • Monet, Tokyo, Japan, 1982Monet, Kyoto, Japan, 1982
    • The new painting impressionism 1874-1886, San Francisco, USA, 1986
    • The New Painting - Impressionism 1874-1886, Washington, United States, 1986
    • Claude Monet - Auguste Rodin, centenary of the 1889 exhibition, Paris, France, 1989
    • Monet: A Retrospective, Tokyo, Japan, 1994
    • Monet: A Retrospective, Nagoya, Japan, 1994
    • Monet: A Retrospective, Hiroshima, Japan, 1994Claude Monet: 1840-1926, Chicago, United States, 1995
    • Impresionismo: A Nuevo Renacimiento, Madrid, Spain, 2010
    • Birth of Impressionism. Masterpieces from the Orsay Museum, San Francisco, USA, 2010
    • Claude Monet 1840-1926, Paris, France, 2010

    Wednesday, November 22, 2017

    Call for Entries - Royal Society of British Artists 301st Exhibition

    This is a reminder that you have until 8th December 2017 to submit an entry to the 2018 Annual Exhibition of the Royal Society of British Artists (RBA)

    Paintings exhibited by members in the Main Gallery
    The 301st exhibition in 2018 will be held in March 2018 at the Mall Galleries - across all three galleries due to its size.
    • It opens on Wednesday 21 March 2018 and closes at 2pm on Saturday 31 March 2018. 
    • It will open to the public every day from 10am - 5pm 
    • The Private View will be on Tuesday 20 March 2018, 11am – 8pm.
    The RBA is a society where membership is often seen as a complement to membership of other national art societies. Indeed this was its original intention.
    A group of painters met at Lincoln’s Inn Fields on May 21st 1823, to form the ‘Society of British Artists’, whose manifesto stated, ‘This organisation was not formed to rival existing societies but that every Member was to be at liberty to assist and support any other society.’
    Below you can find
    • a review of the metrics associated with the 300th exhibition in 2017
    • a summary of how to enter the next annual exhibition.
    You can also follow my summary of the Calls for Entries for the various exhibitions of the national art societies in the UK on my blog PAGE UK Art Societies: Open Exhibitions.

    Paintings and prints in the North Gallery

    Exhibition Metrics for 2017

    Below you can find information about the 2017 exhibition which is worth looking at if you are considering entering the 2018 exhibition
    • This is a LARGE exhibition. 510 artworks were exhibited in 2017 in the open exhibition across the three galleries (i.e. excluding the work by past Presidents and members, NADFAS RBA Scholars and the National Students At Exhibition).
    • Of these 510 artworks 
      • 383 artworks (75%) by 86 members and 
      • 127 artworks (25%) were by 100 non-members
      • of the open artists,16 were members of other national societies (most of which are based at the Mall Galleries). Which leaves 84 which have no affiliation. 
    You can find out more about the 2017 exhibition as follows:
    For the 2018 exhibition I'd personally like to see:
    • more scrutiny of the originality (as in 'Has it been exhibited before?') and quality of work by members 
    • a bigger percentage of artwork coming from the open entry (i.e. nearer one third would be a good first step) 
    After all the open entry is the future lifeblood of the RBA and the society needs to attract both good artwork and good artists who will be active supporters of the work of the RBA in future.

    PLUS I think artists need reminding that having their artwork shown at the annual exhibition is the route to membership of the RBA
    Before you may apply to become a Candidate it is essential that you have had several pieces of work accepted and shown at 3-4 of our annual exhibitions so members are aware of the quality of your work.RBA website - Election to Membership of The Royal Society of British Artists

    Call for Entries

    In summary, this is an OPEN EXHIBITION. Both members of the RBA and other artists are invited to submit artwork for consideration.
    • There is no constraint on type of artwork or medium - which creates the potential for this exhibition to be very interesting (However, typically this is an exhibition which tends to display paintings, drawings, sculpture and prints
    • All entries are via digital submission 
    • The deadline for entries is 12 noon on Friday 8th December 2017 
    • The entry fee is £15 per work payable at the time of submitting (£10 per work for artists aged 35 or under). 
    Details of how artists can apply via the open entry process are set out below.
    RBA in 2017 - Paintings and prints in the North Gallery
    Founded in 1823, the RBA seeks submissions of work displaying the highest standards of skill, expression and concept of draughtsmanship. Artists are invited to submit works for exhibition alongside members of the Royal Society of British Artists at their Annual Exhibition 2018.

    Who can Submit?

    Any artist - over the age of 18 - living anywhere in the world can submit artwork to this exhibition.

    Tuesday, November 21, 2017

    Call for Entries - Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours 206th Exhibition 2018

    The Call for Entries opened last month for the 206th Exhibition of the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours (RI) at the Mall Galleries in April 2018.  The deadline for entries is 5 January 2018.
    The RI seeks the best in contemporary watercolour and watermedia painting
    Always an incredibly popular exhibition which appeals to all ages - this was the Private View in 2017

    The RI was founded in 1831 to exhibit the best in watercolour painting and to show non-members’ works alongside that of members, a policy still followed today.

    Exhibition Metrics for 2017

    This is a summary of the exhibition metrics for the annual exhibition in 2017
    • The open entry generated 1,090 entries from 489 artists (c.2.2 paintings per artist). 
    • 389 paintings by both members and other artists were hung on the walls of all three galleries. 
    • 142 of the works (36%) were by 98 non-member artists (1.45 paintings each) were selected and hung in the exhibition.
    • Members: averaged 2.87 works hung
    • 'Open' artists: averaged 1.45 works hung each
    You can review my past blog posts about this annual exhibition (2007-2017) 
    at the end of this post.

    Call for Entries

    In summary, both members of the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours and other artists are invited to submit painting for consideration.  
    • Anybody can enter artwork created using in traditional watercolours or water-soluble media
    • All entries are via digital submission
    • The deadline for entries is Noon on the 5 January 2018.
    • The entry fee is £15 per work payable at the time of submitting (£10 per work for artists aged 35 or under).

    Details of how artists can apply via the open entry process are set out below.

    Information about the Annual Exhibition 2018

    The 206th Exhibition will be held at the Mall Galleries between Friday 6 April and Saturday 21 April, 1pm (10am - 5pm every day) - so just over two weeks.

    You can find
    Another view of the 2017 Annual Exhibition on the Preview Day

    Who can Submit

    Any artist - over the age of 18 - living anywhere in the world can submit work in water-soluble media to this exhibition.

    What you can submit 

    • Number: You can submit a maximum of six works - of which a maximum of four works selected.  Typically it's candidates for membership who submit a large number of paintings.
    • Media: Artwork in watercolour or water-soluble mediums, including watercolour, acrylic, ink or gouache (excluding water-soluble oils) are eligible for exhibition.
    • Size: Works must not be larger than 2.4m high and 1.5m wide.
    • Price: The minimum price is £450

    Personally I think it's a mistake to pitch the minimum price at £450 since there are a lot of sales below this figure in other exhibitions. I'd limit how many low priced paintings can be submitted and pitch the minimum price at (say) £250 or £300.  I hope the rationale for this constraint on submission has been based in a rigorous analysis of past sales.....

    The Candidates Wall at the RI Exhibition in 2017 - note each has four works hung

    How to Submit

    Monday, November 20, 2017

    ING Discerning Eye Exhibition 2017 - award winners and review

    The ING Discerning Eye Exhibition is a show of six curated exhibitions of small works independently selected by six prominent figures from the art world: two artists, two collectors and two critics.

    View of one of the six individual exhibitions at the Mall Galleries
    This is a review of the 2017 Exhibition which opened last week and continues until Sunday 26 November (10am and 5pm daily) at the Mall Galleries in London. It's taken a little longer than I had planned - I always forget how long this particular show takes to review properly - because there are lots of prizes and six completely different exhibitions!

    If you're unable to get to see the show, you can
    • view the online artwork catalogue and 
    • also read my past reviews and view the sort of artwork which has been selected in previous years - with the different sets of curators they have each year - see the archive of my posts dating back to 2008 at the end of this post.

    Some exhibition statistics provided by the organisers

    This year there are 465 works by 237 artists on show
    • 75% of the artists and 55% of the works have come from the open submission. Typically if you see groups of work by the same artist in this exhibition it's a very good indication they have been "invited" to exhibit as opposed to "selected" from the open entry.
    • In terms of types of artwork selected for the exhibition:
      • Painting and drawing make up over 60% of the works, 
      • mixed media and sculpture about 15%, and 
      • printmaking about 8%.
    This post covers the award winners and then reviews each of the six mini exhibitions in turn - with comments about different aspects of the show as a whole cropping up as and when!

    2017 Award Winners 

    This year there has been some very sloppy labelling of artwork in the exhibition and on the website. It's such a privilege to get selected and then such a disappointment when winning a prize if the right prize is not identified either in the gallery and/or on the website. The numbers are there for a reason - to get it right.

    This is the list of prizewinnersThose that have numbers with an asterisk next to them were selected from the open submission.

    11 of the 16 prizes went to artists selected from the open entry.  This breaks down as:
    • 6 of the 8 purchase prizes (75%) went to open entrants
    • 2 of the 2 other sponsor prizes (100%) went to artists selected from the open entry
    • 4 of the 7 regional prizes (57%) went to open entrants
    Asterion by Jill Desborough
    £1,200 SOLD
    For those who have thought of submitting but not done so before, or maybe been dispirited by not getting selected, here's a word from Jill Desborough, who was one of the successful artists submitting via the open entry. This year she had two works selected by two different judges, won one of the top Purchase Prizes and also sold the other work that was selected
    First, many thanks to the Discerning Eye for another lovely show and to Elmo Hood and Simon Tait for picking the pieces. There was such a good vibe there on PV night! Getting the prize was wonderfully encouraging. You have to harden yourself to a fair number of (kindly worded) rejections from open shows every year so it means an awful lot to get accepted and then the prize was an extra affirmation to keep on submitting!

    The Purchase Prizes

    These are prizes where the prize funds the purchase of the work. It's only just occurred to me that it could make a lot of sense to price your work to match the value of one of the Purchase Prizes! (Duh!)

    The ING Purchase Prize £5,000

    This year this was awarded to a painting by Rick Garland, one of the artists selected by Miranda Richardson.

    Thursday, November 16, 2017

    Breach of rules - Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2017

    This is about a competition where the organisers and Jury allowed an entry which breached the rules to remain in the competition and win two prizes.

    One of the things I do when writing about art competitions is I aim to make the process more accessible for those wanting to enter and further their careers and/or achievements.

    To that end I do three things:
    • I aim to unpick and make the call for entries a bit more accessible for people entering for the first time
    • I try to show those thinking about entering what the standard of work is in the exhibition - and the competition they're up against.
    I've had much praise over the years from people around the world for making that effort - which is NOT why I do it - but it's always nice to know that my efforts are appreciated.

    The third thing I do is the subject of this blog post.

    Basically, I speak up for those who may feel they maybe can't when things happen which really shouldn't happen in terms of the conduct of the competition.

    I don't like doing this - but I do think it's necessary.

    This post is about how to undermine confidence in competitions 
    • BY allowing an entry which breaches the rules to remain in the competition 
    • AND win not one but two prizes!

    One of Them Is a Human #1 (Erica: Erato Ishiguro Symbiotic Human-Robot Interaction Project) by Maija Tammi

    Maija Tammi's project, One of Them Is a Human #1, is a series of photographs that places androids alongside one human, asking what it means to be alive.

    A photo of an android was submitted as an entry into the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2017

    The portrait is not of a human, but the National Portrait Gallery decided to keep it in the competition anyway. In a statement they say (my bold):
    The Gallery has decided not to disqualify this portrait though accepts it is in breach of the rules. The rules are reviewed every year and this issue will be taken into consideration for next year. This portrait was part of 'One of Them Is a Human #1', a broader series which presents androids alongside one human. It was felt that the subject of this portrait, while not human, is a representation of a human figure and makes a powerful statement as a work of art in its questioning of what it is to be alive or human and asks challenging questions about portraiture. The ambiguity of this portrait makes it particularly compelling.

    We review the competition rules each year and as part of this will discuss whether they need to be changed in light of the selection of 'One of Them Is a Human #1' for this year’s exhibition. The Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize is dedicated to showcasing the best in contemporary portraiture. There are occasions when particularly compelling portraits raise interesting questions about the genre of portraiture, and these may be included at the judges’ discretion
    The Judges also shortlisted the photograph which then went on to win
    • the third prize of £2,000
    • the John Kobal New Work Award and a £5,000 prize for a photographer under 35.
    Maija Tammi with her awards
    So a total of £7,000 (presumably in part funded by competition entry fees) was awarded for an entry which breached the rules and was ineligible for entry.

    I'll now go on to explain why, in my opinion, this should not have happened.