Archive for July, 2009

Thoughts for July – Sleuthing a Constable

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

Sleuthing a Constable

Last month in the UK a rather grubby and understated painting of a cloudy sky was listed for auction (which takes place today, as it happens – at Sotheby’s in London – so you had better be quick if you want to snap it up!). The work, from a "follower of Constable" had sold for a respectable $40,000 around a year previously at a well-known provincial auctioneers – not bad considering its guide price had been just over $1,000.

Whether it was gut feel or a rather more studied expertise that inspired its purchase, the buyer certainly is looking to make a handsome profit on the deal – Sotheby’s own experts have since confirmed that the work is in fact a genuine Constable and there is speculation that the price could easily breach $750,000 when the hammer falls on it this time around.

Constable, like many other great artists, has been much copied both as tribute and as forgery and cataloguing the works of any prodigious artist who died nearly 200 years ago is never an easy task. Anyone with an interest in the art (!) and science of such detective work may be interested in Philip Mould’s latest book "Sleuth" Mould, resident art expert on the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow, has had more than his fair share of discerning "finds" during his career and has some interesting tales to tell. Some may find his slightly flowery prose grating but it tends to go with the territory in certain art circles. It’s worth a read to help understand the traumas some paintings go through over the course of a century or three and some of the attention they need before they can grace the walls of the leading museums and public galleries.

- Mark Hayhurst

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You can now follow us on Twitter

We’ve recently succumbed to the social marketing frenzy and opened a Twitter profile – Just follow us on Twitter to hear about new listed artists and other snippets of information.

Thankfully such detective work is rarely needed when selecting works on – this month we’ve picked a crop of really excellent talent that you should check out:

by Pieter Vermaak

This work from Pieter’s portfolio is one of a number that share the same ethereal quality. Wispy in nature and depicting spiritual themes, they are soft and dreamlike, inspiring and imaginative.

Andi has great skill in her use of bold, bright colours and her techniques of applying paint to canvas. She can adapt herself to various styles and her works are upbeat and lively.

"Red Fairies "
by Andi Hirschson

"Strelitzia 1″
by Arlene McDade

These vivid studies of tropical flora are Arlene’s stock in trade. Enormous, yet alive with colour – they have a wonderful depth and she has a superb eye for detail and form.

This is a great example of the sensitive work that Jana brings to you. She is a very capable artist and has clearly applied a great deal of care and thought to the pieces she produces.

by Jana Reinecke

"Moon Spirit"
by Dulcie Robinson

With an extensive repertoire of ethnic scenes and large abstract canvasses, Dulcie’s passion for art is clearly evident in this bold work. An experienced art teacher, she has a detailed understanding of technique which she employs without losing an ounce of sensitivity.

Gavin’s skill and traditional style in his portraiture is simply superb and the structure and composition of pieces such as this are exemplary. His pieces are in high demand and his commission work rightly held in the highest regard.

"The Bride in Nikitain Park Moscow "
by Gavin Calf

" Art is either plagiarism or revolution. "
- Paul Gauguin

New Artists

We have talented new artists coming on the site all the time and in recent weeks we have welcomed the following who have already listed a number of excellent works:

" Abstract art places a new world, which on the surface has nothing to do with ‘reality,’ next to the ‘real’ world. "
- Wassily Kandinsky

Tell us how we are doing?

As ever we would welcome any feedback and comments you might have. Feel free to drop us a line at with any comments or ideas you might have for promoting these superb artists even more widely. We also welcome art-themed submissions for our regular newsletters of short stories or anecdotes about art, your experiences, what inspired you or anything that you think may be of interest.

Yours in inspiration,

All the team at
The very best of South African art online

The Wikipedia/National Portrait Gallery spat continues…

Monday, July 20th, 2009

As many of you will be aware there have been some heated exchanges between the contributors and owners of Wikipedia on the one hand and the National Portrait Gallery in London on the other recently. These exchanges relate to the unauthorised publication on Wikipedia of high-resolution images of art works in the NPG’s collection. The row centres around the fact that the NPG, while it has freely made available low- resolution images of a large part of its collection (and indeed is willing to make medium-resolution media available as well), relies on income from licensing of high-resolution images. Its project to digitise its collection has been an ongoing and expensive one and it is hardly surprising that it should seek to protect the rights it has to these items.

Many people are a little confused as the art works themselves have no copyright attached to them, the originating artists being long-since deceased. However the NPG is asserting its copyright over the photographic representations that it has gone to considerable effort, and with not insignificant cost, to create.

The Wikipedia contributor who uploaded the high-res images has admitted that he deliberately circumvented the NPG’s normal formats for publishing images in order to obtain and republish many thousands of images. Now the NPG should certainly feel rather sheepish that they allowed the content to be left open to this back-door access but it does seem that Wikipedia’s own stance is rather more bullish than it should be given the circumstances.

It is clear that images of works are freely available for people to view and use for casual purposes and long may this remain so. It is not clear how Wikipedia an assert that it is in the vital public interest that they should have unfettered access to high-res versions and hardly surprising that the NPG feel that their fragile revenue model is under threat if items they would license for several thousand dollars to magazine, book and catalogue publishers are now instead obtained by a simple internet download. As a publicly funded body, the British tax-payer, still reeling from the expenses scandals that have dogged the political system in the UK recently, will also no doubt have a word or two to say on the matter.