Wandering Eye: Eye-catchers and page-turners

Editorial Staff Opinion

What the editors of The Magazine ANTIQUES are looking at this week

WHAT’S HAPPENING

In 1920, while working as a railroad man and driving a livery truck in Colchester, Connecticut, Russian immigrant Nathan Liverant purchased an old chair at auction and re-sold it later that afternoon. So began one of the most storied American antiques firms: Nathan Liverant and Son,  now marking its one hundredth year in the trade. Congratulations to Arthur, Gigi, Kevin, and Helen! At the outset of this year, the shop printed a special booklet included in our January issue to celebrate their legacy. Please have a look and reach out to wish the Liverant team continued success. You won’t find a more passionate, knowledgeable, and friendly group to learn and buy from. (Nathan Liverant and Son)
 
Now in its third year, NYC Jewelry Week is welcoming a global audience of arts and design enthusiasts as the showcase presents—virtually—more than eighty events across several different platforms. Enjoy access to groundbreaking exhibitions, panel discussions, workshop visits, studio tours, retailers, and more. (NYC Jewelry Week 2020)

NOTES FROM ACROSS THE POND

Feast your eyes on French romantic artist Hubert Robert’s Roman sketchbook, full of pen-and-wash studies and capriccios inspired by the ruins that would continue to enflame “Robert of the ruins” throughout his long and productive career. (Morgan Library and Museum)
 
The classicism-informed playfulness of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century architect John Soane is all the rage these days. But the English master was far more than a postmodernist avant la lettre, as Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown, Richard Meier, and Robert Stern attest in a new documentary about the architect, which is now available to stream. (Vimeo)
 
The clothes make the man and the wall makes the city, or so it used to be. Giovanni Battista Brocchi’s 1820 map of pre-civilization Rome records the dips and rises of its riparian setting, using the Aurelian Wall as a framing device. (Lapham’s Quarterly)
 
mirror belonging to Marie Antoinette was sold at auction last Friday in Bristol, England. The “toilet-glass” had been hanging in a British family’s bathroom for forty years, undisturbed. (BBC) This week the French queen’s slipper fetched a considerable sum as well ($51,780). That’s a pittance compared to her jewelry ($43 million), but a hefty sum nevertheless. (DW)
 
Here’s a compendium of work by a seventeenth-century illusionist: trompe l’oeil painter Cornelis Norbertus Gijsbrechts. Pay particular attention to The Reverse of a Framed Painting. (Public Domain Review)

ART CRIME

In 1897, the British army invaded a city in what is now Nigeria and looted a trove of thousands of priceless artifacts known today as the Benin Bronzes. Thanks to an agreement with the British Museum, the artworks will soon be returned to their homeland, and last week the plans for a museum to house the bronzes, designed by David Adjaye, were unveiled. Now about those Parthenon marbles . . . (New York Times)
 
Enlisting help from the public and utilizing its reach on social media, the Antiquities Coalition has released its list of the ten “most wanted” objects from around the globe. Among them are the Peking Man (Homo erectus) fossils, and an inscribed tablet removed from a temple in Yemen, where there has been a particularly robust market for stolen objects. (Art Newspaper)
 
Should any of these objects turn up in Italy, there’s a good chance they’ll be placed in this secure vault dedicated to holding stolen art, which is kept under the watchful eyes of the members of a special police unit in Rome: the Carabinieri Tutela Patrimonio Culturale. (Atlas Obscura)
 
This article looks at the illicit trade in some of West Africa’s oldest works of art—terra-cotta figurines from the Nok Valley. Almost every excavated example of these important works created over two thousand years ago has sadly been sold on the international market, leaving a historical void in the place they were first created. (All Africa)
 
Here we go again . . . It’s almost as if there is a network of pranksters determined to defile important art around the world. In Spain, there was another botched restoration, this one of a female figure adorning a building in the city of Palencia. Previous restoration blunders have earned epithets like “monkey christ” and “Tintin St. George,” and only time will tell what the internet will do with this abomination. (Guardian)

POTPOURRI

Can you name a more perfect match between fashion and books than Audrey Hepburn’s Jo Stockton, the shy bookstore-employee-turned-couture-model in Funny Face? We couldn’t either . . . until now. Pop the top of a bottle of Eau de bookstore, a new fragrance from Powell’s Books in Portland, Oregon, and inhale deeply. Because who doesn’t love the smell of a bestseller? (Colossal)
 
It appears that the tastemakers are flirting with majolica and that’s just fine with us. Here, we see a delicious array of whimsical and colorful glazed earthenware used to illustrate one popular blogger’s case for the ceramic styling. And look back at our May/June issue, when Eve Kahn wrote a wonderful review of Majolica Mania, an exhibition organized by the Bard Graduate Center in New York and Baltimore’s Walters Art Museum, which is set to debut in early 2021. (Messy Nessy Chic/TMA)
 
As part of the 250th birthday celebration for Ludwig van Beethoven in December of this year, the New York Times is rolling out a series of pieces related to the composer, such as this wonderful profile of Nanette Streicher—the marginalized woman who constructed many of his pianos and whom he considered one of his dearest friends. (New York Times)