Uniquely Signed Painting By Decourt Discovered In London
A miniature painting – bought ‘unseen’ during lockdown in 2020 has been positively attributed to the 14th- century court painter Decourt. The 57mm tall likeness was originally described as Sir Walter Raleigh, but experts at Philip Mould & Co soon discovered it was an image of Henri III, King of France (1551-1589), whose remaining contemporary images are extremely scarce.
A second transformative discovery was made when a conservator opened the painting’s delicate frame and found the signature, ‘Decourt’ along with the date ‘1578’, on the reverse. Unusually, despite Decourt’s high profile and status at the time, no signed portrait had been unequivocally ascribed to this highly significant court artist. Until now.
Jean Decourt (c.1530-c.1585) was a remarkable painter, with an exquisite eye for detail, who had an illustrious career. On the death of Francois Clouet (1501-1572), Decourt assumed the role of official court artist to King Charles IX of France, albeit he is also documented to have been the official artist for Mary, Queen of Scots (1542-1587) and recorded as painting Elizabeth I (1533 – 1603) and her favourite, Robert Dudley Earl of Leicester (1532 – 1588), during trips to England in 1565/6.
This delicate, sensitive and incredibly realistic likeness of Henri III contains all the hallmarks of Decourt’s style, in the extraordinary meticulousness of the details, the particular attention paid to the clothing, the jewels treated in volume with their cast shadows, the incredibly lifelike, modelling of the face (which is slightly pale) and in the artist’s habit of placing the reflection of light in the pupil of the eye, rather than the iris as Clouet did.
Exactly how a miniature made in 16th century Paris ended up in a country sale in the UK is now the subject of further research, although it is believed the work might have crossed the Channel during the French Revolution, escaping the destruction which befell so many royal and aristocratic portraits.
Celine Cachaud, portrait miniatures specialist, now working at the Institut national d’histoire de l’art with the Musée du Louvre, assisted with the research into the portrait last year. In her opinion, she affirms: “We can now firmly and finally imprint 16th century royal portraiture with Decourt’s name. This groundbreaking discovery will have a major impact on the study of late Valois portraiture and miniature painting in years to come.”
TEFAF Maastricht 2021 Dates Announced
After careful and in-depth consultation with the TEFAF Board and its partners in Maastricht, The European Fine Art Foundation (TEFAF) has announced an updated fair schedule for 2021. The new plan results from the Foundation’s strong commitment to navigate the year ahead responsibly, and the art world’s desire to meet in-person at TEFAF’s signature fair in Maastricht in 2021. “The unpredictability and endurance of the pandemic has cast a new light on our work and our lives over the past year. TEFAF looks with great enthusiasm toward the future,” said Hidde van Seggelen, TEFAF Chairman. “We are confident our decision to postpone TEFAF Maastricht to September 2021 will create the opportunity for both a physical and online fair this year, serving our community and the art world in the best possible and safest way.”
The fair will run live from September 11 – 19, 2021, with preview days September 9 – 10, 2021. The sections of Ancient Art, Antiques, Design, La Haute Joaillerie, Modern and Contemporary Art, Old Masters and 19th Century Paintings, Tribal Art, Works on Paper, and TEFAF Showcase will gather once again at the MECC in Maastricht.
TEFAF Online Fall 2021: Alongside TEFAF Maastricht 2021, the Foundation will re-launch TEFAF Online. This dual approach will enable exhibitors, art lovers, collectors, museums and institutions around the world to gather at their own comfort level to admire, learn, and purchase the finest art on the market.
TEFAF New York Spring 2021: While New York fairs remain an integral part of TEFAF’s strategy and identity, TEFAF New York Spring 2021 will be postponed to Spring 2022. Further details will be announced in the coming months.
THE UK’S LARGEST EVER ART EXHIBITION ANNOUNCED
People across the UK are being invited to make works of art to put up in their front windows to create the nation’s largest ever exhibition – a celebration of creativity to counter the gloom of the pandemic. People will be encouraged to draw, paint, sculpt, build or create their own artwork and put it up in their front windows, on their front door, balcony or garden.
The Great Big Art Exhibition will be launched on 28 January 2021 with a call to the nation to create a work. Leading artists will choose a different theme each fortnight. The opening theme, chosen by Antony Gormley, will be animals, with portraits, chosen by Sonia Boyce, to follow. Other artists supporting the project include Etel Adnan and Simone Fattal, Anish Kapoor, Tai Shani, Jeremy Deller, David Shrigley, Ai Weiwei and Ryan Gander.
People can work as individuals or as a community, by joining up ‘virtually’ with their street, school, temple, church, shopping centre or football team to produce a memorable and exciting artwork.
Presented by Firstsite, Colchester to celebrate its 10th anniversary and supported by the Plus Tate Network which includes leading museums and galleries across the UK, artworks can be made of anything, and Firstsite will be making key works from across the UK available for download – to use as a template, for colouring in or as an inspiration. The Directors of the National Gallery, Tate, British Museum, National Portrait Gallery, National Galleries of Scotland, V&A, National Museums Liverpool, Royal Academy of Arts, the Ashmolean Museum, The Courtauld, The Wallace Collection, Arts Council Collection and museums and galleries across the country have selected works which they think will be inspiring.
Sally Shaw MBE, Director of Firstsite, said: “The doors to our collections and galleries might be shut but our imaginations are forever open. Making, showing and experiencing art has created so much joy, connection and solace for many thousands of people. I can’t wait to see a brand new nationwide art gallery appearing before our eyes in coming days, weeks and months. This is sure to be an incredible expression of people’s creativity.”
A magical patchwork of national creativity will be revealed by the summer.
The Great Big Art Exhibition will be launched on 28 January 2021 and run through to the end of April 2021.
People wanting to take part should visit www.firstsite.uk for instructions and all creative resources to help get making and showing art everywhere.
Partners include: Art UK, The Big Draw, Voluntary Arts.
The Great Big Art Exhibition is supported by Arts Council England.