Career changing garden painting by Sorolla offered at Bonhams

One of Joaquin Sorolla’s first garden studies, Una azotea con flores, is to be sold at Bonhams Rau/UNICEF sale in London on 5 December. It is estimated at £150,000-200,000. The proceeds from the 85 lot sale of works from the renowned collection of the German philanthropist, the late Dr Gustav Rau, will be used to benefit the Foundation of the German Committee for UNICEF – for the children of the world. Una azotea con flores, (A rooftop with flowers), was painted in 1902 when Sorolla was experimenting with the Impressionist style and colour tone which characterised many of his major works in the early 1900s. During this time he also broadened his repertoire, painting more portraits and adding new themes such as garden scenes. While gardens were to provide the backcloth to some of his most successful and popular paintings, Sorolla also painted them as

Mao envelope to Bo’s father fetches $1m at China auction

A handwritten envelope sent by Communist China's founder Mao Zedong to the father of fallen politician Bo Xilai and another military leader has fetched more than $1 million at a Beijing auction. The envelope, inscribed in black brushstrokes 'To Mr Fu Yisheng and Mr Bo Yibo' by Mao, sold for 6.55 million yuan ($1.08 million) on Sunday, the China Guardian auction house said on its website. The document contained in the envelope was not included, in compliance with government regulations against selling leaders' letters. Bo was a high-ranking revolutionary general who fought both the Nationalists and Japanese before being jailed and tortured in the 1960s during Mao's Cultural Revolution. After Mao died and reformist leader Deng Xiaoping took over, Bo Yibo was rehabilitated and became one of the most powerful men in China, a 'party immortal' who retained influence over state

South London council sells Chinese antiques for millions at Christie’s in Hong Kong

A south London council raised millions of pounds Wednesday after controversially selling 24 Chinese antique ceramic items at a Christie's auction in Hong Kong. The collection, including vases, bowls and boxes, fetched a total of HK$102.4 million ($13.2 million) for Croydon Council -- with a blue and white Ming dynasty moonflask the most expensive item at HK$28.1 million. The items, which had been bequeathed to the council by a local businessmen, were previously on public display. Their sale had been opposed by Britain's Museums Association which described it as a "breach of the code of ethics". Croydon was later expelled by the association. A legal challenge to the auction by a Croydon community association was withdrawn earlier this month after they fell short of the 20,000 pounds ($32,366) needed to cover legal costs. Park Sung-Hee, a spokeswoman for Christie's, told AFP the proceeds would be

Droids dance, dogs nuzzle, humanoids speak at robot museum launched this month in Madrid

A white robotic beagle sits wagging its tail and nuzzling anyone who pets it, while six pint-sized robots, flashing blue, pump their fists as they dance to the pop hit "Gangnam Style". They are the stars of a new museum launched in Madrid this month, showcasing what its owners say is one of the world's top collections of robot dogs and other pet automatons. "As far as we know this is the biggest collection of robots in Europe, and in particular of Aibo robotic dogs," sold by Sony from 1999 to 2006, said the Robot Museum's manager Daniel Bayon, 39. "They are a very important part of the museum. They are the most advanced robot dogs that have ever existed," he told AFP. This pack of Aibos is the biggest in the world outside their native Japan, he added. The museum houses some 140 exhibits dating from the 1980s to the present. Among them is Nao, a walking, talking miniature humanoid developed by the French robotics company Aldebaran as an

Mandela film producer buys peace icon’s memorabilia

The producer of a new Nelson Mandela film bought Wednesday for 95,000 dollars a collection of the former South African president's personal items, including his photograph with boxing legend Muhammad Ali. The successful bidder at 950,000 rand (70,000 euros), Anant Singh, is the producer of a long-awaited film, "Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom", on the life of the anti-apartheid hero to be released on Thursday. The assortment of 79 signed mementos at the rare auction date from 1964 to 2010 and include the historic speech the peace icon delivered from the dock in 1964 during the Rivonia Trial that sent him to prison. "I think it's a fair price. I think the seller got a good price, the buyer got a great price," said Alan Demby, president of the Johannesburg-based auction house Stephan Welz & Co. "It's more about what (Mandela) represents than the actual items. It's not rare,

Bank of America Merrill Lynch Art Conservation Project announces call for 2014 grant submissions

Bank of America Merrill Lynch today announced that its 2014 global Art Conservation Project is open for applications. Submissions are welcome from non-profit arts and cultural institutions that have significant works of art, across all media, requiring conservation. Submission deadline is 17 January 2014 and applicants can submit proposals here. The Bank of America Merrill Lynch Art Conservation Project is a unique programme that provides grants to non-profit museums throughout the world to conserve historically or culturally significant works of art that are in danger of deterioration. Since the programme’s launch in 2010, the company has provided grants to museums in 25 countries for 57 conservation projects. These include Gustave Courbet’s monumental The Painter’s Studio at Musée d’Orsay in Paris, Pablo Picasso

Unexpected subterranean landscape in the heart of King’s Cross

Irma Irsara invites you to witness, explore and be part of an unexpected subterranean landscape in the heart of King's Cross. Through investigation and elaboration of different elements embedded in blocks of ice, artist Irma Irsara developed an experimental work with ever-changing outcomes. The installation process is determined by the interaction between the artist, the unique host location and the melting shapes of ice, resulting in a unique participatory experience. This site–specific intervention, designed to take place in two recently-restored, historic ice wells at the London Canal Museum, sees Irsara absorbing, interacting with and taking advantage of the peculiar aspects and previous function of the location. The former ice warehouse, which houses the museum, was established mid 19th century by ice cream maker and entrepreneur Carlo Gatti, who used the two

Louis Vuitton starts packing its giant brown suitcase-shaped pavilion off Red Square

Workers on Friday began to dismantle a giant Louis Vuitton trunk that triggered an outcry after it was erected on Moscow's iconic Red Square. The brown suitcase-shaped pavilion measuring nine metres in height by 30 metres in length (30 feet by 100 feet) and covered in the luxury brand's signature golden "LV" stencilling was put up as a publicity stunt nearly two weeks ago. But many tourists and ordinary Russians complained it was blocking views of most landmark sites, the Communist Party was outraged by its proximity to Lenin's tomb, and preservationists stressed that Red Square is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Following days of furious media commentary and after the Kremlin, which has official jurisdiction of the square, said it had not granted permission for the structure, it was ordered dismantled. Dozens of workers and six cranes surrounded the trunk around mid-day Friday, unscrewing the huge brass-like clasps and rolling up the soft covering that

Moderna Museet opens the most extensive presentation of Christodoulos Panayiotou’s oeuvre in Scandinavia to date

Christodoulos Panayiotou’s new work Days and Ages, produced by Moderna Museet for the exhibition with the same title, consists of a 320 square metre ceramic floor. Days and Ages is the most extensive presentation of Christodoulos Panayiotou’s oeuvre in Scandinavia to date. The exhibition title Days and Ages paraphrases the archeologist Einar Gjerstad’s Ages and Days (1933), a memoir of the Swedish Cyprus Expedition, which conducted wide-ranging excavations on Cyprus between 1927 and 1931. Under an agreement between the Swedish government and the British colonial administration, half of the unearthed terracotta objects were shipped to Sweden. While a grant holder at Iaspis in Stockholm in 2009, Christodoulos Panayiotou (born 1978 in Limassol, Cyprus) researched the archive associated with the Cyprus collection, now part of the Medelhavsmuseet collection in Stockholm. “A specific photograph of wooden crates wit