Acquisitions September 2016

Royal Museums Greenwich, London

Armada Portrait of Queen Elizabeth I

Royal Museums Greenwich has raised the 10.3m needed to secure the Armada Portrait of Elizabeth I (around 1590). Painted by an unknown artist to mark Englands victory over the Spanish Armada, the portrait is considered a masterpiece of the English Renaissance. The campaign to buy the work from the descendants of Sir Francis Drake received 7.4m from the Heritage Lottery Fund, 1m from the Art Fund and 1.5m in public donations. The portrait will go on display in the Queens House, on the site of the birthplace of Elizabeth I, when it reopens in October after renovations. With 2016 being the 90th birthday year of our present Queen, there could not be a more appropriate way to celebrate the second great Elizabethan era, says Kevin Fewster, the director of Royal Museums Greenwich.

Art Institute of Chicago

Painting by Sebastiano del Piombo

The Art Institute of Chicago is expanding its collection of Italian High Renaissance painting with a newly discovered work by Sebastiano del Piombo, one of the most celebrated painters of 16th-century Rome. Christ Carrying the Cross (1515/17), acquired through the London-based art gallery Colnaghi, is the first major work by the artist to surface on the market in recent years. It is now on view in the museums European painting and sculpture galleries.

Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden

Egidio Marzona archive

The German-Italian collector Egidio Marzona has donated his vast archive of avant-garde art to Dresdens State Art Collections. With 1.5 million items acquired since the end of the 1960s, the collection includes correspondence, sketches, artists books, photographs and films documenting the major 20th-century art movements. The institution will develop joint research projects on the archive with the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation at Berlins State Museums, which received major gifts from Marzonas collection in 2002 and 2014.

Artists’ prison tribute to Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde in 1882. Photo: LEHTIKUVA/EVERETT COLLECTION/Jerry Tavin
Artists including Wolfgang Tillmans, Steve McQueen, Marlene Dumas and Robert Gober will show new works in Reading Prison as part of a project inspired by its most famous inmate, Oscar Wilde. The Irish playwright was held in the prison, 37 miles from London, from 1895 to 1897 for committing acts of gross indecency with male persons. The exhibition has been organised by the non-profit art commissioning body Artangel. Its co-director James Lingwood said at a press conference that Dumas and Gober will create new work for the show, while McQueen will make an intervention in the cells. Works by Roni Horn, Doris Salcedo and Felix Gonzalez-Torres will also be dotted around the imposing Victorian building, which closed as a prison in 2013. Every Sunday, actors will read De Profundis, a letter written by Wilde from prison to his lover Bosie, Lord Alfred Douglas.

Inside: Artists and Writers in Reading Prison, 4 September-30 October

Academics condemn loss of senior editors at art publishers

More than 30 leading museum directors and art historians are among the 320-plus academics from nine countries who have signed a letter to the senior management of Yale University Press condemning the redundancies of two longstanding commissioning art editors, Gillian Malpass and Sally Salvesen. They had worked for the publisher for 33 and almost 24 years respectively. A follow-up letter was addressed to the president of Yale University. The publisher has defended the controversial restructuring and promised investment in its art department.

In recent months, there have been six lay-offs in the London office and two roles have been restructured, according to Noel Murphy, the sales and marketing director at Yale University Press London (YUPL). Meanwhile, Mark Eastment, the former publishing director of V&A Publishing, is joining YUPL in the new role of editorial director for art and architecture.

The letter of complaint, dated 8 July and written by Jules Lubbock, a professor at the University of Essex, and Andrew Saint, a University of Cambridge professor, expresses a sense of shock at the drastic changes at YUPL. They say that the reorganisation will have the gravest impact on the art list, which is the cornerstone of Yale University Press reputation.

But John Donatich, the director of Yale University Press, and Heather McCallum, the managing director of YUPL, say in a written response that nothing could be further from the truth and that the publisher is in fact investing in this area significantly. Addressing questions about the rationale for their actions,

Donatich and McCallum say that the reorganisation of YUPL is not confined to the art department; it is a company-wide initiative that has the full support of the YUPL trustees, Yale University Press and the Yale University leadership. The reorganisation has been designed to support and sustain YUPLs academic art publishing and to build on and continue its distinguished legacy, they say. Donatich and McCallum do not mention Malpass and Salvesen directly, describing the restructuring as a confidential process. Murphy says that there were extensiveand necessarily confidentialconsultations with the staff involved, and that due process was followed.

Saint says, however, that the response from Yale University Press does not give a proper explanation of why Malpass and Salvesen were made redundant. The reason they have given is that its a private matter; the whole thing has been smothered in a blanket of confidentiality, which is grossly insulting and insensitive to two of the biggest people in publishing, he says, noting that the organisation has charitable status and should be held accountable.

Lubbock and Saint sent a second letter, dated 20 July, to Peter Salovey, the president of Yale University, asking him again to address the collective concerns of the more than 320 signatories. The letter continues: Some of our colleagues reactions to YUPs reply are unprintable, but the following sums up the general sentiment: What a pathetic response from Yaleinsulting, really, as if no one who signed that letter deserved a serious account of the rationale for the changes. Saint says that they are yet to receive a response to their latest correspondence.

Heavyweight artist

Olympian Joe Joyce also has a degree in fine art. Photo: Owen Humphreys
A Team GB super-heavyweight boxer who won a silver medal at the Rio Olympic Games in August is also a trained artist. London-based Joe Joyce graduated from Middlesex University in 2009 with a BA degree in fine art. The athlete-artists Expressionist portraits include one of the late boxing legend Muhammad Ali. His tutor at Middlesex University, Stephen Mumberson, says: He is a modest young man outside the ring and a full professional in the ring. He approaches his painting with the same level of commitment.

The rest of July and August 2016 at a glance

Iraq seeks World Heritage status for Babylon
17 July
Iraqi officials are petitioning Unesco to list Babylon as a World Heritage Site, Hussein Fleih, the ancient sites director of antiquities, told media site Al-Monitor. Fleih is hoping that World Heritage-listing will lead to financial support for the ancient site, which is facing several alarming issues, including the very real threat of deterioration due to rising groundwater. On 17 July, Unesco named the al-Ahwar Marshes in the south-eastern part of Iraq a World Heritage Site.

Travel ban lifted on leading Iranian artist
19 July
The Iranian Pop art pioneer Parviz Tanavoli, who was detained by officials in early July at Tehrans international airport, was allowed to leave the country and return to Vancouver, Canada, where he has a studio. The artist, who has dual Iranian-Canadian citizenship, had his passport confiscated by border officials on 2 July and was barred from traveling to the British Museum in London, where he was due to give a talk the following day. The charges have since been cleared.

Obama library to open in Chicagos Jackson Park
29 July
The Obama Foundation, which is building the Barack Obama presidential museum and library designed by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects, announced that it will be in the South Side of Chicago in Jackson Park. The group Friends of the Park, which successfully opposed George Lucass planned museum on the citys waterfront, expressed its dismay with the Obamas parkland site, but will not sue. Once completed, it will be the 14th US presidential library.

Stele of Persian King Darius found in Russia
8 August
Archaeologists have discovered a stele with a signature in the name of the Persian King Darius I at the ancient Greek city of Phanagoria, near Crimea and the Black Sea. Vladimir Kuznetsov, the director of the archaeological expedition, which was sponsored by the Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska, said the discovery was of international significance with the inscription on the marble fragment placing Phanagoria in the context of one of the most important events of ancient history.

Experts warn pregnant women about Miami
19 August
Health experts have advised pregnant women to avoid areas of south Miami Beach and the Wynwood District in Miami, both art hotspots each December, because of serious concerns around the Zika virus. Twelve people in Miami tested positive for the virus, a mosquito-borne illness that especially harms unborn babies. Residents and visitors have been advised to take all possible precautions to prevent mosquito bites.

Raphael to visit Moscow

The State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg and the State Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts in MoscowRussias major repositories of Western artare strengthening ties with their Italian peers. An exhibition of work by the Renaissance master Raphael is due to open on 13 September at the Pushkin (until 11 December) as a result of a co-operation agreement signed this summer with the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. Many of the works in the show, including Raphaels Self-portrait (1506), have never before been shown in Russia. Meanwhile, the Hermitage and the city of Pavia in Italy have signed a four-year agreement to promote joint exhibitions and research projects. The partnership, which follows an earlier agreement from 2009, will kick off with an exhibition at the Hermitage of works by the 19th-century Italian artist Giovanni Boldini (11 November-11 March 2017).

Madonna hits Miami Beach

Pop diva Madonna is set to appear at Art Basel Miami Beach. Photo: sizlingpeople
Its a match made in heaven: the queen of pop and the worlds glitziest art fair. Madonna will be jetting in to Art Basel Miami Beach in December, when one lucky fan will have the chance to visit the fair with the Material Girl, as part of a competition organised by the charity fundraising site Omaze. The competitions organisers say: Are you Like a Virgin to the art scene? When you factor in the one and only Madonna youll be Vogue-ing your way to pop star heaven. The prize also involves getting pop cultured at an art auction (details of this particular event remain hazy). Enter online by donating to the charity Raising Malawi, a non-profit co-founded by Madge in aid of vulnerable children in the African country.