Weekly Roundup: UK Galleries Gain Prize Works from Lucian Freud’s Estate, Art Snatched from Fontainebleau and More


In case you missed it, here’s what made headlines in the art world this week:

15 pieces of art snatched from Fontainebleau
French investigators are searching for searching for 15 gold and bronze artworks stolen from the Château de Fontainebleau in an early morning break-in on Sunday. The target was a crown that once belonged to the king of Siam. France’s minister of culture and communications said in a statement that among the missing pieces were treasures from the 18th century and a ritual symbol, a mandala, from Tibet. The crown, made of gold, precious stones and pearls, was presented to Napoleon III in 1861 by the ambassador from Siam. According to the museum officials, the thieves were in and out of the castle in about seven minutes–the time from when the alarm was set off to when the police arrived. [New York Times]

X-Ray analysis reveals Joshua Reynolds repainted Rembrandt masterpiece
Berlin’s Gemäldegalerie announced they’ve made a shocking discovery about the museum’s Rembrandt masterpiece, Susanna and the Elders (1647). An X-ray analysis of the oil painting has revealed that it had at one time undergone extensive alterations. The art restorer who conducted the analysis found out that in the 18th century large areas of the painting were painted over, and entire sections were washed out using solvents and re-painted in a more modern, light shade. The culprit is believed to be the English painter and collector Joshua Reynolds. According to researchers at the Gemäldegalerie, Reynolds, who was known to frequently alter paintings in his possession, owned Susanna at the time the alteration occured. [artnet news]

UK Galleries gain prize works from Lucian Freud’s estate
The Arts Council England has announced the final destination of 15 oil paintings and 29 works on paper by Frank Auerbach, which were a part of Lucian Freud’s collection and offered in lieu of around £16m inheritance tax after Freud’s death in 2011. Following a bid for the works, the Courtauld Institute in London has won arguably the best painting, Rebuilding The Empire Cinema, Leicester Square, 1962, which is due to go on show at the gallery on March 19th as a part of a new display of Modern British art. The Tate, which is planning a retrospective of Auerbach’s work in October, has been allocated a single work: Mornington Cresecent–Summer Morning, 2004. [The Art Newspaper]

Björk Retrospective Opens at MoMA
A retrospective dedicated to the work of Icelandic musician, composer, and singer Björk will open at the Museum of Modern Art on Sunday. The hotly anticipated exhibition, “Björk” coincides with the release of the artist’s ninth studio album, Vulcinara, and covers twenty years of her shapeshifting career in music, art, design, and fashion. Organized by MoMA chief curator Klaus Biesenbach, the exhibition includes a new 10-minute video for Black Lake, a heartbreaking track off Vulcinara. The exhibition also includes key pieces of the artist’s otherworldly wardrobe, personal diaries, and musical instruments that double as sculptures. Björk will run through June 7th. [Fast Company]

Rose Art Museum receives major gift of contemporary art
Computer programmer, art collector, and philanthropist Peter Norton has donated 41 works by some of the most reputed contemporary artists to the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University in Massachusetts. Drawn from Norton’s personal collection, the gift is part of a series of donations to university art museums throughout the country, with which the philanthropist seeks to foster the integration of visual arts in higher education. Norton’s donation features a selection of video, photography, painting, prints, sculpture, and mixed media works by A-list contemporary arts such as: Mike Kelley, Kara Walker, Doug Aitken, and Christopher Wool, among others. [artnet news]

Van Dyck self-portrait reconfirmed as genuine
A self-portrait by Van Dyck that was dismissed a decade ago as a copy is now hanging in the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minnesota, has an original work. The painting, which has been authenticated by experts, was quietly put on display in February, having been lent by a US collector. When the self-portait was put up for sale at Lempertz in Cologne on May 12, 2012, it was described as a ‘copy after Van Dyck’. The painting fetched €512,000, showing that at least two bidders were reasonably confident that it was by Van Dyck. The unnamed buyer had the work cleaned and also assembled evidence to prove that it was originally. The picture could eventually be worth up to £10m, the sum paid by the National Portrait Gallery in London for the artist’s 1640-41 self portrait, which it bought last year. [The Art Newspaper]

Image: Detail of Frank Auerbach, Rebuilding the Empire Cinema, Leicester Square, 1962.