September 2, 2020

The Palette is available to all interested with an e-Subscription

In this issue:

Vandals smash statue of Mary Magdalene in French chapel—apparently because she is naked
Why art and craft is essential to child development
Man who punched £20m Picasso painting at Tate Modern is jailed for 18 months
Frans Hals painting stolen from Dutch museum for the third time
A real Rembrandt? Study shows painting banished to storeroom is either by his studio or the master himself




Vandals smash statue of Mary Magdalene in French chapel—apparently because she is naked
A note was left at the scene by the perpetrators saying they “did not accept” that the saint should be “represented in such a way”

A statue of Mary Magdalene housed in the chapel of Saint Pilon in the Var, in southeast France, has been destroyed by vandals apparently unhappy with her lack of clothing. The perpetrators left a note at the scene saying they “did not accept that a great saint like Mary Magdalene [should] be represented in such a way”.

The sculpture, by an unknown artist, depicts a naked Mary Magdalene being carried by two angels, although long hair covers most of her body. The plaster statue was installed five years ago when the chapel was restored, but it was soon due to be replaced by a permanent marble version.

Speaking to the news outlet France Bleu, Patrick-Marie Bozo, a Dominican brother in the Saint-Baume community, says the vandals “broke the statue into several pieces, put it aside and left a note. I can’t remember which word they used—it was indecent or offensive.” He adds: “I find the gesture extremely violent. They may not approve of the way she’s been portrayed, I hear that, but we cannot accept such actions.”

Renaud Muselier, the president of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur regional council, describes the “act of degradation” as “unacceptable [and] its motivations unworthy!”. He adds: “Nothing—absolutely nothing—justifies entering a chapel to smash a statue.”

An investigation has now been launched after a complaint was filed by Suzanne Arnaud, the mayor of Riboux, a town located a few kilometres south of Saint Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume where Mary Magdalene’s tomb is said to be housed. The Art Newspaper


Why art and craft is essential to child development

Learning a craft is key to the growth and development of children. Arts and crafts provide your child with a unique, fun opportunity to learn and improve their skills.

With the COVID-19 pandemic not giving kids any opportunity to be in the four walls of a classroom, it is right to have them explore, engage in arts and develop a craft.

Art and craft is the most important aspect for every growing child right from kindergarten. The beautiful thing about arts and crafts is that it needs no special or specific to create and leave memories in the minds of children.

When kids use their fingers to manipulate art materials, they are developing their fine motors skills as they use those small muscles in their hands. It helps them develop and master control of their fine motor skills, which is essential to social education. Their bilateral coordination skills improve as they learn to use both hands at the same time.

All this happens when they paint, colour, glue and cut. The quicker their fine motors skills develop the more they can do on their own, from eating by themselves to tying their own shoelaces.

Early child literacy skills in art and crafts cover a wide range of areas – from speaking and reading to listening and understanding. When kids make art or crafts, they get to talk about their work, which develops their communication skills. They also learn new vocabulary from parents and when following verbal instructions they use their listening skills. As children become toddlers, they experience, to varying degrees, rapid development of communication skills, and perspective-taking which is or the ability to see from someone else’s shoes.

Your child can improve his development in math through art and crafts. Basic math skills are often not thought of as being part of art and crafts activities, but math skills are used frequently and have a positive effect of developing mathematical skills in preschool children.

Kids get to learn about and recognise different shapes, count and sort out their art supplies and even measure out lengths and sizes of art materials. To master math, you need good thinking and problem-solving skills which art and crafts activities help with as well.

Art allows kids to develop their creativity, which is important throughout their lives. By doing something creative, you allow for self-expression and this lets kids express themselves. It also fosters mental growth by providing opportunities for trying out new ideas, new ways of thinking and problem solving.

Making an art and craft with your child is a great way to bond and spend time with your children. You spend quality time bonding with your kids and at the same time, you are creating lifelong memories to cherish crafting together. You can talk about what you think, feel and care about. And as an even added bonus, your child isn’t using technology or looking at a screen. Guardian Woman


Man who punched £20m Picasso painting at Tate Modern is jailed for 18 months
Repairing the piece—on long-term loan from a private collection—will take more than a year and cost up to £350,000

A man who defaced a painting by Picasso on show at Tate Modern has been jailed for 18 months. Shakeel Ryan Massey admitted criminal damage after attacking Bust of a Woman (1944), which depicts the artist’s lover and muse, Dora Maar, last December. According to court records the damage to the painting—which is valued at £20m—totals around £350,000.

According to the Evening Standard newspaper, the Spanish architecture student spent around three minutes looking at the painting before pulling it off the wall, telling a security guard that he was carrying out an “art performance”.

Prosecutor Ben Edwards told the court: “[Massey] dropped his coat on the floor and rushed towards the painting, punching the artwork and causing the protective glass to smash and ripping the painting in the middle." Massey’s lawyer, Glen Harris, said that his client is “an immature artist making a point of who knows what. It’s really unjustifiable.”

Tate said in a statement: “We thank the court for their careful consideration of this case and have noted the outcome. The work is undergoing a period of conservation.” The work, which will reportedly be restored over the next 18 months, is on long-term loan from a private collection.

According to Tate: “In Bust of a Woman, Maar is shown wearing a hat and green clothing, and sits on a black metal chair. The angular and planar structure of her face are achieved with a linear simplicity, allowing for the contrasting orientation of nose and mouth. This configuration occurs repeatedly in the sequence of 1944 portraits of which this is one.” The Art Newspaper


Frans Hals painting stolen from Dutch museum for the third time
Two Laughing Boys with a Mug of Beer was taken in previous heists with a work by Jacob van Ruisdael

The 17th-century painting Two Laughing Boys with a Mug of Beer by the Dutch old master Frans Hals has been stolen for a third time, say Dutch police. The work, made around 1626, was taken from the Hofje van Aerden museum in Leerdam, located in the centre of the Netherlands, earlier this week.

According to the police statement, the thieves forced the back door of the museum, setting off an alarm; officers arrived around 3.30am on 26 August but the painting and thieves were already gone. “They no longer found the perpetrators there, or in the immediate vicinity,” the police add, saying that forensic investigators and art theft experts from the national investigation department are involved in the theft investigation.

The painting was previously stolen from the privately owned museum in 2011 and 1988; on both occasions, the work was taken along with a painting by Jacob van Ruisdael. “In 1988, Van Ruisdael's painting Forest View with Flowering Elderberry was also stolen, along with Hals's piece. Both paintings were recovered after three years. In 2011, these two paintings were lost for six months [and then found],” says the police statement.

The mayor of the municipality in which the museum is located, Sjors Fröhlich, called the theft “sad art news” on Twitter. One commentator said in response that the third robbery of the Hals work was “strange”, adding: “Can’t it just be hung a little higher?”

Earlier this year, thieves broke into the Singer Laren museum in the Netherlands and removed a painting by Vincent van Gogh. The stolen painting, an oil on paper on panel work called The Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring (1884), was on loan from the Groninger Museum in Groningen; the work has not been recovered. The Art Newspaper


A real Rembrandt? Study shows painting banished to storeroom is either by his studio or the master himself
A recent examination of the wood panel reveals that it is from the same Baltic oak tree as the panel of an authenticated work by the Dutch artist

A Dutch Golden Age painting of an old man, long dismissed as not by Rembrandt or his studio, is now being brought back into the oeuvre. Head of a Bearded Man (around 1630-40) at Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum had been banished to the storeroom, but will go on display on 2 September in the Young Rembrandt exhibition (extended until 1 November).

A recent scientific examination reveals that the picture was painted on a panel which comes from the very same tree as on an accepted Rembrandt, which makes it almost certain that Head of a Bearded Man originated from the master’s studio.

The small painting has a 1777 auction label on the reverse, describing it as by Rembrandt. In 1951 it was bequeathed as a Rembrandt to the Ashmolean by Percy Moore Turner, a dealer and donor. However, in 1982 the Amsterdam-based Rembrandt Research Project rejected the painting as coming from “outside Rembrandt’s circle”, possibly later in the 17th century. There are two other lesser versions of the same composition—one at Houston’s Museum of Fine Arts (described as “after Rembrandt”) and the other in a private collection.

The Ashmolean’s 2004 collection catalogue recorded the work as in the “style” of Rembrandt, but explained that it can “only be loosely associated with Rembrandt’s style in about 1630”. It is currently described on the museum’s website as by a Rembrandt follower. Ernst van de Wetering, the leading Rembrandt specialist, excluded it from his 2017 complete survey of the oeuvre.

Peter Klein, an experienced dendrochronologist, recently studied the oak panel of the Ashmolean picture. He determined that it was painted on wood from the same Baltic oak tree as two other pictures: Rembrandt’s Andromeda Chained to the Rocks (around 1630, Mauritshuis, The Hague) and a work by Rembrandt’s collaborator Jan Lievens, Portrait of Rembrandt’s Mother (around 1630, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Dresden). Tree rings revealed that it was felled between 1618 and 1628 and the seasoned wood would have ready for use two years later.

This makes it virtually certain that Head of a Bearded Man is from Rembrandt’s studio. The Ashmolean curator An Van Camp now dates it to around 1630.

The key question is whether Rembrandt himself contributed to the Ashmolean picture. It is now disfigured with discoloured varnish and overpaint which was added in the 19th or early-20th century, making it difficult to determine. After the closure of the Early Rembrandt exhibition the painting will be examined and restored. Conservator Jevon Thistlewood says that “we can’t wait to see what we will find”. The Art Newspaper