Giovanni Domenico Bossi, Portrait of a Lady, undated, watercolour and gouache on ivory, 6,3cm x 6,3cm, Paul and Fanny Sinebrychoff Collection, Sinebrychoff Art Museum, Finnish National Gallery. Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Hannu Aaltonen

Editorial: Sinebrychoff’s Small Gems

Kirsi Eskelinen, PhD, Museum Director, Sinebrychoff Art Museum

 

July 14, 2016

 

The renowned art collector Paul Sinebrychoff had a special interest in portraits. He also gathered a rare collection of miniatures which, in his own time in the late 19th century, was the largest collection in Northern Europe. The collection includes about 400 pieces and is still the most important collection in Finland.

About 15 years ago, the miniatures were studied and conservation work was then carried out on them as part of a thorough renewal and restoration of the museum building of the Sinebrychoff Art Museum on Bulevardi in Helsinki. However, as is the case with every part of the collection, they need to be taken care of on a continuous basis. Now, the miniatures are being treated again. There are only a few specialists in miniature painting conservation. Dr. Bernd Pappe, who is interviewed in this issue, is a world-renowned specialist in this field, as well as an art historian. He reveals the painstaking work behind the scenes.

During the past two years special effort has been put into developing the access to the art works in Paul and Fanny Sinebrychoff’s house museum. It is an essential part of the Sinebrychoff Art Museum’s new strategy to engage our audiences and generate a new kind of dialogue and encounter with the art works in the milieu of the collector’s home, which is a unique example of its kind in Finland. When visiting our website you can already have a virtual tour of the house museum or make acquaintance with Paul Sinebrychoff’s favourite portraits – his friends as he used to call them – hanging in his study.

Museum curator Reetta Kuojärvi-Närhi has studied the miniature collection. She is currently leading a project on the miniatures, which enables us to present them with a digital platform to make them more accessible and even more enjoyable and exciting to the general public.

 

Alfred William Finch, Rainy Weather at Hampton Court, 1907, oil on canvas, 63cm x 79cm, Antell Collections, Ateneum Art Museum, Finnish National Gallery. Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Hannu Aaltonen

Article: ‘New relations, unsuspected harmonies’: Modern British Art in Finland, 1906–1964

Inga Fraser, Assistant Curator of Modern British Art, Tate, London

 

The above quotation[1] is taken from a description penned by Roger Fry of a painting by Paul Cézanne, Les Maisons Jaunes, (1879–82), now known as The Viaduct at L’Estaque, which was shown at the exhibition, ‘Manet and the Post-Impressionists’, at the Grafton Galleries in London from 8 November, 1910 to 11 January, 1911. This work was acquired for the collection of the Finnish Art Society at the Art Museum of the Ateneum in Helsinki,[2] following discussion involving the London-based Finnish art historian Tancred Borenius and the Finnish professor of aesthetics and literature Yrjö Hirn. Copies of the letters between Borenius and Hirn held in the archive collections of the Finnish National Gallery show the extent to which Fry influenced this particular acquisition. Borenius refers to Fry’s direct involvement in the selection of acquisitions, recommends Fry to Hirn as one of Europe’s foremost connoisseurs and, finally, mentions the fact that Fry promised to publish a written appraisal of the acquisition in The Burlington Magazine, thus validating the quality and value of the painting in the eyes of the public. With increasing infrastructure and affluence in the first half of the 20th century, travel and international communications became more viable for artists, critics, scholars and collectors alike in Europe. Consequently, the period 1905–65 was witness to the rapid expansion of the art market. National museums in a number of European capitals outside the established art market centres of London, Paris, Vienna, Moscow and St. Petersburg, began to collect contemporary and international art; and the frequency with which temporary exhibitions were staged increased. The legacy of decisions made concerning acquisitions, exhibitions and institutional strategy during this period continue to affect the activity and structure of arts organisations to the present day and, yet, the details of the international networks that emerged and underwrote these decisions remain under-researched.

As theoretical, stylistic and technical developments in modern art spread across Europe, each country developed its own national variants that most often have been the object of study for home-grown art historians within the country of origin. By taking a view of the activity of British artists from without, focusing on the instances when artists and artworks travelled beyond national borders, I will begin to build up a picture of British art and Britishness as a foreign entity. This will, I hope, throw new light on a familiar field, and reveal something of the social, political and economic significance of art in Britain during this transitional period. Indicatively, a recent selective catalogue of the international collection of the Ateneum Art Museum, part of the Finnish National Gallery, lists works by country, covering France, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Russia, Belgium, Holland, Hungary, Estonia, Poland, the United States, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Spain, Japan, China – but not Britain, though the collection includes over 300 objects made by British or part-British artists.[3] Narrowing this number to those works made during the modern period (for the purposes of this study defined as 1890–1965), I am chiefly concerned with the 73 acquisitions that occurred within this timeframe – bracketed by the first purchases in 1906 and, in 1964, the last acquisition – which, I argue, should be seen less as a result of discreet networks and more as a product of a general programme of international acquisitions and displays.[4] Using as the backbone of my research the acquisitions made by the successive governing committees of what is now constituted as the Ateneum Art Museum, this essay attempts to map chronologically some of the exchanges between Britain and Finland – between artists, collectors, art schools, exhibition venues, commercial galleries, national galleries, scholars, critics and other organisations – to which Fry’s description of ‘new relations, unsuspected harmonies’ may fruitfully be applied.

[1] Roger Fry, ‘Acquisition by the National Gallery at Helsingfors’, The Burlington Magazine, vol. 18, no. 95, February 1911, p. 293.
[2] Maurice Denis’s Calypso, now known as Ulysses with Calypso (1905), was also acquired by the Ateneum. For details of works shown, see Anna Gruetzner Robins, ‘“Manet and the Post-Impressionists”: a checklist of exhibits’, The Burlington Magazine, December 2010, no. CLII, pp. 782–793.
[3] Ateneum Art Museum: A Selection from the International Collection (Helsinki: National Gallery of Finland, 2000). A search conducted on 17 September, 2015 of the Finnish National Gallery database listed 422 works as by British or part-British artists in the collection of the Ateneum, out of a total of 22,841 works – roughly 1.8%.
[4] In total, the database lists 4,999 works dated 1890–1965 that were acquired during the same period. Of this number, 3,803 are recorded as being by Finnish or part-Finnish artists, leaving 1,196 items in the collection made by artists from abroad or unclassified. The database lists 406 works by Swedish or part-Swedish artists, 355 works by French or part-French artists and 57 works by Russian or part-Russian artists made and acquired between 1890 and 1965.

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Conferences: Alice Neel and Portraits in Art

24 September 2016

This conference organised by the Ateneum Art Museum / Finnish National Gallery focuses specifically on paintings by Alice Neel, a masterful portrayer of people, while also discussing portraits and self-portraits in art in general. The venue of the conference will be the Ateneum Art Museum in Helsinki, Finland.

To view the programme of the upcoming conference, please visit

http://www.ateneum.fi/tapahtumat/alice-neel-seminaari/?lang=en

Picture This!

Conferences: Picture This!

24–25 November 2016

This upcoming two-day international conference organised by the Finnish Museums Association, the Finnish National Gallery, and the Finnish Museum of Photography discusses the position and challenges of museums in the world of growing and changing streams of images.  The venues of the conference will be the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma and the Ateneum Art Museum in Helsinki, Finland.

To view the programme of the conference, please visit http://museoliitto.fi/picturethis

Jacob Axel Gillberg, Self-Portrait, 1815, watercolour and gouache on ivory, 6,2cm x 6,2cm, Paul and Fanny Sinebrychoff Collection, Sinebrychoff Art Museum, Finnish National Gallery Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Janne Mäkinen

Article: Small is Beautiful

Gill Crabbe, FNG Research

 

The Sinebrychoff Art Museum has one of the finest collections of portrait miniatures in the Nordic region. Curator Reetta Kuojärvi-Närhi gives Gill Crabbe the backdrop to the conservation work that has taken place over 15 years of collaboration with the specialist conservator Bernd Pappe

Paul Sinebrychoff’s collection of miniatures, which date from the 17th to 19th centuries, originally enjoyed pride of place in the salon of his home in Bulevardi, Helsinki, which is now the Finnish National Gallery’s Sinebrychoff Art Museum. As museum curator Reetta Kuojärvi-Närhi explains, ‘They were his treasures and he started by buying two big collections of about 100 pieces each, having done his own research. Altogether, though, he collected around 400 images which are contained in more than 320 items (some miniatures contain multiple images).’ Sinebrychoff’s treasure trove has been augmented by a further 46 miniatures collected by Mikko and Mary Mannio, as well as seven miniatures acquired through other donations.

Today a selection of these miniatures is on display in a specially designed room with lighting suitable for conservation purposes and in a cabinet that enables the viewer to see the exquisite workmanship in closer detail. Much of this display has been conserved by Bernd Pappe, a leading expert in miniature conservation, who first visited the museum as an advisor 15 years ago, and then as conservator. On his most recent visit in April 2016, he has been bringing many works up to the standard required for them to go on show in the permanent exhibition. This has been part of a two-year project during which Pappe has concentrated on replacing the damaged glasses in the frames.

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Bernd Pappe at the Sinebrychoff Art Museum’s specially designed room where the collection of miniatures is displayed. Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Hannu Pakarinen

Article: It’s All in the Detail – Interview with Dr. Bernd Pappe

Gill Crabbe, FNG Research

 

The leading international conservator Bernd Pappe has been involved in a major conservation project at the Sinebrychoff Art Museum. Gill Crabbe meets him to find out how he has brought exquisite portrait miniatures in the collection up to display quality

Read More — Download ‘It’s All in the Detail – Interview with Dr. Bernd Pappe’ by Gill Crabbe as a PDF

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To watch a video of Bernd Pappe talking about replacing weeping glasses, click here: https://vimeo.com/174356601

Peter Adolf Hall, Treasurer Johan Gottlob Brusell (1756–1829), watercolour and gouache on ivory, 8.3cm x 6.6cm, marked: Hall 1783/5. Paul and Fanny Sinebrychoff Collection, Sinebrychoff Art Museum, Finnish National Gallery Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Hannu Aaltonen

Article: The Enigmatic Mr Brusell

Reetta Kuojärvi-Närhi, Curator, Sinebrychoff Art Museum

 

First published in Art’s Memory – Layers of Conservation. Edited by Reetta Kuojärvi-Närhi, Maija Santala, Ari Tanhuanpää, Anne-Mari Forss. Sinebrychoffin taidemuseon julkaisuja (Sinebrychoff Art Museum Publications). Helsinki: Finnish National Gallery / Sinebrychoff Art Museum, 2005

Treasurer Johan Gottlob Brusell, by the Swedish painter Peter Adolf Hall, is one of the most valued portrait miniatures in the Paul and Fanny Sinebrychoff Collection. The work is marked with an indistinct signature and the date 1783/5 on the right-hand side.

Paul Sinebrychoff bought the miniature in 1904 from his distant relatives, the Falkman family of Sweden[1]. It had been in the possession of the family for several generations. In his correspondence with Bukowski, Sinebrychoff mentioned that he was fascinated by the miniature and sent a photograph of it for evaluation. Dr. Palm, from the Bukowski auction house, thanked him cordially for the photograph and praised the beauty of the piece, noting that there was a similar painting in a Swedish collection.[2] It has since been discovered that several versions of the miniature were made[3], which begs the question, why so many versions?

When Paul Sinebrychoff bought the miniature, it was presumed to be a portrait of Carl Michael Bellman, Sweden’s national poet, which would explain the numerous versions. The questions of whether the subject is of similar appearance and age as Bellman and whether or not Hall and Bellman ever met, remained unanswered for decades. The truth was not revealed until the early 1900s as the result of research by the Danish art historian Torben Holck Colding[4]. The subject proved to be Johan Gottlob Brusell, as indicated by an inscription discovered on the reverse of a miniature in a collection in Copenhagen. Written in ink, the text read: ‘Kamereraren vid Museum Brusells portrait målad af Hall i Paris’ (‘Portrait of Museum Treasurer Brusell painted by Hall in Paris’). This attribution is confirmed by the fact that Johan Brusell had visited Paris around 1783. There has never been any doubt regarding the artist. The miniature is an example of Peter Adolf Hall’s work at its most typical and is one of his best works.

[1] Carlén 1861. Provenance attributed to the clothing merchant Carl Ahrens 1861 is uncertain.
[2] This was in the collection of the wholesaler Setterwall. The work was kept in the family, and is known to have been in Gothenburg in 1950.
[3] At least seven different works are known.
[4] Colding 1950, 145–50.

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