Joseph Siffred Duplessis’s portrait of Marie-Antoinette (1772-73)
Château de Versailles
Thanks to the Friends of Versailles Society, the Château de Versailles has acquired a previously unpublished painting of a young Marie-Antionette by the French artist Joseph Siffred Duplessis (1725-1802), who was known for his realist style. It is the first portrait of the Austrian archduchess and dauphine of France made on French soil. The work, pre-empted at the Aguttes auction house for €175,000, relates to a sketch for a riding or standing portrait that already belongs to Versailles. Duplessis inherited the commission after the original artist, Louis-Michel van Loo, died in 1771, and the idea for an equestrian portrait turned into a half-length bust. The final result proved more flattering than the sketch, but apparently not flattering enough for Marie-Antoinette’s taste, according to her correspondence at the time. The dauphine rejected the work, which now joins Versailles’s collection of 18th-century portraits.
Magdalene Odundo’s Asymmetric Vessel (2021)
The Hepworth Wakefield has bought a curvaceous vessel by the Kenyan-born British ceramicist Magdalene Odundo, supported by grants from Art Fund, Arts Council England/V&A Purchase Grant Fund, Henry Moore Foundation and the Hepworth’s Collection Circle. Asymmetric Vessel demonstrates the artist’s skill in hand-building and coiling. In 1978, Wakefield was the first public collection to acquire a work by Odundo. That 1970s stoneware piece, Esinasulo (Water Carrier), appeared in her first major UK retrospective, organised by the museum in 2019. Andrew Bonacina, the chief curator at Hepworth Wakefield, says Asymmetric Vessel will be presented “within the context of our collection of British studio pottery and the organic sculptural forms of Modern British artists including Hepworth and Moore.
Among more than 500 recent acquisitions made by the Brooklyn Museum is Kara Walker’s new stop-motion film, shown at the New York gallery Sikkema Jenkins & Co late last year. Over a 12-minute run, Prince McVeigh and the Turner Blasphemies covers the most gruesome acts of white supremacist violence in recent American history, including the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing (the film’s title refers to the terrorist responsible for the attack, Timothy McVeigh) and the 1998 lynching of James Byrd Jr. Interrogating the mythology created from violence in the name of race and nation, the work took on new resonance after the 6 January 2021 insurrection on the US Capitol. It joins other new acquisitions that diversify the Brooklyn collection, including a painting by the Choctaw and Cherokee artist Jeffrey Gibson and short films by Susan Janow, the first artist with intellectual and developmental disabilities represented in the museum.