Caterina Angela Pierozzi’s Annunciation (1677)
National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
The National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, has ramped up its purchases of works by women artists in recent years, and this rediscovered gouache-on-vellum miniature of Caterina Angela Pierozzi’s Annunciation is among them. Bought from Colnaghi gallery at last year’s TEFAF Maastricht fair, it is the only known work by Pierozzi and can be firmly attributed to her—thanks to an inscription with the artist’s name and her Florentine identity. Pierozzi was the second woman after Artemisia Gentileschi to be elected to the world’s oldest arts academy, and she enjoyed the patronage of the Medici grand duchess of Tuscany, Vittoria della Rovere, a leading supporter of female artists. This miniature could also have been a Medici commission. Its painstakingly rendered composition derives from a supposedly miraculous fresco then under the care of the Medici family in Florence’s Basilica della Santissima Annunziata.
Joshua Reynolds’s Portrait of Mai (Omai) (around 1776)
National Portrait Gallery, London, and J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
In order to raise the £50m needed to buy Reynolds’s celebrated portrait of Mai, the National Portrait Gallery (NPG) has struck an unusual joint purchase deal with the Getty. The UK government extended the export bar on the painting to allow the NPG the time needed to secure funding of £25m, which the Getty matched. The work is due to be shown at the gallery’s reopening on 22 June and then to travel to Los Angeles for the 2028 Olympic Games. The museums have called the acquisition “a new model of international collaboration”. Mai, from the island of Raiatea, was the first Pacific Islander to visit the UK after joining Captain Cook’s crew in Tahiti. He became a celebrity who inspired literature, art and even a pantomime. The work retained a privileged position in Reynolds’s studio until his death in 1792. Mai died in Polynesia around 1780, not yet 30 years old, after struggling to adjust back home.
Beeple’s S.2122 (2023)
Deji Art Museum, Nanjing
Mike Winkelmann, better known as Beeple, was catapulted into the traditional art world by the record-breaking 2021 sale of his digital collage NFT at Christie’s for $69m. His first physical piece was the four-channel video sculpture HUMAN ONE (2021), depicting a mysterious figure striding through an evolving digital landscape. It was conceived as “an infinite work” that Beeple will continually update, the artist said. While that work was recently displayed at Hong Kong’s M+ museum, on loan from the collector Ryan Zurrer, the Deji Art Museum purchased its sequel, S.2122, from LGDR gallery at Art Basel Hong Kong. This second kinetic sculpture, which comes complete with an NFT, imagines a future in which humanity is gradually submerged by rising sea levels. “I wanted to make a work that addresses the reality of climate change,” Beeple said. “But I also have a hopeful message in that I believe, no matter what, humans will find a way to survive.”