PORTRAIT OF Amanda Gorman AND PORTRAIT OF Kamala Harris

Financial Times , February 4, 2021

Melanie Gerlis FEBRUARY 4 2021 2 Print this page The power of provenance and politics should pay off at Christie’s, which is offering a painting by Winston Churchill from the collection of the actress Angelina Jolie for between £1.5m and £2.5m. Adding to its celebrity status, “Tower of the Koutoubia Mosque” (1943) was the only work that the then prime minister painted during the second world war, and was given by him to President Franklin D Roosevelt. The pair had visited Marrakesh together after the 10-day Casablanca Conference in 1943. The work — which shows the distinctive 12th-century mosque against the backdrop of the Atlas Mountains — passed down to Roosevelt’s son Elliott until 1950. It stayed in American collections until it was at MS Rau, a fine art and antiques gallery in New Orleans, from where the Jolie Family Collection bought the work in 2011.  Churchill took up painting in 1915, when he was 40, and began to travel to Marrakesh in the late 1930s. In his writings, the wartime prime minister acknowledges the influence of Henri Matisse, who had also spent time in Morocco earlier in the 20th century. Christie’s will offer Jolie’s Churchill on March 1, as well as one of his earlier paintings of Marrakesh that he gave to “Monty”, Field Marshal Montgomery (est £300,000-£500,000). We can’t get enough of Amanda Gorman, the 22-year-old poet who stole the show at President Joe Biden’s inauguration last month. Now Harvard University, Gorman’s alma mater, has accepted the donation of a portrait of the poet mid-recital by Raphael Adjetey Adjei Mayne, a graduate of the influential Ghanatta College of Art and Design, Accra. The donor was Amar Singh, a collector, London gallerist and women’s and LGBT+ rights activist, who is also a descendant of India’s Kapurthala royal family. Singh says he has recently committed to spend $5m on art by female and minority artists by 2025. Portrait of Amanda Gorman (2021) by Raphael Adjetey Adjei Mayne Portrait of Kamala Harris (2021) by Raphael Adjetey Adjei Mayne Singh spotted Mayne’s work on Instagram, posted by New York gallerist and art adviser Destinee Ross-Sutton, and says he messaged her within minutes. “I said that this shouldn’t be in a private collection,” Singh explains, and so funded the donation of the painting, which was priced at about $10,000. Mayne finished the work in just four days after watching the inauguration. He immediately started another portrait, this time of Kamala Harris being sworn in as vice-president at the same ceremony. Ross-Sutton hopes that this too can go to a relevant institution. Both works are part of Mayne’s ongoing “Faceless” series, about which the artist says: “I leave the viewer to imagine who that person is or could be . . . Detailing the face reduces my message I am sending out, that there is my blackness.” The withdrawal of Rembrandt’s “Abraham and the Angels” (1646), estimated at $20m-$30m, provided a nervous backdrop to Sotheby’s January 28 Old Masters auction. But its star lot — Botticelli’s “Portrait of a young man holding a roundel” (c1480) — still made its impressive estimate of $80m ($92.2m with fees). This sold after just two bids and provided the bulk of the auction’s $98.3m total ($114.5m with fees). The Botticelli’s unidentified buyer bid over the phone via the auction house’s Russia liaison director Lilija Sitnika, and Sotheby’s says the underbidder was a client from Asia, buying for the first time in this category. ‘Still life with flowers in a vase on a ledge with a dragonfly, caterpillar and butterfly’ ( (1698) by Rachel Ruysch, one of few female Old Masters, which sold at Sotheby’s for $1.8m Overall, bidding was thin, reliant on a few active buyers. Two other works were withdrawn from the auction and 13 lots remained unsold from a total of 46. A few works sold above estimate including, pleasingly, a painting by a rare female Old Master, the Dutch Golden Age painter Rachel Ruysch (1664-1750). Her still life from 1698 went for $1.8m ($2.2m with fees, est $1m-$1.5m) to an online bidder.  Frieze — the magazine that launched the art fair franchise — turns 30 this year and has started a membership scheme as part of its anniversary celebrations. This starts as a pepped-up magazine subscription at £40 per year, with access to Frieze’s online archive, admission to its digital talks and priority booking for its fairs. Once in-person events return, Frieze plans a top-tier membership level aimed at new collectors, for £900 per year. Called Frieze 91, this will be more akin to a museum’s young patrons group, with access to galleries, artist studios, foundations and institutions. Arlo Parks will perform at a digital event celebrating 30 years of contemporary art © Anthony Harvey/Shutterstock A portion of the funds will go towards Frieze’s educational programmes, though the commercial move also shows how art fairs and media groups are beginning to reimagine their revenue streams even after the worst of the pandemic. “We are all living in a situation right now that requires us to find new ways to connect, and prompts questions about how communities can, and should, be defined,” says Matthew Holt, Frieze’s commercial director. Frieze will also run a three-day digital programme to celebrate 30 years of contemporary art. Participants will include the artists Jeremy Deller, Lubaina Himid and Kara Walker as well as an acoustic set by Arlo Parks (February 17-19). I would like to pay tribute to New York-based dealer Richard Feigen, who died peacefully, aged 90, of Covid-19 pneumonia on January 29. Feigen started out trading in German Expressionism and Surrealist art in Chicago, but was to become a towering expert and influence in the field of Old Masters. He was also a sharp observer of the market around him, and generous with his time. I relished comparing notes with Feigen, who was often appalled by the discrepancy between the high prices paid for contemporary artists relative to their Old Masters counterparts.  New York-based art dealer Richard Feigen, who has died aged 90 Our last in-depth conversation was in 2019, ahead of the sale of a small part of his collection at Christie’s, when he expressed concern about the shrinking interest in his specialist field. There was appetite for his works, though: a panel painting that Feigen had bought and then attributed to the 16th-century Italian artist Annibale Carracci sold for $6.1m (est $3m-$5m), just one testament to his expertise. Follow @FTLifeArts on Twitter to find out about our latest stories first Listen to our podcast, Culture Call, where FT editors and special guests discuss life and art in the time of coronavirus. Subscribe on Apple, Spotify, or wherever you listen Get alerts on Collecting when a new story is published Get alerts Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2021. All rights reserved. Reuse this content (opens in new window)

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