Thanks to modern technology and some expert detective work, a nearly 400-year-old painting that had long been attributed to an unknown artist in Rembrandt's workshop has now been judged to have been a work of the Dutch master himself.
For decades, the Allentown Art Museum displayed an oil-on-oak panel painting called "Portrait of a Young Woman" and credited it to "Studio of Rembrandt." Two years ago, the painting was sent to New York University for conservation and cleaning.
There, conservators began removing layers of overpainting and dark, thick varnish that had been added over centuries — and they began to suspect Rembrandt himself was responsible for the original, delicate brushwork underneath.
"Our painting had numerous layers of varnish and that really obscured what you could see of the original brushwork, as well as the original color," said Elaine Mehalakes, vice president of curatorial affairs at the Allentown Art Museum.
Conservators used a variety of tools, including X-ray, infrared and electron microscopy, to bolster the case that it was the work of one of the most important and revered artists in history.
The scientific analysis "showed brushwork, and a liveliness to that brushwork, that is quite consistent with other works by Rembrandt," said Shan Kuang, a conservator at New York University's Institute of Fine Arts who restored "Portrait of a Young Woman."
Outside experts who examined the 1632 painting after the completion of its two-year restoration concurred with the NYU assessment that it's an authentic Rembrandt.
"We're very thrilled and excited," Mehalakes said. "The painting has this incredible glow to it now that it just didn't have before. You can really connect with the portrait in the way I think the artist meant you to."
When "Portrait of a Young Woman" was bequeathed to the museum in 1961, it was considered to be a Rembrandt. About a decade later, a group of experts determined that it had been painted by one of his assistants. Such changes in attribution are not unusual: Over the centuries, as many as 688 and as few as 265 paintings have been credited to the artist, according to Mehalakes.
The museum has not had the painting appraised — and has no intention of selling it — but authenticated works by Rembrandt have fetched tens of millions of dollars.
The painting, currently in the museum's vault, will go on public display starting June 7.
A orangutan named Sandra, who was granted legal personhood by a judge in Argentina and later found a new home in Florida, celebrated her 34th birthday on Valentine's Day with a special new primate friend.
Patti Ragan, director of the Center for Great Apes in Wauchula, Florida, says Sandra "has adjusted beautifully to her life at the sanctuary" and has befriended Jethro, a 31-year-old male orangutan.
Prior to coming to Florida, Sandra had lived alone in a Buenos Aires zoo. Sandra was a bit shy when she arrived at the Florida center, which is home to 22 orangutans.
"Sandra appeared most interested in Jethro, and our caregivers felt he was a perfect choice because of his close age, calm demeanor, and gentle nature," Ragan said in a news release. "Sandra still observes and follows Jethro from a distance while they are in the process of getting to know and trust each other. But they are living harmoniously in the same habitat spaces as they continue to gain confidence in their relationship."
Judge Elena Liberatori's landmark ruling in 2015 declared that Sandra is legally not an animal, but a non-human person, and thus entitled to some legal rights enjoyed by people, and better living conditions.
"With that ruling I wanted to tell society something new, that animals are sentient beings and that the first right they have is our obligation to respect them," she told The Associated Press.
But without a clear alternative, Sandra remained at the antiquated zoo, which closed in 2016, until leaving for the U.S. in late September. She was in quarantine for a month at the Sedgwick County Zoo in Kansas before arriving in Florida.
On Friday, Sandra celebrated her birthday, complete with pink signs and wrapped packages. Jethro, who was once in the entertainment business, attended the party.
Ragan said that Sandra and Jethro will "sit in the vicinity of each other," but not close enough to touch. Sandra weighs 129 pounds, and Jethro, 260.
"Sandra does like to watch Jethro eat," Ragan said. "Some adult male orangutans will advance an introduction forcefully, but Jethro has been patient and calm giving Sandra more confidence in his presence."
A trailblazer among black women in the business world wants to help make sure that the stories of other pioneering women like her are not forgotten.
The HistoryMakers, an oral archive that's recorded the stories of more than 3,300 African Americans, launched The WomanMakers initiative with a $1 million gift from Ursula Burns, the former head of Xerox.
"We have to value our own stories," Burns said in a phone interview about the project that will focus on African American women. "We have to teach ourselves to actually value ourselves in our society."
Burns, 61, was chair and CEO of Xerox from 2009 to 2016. She spent her entire career at the company, working her way up from an internship in 1980 and, upon becoming CEO, was the first black women to head a Fortune 500 company. Burns left Xerox after the company was split in two.
The initiative was kicked off at a Jan. 31 luncheon in New York City, where Burns presented Julieanna Richardson, who founded The HistoryMakers in 1999, with the monetary gift in honor of her late husband, Lloyd Bean.
"We have so much potential to leave a historical record that will not have any chance to being erased, that is what is exceedingly important to me," Richardson said about the initiative.
The launch included a number of women on the advisory committee for The WomenMakers initiative, who will help determine the 180 women whose stories will be recorded thanks to Burns' gift.
Those on the committee are high-profile figures including Anna Deavere Smith, Bethann Hardison, and Anita Hill.
In the 20 years since its official launch, The HistoryMakers has recorded the stories of black pioneers in a number of fields including Hank Aaron, Maya Angelou and Colin Powell.
But even as an organization founded and led by a black woman, Richardson said there are still more men's stories in the archives than women's — about 800 more.
"When you look at different periods of time, even the modern-day civil rights movement, often the story of women's roles is not well-recorded or told," she said.
Women, Richardson said, were often the ones keeping the archives, but, "we aren't keeping their histories at the same time."
Telling their stories and showcasing their achievements is important, especially in these fraught partisan times, Burns said.
"These endemic, unbelievably prejudicial discussions we're having today about things we should no longer be talking about, the value and the worth of a human being that people think they can derive from the color of their skin," she said.
"I am really animated about this time because all of this work that has been undertaken before I got here that enabled me to get here, they're chipping away and eroding that and I just can't allow that to happen without some attempt to make people understand there's so much more to the story."
The 5th edition of Dhaka Art Summit: Seismic Movements (DAS 2020), concluded Saturday at the National Art Gallery of Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy (BSA).
The artistic extravaganza, organised by Samdani Art Foundation (SAF) in association with the Ministry of Cultural Affairs and Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy (BSA), has enthralled the visitors since its opening on February 7.
Having quickly established its place in the art calendar of the region , the brainchild of SAF Co-founders Rajeeb and Nadia Samdani, curated by the summit’s Chief Curator Diana Campbell Betancourt- the 5th summit empowered the art-lovers to explore various forms of art from all around the world under one roof.
More than 500 artists, sculptors, curators, critics, collectors, architects and art professionals from over 44 different countries participated in this rendezvous of modern and contemporary art. Forged through alliances across Africa, Australia, South and Southeast Asia, and also extending into Europe and the US, the extravagant event also featured thought-provoking performance arts, videos, panel discussions, symposia, puppet shows and more.
According to Nadia Samdani, this year’s summit theme has been ‘Seismic Movements’ where different artworks related to geological movements, colonial movements, independence movement, social movements had been on display and enthralled the visitors, throughout the summit. Also, DAS – 2020 had been 'plastic-free’ and no air-conditioning was used in the summit.
A very special exhibition titled ‘Lighting the Fire of Freedom’, an initiative of the Centre for Research and Information (CRI), ICT Division, in collaboration with BSA and the Ministry of Cultural Affairs, paved tribute to the Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on his birth centenary. Curated by Ruxmini Reckvana Q Choudhury, Assistant Curator of SAF- the exhibition narrated the journey of Bangabandhu (1920 – 1975), chronologically; through a rich variety of archival and contemporary materials including personal photographs, newspapers, videos and artworks. The exhibition treasures historic moments, dating back to the Bengal Presidency under British Raj, the East Pakistan regime, and finally Bangladesh.
The 5th edition of the Samdani Art Award curated by Philippe Pirotte and in partnership with the Goethe-Institut of Dhaka, provided artists the opportunity to create new work for DAS 2020 and to be supported in a residency at Srihatta. Soma Surovi Jannat received the Samdani Art Award this year, for her work “Into the Yarn, Out in the One” (pen on plywood, wood and wall, 2019-2020). The other shortlisted artists were: Ariful Kabir, Ashfika Rahman, Faiham Ebna Sharif, Habiba Nowrose, Najmun Nahar Keya, Palash Bhattacharjee, Sounak Das, Sumana Akter, Tahia Farhin Haque, and Zihan Karim. Breaking the convention, Promiti Hossain was respected with a special mention award for her work “Personal and Social” (2019-2020), facilitated by the Jury Board from their honorariums of the summit.
‘Roots’, curated by Dhaka based artist and educator Bishwajit Goswami, examined the transfer of knowledge by art educators who have been influential in the building of Bangladesh’s art history. The exhibition focused on the role of Bangladeshi artists in building the institutions that support artistic production in the country, from founding formal institutions like art schools (such as Zainul Abedin with the Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Dhaka and Rashid Choudhury with the Institute of Fine Arts, University of Chittagong) to informal art education outside of the capital (SM Sultan’s Shishu Swarga and Charupith Jashore).
The 6th edition of Dhaka Art Summit is scheduled to lift its curtain on 2022.
Khanysia did not see the trap set by a poacher in South Africa's Kruger National Park. She dove head first into the sharp wire snare, which cut her mouth, face and underneath her ear and chin.
It was days before the four-month-old albino elephant was found badly dehydrated but alive, and taken to the Hoedspruit Elephant Rehabilitation and Development center, three hours away.
One month later, Khanysia, named after the Tsonga word for light, weighs a healthy 150 kilograms (330 pounds), is adding 500 grams (1 pound) every day and spends her time playing with caretakers.
"She is a little albino elephant, so it is a bit different than your normal elephant just in caring, especially when the sun is kind of severe," said Adine Roode, founder of the center, in the heart of Kapama game reserve. "Due to the animal human conflict, we are sitting with orphans. Because of the decreasing land and habitat, we will see an increase, in the future, of elephant orphans."
It is not known how Khanysia was separated from her mother and herd, said Roode.
For the past 22 years, the center has looked after orphaned elephants, and now has 17 pachyderms on site, she said. The young elephants are eventually released to the private game reserve, she said.
Khanysia is separated from the rest of the herd for the time being. At night she stays in a heated room and in the daytime she goes outside to a large enclosure with tall grass and a mud pool. Under 24-hour supervision, the blue-eyed, pink-skinned toddler seems to be in a non-stop play mood, craving attention and only stopping now and then to scratch her itchy scars on the wood pillars surrounding her pen.
After two hours of cavorting with Khanysia, causing the little elephant to trumpet repeatedly, Roode leaves her in the care of Liverson Sande, the center's senior carer.
Outside, the 17 other elephants line up for a walk. "It's so easy to get too attached," says Roode. "It is difficult to let go."