New Evidence Emerges Authenticating Lost Gospel Mentioning Jesus Was Married (artnet news)

by Sarah Cascone, Tuesday, August 25, 2015 original article here.

The Gospel of Jesus's Wife.  Photo: Harvard Divinity School.

The Gospel of Jesus’s Wife. Photo: Harvard Divinity School.

New scientific tests indicate that the controversial Gospel of Jesus’s Wife, which suggests Jesus might not have been celibate, could be authentic.

The key line from the papyrus scrap reads “Jesus said to them, ‘My wife . . . she will be able to be my disciple.'” Elsewhere, the Coptic text mentions Mary, possibly in reference to Mary Magadalene, famously recast as Jesus’s wife in Dan Brown’s art historical thriller The Da Vinci Code, which spawned many a conspiracy theory.

When the manuscript came to light thanks to Harvard University professor Karen King in 2012, it was met with a great deal of skepticism. Roughly the size of a business card, the papyrus scrap was widely dismissed—the Vatican was among the detractors—as a modern forgery.

According to the Harvard Theological Review Journal, the papyrus and the ink are about 1,200 years old (it’s believed to be dated to sometime between the sixth and the ninth centuries. (Harvard is also home to the recently-discovered Gospel of the Lots of Mary.)

The main evidence against the discovery is the similarity of the text to a fragment of a rare copy of the Bible’s Gospel of John, written in Lycopolitan, the same obscure Coptic dialect used in the Gospel of Jesus’s Wife.

The two manuscripts have several of the exact same phrases and line breaks, and some suspect both are modern forgeries, especially given that Lycopolitan went extinct 1,500 years ago.

“The two Coptic fragments clearly shared the same ink, writing implement and scribal hand. The same artisan had created both essentially at the same time,” argued Christian Askeland, a research associate with the Institute for Septuagint and Biblical Research in Wuppertal, Germany, in a recent paper in the New Testament Studies journal.

The Gospel of Jesus's Wife compared to an online version of an ancient Coptic copy of the Gospel of John.  Photo: Harvard Divinity School.

The Gospel of Jesus’s Wife compared to an online version of an ancient Coptic copy of the Gospel of John. Photo: Harvard Divinity School.

John Yardley, a senior research scientist at Columbia University, disputes these findings. “In our first exploration, we did state that the inks used for the two documents of interest were quite different. The more recent results do confirm this observation strongly,” he told Live Science.

For King’s part, she argues that both Coptic texts could be ancient copies of earlier texts, and that the similarity of the line breaks is coincidental.

She also discounts any resemblance to the early Christian text the Gospel of Thomas, including the inclusion of a typo found in an online version of the text. King contends that ancient scribes were not infallible, and made grammatical errors.

The papyrus’s current owner has not shared his identity with the world, but the provenance he has provided remains in dispute.

The owner claims to have purchased the fragment in 1999 from a German man named Hans-Ulrich Laukamp, who acquired it in Potsdam, in East Germany, in 1963. Laukamp died in 2002. Those who knew him say he never collected antiquities, and, as a West Berlin resident, he could never have visited Potsdam at the time he is said to have purchased the gospel.

King claims to have photocopies of signed papers confirming the owner’s account. If compared to confirmed instances of Laukamp’s signature on publicly available notarized documents, these contracts could verify the current owner’s account.

Hans-Ulrich Laukamp's signature for September 1997.

Hans-Ulrich Laukamp’s signature for September 1997.

For now, the Gospel’s authenticity is still very much up for debate.

“At this point, when discussions and research are ongoing, I think it is important, however difficult, to stay open regarding the possible dates of the inscription and other matters of interpretation,” said King in a recent letter to the Biblical Archaeological Review.

See These Amazing Images of Easter Island Statues With Bodies–Who Knew? (artnet news)

by Sarah Cascone, Friday, May 1, 2015 original article here.

A fully excavated Easter Island head.  Photo: courtesy the Easter Island Statue Project.

A fully excavated Easter Island head. Photo: courtesy the Easter Island Statue Project.

Easter Island’s monumental stone heads are well-known, but there’s more to the story: all along, the sculptures have secretly had torsos, buried beneath the earth.

Excavations on the Easter Island head.  Photo: courtesy the Easter Island Statue Project.

Excavations on the Easter Island head. Photo: courtesy the Easter Island Statue Project.

Archaeologists have documented 887 of the massive statues, known as moai, but there may up as many as 1,000 of them on the island (see Rather Weighty Easter Island Sculpture Travels 200 Miles To Be Star of Manchester Museum Exhibition). Most were carved from volcanic rock between 1100 and 1680.

While the island is a popular tourist destination, the statue’s sheer size certainly discourages the type of theft experienced at other historic archaeological sites (see US Tourists Steal Pompeii Artifact and Egypt’s “Indiana Jones” Zahi Hawass Questioned Over Pyramid Theft).

More Easter Island excavations.  Photo: courtesy the Easter Island Statue Project.

More Easter Island excavations. Photo: courtesy the Easter Island Statue Project.

The Easter Island bodies were news to us, but apparently this is not a recent discovery. Photographs of the statues undergoing excavation began circulating in May of 2012, and Live Science asserts that archaeologists have actually known about the bodies since archaeological research on the island, located 2,000 miles west of Chile, began over a century ago, in 1914.

An excavated statue on Easter Island.  Photo: Greg Downing.

An excavated statue on Easter Island. Photo: Greg Downing.

“There are about 150 statues buried up to the shoulders on the slope of a volcano, and these are the most famous, most beautiful and most photographed of all the Easter Island statues,” Easter Island Statue Project director Jo Anne Van Tilburg told Live Science. “This suggested to people who had not seen photos of (other unearthed statues) that they are heads only.”

It was photographs of Tilburg’s 2010 excavations of two of the statues’ buried bodies that sparked online interest in the missing halves of these ancient sculptures. The images attracted so much interest when people started emailing them in 2012 that the Easter Island Statue Project’s website crashed under a rush of three million hits.

More Easter Island excavations.  Photo: courtesy the Easter Island Statue Project.

More Easter Island excavations. Photo: courtesy the Easter Island Statue Project.

Tilburg’s work, which began in 2000, marked the first time the moai were excavated by a scientific team that thoroughly documented the process. “It’s always important to get beneath the surface of things,” she told Fox News.

Photo: courtesy the Easter Island Statue Project.

Photo: courtesy the Easter Island Statue Project.

Photo: courtesy the Easter Island Statue Project.

Photo: courtesy the Easter Island Statue Project.

Photo: courtesy the Easter Island Statue Project.

Photo: courtesy the Easter Island Statue Project.

Photo: courtesy the Easter Island Statue Project.

Photo: courtesy the Easter Island Statue Project.

Art World Scientists Discover the Legendary Secret Behind the ‘Mona Lisa’ Smile (artnet news)

by Amah-Rose Abrams, Friday, August 21, 2015 original article here.

Leonardo da Vinci, "Mona Lisa" (1503–1517)

Leonardo da Vinci, Mona Lisa (1503–1517) Photo: Wikipedia Commons

One of the greatest mysteries in art history has been solved: British academics say they have discovered the secret behind the smile of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa by studying a recently discovered portrait by the Renaissance master, La Bella Principessa.

By comparing the techniques employed in the two works, scientists from Sheffield Hallam University claim to have proved that the enigmatic “now you see it, now you don”t” effect of the Mona Lisa smile was intentional on the part of da Vinci. They have named it “the uncatchable smile.”

The epiphany came by studying La Bella Principessa. The earlier painting, which portraits the young illegitimate daughter of a Milanese Duke, has the same effect as the Mona Lisa: from some angles the young lady seems to be smiling, from others, the smile appears to have vanished.

Leonardo da Vinci , <i>La Bella Principessa</i> (c. 1496)<br /> Photo: via <em>Art Daily</em>

Leonardo da Vinci , La Bella Principessa (c. 1496) Photo: via Art Daily

La Bella Principessa‘s mouth appears to change slant depending on both the viewing distance and the level of blur applied to a digital version of the portrait,” the researchers wrote in a paper published in the journal, Vision Research, according to the Telegraph. “Through a series of psychophysics experiments, it was found that a perceived change in the slant of La Bella Principessa‘s mouth influences her expression of contentment.”

Volunteers were asked to look at the painting from a variety of angles and distances. The conclusion was that, when focusing on the eyes of the painting, viewing from a distance, or when digitally blurred, a delicate smile could be seen. When viewed close up, or focusing on the mouth, however, the smile disappears.

The works were observed from different angles <br> Photo: via the <i> Telegraph</i>

The works were observed from different angles Photo: via the Telegraph

The effect, evident in both paintings, was achieved by using the sfumato (which means “soft” or “pale” in Italian) technique, which uses color and shading to create an optical illusion around the mouths.

“The results from the experiments support the hypothesis that there is a gaze-dependent illusory effect in the portrait of La Bella Principessa,” said Alessandro Soranzo of Sheffield Hallam’s psychology department. “Although it remains a question whether the illusion was intended, given Leonardo’s mastery of the technique and its subsequent use in the Mona Lisa, it is quite conceivable that the ambiguity of the effect was intentional, based on explicit artistic skill and used in line with Leonardo’s maxim that portraits should reflect some ‘inner turmoil of the mind.'”

Until recently, La Bella Principessa was thought to be the work of a 19th century German painter, until it was discovered to be the portrait of 13-year-old Bianca Sforza, the illegitimate daughter of Ludovico Sforza, commissioned on the eve of her marriage in 1496.

Long-Lost Masterpiece by Ingres Discovered in Hospital Attic in France (artnet news)

By Lorena Muñoz-Alonso, Friday, April 24, 2015 original article here.

A detail of the Ingres painting found in Jura<br>Photo via: La Voix de Jura

A detail of the Ingres painting found in Jura Photo via: La Voix de Jura

A painting by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres has been found in the French province of Jura completely by chance, Le Monde reports (see Long Lost Masterpiece Discovered in French Attic Comes to Auction).

The piece is only the latest in a spate of “lost” masterpieces that have turned up in recent months sometimes to huge auction success (see Scholar Denies Authenticating ‘Lost Leonardo’ Found in Swiss Vault and Lost Klimt Portrait Unveiled In Prague).

The discovery was made during an inventory conducted by Emmanuel Buselin, curator and advisor of historical monuments of the region, in the attic of the chapel of the former hospital Hôtel-Dieu, located in the town of Lons-le-Saunier.

Buselin saw a huge canvas rolled and covered in dust and, intrigued, sat down to unroll it. A large Ingres masterpiece—measuring 4.30 meters wide by 3.40 meters high—depicting a Madonna with child and kneeling king, slowly unfolded before his eyes.

The painting, which dates to 1826, is thought to have been gifted to the town after Ingres completed it. It hung in the local church of Saint-Désiré.

The found painting is thought to be the second version of Ingres's Le Vœu de Louis XIII (The vow of Louis XIII, 1824)<br>Photo via: Wikipedia

The found painting is thought to be the second version of Ingres’s Le Vœu de Louis XIII (The vow of Louis XIII, 1824) Photo via: Wikipedia

In 1936, according to the municipal archives, the church was refurbished and the painting stored in the former hospital, where it had languished forgotten ever since.

The priceless masterpiece is thought to be the long-lost second version of Ingres’s Le Vœu de Louis XIII (The vow of Louis XIII), which King Charles X of France originally commissioned from the Neoclassical master in 1820.

Buselin’s incredible discovery took place last autumn, but it remained secret until this week in order to protect the artwork, which could not be safely removed from the old hospital immediately.

The painting is now being repaired in the conservation area of the Museum of Fine Arts of Lons-le-Saunier, where it is expected to be displayed once it is completely restored.

 

 

Banksy adds Nazi to thrift store painting, amps up charity’s fund-raising (NY Daily News)

BY , NEW YORK DAILY NEWS Tuesday, October 29, 2013, 8:19 PM original article here.

 

Banksy transformed this cheap nature scene into a high-priced work of art with his addition of a Nazi enjoying the view.

Banksy transformed this cheap nature scene into a high-priced work of art with his addition of a Nazi enjoying the view.

Banksy’s latest work is a Nazi who’s raising big bucks for charity.

The cagey street artist surprised the Housing Works Thrift Shop in Gramercy on Tuesday by returning a pastoral oil painting he had bought for $50, after he added a Nazi soldier sporting a swastika armband.

Store officials wasted no time in auctioning the piece on BiddingForGood.com. A bidding war started at $74,000 and stood at $201,200 as the clock struck midnight Tuesday night. No telling what the price will be when the online auction ends at 8 p.m. Thursday.

Housing Works plans to use its windfall to fund its mission of fighting homelessness and AIDS.

NYC PAPERS OUT. Social media use restricted to low res file max 184 x 128 pixels and 72 dpi

The crowd at Housing Works Thrift Shop in New York takes pictures of the latest Banksy work.

Josh Haskins, the store assistant manager, said the painting, originally done by an obscure artist named K. Sager, mysteriously appeared at the shop Tuesday morning.

“Someone showed up at the counter and told a volunteer to get the manager, saying, ‘A valuable piece of art is here,’” said Haskins. “He then just walked away.

“I took one look at it and I knew what it was,” said Haskins, 27, of Brooklyn. “I’ve been into Banksy since I was in college.”

NYC PAPERS OUT. Social media use restricted to low res file max 184 x 128 pixels and 72 dpi

Banksy fans gather to take snapshots of ‘The banality of the banality of evil,’ the artist’s latest work on sale at the Housing Works Thrift Shop.

Rebecca Edmondson, spokeswoman for Housing Works, said proceeds from the painting would help thousands.

“Housing Works is thrilled to receive such a generous donation from Banksy,” Edmondson said in a statement. “It means a lot to our organization that the artist is using his time in New York to give back to the very community that has been captivated by his every move.

“Proceeds from this one of a kind piece will do so much good for the thousands of men, women and children dealing with the dual crisis of homelessness and AIDS that still plagues our city streets.”

NYC PAPERS OUT. Social media use restricted to low res file max 184 x 128 pixels and 72 dpi

Hung just so above a couch in the Housing Works Thrift Shop, art collectors should have no trouble imagining the oil painting modified by Banksy in their own living rooms.

To the painting, Banksy added the Nazi soldier sitting on a wooden bench and staring contemplatively at the original artist’s fall landscape of a peaceful river flowing from a snowy mountain.

The famed British graffiti master signed the painting under Sager’s signature.

“A thrift store painting vandalized then re-donated to the thrift store,” Banksy wrote on his website.

Not everyone can afford $153,601 — possibly more — for a painting, even one transformed by famed street artist Banksy, so they're taking photos of it instead.

Not everyone can afford $153,601 — possibly more — for a painting, even one transformed by famed street artist Banksy, so they’re taking photos of it instead.

He titled the doctored painting: “The banality of the banality of evil.”

While Banksy didn’t offer an explanation, the work is reminiscent of a 1969 episode of Rod Serling’s TV show “Night Gallery.” In an episode titled “The Escape Route,” a Nazi war criminal, haunted by past demons and confronted by a Holocaust survivor, finds solace in a serene museum painting.

The E. 23rd St. store immediately drew a crowd of photographers and Banksy fans after the shop hung the framed 3-by-2-foot painting in the front window above a checkered pink couch.

The donation to Housing Works came just days after Banksy angered loved ones of 9/11 victims by slamming the design of 1 World Trade Center as “vanilla” and a symbol that “proclaims the terrorists won.”

Banksy has been on a month long residency in New York, tagging buildings with provocative graffiti and erecting installations in vacant lots and even on trucks roving the city.

Nazi-Looted Van Goghs Bring Ruin Upon Greek Woman (artnet news)

by Sarah Cascone, Thursday, April 17, 2014 original article here.

Doreta Peppas with a van Gogh painting recovered by her father during a  Greek resistance raid of a Nazi train.

Doreta Peppas with an alleged Vincent van Gogh painting recovered by her father during a Greek resistance raid of a Nazi train. Photo via Greek Reporter.

When Doreta Peppas discovered a box of Vincent van Gogh paintings among her late father’s belongings in 2003, she thought she was rich. In the over 10 years since, she’s spent her life’s savings trying to authenticate the artworks, which her father, a Greek resistance fighter, recovered from the Nazis during World War Two.

According to the Greek Reporter, Doreta Peppas’s father Meletis Peppas conducted a raid on a Nazi train in Greece in October of 1944. Though his squad was looking for ammunition, what they found was a cache of Impressionist art, labeled degenerate by Hitler’s regime, likely on its way to be sold to bolster the fuhrer’s war chest.

The train carried oil paintings and a sketchbook by Van Gogh, as well as a photograph of the artist as a teen, and a nude painting by Paul Cézanne. Altogether, the stash is estimated to be worth $100 million. Peppas told the Greek Reporter that her father, a captain of the resistance, was “an educated man, and an amateur art buff” who “decided to keep the paintings for himself.”

Following the war, Meletis Peppas was targeted by the government due to his Communist leanings, and spent time in prison. He eventually left his family in order to protect them from the government, all the while managing to keep his priceless art stash a secret. The elder Peppas died in 1973, and for decades the artworks that his daughter claims he took from the Nazis were forgotten.

When Doreta Peppas uncovered the work in November 2003, she immediately turned to experts for X-rays, lab tests, and other means of authentication. Two specialists have identified the sketchbook as dating to Van Gogh’s studies at the Royal Academy of Art in Brussels. A facial recognition expert confirmed the photo of an adolescent Van Gogh as a match to known photographs of the artist as an adult.

A stamp on the back of a Van Gogh portrait of a man smoking a pipe, thought to be one of a series of paintings of the artist’s doctor, Paul-Ferdinand Gachet, has been authenticated as an official Nazi mark by the Bundesarchiv in Germany. Much of the art confiscated by the Nazis was cataloged at the Louvre in Paris before being sold to private collectors.

Despite the works’ ties to the Nazis, there are no records regarding their original owners. “I went to great lengths to find out who originally owned the paintings,” said Doreta Peppas. “I even went to Interpol.”

According to Greek law the works are hers, but potential buyers—whether collectors, auction houses, or institutions—remain skeptical. Citing the artworks’ Nazi provenance as a reason for the lack of interest, she claims that institutions have doubted the results of the authentication research for which she has paid so much.

Among the suspicious institutions is Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum. “They said they would authenticate it, but the contract they sent me stated they had the right to keep it forever, for free,” Peppas said. Greek dealers and the Louvre have also turned away the works, leaving her with no way to recoup the $150,000 she says she has spent verifying the art’s origins.

“These galleries and auction houses are nothing less than cartels, and word has gone around that my pieces must not be sold,” Peppas complains. “I have been the subject of terrible bullies in the art world.”

At this time it is unclear whether or not this Doreta Peppas—whose last name is alternately spelled “Peppas” and “Peppa” throughout the Greek Reporter article—is the same woman who, in 2007, called upon Greece’s Culture Ministry to grant access to the Temple of Olympian Zeus for the small group of Athenians who continue to worship the ancient Greek deity Zeus.

Archaeologists Unearth Three Ancient Greek Mosaics in the Ongoing Excavation in Zeugma, Turkey (Laughing Squid)

by at 2:58 pm on November 18, 2014 original article here.

Mosaic

Workers clear a mosaic depicting the nine Muses

The Zeugma excavation project conducted by Oxford Archaeology and supported by Packhard Humanities Institute and the Ministry of Culture of Turkey has recently unearthed three ancient Greek mosaics in the Turkish city of Zeugma. Zeugma had received some press and support in 2000 after flooding caused by construction began to bury and damage artifacts in the region.

The mosaics, created in the 2nd century BC, are constructed of boldly colored glass and are being covered for protection until excavation is complete. The head of the project, Professor Kutalmis Görkay, recently gave the Hurriyet Daily News more details about the plan for the future of the excavation.

“From now on, we will work on restoration and conservation. We plan to establish a temporary roof for long-term protection. We estimate that the ancient city has 2,000-3,000 houses. Twenty-five of them remain under water. Excavations will be finished in the Muzalar House next year.”

Mosaic

The muse Thalia

Mosaic

Ocean and Tithys

The Centro di Conservazione Archeologica created this video about the flooding and excavation projects at Zeugma.

photos via Greek Reporter

via Greek Reporter