Some close-up corners of works in the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s Old Masters exhibition, pieces from a collection deeded to the city by John G. Johnson in 1917. Outside of obvious favorites (punched haloes and egg tempera forever, amen) one of the very best bits was a back wall featuring eight paintings which at the time of acquisition were attributed to Hieronymus Bosch — and all but one proven to be fakes (some school-of, others outright copies) in the century since. The exhibit had laid them out with large numbers alongside each frame and encouraged visitors to make a guessing game of it, a task the two of us took up all too zealously from the gallery bench provided (we missed the mark, but only barely: out of eight choices, two were Nativity scenes, one of which was the true Bosch — and we both (independent of the other!) chose the wrong one. So so close!). That little deduction was such a thrill! Petition for all museums to follow suit.
We spent a good ninety minutes with the Old Masters and then hopped over to the opposite wing to visit Cy Twombly’s Fifty Days at Iliam, returned to its permanent home after holidaying at a retrospective in Paris’s Pompidou. It still makes me feel like this.
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1/2: Bernat Martorell, Enthroned Virgin and Child with Personifications of the Virtues of Temperance, Fortitude, Justice, and Prudence
3: Masaccio/Masolino, Saints Paul and Peter
4/5: Joos van Cleve, Descent from the Cross