2016-09-23 - Frank Mason Storing Hay Pownal VT

Frank Mason Painting Raffle to Benefit the Preservation of the Historic Salmagundi Club.

2016-09-23 - Frank Mason

Frank Mason in the studio. Courtesy: Karen Winslow/Brushwork Blog.

Ruth Osborne

Our 8th annual James Beck Memorial Lecture was a brilliant gathering of those invested in the making of art and the stewarding of its well being.

We were proud to have this year’s lecture hosted at the Art Students League of New York, an historic institution that has been instrumental and innovative in art education in America since 1875. Michael Daley, Director of ArtWatch UK, shared on the intertwining of the Art Students League and ArtWatch. Our founder Prof. Beck, after whom the annual lectures are named, was connected with artists and students at the League. Most notably, the legendary artist and League instructor Frank Mason, with whom he entered the long campaign against the overrestoration of the Sistine Ceiling. Mason himself had been known to lead protests against overcleaning of important paintings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

It is therefore rather fitting to announce that an oil painting by Frank Mason will be raffled off this evening at 6pm at another historic arts organization, the Salmagundi Club downtown. Salmagundi’s Silent Auction is being held to benefit the continued preservation of the landmarked 1850s building on lower 5th Avenue that the Club calls home. The Auction will feature champagne, hor d’oeuvres and music.

You can find more information about tickets for the event here on the Club’s website:

Raffle of Frank Mason Painting

September 23, 20166 to 9 pm — Salmagundi Club, 47 5th Avenue at 12th Street

2016-09-23 - Frank Mason Storing Hay Pownal VT

Frank Mason, Storing Hay, Pownal, Vermont (1959) oil on canvas.

“Storing Hay, Pownal, Vermont” measures 25″ high by 30″ wide and is in a gold metal leaf Florentine style Frame. Painting is signed. It was done by Frank Mason in 1959. Appraised value of painting is $15K.

Anne Mason, widow of Frank and long-time supporter of ArtWatch, says:

Frank would have been happy to know his “Storing Hay, Pownal, Vermont” is part of a fund raising effort to benefit the renovation of the Salmagundi Club. In an era when non-profits are going under, the Salmagundi is alive and well. The raffle is part of a silent auction. On September 23 from 6 to 9 p.m. there will be an evening at the club. Around 8:30 pm there will be a drawing. One lucky winning raffle ticket will be chosen. The winner does not have to be present. BUT think how much fun it would be if you are there for the drawing and WIN!!

2014-11-17 - James Beck Memorial Lecture Salmagundi Club

Recap: ArtWatch International’s Sixth Annual James Beck Memorial Lecture

Ruth Osborne

2014-11-17 - King Midas Tomb inlaid table

Inlaid Table from Tumulus MM in situ, 1957.

Last Thursday, November 6th, ArtWatch International hosted the sixth annual James Beck Memorial Lecture and Reception in New York at the historic Salmagundi Club on lower Fifth Avenue.

Alternating between London and New York, ArtWatch holds this event each year to honor memory, scholarly efforts, and unwavering commitment to artistic stewardship of its founder, Professor James Beck. Since Beck’s death in 2007, the lectures have been organized to continue Beck’s campaigning on the arts’ behalf, as well as to provide a platform for lectures by distinguished scholars, to commemorate his own contributions.


2014-11-17 - Michael Daley ArtWatch UK

Michael Daley, Director of ArtWatch UK.

Another remarkable force in the art world, and supporter of Beck’s efforts, New York painter Frank Mason, is also honored at the Beck Memorial Lectures. The Frank Mason Prize is awarded each year to an individual who has contributed to a courageous effort to benefit art scholarship and research. Frank’s dedication to traditionalist artistic training, his long teaching career at the Art Students League in New York, and protests against harmful restorations at the Metropolitan Museum leave behind a strong legacy. He was also instrumental in the founding of a precurser to ArtWatch International, The International Society for the Preservation of Art. This year’s recipient, Dr. Martin Eidelberg, has expressed similar dedication to traditionalist methods of studying art in his work on the eighteenth-century French painter Jean-Antoine Watteau.

2014-11-17 - Martin Eidelberg

Dr. Martin Eidelberg

Since his professorship at Rutgers University, Dr. Eidelberg has been instrumental in making his extensive scholarship on Watteau and his circle available online. This year, his work on the “Watteau Abecedario” project, an online alphabetical catalogue raisonné will offer online audiences a comprehensive study of his oeuvre and will also address past and current issues of attribution, and in so doing present art history research as an ongoing, organic process. He says of his project that:


2014-11-17 - Francois Boucher Antoine Watteau

Francois Boucher, Portrait of Antoine Watteau, 1727. Courtesy: FAMSF.

Having the Abecedario available online is much more universal. A show is only on a certain period of time. And my experience is that it mostly goes to three cities, for three months at each city, and then it’s gone. And these days, it’s getting harder and harder to follow a show. The online catalogue raisonné is a way in which art gets distributed not only free of charge, but conveniently. So in part it’s good will. In part, it actually is a very useful tool.

The internet itself is a great tool. Because it really is a way of spreading knowledge and keying in. Now places like the Getty have digitized them and have finding aids. Which means you can just press a few buttons, and you can get every painting by Watteau or Boucher or Fragonard sold between 1680 and 1820. It’s brilliant.

Some people are going to say you’ve taken the human quality out of the humanities but that’s not true because then comes interpretation and it just means you don’t have to do so much other work sifting through the mass of data.

**Be on the lookout in the coming weeks for our full interview with Dr. Eidelberg on his project.

2014-11-17 - Martin Eidelberg ArtWatch International

Dr. Eidelberg with Ruth Osborne, Director of ArtWatch International.

2014-11-17 - Elizabeth Simpson Salmagundi Club

Dr. Elizabeth Simpson

This year’s lecture also enjoyed a most captivating speaker whose lecture focused on the necessity of engaging, and sustaining, a  dialogue on art’s behalf. Dr. Elizabeth Simpson, professor of ancient art, archaeology, and museology at the Bard Graduate Center, presented on the excavation and conservation of ancient wooden furniture from King Midas’s Tomb in present-day Turkey.


Since the excavation of royal Phrygian Tumulus MM[1] in Gordion, Turkey in 1957, the story of King Midas’s inlaid wooden furniture has taken several twists and turns. From it, we can learn a great deal about conservation pros and cons, the impact of underdeveloped preservation methods, and the importance of paying close attention to the materials used for storage and display.

2014-11-17 - Rodney Young archeologist Gordion Midas Mound

Rodney Young and colleagues outside Tumulus MM, Gordion, 1957.

When the tumulus was first opened by Prof. Rodney Young and archeologists from the University of Pennsylvania Museum, the already-damaged furniture was further harmed by excavation methods and initial attempts at preservation. At this time, there had not been sufficient research or experience in the field of archeological wood conservation, and the furniture suffered. But come the early 1980s, Dr. Simpson had the opportunity to lead a team of conservators in Ankara to correct some of the early mistakes made under Young. Using improved methods and materials, they succeeded in returning the furniture to a more stable condition, even restoring some of the contrast of the wood inlay. The techniques used on this project would set new standards for conservation in the field of dry archeological wood.


2014-11-17 - Midas Mount inlaid table Ankara Museum

Inlaid table as displayed at Museum at Ankara, 1983.

The display of the newly conserved Midas furniture at the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara, Turkey also went through some trial and error. The first glass cases contained materials that damaged the furniture while on display, and had to be replaced in the 1990s.  We then learned that, despite the great improvements made by Dr. Simpson and her group, which were able to be sustained through years of careful scrutiny, recent changes at the museum have discarded the improved and safer display cases for new ones that put the furniture in danger of harm yet again. The story is not yet over, and it serves as a prime example that one’s work on behalf of art is never truly finished.


We want to thank Dr. Simpson for sharing with us her piece of the story of King Midas’s furniture, which stimulated a brilliant discussion on the development of conservation practices afterwards. Another warm thank you to Michael Daley, Director of ArtWatch UK, who was able to join us for this year’s lecture. He opened our event with a wonderful speech on the beginnings of ArtWatch and the work of James Beck and Frank Mason. As one who has had the privilege of working closely with Beck for several years, Michael puts forth a sincerity about his work with ArtWatch that is contagious. We here in New York are indebted to his investment in the organization and his work on the behalf of art, and are greatly looking forward to next year’s lecture in London.


[1] Tumulus MM was named as such for “Midas Mound.”

2014-10-02 - James Beck Memorial Lecture

ArtWatch International Presents the 2014 James Beck Memorial Lecture and Reception

2014-10-02 - James Beck Memorial Lecture

ArtWatch International, Inc. is pleased to announce our fifth annual James Beck Memorial Lecture. Each year ArtWatch holds an annual James Beck Memorial Lecture and reception to commemorate the scholarly career and the principled stand of its founder, Professor James Beck. The lectures, organized by Michael Daley, the director of ArtWatch UK, provide a platform for distinguished art world speakers in our New York and London campaigning centers.

The 2014 James Beck Memorial Lecture and Reception, N.Y.


Elizabeth Simpson, Professor of Greek, Roman, Ancient Near Eastern, and Egyptian Art and Archaeology, Bard Graduate Center


“Kind Midas’s Furniture: A Tale of Archaeological Conservation”


6pm-8pm (with reception), November 6th


The Salmagundi Club, 47 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10003