363 Saenredam and Huygens; Rubens and Rembrandt

“Saenredam, Huygens and the Utrecht bull” was Gary Schwartz’s first publication as an art historian. He looks back on how it came into being and what it meant in his life. Schwartz would like to think of the Dutch- and Flemish-speaking low countries as one culture, but circumstances keep intruding on this ideal image. Circumstances such as the lives and posterities of Peter Paul Rubens and Rembrandt van Rijn.


“My reflection in Clio’s mirror” is a response to an invitation from Rob Riemen for the 75th issue of his journal Nexus. He wanted to know how the muses had changed my life. They had, and I told all. It’s a story of graduate student tzores and the beautiful things to which, with luck as well as the help of the muses, they can lead. The muse of history revealed to me a connection between the artist Pieter Saenredam and the humanist poet (among other things) Constantijn Huygens, as I was blessed with a muse of my very own.

“Rubens in Holland, Rembrandt in Flanders” was also written on request. The Low Countries is an English-language yearbook, supported by the Dutch and Flemish governments, that shows off the best cultural and social offerings of Batavophonia, allowing for criticism and without being overly propagandistic. This volume, the last to be printed on paper, is dedicated in part to CODART on its twentieth anniversary. What I wrote about are the star-crossed conflicts that have kept Rembrandt from being collected in the museums of Belgium and Rubens in those of the Netherlands.

Next month I will be speaking at the conference of Historians of Netherlandish Art (HNA) in Ghent. HNA does not seem to number its conferences, which are held once every four years. The 2018 edition is I believe the third since the founding of the organization to be held in the Netherlands. At least, I can only remember attending previous conferences in Ghent and Amsterdam. The paper I am giving is on “Rembrandt and the onzichtbaere werelt” (the invisible world). Following the conference I will be free to tell you more.

Preceding the conference is a small-scale CODARTfocus visit to Mechelen, to which I am looking forward more, I must admit, than the massive HNA conference.

About the three coming exhibitions of which I am serving as guest curator, in Potsdam, Alkmaar and Moscow, I will be dosing information in the coming months.

© 2018 Gary Schwartz. Published on the Schwartzlist on 30 April 2018.


Last week Loekie and I celebrated our fiftieth wedding anniversary.  To celebrate, all we could think of doing was to live a day in the home and work life we love so much, ending at the house of our son Baruch and his wife Sacha in Amsterdam, with their children Lola and Abel, and our daughter Ditke.

We were married on 26 April 1968 in Brooklyn Borough Hall, with my late friends George Adoff as best man and Shlomo Bachrach as witness. We were treated to a wedding lunch, with ten more family and friends, at Ratner’s on Second Avenue by another friend we dearly miss, Leo Steinberg.

Susan Manso, Shlomo Bachrach

Petra Chu-ten Doesschate, George Adoff, Loekie, Lola Gellman

The following Sunday, my mother gave a party in the backyard of her house in Far Rockaway.

We get another chance to throw a golden anniversary bash in September, when we were married for a second time in New York, this time under the chupah. That month also marks fifty years since we moved into our house.


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4 thoughts on “363 Saenredam and Huygens; Rubens and Rembrandt”

  1. Mazel Tov on a life well lived together for half a century (I am only coming up on 40–you must have been a child groom)!
    Sorry to miss you in/at Gent, but we’ll see each other again soon, someplace. And they no longer allow smoking in blues clubs in Chicago, so we should plan to meet there again (not that either of us lives there…).

    Hugs to Loekie and all best wishes, always, for health, joy, and luck in the (many) years to come, Larry

    1. You’ll make it, Larry. It’s not quite like falling off a log, but if I can do it, so can anyone. And I know you have a loving marriage and a beautiful family.

      Sorry to miss you in Gent, especially because I am speaking in your own session and will be quoting you approvingly. We’ll applaud you in your absence.

  2. Dear Gary,

    The 2018 HNA Conference in Ghent will be number 9. 2010 was Amsterdam, and 2002 was Antwerp.

    The first three were in the US; then it was decided to alternate between US and European locations, which is still the intent. We will shortly announce a decision to move to a three-year interval rather than four, and a more defined process for venue proposals and selection.

    The conference history is noted on our About page: https://hnanews.org/about/

    The full information about past conferences back to Antwerp in 2002 is available here:
    https://hnanews.org/news/opportunities/hna-conference/

    All the best,

    Paul Crenshaw
    HNA President, 2017-2021

    1. Thanks a lot, Paul. Yes, I now remember that it was Antwerp i 2002, and through my dread am also looking forward to Ghent. See you there, Gary

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