Twelve essays on the theme of Rembrandt seen through Jewish eyes are coming out in a book edited by Schwartz and Mirjam Knotter of the Jewish Museum, Amsterdam. You are invited to the launching on 14 December at the museum.
The way art historians write about their subject leaves little room for highly personal responses to art or for freewheeling associations. Non-art historians can take more liberties, and it’s a pleasure to see them exercise them. (Followed by a take on the coming Dutch elections.)
With a helping of author’s vanity, Schwartz claims to have foreseen, in two passages from his novel Bets and scams, some things from today’s news. Below the line, he wrestles with his reactions to the ongoing tragedy in Israel and Gaza.
“Lady Pictura painting flowers,” Tableau 15 (1993), nr. 6, Summer, pp. 66-81
The editors of this art magazine asked me to write about a newly discovered, exceptional kunstkamer painting. The deadline was short, but I plunged into it, telling them that I would not be able to go in search of those paintings within the painting that could not easily be identified. Fortunately, my lapses in this regard were corrected in the following issue by Edwin Buijsen.
Lady Pictura painting flowers – the painting. (A press photo from the Noordbrabants Museum, in connection with an exhibition on the Brueghel family. Credit line, with a different attribution and dating than mine: Jan Brueghel de Jonge, Allegorie op de schilderkunst, ca. 1625-1630, olieverf op koper, 49 x 77 cm. JK Art Foundation. Foto Peter Cox).
Comparative images that are illustrated across two pages in the magazine:
Jan Brueghel I and Peter Paul Rubens, Allegory of sight, 1617. Madrid, Museo del Prado
Click on the images to enlarge and view the delicious details.
See also Schwartzlist 408, “The Sephardi iconophile in me”
In the night of 9/10 April 1921 a Rembrandt self-portrait was stolen from the museum in Weimar, Germany, with three other paintings. Three of the four resurfaced on 3 August 1945 in Dayton, when an Ohio woman married to a German-American immigrant brought them to the director of the Dayton Art Institute. This did not become known to the public until 10 February 1947, after the paintings had been removed from the ownership of the couple. The documentation stunned Schwartz and will stun you!
A pretty critical review of Svetlana Alpers’s book Rembrandt’s enterprise: the studio and the market, Chicago (University of Chicago Press) 1988, published in Art in America 76, nr. 11 (November 1988), pp. 25-29
Schwartz finds himself reminiscing about past procedures he has mastered and devices he has used that have now become obsolete. Why? Angst, maybe?
On 1 July I will be lecturing (in Dutch) at the Hermitage Museum Amsterdam on a painting from the current exhibition, Rembrandt and his contemporaries: History paintings from The Leiden Collection. The painting is a depiction of the prophet Elisha declining to accept the gifts of the Syrian army commander Naaman, offered in thanks for curing his leprosy. Here is a preview, the part about leprosy. Seating still available.
On Monday, 8 May, in Berlin, Schwartz heard a top connoisseur account for differences in finish between two paintings by Hugo van der Goes as acceptable variations within a single artistic personality, and on 12 May, in Den Bosch, heard another top connoisseur denying the very possibility of such a thing concerning two paintings by Jheronimus Bosch. What a week!
The current Vermeer exhibition in the Rijksmuseum is the second one ever to be held there. The first took place in 1935. For the 114 days that the present exhibition is running, the Rijksmuseum is admitting 450,000 visitors, about 4,000 a day. Some people, like me, find it too crowded. The 1935 exhibition was on view for only 13 days, and drew 123,000 visitors, about nine and a half thousand a day. Another reason to be glad that I hadn’t been born yet.