391 Four strains of the Rembrandt virus

During the so-called holidays, Schwartz carried out a very long overdue and immensely satisfying rearrangement of the books in the room he works in. Passing through his hands once more were a favorite collecting genre: over-the-top books on Rembrandt. He comments on four of them. Below the column is an invitation to join a Rembrandt webinar in which Schwartz is participating on 19 January.

Continue reading “391 Four strains of the Rembrandt virus”

390 What did Rembrandt have against spires?

Rembrandt suffered from a rare condition that has not yet been diagnosed. He had an aversion to spires and sometimes to towers, lopping them off his depictions of buildings we know to have had them. Schwartz worries the issue.

Continue reading “390 What did Rembrandt have against spires?”

From Otto Benesch to Peter Schatborn: a concordance

For whatever bad reason this has happened, the long-awaited catalogue of Rembrandt’s drawings by Peter Schatborn, former head of the department of prints and drawings of the Rijksmuseum, has been published without a concordance in which one can look up the drawings by their Benesch numbers. Those are the numbers that have been used universally since the appearance in 1954-57 of the catalogue by Otto Benesch, edited by his wife Eva Benesch, In 1974, after the death of Otto, Eva brought out a revised edition. Both were published by Phaidon Press. Peter Schatborn’s catalogue came out in 2019 in a volume that also contains Rembrandt’s etchings: Peter Schatborn and Erik Hinterding, Rembrandt: the complete etchings and drawings, Cologne (Taschen) 2019.

Because I found Schatborn’s catalogue unacceptably irritating to use without a concordance – for which reason I have not been using it at all – I have made a concordance, which I make available to all.

Concordance of Benesch numbers with Schatborn numbers

Comparing Rembrandt and Saenredam: Het belang van banale zaken

In an article in the Dutch art magazine Kunstschrift, the editor, Mariette Haveman, disparaged the importance Schwartz attaches to documentary records as evidence for understanding Rembrandt as a person. Schwartz responds.

Letter to the editor: Gary Schwartz, 8 December 1991: “Het belang van banale zaken,” Kunstschrift 36:1 (1992), p. 6

1992HetBelangVanBanaleZaken

389 Botticelli’s Primavera as an image of Santa Maria del Fiore

A guest column by Loekie Schwartz. The calm central figure in the Primavera is framed by a bower with the shape of the cupola of Florence Cathedral, Santa Maria del Fiore. The visual rhyme is intended to convey that she partakes both in the floral association of the name and its Marian essence. A further link between painting and cathedral is to be found in a writing by Alberti, where the Duomo is called a springtime refuge from the vicissitudes of the world outside.  Please copy to students of Italian art and literature. Continue reading “389 Botticelli’s Primavera as an image of Santa Maria del Fiore”

388 Convention and uniqueness in Rembrandt’s response to the east

On 29 and 30 October 2020, the ceremonial openings were to have taken place of an exhibition in Kunstmuseum Basel of which I am guest curator: Rembrandt’s orient: west meets east in Dutch art of the seventeenth century. Because of the pandemic, no openings are being held. Today, I am pleased to say, 31 October, the exhibition is open to the public. Travel restrictions have kept me from being in on the hanging or seeing the exhibition at all for the time being. I can only hope that I can see it before it closes on 14 February 2021 and that by the time the exhibition moves on to Museum Barberini in Potsdam in March 2021 there will be an opening at which I can speak. The catalogue includes an essay of mine on Rembrandt. It had to be shortened, but I have permission from the museums to publish the complete version on the Schwartzlist. The essay is a review of oriental motifs in Rembrandt’s art, which tend to be conventional, and an argument concerning the nature of one group of works that is entirely unique.

To entice you into reading the essay, this column shows only the illustrations. To find out what I have to say about them, click here.

Continue reading “388 Convention and uniqueness in Rembrandt’s response to the east”

177 Amateurs and professionals

Professional astronomers, ornithologists, entomologists and other scientists have a symbiotic relationship with amateurs, who do the boring fieldwork for which they have no time. Schwartz was able, as a publisher, to foster a bond of that kind in the study of Dutch still-life painters.


Continue reading “177 Amateurs and professionals”

387 “We didn’t need dialogue. We had faces!”

A new friend I have yet to meet, Luca Del Baldo, has done something so far out of the ordinary that I am stunned in amazement. Singlehandedly, with unimaginable dedication and tenacity, he has called into being a 98-person community of people who write about art, painting portraits of each and getting them to put down on paper thoughts on portraiture. Here is Schwartz’s contribution, followed by two recently published articles to be downloaded or requested.

Continue reading “387 “We didn’t need dialogue. We had faces!””

Convention and uniqueness in Rembrandt’s response to the east

The full version of an essay published in the catalogue to the exhibition Rembandt’s Orient: West Meets East in Dutch Art of the Seventeenth Century, Basel (Kunstmuseum Basel) and Potsdam (Museum Barberini) 2020-21.

Continue reading “Convention and uniqueness in Rembrandt’s response to the east”

386 Dutchness* in English art

In giving Schwartzlist 385 the title “The Dutchness of English art,” I succumbed to the irresistible temptation to take on Nikolaus Pevsner’s classic “The Englishness of English art” and Christopher Brown’s “The Dutchness of Dutch art.” A number of readers felt that I thereby cut corners. The present column is a remake, with an unassailably clearcut definition of its scope and a properly modest title. Continue reading “386 Dutchness* in English art”