233 The cost of art theft to the thief

The Dutch courts are overly lenient in punishing thefts from public museums in the Netherlands, which are on the rise. An anecdotal comparison between thefts from the Strawbery Banke museum in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam yields a ratio of ten to one between American versus Dutch sentencing. Because the prospect of a heavy sentence may induce a thief to help the police recover the loot, longer terms are called for. Continue reading “233 The cost of art theft to the thief”

231 Miffy in bronze on granite

The Dutch children’s book star Miffy is 50 years old this month. Her statue, by the son of the creator of Miffy, Dick Bruna, stands on a square in Utrecht. It is executed in bronze and stands on a granite socle. Only the hardest of hard materials can be used for outdoor art in the Netherlands. Schwartz worries about the extreme degree of vandalism in his adopted homeland. Continue reading “231 Miffy in bronze on granite”

230 Nation building on Museum Square

The self-stated mission of the New Rijksmuseum, now under construction, is to "tell the story" of Dutch history and art. In doing so, the museum distances itself from the Number One museum in all other European countries and enters the realm of nationalistic institutions such as the Israel Museum, which mounts a markedly tendentious presentation of the local past. Continue reading “230 Nation building on Museum Square”

229 The glory of Maarssen Station

Over the course of the years, Schwartz’s pleasure in taking the train from his local station in Maarssen has declined drastically. However, the station has risen immeasurably in his esteem now that he knows that it was here, in June 1845, that the Doppler effect was first demonstrated experimentally. In his new enthusiasm, he launches a plan to commemorate that event in art whenever a train passes the station. Continue reading “229 The glory of Maarssen Station”

228 Two royal collections in London

The choice of subjects in a new exhibition of Dutch pictures from the British Royal Collection is compared with that in a 1971 predecessor to this show. Schwartz detects a shift from aristocratic sporting subjects to poor man’s scenes from daily life. Until 30 October, the visitor can go from Buckingham Palace to Dulwich Picture Gallery to admire another royal collection, including splendid Dutch paintings. Assembled for the last king of Poland, it ended up, 20 years after his abdication, in a London suburb. Continue reading “228 Two royal collections in London”

227 Senseless sensibility

Two exhibitions of Dutch genre paintings take competing approaches to the interpretation of these irresistible depictions of everyday life. One show, in Haarlem and Hamburg, interprets them as moral warnings to the viewer; another, in Rotterdam and Frankfurt, sees them as nothing more than fun subjects. Schwartz introduces into the discussion the ideas of the literary historian René van Stipriaan, whose theories about farces for the stage open new possibilities for interpreting paintings as well.

Continue reading “227 Senseless sensibility”

226 How Sterre came home

The jacket image of the new summary illustrated catalogue of the Mauritshuis is the double portrait of Constantijn Huygens and his wife Suzanna van Baerle, Sterre. This brings back vivid memories of the acquisition of the painting by the Mauritshuis 13 years ago. Schwartz tells the inside story of his role in that coup, and that of the venerable Julius Held. Continue reading “226 How Sterre came home”