211 An American in The Hague

Ethel Portnoy, a dear friend, died at the age of 77. She was an embodiment of American Europeanness, creating in the Netherlands an international but entirely Dutch literary personality. She had the precious writer’s gift of giving readers a feeling that they were in her confidence.


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210 Specialism with a human face

The appearance of an outstanding collection of articles by his old friend Albert Blankert brings out sentimental recollections and upright admiration in Schwartz.


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209 The taste of the unicorn

A good provenance is not supposed to add to the value of a work of art, but it does. The information that an object was once owned by someone with famous good taste is worth money on the auction block. A collection mainly of Dutch 18th-century drawings that partakes of this quality, coming up at Sotheby’s Amsterdam on 19 May, is the Unicorno Collection, accumulated over the past 50 years by Saam and Lily Nijstad.


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The Albertina two-thirds out of commission

One of Europe’s greatest historical print collections is turned into an exhibition hall.


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154 The transparent connoisseur 1: Free advice to the Van Gogh Museum

The Van Gogh Museum did not take kindly to my column of January 19th (“The saga of Bouwe Jans”). The museum feels that I criticized it unfairly for the way it handled a request for an expert opinion on the authorship of a possible van Gogh painting. I promised the museum, by way of response, to elaborate on the recommendations in my piece. I do this in print because my remarks were not intended only for the Van Gogh Museum – which I am sure behaved in all good faith in this matter – but for any body, museum or not, that proffers expert opinions on sensitive subjects to the public. Continue reading “154 The transparent connoisseur 1: Free advice to the Van Gogh Museum”

153 Exception is the rule

This morning I picked up a few rolls of film I shot in the past few weeks. The photos were taken in Las Vegas, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Amsterdam, Moscow and Archangelskoye. What’s the use of pretending that I am together enough to write a normal column? I don’t have the distance. The distance has me. The best I can do is ponder the most memorable things I saw in each place.


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149 The saga of Bouwe Jans

The Van Gogh Museum has the good fortune of having acquired a tenacious, articulate, unforgiving critic with enough right on his side to teach it a valuable lesson. Whether the museum sees it that way I do not know; I‘m sure that I would not enjoy reading about myself the kind of things that the Dutch-English art dealer Bouwe Jans has published about the museum in his cantankerous book Artquakes and van Gogh. Yet the Van Gogh Museum and other arbiters of authenticity do have much to learn from his report. Continue reading “149 The saga of Bouwe Jans”