380 Whitewashing Rembrandt, part 2

This is a two-part series about archive researchers incapable of accepting that Rembrandt was manipulative, no more trustworthy than he had to be, tricky with money, capable of great cruelty, and about whom in his century few people had a nice word to say. Both of these researchers added significantly to our knowledge of Rembrandt’s life, and both coupled their archival citations to tendentious claims that the documents absolve Rembrandt of all stigma.

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379 Whitewashing Rembrandt, part 1

This is a two-part series about archive researchers, one in 1852 and one in 2019, who were incapable of accepting that Rembrandt was manipulative, no more trustworthy than he had to be, tricky with money, capable of great cruelty and downwardly mobile. Both of these researchers added significantly to our knowledge of Rembrandt’s life, and both coupled their archival findings to the tendentious claim that the documents absolve Rembrandt of all stigma. Continue reading “379 Whitewashing Rembrandt, part 1”

378 “The mother’s eye reveals the son”

A splendid documentary on the ownership of and trade in Rembrandt paintings prompts Schwartz to ask questions not posed in the film. What went on behind the scenes in Paris to allow the Rothschild family to sell abroad a treasure of French cultural heritage? And could the Duke of Buccleuch’s painting of an old woman reading not be the mother of Jan Six?


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377 Three discoveries by Jan de Hond of which I am envious*

My research paths have crossed those of Jan de Hond in various ways for twenty years now. Again and again, he has beaten me to the punch in putting his finger on vital items. A tribute to a gifted colleague. Continue reading “377 Three discoveries by Jan de Hond of which I am envious*”

375 Another third poem on Rembrandt Jews

Did Rembrandt have more sympathy for Jews and Judaism than most of his contemporaries? This has long been taken for granted, and his paintings of Old Testament subjects and portraits of Jews have been discussed in this light. Since 1984, Schwartz has been questioning this assumption. Here he presents new evidence that Rembrandt cooperated in attaching anti-Semitic meaning to his work. Continue reading “375 Another third poem on Rembrandt Jews”

374 Heemskerck-bashing, late and early

Art historians seldom let their personal predilections and aversions show through in their writing. An exception is the connoisseurship on Maerten van Heemskerck, one of the giants of sixteenth-century European art. His first cataloguer, Thomas Kerrich, set off an abusive trend in 1829 that prevails until our day, in a kind of historiographical bullying. Schwartz takes up the cudgels for Heemskerck. Continue reading “374 Heemskerck-bashing, late and early”

373 Putting ourselves and Rembrandt to the test

For Peter Hecht, who following his retirement from a celebrated professorship in art history at Utrecht University, entered the fray of interpreters of Rembrandt’s notoriously treacherous Leiden History Painting. Schwartz reviews the state of the question, especially with regard to the emotions of three of the figures, and reintroduces into the discussion a neglected piece of pertinent evidence.

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64 The bizarre birth of a genre

A memorial installment. The following column, mailed to subscribers in October 1998, appeared in Loekie Schwartz’s Dutch translation in Het Financieele Dagblad in the issue dated 31 October & 2 November 1998. I am putting it online now in tribute to two exceptional colleagues who both died this week. Hessel Miedema was a fellow art historian and Joop van Coevorden a fellow publisher, for both of whom I have measureless respect. Together, they raised to a new level the study of the greatest single book on early Dutch art, Karel van Mander’s Lives. When I wrote “Indeed, one can no longer read van Mander at all without Miedema, whose exhaustive commentary is one of the great achievements of present-day art history,” I should have said in so many words that the appearance of that commentary was due to the entrepreneurship, the good taste and dedication above and beyond the call of normal duty of Joop van Coevorden, in his DAVACO press. Their publication was financed in part by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research and Stichting Charema.

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372 Between brothers-in-law

Country life in the Dutch Republic can be said to have started in the village where Loekie and I have lived for fifty years. The protection from overdevelopment that we enjoy had its origins in the conversion of farmhouses to country homes in the 1620s. Looking more closely at the circumstances, Schwartz finds that the impulse to do so came from two Amsterdam brothers-in-law, out to impress their wives’ wealthy father.

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Digital imagery and user-defined art

In the Art Bulletin issue of June 1997, a number of scholars were asked to put into writing their thoughts on “Digital culture and the practices of art and art history.” My contribution predicts that viewers will be given increased control over the ways they look at art, and looks forward to the implementation of instruments that can enrich museum visits. Had I known at the time that “augmented reality” already had a name, I would have used that term.

Digital imagery and user-defined art

See here for the complete set of essays