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.

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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.


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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.

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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”

385 The Dutchness of English art

In the second half of the seventeenth century, Dutch artists swarmed all over Europe in search of earnings that were drying up at home. They virtually annexed the art scene of Great Britain, giving shape to much of what we think of as English culture. Schwartz’s view of British Baroque.

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Paintings by Pieter Lastman and Jan Lievens in the Nystad gallery

For the befriended art dealer Saam Nystad, in 1983 Schwartz researched three paintings he had on offer. Four decades later, he was able to borrow for his exhibition Rembrandt’s Orient, one of them, Pieter Lastman’s Jephtha’s daughter, from the museum to which it had been sold, Kunstmuseum Winterthur.

1983NijstadLastmanLievens

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”