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. To be published on the Schwartzlist following the opening of the exhibition in Basel on 31 October 2020.

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.

Continue reading “380 Whitewashing Rembrandt, part 2”

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”