345 The transparent connoisseur 4: a Berenson scorecard

A magnificent new catalogue has been published on the Bernard and Mary Berenson collection at I Tatti. Schwartz uses it to test the sustainability of the Berensons’ attributions of paintings for which they put down cash on the barrelhead. The results are disenchanting. Only one of eighty-seven relevant entries is an original Berenson attribution that is still accepted. Continue reading “345 The transparent connoisseur 4: a Berenson scorecard”

341 The transparent connoisseur 3: the 30 million pound question

A wrong call by the Rembrandt Research Project (“the authority on Rembrandt and has final say in whether a painting is genuine”- Wikipedia) cost the heirs of the generous art collector Harold Samuel a not so small fortune. Schwartz tells the tale and discusses the issues involved. Continue reading “341 The transparent connoisseur 3: the 30 million pound question”

332 Vermeer’s blood-sopping saint

Christie’s is about to auction as a Vermeer a painting of the early Christian St. Praxedis, who distinguished herself by conserving the body parts of martyrs. In doing so, the auction house braves the dismissal of the Vermeer attribution by nearly all experts in the field. Schwartz is convinced that Christie’s is right and they’re wrong. Continue reading “332 Vermeer’s blood-sopping saint”

A corpus of Rembrandt paintings as a test case for connoisseurship

From the proceedings of a congress held at the Ecole du Louvre on 21-23 October 2011Couv Connoisseurship

Connoisseurship: l’oeil, la raison et l’instrument, ed. Patrick Michel, Paris (Ecole du Louvre) 2014, pp. 229-37.

Open pdf (663 kB) at Connoisseurship Schwartz

The Rembrandt Research Project had everything going for it when it set out in 1968 to examine the authorship of all the paintings seriously attributed to the master. However, by 1991, after publishing three massive volumes covering half of Rembrandt’s career,  it ran out of steam and four of the five members quit the project. The remaining member, Ernst van de Wetering, took it over, admitting that vols. 1-3 were a failure. Schwartz asks why and suggests that the fault lay less with the members of the project than with the impossible pretensions of connoisseurship itself.

The lost portrait oeuvre of Gerard Pietersz. Zijl, from the tribute volume to Rudi Ekkart

Gary Schwartz, “Gerard Pietersz. van Zijl the portraitist: a ghost story,” in Facebook: studies on Dutch and Flemish portraiture of the 16th-18th centuries, Liber amicorum presented to Rudolf E.O. Ekkart on the occasion of his 65th birthday, Leiden (Primavera Pers) and The Hague (Netherlands Institute for Art History [RKD]) 2012, pp. 301-10

Open pdf (1.03 Mb)

319 Chopped liver at Woburn Abbey

The world press has announced that a painting of an old man in Woburn Abbey, England, has been newly discovered to be an authentic Rembrandt. Schwartz, who included the painting in his book on Rembrandt of 1984, as have all other cataloguers of Rembrandt paintings from 1836 on, is incensed that the abbey practices such flagrant spin, and that the press feeds it to us so uncritically. Continue reading “319 Chopped liver at Woburn Abbey”

The clones make the master: Rembrandt in 1650

Gary Schwartz, “The clones make the master: Rembrandt in 1650,” in: Horizonte: Beiträge zu Kunst und Kunstwissenschaft | Horizons: essais sur l’art et sur son histoire | orizzonti: saggi sull’arte e sulla storia dell’arte |  Horizons: essays on art and art research, Zürich (Schweizerisches Institut für Kunstwissenschaft) and Ostfildern-Ruit, Germany (Hatje Cantz) 2001, pp. 53-64

Horizonte is a volume of studies published to mark the 50th anniversary of the Schweizerisches Institut für Kunstwissenschaft (Swiss Institute for Art Research). The article deals with unacknowledged ambiguities in our understanding of Rembrandt.

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314 @RembrandtFollowers

The terms Rembrandt school, Rembrandt workshop and Pre-Rembrandtist are taken for granted too unquestioningly. In fact, they have created immense confusion. Anticipating the second conference of Rembrandt specialists at Herstmonceux Castle in July 2011, Schwartz calls for a more critical look at the Rembrandt ambit. Continue reading “314 @RembrandtFollowers”

308 Francisco Pacheco’s son-in-law makes good

Diego Velázquez was a better artist than his master, Francisco Pacheco. This is reason enough for some art historians to deny that Pacheco, the leading Seville artist of his day, was a formative influence on his pupil. Schwartz sees this as an affront to the historical study of art, and he rallies to set matters straight. Below the line his welcome greeting to the new Dutch government. Continue reading “308 Francisco Pacheco’s son-in-law makes good”