How Vermeer and his generation stole the thunder of the Golden Age

From the perspective of the year 1650, the past and future of Dutch seventeenth-century painting look radically different from each other. The first half of the century was dominated by participants in the greater European school, with narrative histories and allegories as the most highly prized creations. After 1650 the field is taken over by landscape and townscape, still life and genre. These were less valuable in the marketplace and helped depress the incomes of artists who were already suffering from a shrinking market for their wares. Our picture of the Dutch Golden Age is unduly determined by niche products of the latter half of the century, especially the paintings of Johannes Vermeer, who was virtually unknown until the latter nineteenth century. By forefronting Vermeer and his generation, we adopt a distorted view of the Dutch seventeenth century and its place in Europe, a view that plays into present-day political misunderstandings of where the Netherlands stands in the world.

This phenomenon was demonstrated and discussed by Gary Schwartz in the 32nd Uhlenbeck Lecture, held for the NIAS Fellows Association on 23 June 2014. NIAS is the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences.

See the pdf (1.37 mB) at 32ndUhlenbeckLectureNIAS20140623_Gary Schwartz

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”

Rembrandt research after the age of connoisseurship

An extended critique of the Rembrandt Research Project and of connoisseurship in general. Published in the last issue of the short-lived journal Annals of Scholarship. The issue is dated 1993, but the sickness and death of the editor, Ruth Graham, led to a delay in publication until 1995.


Open pdf (3.3 MB)

290 Dutch art on a European roll

The diffusion of Dutch art throughout Europe, the subject of a classical monograph by Horst Gerson in 1942, has never enjoyed more attention than it is receiving right now. Schwartz reviews current Franco-, Anglo- and Italo-Dutch developments, ending with a report on a spectacular new discovery concerning Rembrandt in Genoa. Continue reading “290 Dutch art on a European roll”

275 What Scarlett Johansson doesn’t know about Vermeer

In February a volume of studies in Dutch art was published in memory of the economist and historian of Dutch art Michael Montias. Schwartz recommends it. In a P.S. the impending end of the Dutch-language basis for the Schwartzlist is announced. Continue reading “275 What Scarlett Johansson doesn’t know about Vermeer”