300 O Solomon, where art thou?

A painting by Jan Steen of a wedding night disturbed by a demon and saved by an archangel was cut in two in the distant past and put back together again in 1996. Ownership of the larger, more attractive part has now been awarded to the heirs of a Dutch Jewish art dealer to whom it belonged in 1940. What is going to happen now? Ending with an appeal to Marei von Saher.

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291 Image of the beautiful black

One in so many Western works of art contains an image of a person we would call black. The phenomenon attracts relatively little attention in art history. The Menil Foundation went after it seriously, in a project now inherited by the Warburg Institute. An exhibition in the Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam offers a sanitized view of the black in Dutch and Flemish art. Continue reading “291 Image of the beautiful black”

227 Senseless sensibility

Two exhibitions of Dutch genre paintings take competing approaches to the interpretation of these irresistible depictions of everyday life. One show, in Haarlem and Hamburg, interprets them as moral warnings to the viewer; another, in Rotterdam and Frankfurt, sees them as nothing more than fun subjects. Schwartz introduces into the discussion the ideas of the literary historian René van Stipriaan, whose theories about farces for the stage open new possibilities for interpreting paintings as well.

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