A memorial installment. The following column, mailed to subscribers in October 1998, appeared in Loekie Schwartz’s Dutch translation in Het Financieele Dagblad in the issue dated 31 October & 2 November 1998. I am putting it online now in tribute to two exceptional colleagues who both died this week. Hessel Miedema was a fellow art historian and Joop van Coevorden a fellow publisher, for both of whom I have measureless respect. Together, they raised to a new level the study of the greatest single book on early Dutch art, Karel van Mander’s Lives. When I wrote “Indeed, one can no longer read van Mander at all without Miedema, whose exhaustive commentary is one of the great achievements of present-day art history,” I should have said in so many words that the appearance of that commentary was due to the entrepreneurship, the good taste and dedication above and beyond the call of normal duty of Joop van Coevorden, in his DAVACO press. Their publication was financed in part by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research and Stichting Charema.
Country life in the Dutch Republic can be said to have started in the village where Loekie and I have lived for fifty years. The protection from overdevelopment that we enjoy had its origins in the conversion of farmhouses to country homes in the 1620s. Looking more closely at the circumstances, Schwartz finds that the impulse to do so came from two Amsterdam brothers-in-law, out to impress their wives’ wealthy father.
In the Art Bulletin issue of June 1997, a number of scholars were asked to put into writing their thoughts on “Digital culture and the practices of art and art history.” My contribution predicts that viewers will be given increased control over the ways they look at art, and looks forward to the implementation of instruments that can enrich museum visits. Had I known at the time that “augmented reality” already had a name, I would have used that term.
The 350th anniversary of the Treaty of Münster and the Peace of Westphalia was celebrated with symposia in Münster, Osnabrück and the Louvre. My contribution in Paris was a lecture on the image of Dutch burghers in painting with respect to the Eighty Years War.
“City fathers as civic warriors,” in: Jacques Thuillier and Klaus Bussmann, coordinators [aside: the editors, who should have been mentioned on the title page, were Hermann Arnhold and Matthias Waschek], 1648: Paix de Westphalie. L’art entre la guerre et la paix | Westfälischer Friede. Die Kunst zwischen Krieg und Frieden. Actes du colloque organisé par le Westfälisches Landesmuseum le 19 november 1998 à Münster et à Osnabrück et le Service culturel du musée du Louvre les 20 et 21 novembre 1998 à Paris, Paris (Louvre and Klincksieck) and Münster (Westfälisches Landesmuseum) 1999, pp. 201-225
The proceedings were published in a thick, tightly bound volume that is difficult to scan. Apologies as well for the lack of complete titles in the notes – the bibliographies of the individual essays are combined at the end in a 28-page section. For full references, send me a mail.
Like the conjunctions of stars and planets, artists can become aligned so closely that you can’t see the difference between one and another. When that happens, the result can be greater than the sum of the parts. Schwartz looks at two Italian and two Dutch pairs of artists who entered into bondings of that kind.
At the request of the New York magazine ArtNews, of which in the 1970s I was Netherlands correspondent, I visited the Prado Museum in Madrid to report on the new climate control facilities being installed. The article appeared in the March 1980 issue, contributing to the award to ArtNews of the George Polk Award for Cultural Journalism. I am pleased to report that in the intervening decades the Prado has more than redeemed itself from the dire situation in which I encountered it.
In a fraught discussion about Rembrandt’s motivation for making so many self-portraits, the leading Rembrandt expert of the day, Ernst van de Wetering, let himself be misled by a faulty publication of 1887, uncritically recycled in 1906 and 1979, into making an incorrect argument to which he attaches fundamental importance.
Donations to this installment of the Schwartzlist will be used not only for the website but also as a contribution to Loekie and Gary’s golden anniversary present, a new television set. See below.
The contributions of the Rembrandt Research Project to the study of Rembrandt paintings are countless and invaluable. In particular, the insistence of Ernst van de Wetering that the physical study of paintings be integrated into the practice of connoisseurship has changed the face of the field. However, inconsistencies in the six volumes of its Corpus of Rembrandt paintings leave us in uncertainty concerning its reconstruction of Rembrandt’s oeuvre. Schwartz puts his finger on a possible re-attribution that should be forthcoming, but isn’t.
Continue reading “364 The transparent connoisseur 5: Keeping the Rembrandt Research Project to its word”
“Saenredam, Huygens and the Utrecht bull” was Gary Schwartz’s first publication as an art historian. He looks back on how it came into being and what it meant in his life. Schwartz would like to think of the Dutch- and Flemish-speaking low countries as one culture, but circumstances keep intruding on this ideal image. Circumstances such as the lives and posterities of Peter Paul Rubens and Rembrandt van Rijn.
Schwartz looks back on his beginnings as an art historian. Grad student blues and release through new loves.