388 Convention and uniqueness in Rembrandt’s response to the east

On 29 and 30 October 2020, the ceremonial openings were to have taken place of an exhibition in Kunstmuseum Basel of which I am guest curator: Rembrandt’s orient: west meets east in Dutch art of the seventeenth century. Because of the pandemic, no openings are being held. Today, I am pleased to say, 31 October, the exhibition is open to the public. Travel restrictions have kept me from being in on the hanging or seeing the exhibition at all for the time being. I can only hope that I can see it before it closes on 14 February 2021 and that by the time the exhibition moves on to Museum Barberini in Potsdam in March 2021 there will be an opening at which I can speak. The catalogue includes an essay of mine on Rembrandt. It had to be shortened, but I have permission from the museums to publish the complete version on the Schwartzlist. The essay is a review of oriental motifs in Rembrandt’s art, which tend to be conventional, and an argument concerning the nature of one group of works that is entirely unique.

To entice you into reading the essay, this column shows only the illustrations. To find out what I have to say about them, click here.

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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.

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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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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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64 The bizarre birth of a genre

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.

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372 Between brothers-in-law

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.

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361 Between the wars

Some of the best realist painters of the twentieth century were Dutch. If few art lovers outside the Netherlands have heard of them, this is because the Netherlands has proven unable to launch major reputations for artists who stayed at home and did not work in international groups like De Stijl or Cobra. Schwartz delves into the issue, and is held up midway by the tragic choices of the best of the Dutch realists, Pyke Koch.
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357 Gulley Jimson had nothing on Emanuel de Witte

If they didn’t live three centuries apart and if he were a human being instead of a fictional character, you could easily confuse Gulley Jimson with Emanuel de Witte. Both were gifted painters who insulted, bullied and stole from their patrons and were always ready for fights they couldn’t win.

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The structure of patronage networks in Rome, The Hague and Amsterdam in the 17th century

The Francesco Datini Institute in Prato holds a highly distinguished yearly conference (Settimana di studi) on economics and its history. The range of subjects is impressive and inspiring, from “Wool as a raw material” in 1969 to “Water management in Europe, twelfth to eighteenth centuries” in 2017. In 2001 the theme was “Economics and art,” with more than fifty European and American participants. My contribution was a comparison of the patronage networks in three major seventeenth-century art centers. I suggested that certain structural similarities reveal themselves that may point to deep-lying social forces.

The proceedings were published in 2002 in a form that is not easy to scan well. Now that I have tried, fifteen years later, I see that the results are legible enough. An invaluable feature of Datini proceedings is that they include the discussions following each block of papers. Click here for a column on the congress.

“The structure of patronage networks in Rome, The Hague and Amsterdam in the 17th century,” in: Simonetta Cavaciocchi, ed., Economia e arte secc. XIII-XVIII: Atti della “Trentatreesima Settimana di Studi” 30 april-4 maggio 2001,  Le Monnier for Istituto Internazionale di Storia Economica “F. Datini,” Prato 2002, pp. 567-74

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