Eine Welt ohne Sünde: Hieronymus Bosch als Visionär

Lead essay in the catalogue of an exhibition at the Bucerius Forum, Hamburg, 4 June-11 September 2016: Verkehrte Welt: das Jahrhundert von Hieronymus Bosch, edited by Michael Philipp

The essay argues that the Garden of Delights by Jheronimus Bosch is based on the first account of creation in the Bible. Genesis 1 speaks of the creation of man and woman simultaneously, both in the image of God. No prohibition is expressed against eating forbidden fruit; the first humans are not disobedient; there is no serpent to tempt them; they are not embarrassed by their nakedness; they are not expelled from Eden and cursed with a life of hard work and painful childbearing. This picture corresponds to the left panel of the Garden of Delights. The spectacular center panel shows what the world would have looked like had the Fall of Man not taken place, had mankind been free merely to “be fruitful and multiply.”

The hell panel is compared by the author to the 12th-century Vision of Tundale, a Dutch translation of which was published in Den Bosch in 1484. The point of both works is to frighten the reader or viewer into repenting from sin before it is too late. The message is not one of inevitable damnation, but of how to achieve salvation, as did Tundale.

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The Barberini and Orange inventories: a comparison of the collections and their publication

During the same years in the middle of the first half of the seventeenth century, important collections of paintings were amassed by the stadholder of the United Provinces of the Netherlands, Frederik Hendrik, prince of Orange (1584-1647), and Cardinal Francesco Barberini (1597-1679), the nephew of Maffeo Barberini, Pope Urban VIII. The inventories of their collections were drawn up in 1632 and 1625, respectively, offering a good basis for comparison. The article deals not only with the collections, the inventories and their publication in the twentieth century, but also with the structure of the patronage networks deployed by pope and stadholder.

The article was published in honor of Marilyn Lavin, in a festschrift offered by her friends.

Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque: a cat’s cradle for Marilyn Aronberg Lavin, ed. David A. Levine and Jack Freiberg, New York (Italica Press) 2010, pp. 167-178.

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Between court and Company: Dutch artists in Persia

During the first half of the seventeenth century, successive shahs of Persia took Dutch artists into their service. Other Dutch artists are recorded in Isfahan in other capacities. All but one – the most remarkable of them, Jan Lucasz. van Hasselt – came east with the Dutch East India Company, which had a distinctly uncomfortable feeling about having artists in its employ. All that we have left are documents and stories.

From exhib. cat. The fascination of Persia: The Persian-European dialogue in seventeenth-century art & contemporary art of Teheran, ed. Axel Langer, Zürich (Museum Rietberg) and Verlag Scheiddeger & Spiess 2013, pp. 153-167

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German edition

“Zwischen Hof und Handelsgesellschaft: Niederländische Künstler in Persien,” in Ausstellungskatalog Sehnsuch Persien: Austausch und Rezeption in der Kunst Persiens und Europas im 17. Jahrhundert * Gegenwartskunst aus Teheran, herausgegeben von Axel Langer, Zürich (Museum Rietberg) und Verlag Scheiddeger & Spiess 2013, S. 153-167

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The Sherleys and the shah: Persia as the stakes in a rogue’s game

Two brothers from an English aristocratic family that was down on its luck, Anthony and Robert Sherley, found their way in 1598 to Persia, where they entered the service of Shah ‘Abbas the Great. Their scarcely believable fortunes – both became ambassadors of the shah to the kingdoms, empire and papacy of Europe – are here reviewed, especially with attention to the prints and paintings through which they displayed their Persian status.

From exhib. cat. The fascination of Persia: The Persian-European dialogue in seventeenth-century art & contemporary art of Teheran, ed. Axel Langer, Zürich (Museum Rietberg) and Verlag Scheiddeger & Spiess 2013, pp. 78-99

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German edition

“Die Sherleys und der Schah: Persien als Spielfigur in einem Schurkengambit,” in Ausstellungskatalog Sehnsuch Persien: Austausch und Rezeption in der Kunst Persiens und Europas im 17. Jahrhundert * Gegenwartskunst aus Teheran, herausgegeben von Axel Langer, Zürich (Museum Rietberg) und Verlag Scheiddeger & Spiess 2013, S. 78-99

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Saenredam, Huygens and the Utrecht bull

Relates a poem by Constantijn Huygens on the Mariakerk in Utrecht, to an interior of the church by Pieter Saenredam showing the relief of a bull dancing on waves referred to in the poem, a painting that comes from Huygens’s house in The Hague. Religious, historical and architectural issues are heavily involved in the poem and the painting. As far as the author is aware, this is the first publication dealing with Dutch church painting in other than formal and antiquarian terms.

Gary Schwartz, “Saenredam, Huygens and the Utrecht bull,” Simiolus: Kunsthistorisch Tijdschrift 1 (1966-67), pp. 69-93

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Also available as an original offprint from the author: Gary.Schwartz@xs4all.nl.

The meanings of Rembrandt

In October 2014 the Szépmüvészeti Múzeum in Budapest opened the large and ambitious exhibition Rembrandt and the Dutch Golden Age, with 195 displays, mainly paintings. It was accompanied by a correspondingly large, magnificently printed 606-page catalogue. Preceding the entries are five essays, one of which I wrote and which with the kind permission of the museum I make available on Schwartzlist Documents.

Gary Schwartz, “The meanings of Rembrandt,” in exhib. cat. Rembrandt and the Dutch Golden Age, Budapest (Szépmüvészeti Múzeum) 2014, pp. 36-57

Safavid favour and Company scorn: the fortunes of Dutch painters to the shah

The article by Gary Schwartz with the above title is to be found on pp. 132-152, in English and Farsi, in

Iran and the Netherlands: interwoven through the ages, edited by Martine Gosselink and Dirk J. Tang, Gronsveld and Rotterdam (Barjesteh van Waalwijk van Doorn & Co’s Uitgeversmaatschappij) 2009

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Terms of reception: Europeans and Persians and each other’s art

From Mediating Netherlandish art and material culture in Asia, edited by Thomas DaCosta Kaufmann and Michael North, published by Amsterdam University Press, distributed in US by University of Chicago Press, 2014

From University of Chicago Press website (with more information on the book): “Scholars have extensively documented the historical and socioeconomic impact of the Dutch East India Company. They have paid much less attention to the company’s significant influence on Asian art and visual culture.

“Mediating Netherlandish Art and Material Culture in Asia addresses this imbalance with a wide range of contributions covering such topics as Dutch and Chinese art in colonial and indigenous households; the rise of Hollandmania in Japan; and the Dutch painters who worked at the court of the Persian shahs. Together, the contributors shed new light on seventeenth-century Dutch visual culture—and the company that spread it across Asia.”

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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

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.