408 The iconophile Sephardi in me

Do you feel kin to people who lived in your house in the past? Schwartz indulges in the exercise, finding out that he is the successor to members of an intertwined Sephardi clan of jewelers and merchants in diamonds and pearls, members of which were Rembrandt’s next-door neighbors, while another commissioned a staggering Antwerp painting he has studied.

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Love in the kunstkamer: additions to the work of Guillam van Haecht (1593-1637)

An exploration of the riches of beauty and meaning invested in and taken from art by Guillam van Haecht and his patron Cornelis van der Geest. Published in the Dutch art magazine Tableau, the summer issue of 1996, pp. 43-52.

LoveInTheKunstkamerTableauSummer1996

403 Good Jews and bad Jews in 1620 and 1630

On four successive Mondays, from 21 January to 14 February, I moderated a webinar on the theme “Rembrandt seen through Jewish eyes,” in preparation for an exhibition of that name in the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center in Moscow. One point of disagreement among the speakers was how welcoming the Netherlands was to Jewish immigrants. I felt that some speakers had too rose-colored an impression of things, for which I bring the following heavy evidence to bear.

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393 The transparent connoisseur 6: Johnny One Work

There are nearly one-and-a-half times as many recorded Dutch painters of the seventeenth century by whom not a single work is known than masters with an identified oeuvre. And then there are those by whom we know only one really good painting. Where did their lost paintings go? Lots were thrown away, but others, Schwartz argues, are catalogued under well-known names. This subverts one of the basic assumptions of the connoisseur’s attribution.
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390 What did Rembrandt have against spires?

Rembrandt suffered from a rare condition that has not yet been diagnosed. He had an aversion to spires and sometimes to towers, lopping them off his depictions of buildings we know to have had them. Schwartz worries the issue.

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382 Counting back from the end

The New York art gallery of Nicholas Hall asked me to contribute to a series of online writings called Food for Thought. My own thoughts went back to the 1990s, when I brought myself to pick up a research project I had abandoned in the 1960s. Impacted by current events, the memories are fraught with thoughts of mortality.

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374 Heemskerck-bashing, late and early

Art historians seldom let their personal predilections and aversions show through in their writing. An exception is the connoisseurship on Maerten van Heemskerck, one of the giants of sixteenth-century European art. His first cataloguer, Thomas Kerrich, set off an abusive trend in 1829 that prevails until our day, in a kind of historiographical bullying. Schwartz takes up the cudgels for Heemskerck. Continue reading “374 Heemskerck-bashing, late and early”

Pieter Saenredam and the town hall of Haarlem

To mark the publication of the Dutch edition of a book on Pieter Saenredam that I wrote with Marten Jan Bok, the Frans Hals Museum in Haarlem invited us to install a small exhibition in the museum. The central work was Saenredam’s painting of the town hall of Haarlem. Marten Jan and I wrote a booklet to accompany the show. In it we expressed the wish that the museum acquire the painting. This has not happened. It remained with Wildenstein & Co. until they put it into a sale at Sotheby’s New York on 28 January 2016. I am told that it was purchased by a married couple of distinguished American collectors who are planning to donate it to a U.S. museum. All the better that it has passed into the hands of people who really want it.

1989PieterSaenredamAndTheTownHallOfHaarlem

Can the Prado be reformed before its pictures disintegrate?

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.


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