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

Download pdf (7Mb)

349 The difference between Frans Post and Hercules Seghers

The print room of the Rijksmuseum mounted magnificent exhibitions on two very different Dutch landscape artists, the portrayer of Brazil Frans Post and the traveler in his own imagination Hercules Segers. The juxtaposition brings Schwartz to compare them; he finds out that they both came to the same sorry end. Continue reading “349 The difference between Frans Post and Hercules Seghers”

348 Today in Delft 340 years ago

On the 30th of September 1676 the Delft courts appointed Anthoni van Leeuwenhoek as curator to the insolvent estate of Catharina Bolnes, the widow of Johannes Vermeer. So great is the power of those two names that generations of art historians have interpreted the document as a sign of profound bonding between art and science. Schwartz, in the footsteps of Michael Montias, reveals the disenchanting truth.

Continue reading “348 Today in Delft 340 years ago”

347 How a patrician made good for slighting a prince, maybe

In the splendid Antwerp specialty of kunstkamer painting, one painting and one alone migrated from one environment to another, from the patrician collection of Cornelis van der Geest to the fabled one of the archdukes of the southern Netherlands. Schwartz has an idea why. Continue reading “347 How a patrician made good for slighting a prince, maybe”

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

Download pdf (1 MB)
Bibliography (1 MB)

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

Download pdf (1 MB)
Literatur (1 MB)

The illustrations are in low resolution.

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

Download pdf (6MB)

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

332 Vermeer’s blood-sopping saint

Christie’s is about to auction as a Vermeer a painting of the early Christian St. Praxedis, who distinguished herself by conserving the body parts of martyrs. In doing so, the auction house braves the dismissal of the Vermeer attribution by nearly all experts in the field. Schwartz is convinced that Christie’s is right and they’re wrong. Continue reading “332 Vermeer’s blood-sopping saint”

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.

329 King Willem’s wall

The Palace of the Academy in Brussels has a secret that was revealed in a magical moment to Schwartz in June 2006. It concerns the greatest princely collection of paintings ever assembled in the Netherlands. In anticipation of an exhibition devoted to that collection, Schwartz now discloses all. Below the line he appeals for a celebration of the centenary of Kazimir Malevich’s abolition of reason. Continue reading “329 King Willem’s wall”