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

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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 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

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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.

“J. van Beecq, Amsterdam marine painter, ‘the only one here [in France] who excels in this genre’”

From the proceedings of a symposium held at the university of Lille in 2008.

“J. van Beecq, Amsterdam marine painter, ‘the only one here [in France] who excels in this genre,’” in Les échanges artistiques entre les anciens Pay-Bas et la France, 1482-1814, ed. Gaëtane Maës and Jan Blanc, Turnhout (Brepols) 2010, pp. 15-32

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A reconstruction of the career of a Dutch painter who is known only for work in England and France. An accomplished follower of Willem van de Velde the Younger, van Beecq started off on a highly promising career in France, but failed to establish there anything like the position of van de Velde in England and the Netherlands. The problem seems to have lain in deficient patronage, even though van Beecq had good connections and much to offer as an artistic adjunct to the French import of Dutch shipbuilders for its naval fleet.

The lost portrait oeuvre of Gerard Pietersz. Zijl, from the tribute volume to Rudi Ekkart

Gary Schwartz, “Gerard Pietersz. van Zijl the portraitist: a ghost story,” in Facebook: studies on Dutch and Flemish portraiture of the 16th-18th centuries, Liber amicorum presented to Rudolf E.O. Ekkart on the occasion of his 65th birthday, Leiden (Primavera Pers) and The Hague (Netherlands Institute for Art History [RKD]) 2012, pp. 301-10

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With Emanuel de Witte in the Oude Kerk in Amsterdam: from the tribute volume to Ildikó Ember

Gary Schwartz, “With Emanuel de Witte in the Oude Kerk in Amsterdam,” Geest en gratie: essays presented to Ildikó Ember on her seventieth birthday, Budapest (Szépmüvészeti Múzeum) 2012, pp. 84-91

The photographs of the Oude Kerk and Nieuwe Kerk were taken in spring 2012 by Piet Musters.

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