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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389 Botticelli’s Primavera as an image of Santa Maria del Fiore

A guest column by Loekie Schwartz. The calm central figure in the Primavera is framed by a bower with the shape of the cupola of Florence Cathedral, Santa Maria del Fiore. The visual rhyme is intended to convey that she partakes both in the floral association of the name and its Marian essence. A further link between painting and cathedral is to be found in a writing by Alberti, where the Duomo is called a springtime refuge from the vicissitudes of the world outside.  Please copy to students of Italian art and literature. Continue reading “389 Botticelli’s Primavera as an image of Santa Maria del Fiore”

177 Amateurs and professionals

Professional astronomers, ornithologists, entomologists and other scientists have a symbiotic relationship with amateurs, who do the boring fieldwork for which they have no time. Schwartz was able, as a publisher, to foster a bond of that kind in the study of Dutch still-life painters.


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387 “We didn’t need dialogue. We had faces!”

A new friend I have yet to meet, Luca Del Baldo, has done something so far out of the ordinary that I am stunned in amazement. Singlehandedly, with unimaginable dedication and tenacity, he has called into being a 98-person community of people who write about art, painting portraits of each and getting them to put down on paper thoughts on portraiture. Here is Schwartz’s contribution, followed by two recently published articles to be downloaded or requested.

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Paintings by Pieter Lastman and Jan Lievens in the Nystad gallery

For the befriended art dealer Saam Nystad, in 1983 Schwartz researched three paintings he had on offer. Four decades later, he was able to borrow for his exhibition Rembrandt’s Orient, one of them, Pieter Lastman’s Jephtha’s daughter, from the museum to which it had been sold, Kunstmuseum Winterthur.

1983NijstadLastmanLievens

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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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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377 Three discoveries by Jan de Hond of which I am envious*

My research paths have crossed those of Jan de Hond in various ways for twenty years now. Again and again, he has beaten me to the punch in putting his finger on vital items. A tribute to a gifted colleague. Continue reading “377 Three discoveries by Jan de Hond of which I am envious*”