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.
Rembrandt was the most avid imaginable illustrator of stories from the Bible. But the relationship of his images to Scripture is sometimes inexplicably fallacious. Schwartz probes this delicate question.
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?
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*”
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”
For Peter Hecht, who following his retirement from a celebrated professorship in art history at Utrecht University, entered the fray of interpreters of Rembrandt’s notoriously treacherous Leiden History Painting. Schwartz reviews the state of the question, especially with regard to the emotions of three of the figures, and reintroduces into the discussion a neglected piece of pertinent evidence.
Country life in the Dutch Republic can be said to have started in the village where Loekie and I have lived for fifty years. The protection from overdevelopment that we enjoy had its origins in the conversion of farmhouses to country homes in the 1620s. Looking more closely at the circumstances, Schwartz finds that the impulse to do so came from two Amsterdam brothers-in-law, out to impress their wives’ wealthy father.
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.
In his paintings of faces Rembrandt displays knowledge of a particular muscular feature, the one that gives some people bags under their eyes. Schwartz became mildly obsessed with following this from face to face and found that Rembrandt never gave paying sitters the bags he admits to in some self-portraits and mercilessly records when painting old studio models.
The 350th anniversary of the Treaty of Münster and the Peace of Westphalia was celebrated with symposia in Münster, Osnabrück and the Louvre. My contribution in Paris was a lecture on the image of Dutch burghers in painting with respect to the Eighty Years War.
“City fathers as civic warriors,” in: Jacques Thuillier and Klaus Bussmann, coordinators [aside: the editors, who should have been mentioned on the title page, were Hermann Arnhold and Matthias Waschek], 1648: Paix de Westphalie. L’art entre la guerre et la paix | Westfälischer Friede. Die Kunst zwischen Krieg und Frieden. Actes du colloque organisé par le Westfälisches Landesmuseum le 19 november 1998 à Münster et à Osnabrück et le Service culturel du musée du Louvre les 20 et 21 novembre 1998 à Paris, Paris (Louvre and Klincksieck) and Münster (Westfälisches Landesmuseum) 1999, pp. 201-225
The proceedings were published in a thick, tightly bound volume that is difficult to scan. Apologies as well for the lack of complete titles in the notes – the bibliographies of the individual essays are combined at the end in a 28-page section. For full references, send me a mail.