322 Sheer excellence

Attempting to pay tribute to the supreme Frits Lugt and his Fondation Custodia and to protest the announced closing of the Institut Néerlandais with which it is joined, Schwartz sets out to describe one example of Lugt’s collecting genius and gets caught up in the subject. Read about two related drawings and a print by and after Constantijn van Renesse, the only Dutch artist of the 17th century from Schwartz’s adopted village of Maarssen. Continue reading “322 Sheer excellence”

321 Rembrandt, Rubens, the Beau Sancy and the Jew

Cultural pessimists who are sure of the ongoing decline in our appreciation for art will have no choice, after reading Schwartzlist 321, but to change their tune if not their mind. Continue reading “321 Rembrandt, Rubens, the Beau Sancy and the Jew”

316 Pieter Saenredam comes home again (with Marten Jan Bok)

Pieter Saenredam documented his own art so well in inscriptions on his paintings and drawings that even lost work can often be identified. Now, however, a completely unknown composition has turned up, a view of the artist’s birthplace – even the house in which he grew up – in a touchingly personal painting. Continue reading “316 Pieter Saenredam comes home again (with Marten Jan Bok)”

311 Love in the huiskamer

Between the 1610s and 1650 an enchanting form of painting was produced in Antwerp and Antwerp alone: the kunstkamer painting, an evocation of an art collection in which actions of various kinds take place. Love of art is not the only kind of love expressed in these paintings. In one of the very earliest examples of the genre, Schwartz discovers conjugal and filial love as well as love for God. Continue reading “311 Love in the huiskamer”

285 The Cotswolds Rembrandt

A country art auction in England made the front pages all over the world when 2.2 million pounds was paid for a painting that looks a lot like a Rembrandt self-portrait. Is it? Schwartz thinks it is, and supplies an analysis to explain why. At the same time, he shows how the published opinions of the Rembrandt Research Project could have led to the rejection of the painting by the experts consulted by the owner and the auction house. More like an article than a column. Continue reading “285 The Cotswolds Rembrandt”

227 Senseless sensibility

Two exhibitions of Dutch genre paintings take competing approaches to the interpretation of these irresistible depictions of everyday life. One show, in Haarlem and Hamburg, interprets them as moral warnings to the viewer; another, in Rotterdam and Frankfurt, sees them as nothing more than fun subjects. Schwartz introduces into the discussion the ideas of the literary historian René van Stipriaan, whose theories about farces for the stage open new possibilities for interpreting paintings as well.

Continue reading “227 Senseless sensibility”

219 Rembrandt as eyewitness

The papers are full of long stories on a short letter in the New England Journal of Medicine. The authors, Harvard neurobiologists, claim that his self-portraits contain certain evidence that Rembrandt was wall-eyed and that this had consequences for his artistry. Schwartz begs to differ. The scientists simply ignore a mass of material in which no such aberration is visible, and they fail to notice that similar effects as they observe in Rembrandt portraits can also be seen in self-portaits by others. Continue reading “219 Rembrandt as eyewitness”