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.
The emergence of 32 works said to be unknown Jackson Pollocks, a generation after the death of the artist, had an uncannily similar precedent in the Wacker Affair, involving 33 paintings put on the market in the late 1920s as van Goghs. If art history indeed repeats itself, the Pollocks will turn out to be deliberate forgeries.
Two independent Dutch art historians, Michiel Roscam Abbing and Roelof van Straten, have made optimal use of the Rembrandt year to bring out some basic books on the artist as well as more popular writings. A tribute.
The idea that Rembrandt was sympathetic to Jews and Judaism is so generally accepted that it is seldom questioned critically. One of the pillars of this supposition is the identification of many portrait sitters and models as Jews. Hardly any of these can however stand up to scrutiny.
A friend of Rembrandt’s wrote four poems on The hundred-guilder print. Only two of them, sweet thoughts on the goodness of Christ, are cited in the literature. The third one, a concise statement of classical Christian anti-Judaism, has been repressed in the Rembrandt literature. Schwartz insists that we acknowledge that Rembrandt shared the same attitudes toward the Jews of all his contemporaries and that he was not sympathetic to Judaism. Continue reading “252 The third poem”
The Rembrandt Year 2006 is upon us. At work on a new book on Rembrandt, Schwartz reminisces about the book he edited for the Rembrandt Year 1969. As a publishing project, Horst Gerson’s Rembrandt paintings was a great success. Such successes do not come out of the blue. Schwartz pays tribute to the man who conceived and sold the project, Willem Bloemena.
The Dutch courts are overly lenient in punishing thefts from public museums in the Netherlands, which are on the rise. An anecdotal comparison between thefts from the Strawbery Banke museum in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam yields a ratio of ten to one between American versus Dutch sentencing. Because the prospect of a heavy sentence may induce a thief to help the police recover the loot, longer terms are called for. Continue reading “233 The cost of art theft to the thief”
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”
In 1998, for an exhibition in Amsterdam and Paris, a team of art historians and archivists retraced Rembrandt’s footsteps in six walks in and around Amsterdam. Following the trajectory of Walk IV, on the Amstel River, Schwartz realizes that Rembrandt’s deepest wish was to have Holland all for himself. Continue reading “213 Walk IV”
One of Europe’s greatest historical print collections is turned into an exhibition hall.