341 The transparent connoisseur 3: The 30 million pound question

A wrong call by the Rembrandt Research Project (“the authority on Rembrandt and has final say in whether a painting is genuine”- Wikipedia) cost the heirs of the generous art collector Harold Samuel a not so small fortune. Schwartz tells the tale and discusses the issues involved. Continue reading “341 The transparent connoisseur 3: The 30 million pound question”

340 Jheronimus Bosch and the Book of Nature

Key features of the art of Jheronimus Bosch are illuminated by a book published in the Netherlands in the artist’s early years. Raymond Sebond’s Natural theology, or Book of the creatures, can help us understand what God was doing with a book at the creation and why the Garden of earthly delights looks so unnatural. Continue reading “340 Jheronimus Bosch and the Book of Nature”

339 Latest Rembrandt

Rembrandt’s last dated drawing and the painting that was on his easel when he died both depict the same subject – Simeon with the Christ child in the Temple – in much the same way. In honor of the memorable exhibition Late Rembrandt Schwartz publishes some thoughts on these exceptional works.


Continue reading “339 Latest Rembrandt”

337 Here’s to Vincent and Theo, Anna, Eugène and Octave

The legendary single sale of a painting by Vincent van Gogh in his lifetime is not the art market discovery it is usually taken to be. It has a rich and moving background involving a cast of admirable characters, not least of them Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, who in Brussels challenged a vilifier of van Gogh to a duel. Continue reading “337 Here’s to Vincent and Theo, Anna, Eugène and Octave”

The meanings of Rembrandt

In October 2014 the Szépmüvészeti Múzeum in Budapest opened the large and ambitious exhibition Rembrandt and the Dutch Golden Age, with 195 displays, mainly paintings. It was accompanied by a correspondingly large, magnificently printed 606-page catalogue. Preceding the entries are five essays, one of which I wrote and which with the kind permission of the museum I make available on Schwartzlist Documents.

Gary Schwartz, “The meanings of Rembrandt,” in exhib. cat. Rembrandt and the Dutch Golden Age, Budapest (Szépmüvészeti Múzeum) 2014, pp. 36-57

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”

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.

327 Van Gogh painting newly rediscovered again

The Van Gogh Museum has put on display a painting by van Gogh of the plains below the ruins of the abbey of Montmajour. The museum calls it a “new discovery,” although it has known the painting for 22 years and in the past rejected its authenticity. The Van Gogh is not telling us as much as it should. Continue reading “327 Van Gogh painting newly rediscovered again”