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.
For whatever bad reason this has happened, the long-awaited catalogue of Rembrandt’s drawings by Peter Schatborn, former head of the department of prints and drawings of the Rijksmuseum, has been published without a concordance in which one can look up the drawings by their Benesch numbers. Those are the numbers that have been used universally since the appearance in 1954-57 of the catalogue by Otto Benesch, edited by his wife Eva Benesch, In 1974, after the death of Otto, Eva brought out a revised edition. Both were published by Phaidon Press. Peter Schatborn’s catalogue came out in 2019 in a volume that also contains Rembrandt’s etchings: Peter Schatborn and Erik Hinterding, Rembrandt: the complete etchings and drawings, Cologne (Taschen) 2019.
Because I found Schatborn’s catalogue unacceptably irritating to use without a concordance – for which reason I have not been using it at all – I have made a concordance, which I make available to all.
In an article in the Dutch art magazine Kunstschrift, the editor, Mariette Haveman, disparaged the importance Schwartz attaches to documentary records as evidence for understanding Rembrandt as a person. Schwartz responds.
Letter to the editor: Gary Schwartz, 8 December 1991: “Het belang van banale zaken,” Kunstschrift 36:1 (1992), p. 6
On 29 and 30 October 2020, the ceremonial openings were to have taken place of an exhibition in Kunstmuseum Basel of which I am guest curator: Rembrandt’s orient: west meets east in Dutch art of the seventeenth century. Because of the pandemic, no openings are being held. Today, I am pleased to say, 31 October, the exhibition is open to the public. Travel restrictions have kept me from being in on the hanging or seeing the exhibition at all for the time being. I can only hope that I can see it before it closes on 14 February 2021 and that by the time the exhibition moves on to Museum Barberini in Potsdam in March 2021 there will be an opening at which I can speak. The catalogue includes an essay of mine on Rembrandt. It had to be shortened, but I have permission from the museums to publish the complete version on the Schwartzlist. The essay is a review of oriental motifs in Rembrandt’s art, which tend to be conventional, and an argument concerning the nature of one group of works that is entirely unique.
To entice you into reading the essay, this column shows only the illustrations. To find out what I have to say about them, click here.
The full version of an essay published in the catalogue to the exhibition Rembandt’s Orient: West Meets East in Dutch Art of the Seventeenth Century, Basel (Kunstmuseum Basel) and Potsdam (Museum Barberini) 2020-21.
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.
This is a two-part series about archive researchers incapable of accepting that Rembrandt was manipulative, no more trustworthy than he had to be, tricky with money, capable of great cruelty, and about whom in his century few people had a nice word to say. Both of these researchers added significantly to our knowledge of Rembrandt’s life, and both coupled their archival citations to tendentious claims that the documents absolve Rembrandt of all stigma.
This is a two-part series about archive researchers, one in 1852 and one in 2019, who were incapable of accepting that Rembrandt was manipulative, no more trustworthy than he had to be, tricky with money, capable of great cruelty and downwardly mobile. Both of these researchers added significantly to our knowledge of Rembrandt’s life, and both coupled their archival findings to the tendentious claim that the documents absolve Rembrandt of all stigma. Continue reading “379 Whitewashing Rembrandt, part 1”
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?
Did Rembrandt have more sympathy for Jews and Judaism than most of his contemporaries? This has long been taken for granted, and his paintings of Old Testament subjects and portraits of Jews have been discussed in this light. Since 1984, Schwartz has been questioning this assumption. Here he presents new evidence that Rembrandt cooperated in attaching anti-Semitic meaning to his work. Continue reading “375 Another third poem on Rembrandt Jews”