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?
The inspiration to put this column of 2003 on the Schwartzlist in 2019 came from the excellent column on conspiracies by Ross Douthat in The New York Times, 13 August 2019. Continue reading “195 Toward a theory of conspiracy”
Schwartz uncovers misappropriations of the great Dutch artist by a raft of writers and an artist. Is he sorry he didn’t write a novel about Vermeer? Maybe.
March 2001 Art in America pp. 104-07 (can be enlarged with CTRL+ for legibility)
Last paragraph and notes (all numbered i – you can link them to their place in the text if you really want to)
If they didn’t live three centuries apart and if he were a human being instead of a fictional character, you could easily confuse Gulley Jimson with Emanuel de Witte. Both were gifted painters who insulted, bullied and stole from their patrons and were always ready for fights they couldn’t win.
In the 1950s death lost its sting in The New Yorker. As in the opening line of Albert Camus’s novel L’Etranger, mothers – and others – keep dying without anyone shedding a tear over them.
Gary Schwartz, “Rembrandt’s David and Mephiboseth: a forgotten subject from Vondel,” in Tribute to Lotte Brand Philip, art historian and detective, New York (Abaris Books) 1985, pp. 166-74
With apologies to those of you who liked There will be blood, Schwartz trashes the movie for betraying the book on which it it is fraudulently based, Upton Sinclair’s Oil!
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.
Ethel Portnoy, a dear friend, died at the age of 77. She was an embodiment of American Europeanness, creating in the Netherlands an international but entirely Dutch literary personality. She had the precious writer’s gift of giving readers a feeling that they were in her confidence.