64 The bizarre birth of a genre

A memorial installment. The following column, mailed to subscribers in October 1998, appeared in Loekie Schwartz’s Dutch translation in Het Financieele Dagblad in the issue dated 31 October & 2 November 1998. I am putting it online now in tribute to two exceptional colleagues who both died this week. Hessel Miedema was a fellow art historian and Joop van Coevorden a fellow publisher, for both of whom I have measureless respect. Together, they raised to a new level the study of the greatest single book on early Dutch art, Karel van Mander’s Lives. When I wrote “Indeed, one can no longer read van Mander at all without Miedema, whose exhaustive commentary is one of the great achievements of present-day art history,” I should have said in so many words that the appearance of that commentary was due to the entrepreneurship, the good taste and dedication above and beyond the call of normal duty of Joop van Coevorden, in his DAVACO press. Their publication was financed in part by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research and Stichting Charema.

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360 Kitaj lets it all hang out

A German art critic-editor and a German publisher have brought out one of the main ego documents of twentieth-century art in England and the US. Schwartz’s personal comments on and associations evoked by R.B. Kitaj’s outrageous Confessions of an old Jewish painter.
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Leo Steinberg (1920-2011)

On Sunday afternoon, 13 March 2011, the eminent art historian Leo Steinberg died, in his own long-time home on West 66th Street in New York, at the age of 90. I have called Leo Steinberg a good friend since we met for the first time at the National Gallery in London in 1966. When Loekie and I were married in New York in April 1968, Leo took us and our wedding guests to lunch at Ratner’s on Second Avenue. We have always thought of him as the godfather of our marriage, now in its 42nd year.

In 1994, Leo Steinberg came to the Netherlands to deliver a public lecture at Utrecht University. This is the text of the talk by which I introduced him to the audience.

Open pdf (282 kB) at Leo Steinberg Utrecht 1994

279 No thanks for the memory

The commemoration of war victims provides a measure of closure for the pain of war. It may not feel that way, but it forms an important part of war itself. Rather than eliminating memorial days, Schwartz argues for the extension of mourning to cover all victims of war, down to enemy, civilian and psychological casualties. Such a practice would aggravate rather than ease the emotional burden of war, bringing it closer to the point where it becomes unbearable.


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275 What Scarlett Johansson doesn’t know about Vermeer

In February a volume of studies in Dutch art was published in memory of the economist and historian of Dutch art Michael Montias. Schwartz recommends it. In a P.S. the impending end of the Dutch-language basis for the Schwartzlist is announced.


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211 An American in The Hague

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.


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