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

300 O Solomon, where art thou?

A painting by Jan Steen of a wedding night disturbed by a demon and saved by an archangel was cut in two in the distant past and put back together again in 1996. Ownership of the larger, more attractive part has now been awarded to the heirs of a Dutch Jewish art dealer to whom it belonged in 1940. What is going to happen now? Ending with an appeal to Marei von Saher.


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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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277 The race across the bridge

An eloquent new essay in what is called contemporary history, a book by the Dutch author Geert Mak on the Galata Bridge in Istanbul, brings back memories of the predecessor of the present bridge, which Schwartz first crossed in August 1961. It was a pontoon bridge that opened every night for shipping to the Golden Horn. Every time it was reopened for land traffic, a race took place that now seems like a clue to the creation of human values.


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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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210 Specialism with a human face

The appearance of an outstanding collection of articles by his old friend Albert Blankert brings out sentimental recollections and upright admiration in Schwartz.


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