388 Convention and uniqueness in Rembrandt’s response to the east

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.

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386 Dutchness* in English art

In giving Schwartzlist 385 the title “The Dutchness of English art,” I succumbed to the irresistible temptation to take on Nikolaus Pevsner’s classic “The Englishness of English art” and Christopher Brown’s “The Dutchness of Dutch art.” A number of readers felt that I thereby cut corners. The present column is a remake, with an unassailably clearcut definition of its scope and a properly modest title. Continue reading “386 Dutchness* in English art”

385 The Dutchness of English art

In the second half of the seventeenth century, Dutch artists swarmed all over Europe in search of earnings that were drying up at home. They virtually annexed the art scene of Great Britain, giving shape to much of what we think of as English culture. Schwartz’s view of British Baroque.

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Pieter Saenredam and the town hall of Haarlem

To mark the publication of the Dutch edition of a book on Pieter Saenredam that I wrote with Marten Jan Bok, the Frans Hals Museum in Haarlem invited us to install a small exhibition in the museum. The central work was Saenredam’s painting of the town hall of Haarlem. Marten Jan and I wrote a booklet to accompany the show. In it we expressed the wish that the museum acquire the painting. This has not happened. It remained with Wildenstein & Co. until they put it into a sale at Sotheby’s New York on 28 January 2016. I am told that it was purchased by a married couple of distinguished American collectors who are planning to donate it to a U.S. museum. All the better that it has passed into the hands of people who really want it.

1989PieterSaenredamAndTheTownHallOfHaarlem

369 Art twins

Like the conjunctions of stars and planets, artists can become aligned so closely that you can’t see the difference between one and another. When that happens, the result can be greater than the sum of the parts. Schwartz looks at two Italian and two Dutch pairs of artists who entered into bondings of that kind.

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Can the Prado be reformed before its pictures disintegrate?

At the request of the New York magazine ArtNews, of which in the 1970s I was Netherlands correspondent, I visited the Prado Museum in Madrid to report on the new climate control facilities being installed. The article appeared in the March 1980 issue, contributing to the award to ArtNews of the George Polk Award for Cultural Journalism. I am pleased to report that in the intervening decades the Prado has more than redeemed itself from the dire situation in which I encountered it.


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366 Les extrêmes se touchent

The summer exhibitions in the Rijksmuseum present two extremes of three-dimensional form. The somewhat brutalist geometric steel sculptures of Eduardo Chillida in the garden, and in the exhibition galleries the height of finesse, precious gold and silver objects that flirt with formlessness. Schwartz finds a common denominator.

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362 Work for a grown man

Mutual relations among Rembrandt specialists are not always as cordial as they might be. It takes understanding and diplomacy to stay on good terms with everyone in the field. In that I have not been universally successful. One colleague with whom I have always got on well, differences not aside but included, is Christopher Brown. This is more to his credit than to mine. But I admire him for much more than that. Continue reading “362 Work for a grown man”

361 Between the wars

Some of the best realist painters of the twentieth century were Dutch. If few art lovers outside the Netherlands have heard of them, this is because the Netherlands has proven unable to launch major reputations for artists who stayed at home and did not work in international groups like De Stijl or Cobra. Schwartz delves into the issue, and is held up midway by the tragic choices of the best of the Dutch realists, Pyke Koch.
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358 The titles of Charlotte Salomon’s masterpiece

The Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam has opened one of the most remarkable exhibitions you are ever likely to see, Charlotte Salomon. Life? or Theatre? It runs for a generous five months from 20 October 2017 to 25 March 2018. The occasion is the 100th anniversary of the artist’s birth in 1917. In 1943 she was murdered in Auschwitz.

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