344 Some Rothschild Rembrandts, seen and unseen

The deal is done. The Louvre and Rijksmuseum have come into shared ownership of Rembrandt’s earliest full-length, life-size portraits. Buyers and sellers proclaim piously that they were driven by angst that these cultural treasures might disappear to Arabia or China. Schwartz tests that proposition and finds it wanting. Continue reading “344 Some Rothschild Rembrandts, seen and unseen”

Between court and Company: Dutch artists in Persia

During the first half of the seventeenth century, successive shahs of Persia took Dutch artists into their service. Other Dutch artists are recorded in Isfahan in other capacities. All but one – the most remarkable of them, Jan Lucasz. van Hasselt – came east with the Dutch East India Company, which had a distinctly uncomfortable feeling about having artists in its employ. All that we have left are documents and stories.

From exhib. cat. The fascination of Persia: The Persian-European dialogue in seventeenth-century art & contemporary art of Teheran, ed. Axel Langer, Zürich (Museum Rietberg) and Verlag Scheiddeger & Spiess 2013, pp. 153-167

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German edition

“Zwischen Hof und Handelsgesellschaft: Niederländische Künstler in Persien,” in Ausstellungskatalog Sehnsuch Persien: Austausch und Rezeption in der Kunst Persiens und Europas im 17. Jahrhundert * Gegenwartskunst aus Teheran, herausgegeben von Axel Langer, Zürich (Museum Rietberg) und Verlag Scheiddeger & Spiess 2013, S. 153-167

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The Sherleys and the shah: Persia as the stakes in a rogue’s game

Two brothers from an English aristocratic family that was down on its luck, Anthony and Robert Sherley, found their way in 1598 to Persia, where they entered the service of Shah ‘Abbas the Great. Their scarcely believable fortunes – both became ambassadors of the shah to the kingdoms, empire and papacy of Europe – are here reviewed, especially with attention to the prints and paintings through which they displayed their Persian status.

From exhib. cat. The fascination of Persia: The Persian-European dialogue in seventeenth-century art & contemporary art of Teheran, ed. Axel Langer, Zürich (Museum Rietberg) and Verlag Scheiddeger & Spiess 2013, pp. 78-99

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German edition

“Die Sherleys und der Schah: Persien als Spielfigur in einem Schurkengambit,” in Ausstellungskatalog Sehnsuch Persien: Austausch und Rezeption in der Kunst Persiens und Europas im 17. Jahrhundert * Gegenwartskunst aus Teheran, herausgegeben von Axel Langer, Zürich (Museum Rietberg) und Verlag Scheiddeger & Spiess 2013, S. 78-99

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The meanings of Rembrandt

In October 2014 the Szépmüvészeti Múzeum in Budapest opened the large and ambitious exhibition Rembrandt and the Dutch Golden Age, with 195 displays, mainly paintings. It was accompanied by a correspondingly large, magnificently printed 606-page catalogue. Preceding the entries are five essays, one of which I wrote and which with the kind permission of the museum I make available on Schwartzlist Documents.

Gary Schwartz, “The meanings of Rembrandt,” in exhib. cat. Rembrandt and the Dutch Golden Age, Budapest (Szépmüvészeti Múzeum) 2014, pp. 36-57

154 The transparent connoisseur 1

The Van Gogh Museum did not take kindly to my column of January 19th (“The saga of Bouwe Jans”). The museum feels that I criticized it unfairly for the way it handled a request for an expert opinion on the authorship of a possible van Gogh painting. I promised the museum, by way of response, to elaborate on the recommendations in my piece. I do this in print because my remarks were not intended only for the Van Gogh Museum – which I am sure behaved in all good faith in this matter – but for any body, museum or not, that proffers expert opinions on sensitive subjects to the public. Continue reading “154 The transparent connoisseur 1”

216 The Olympics of 1777

Fleeing the offensive hypocrisy of the Olympics, Schwartz and Loekie travel to Wörlitz in Saxony-Anhalt, to the miraculous 18th-century Garden Kingdom of Prince Friedrich Franz of Anhalt-Dessau (1740-1817). There they discover that Wörlitz is touted as the place where the Olympic Games were first revived, in the 1770s. They keep their cool, and are rewarded, when they find the mysterious site, with an unforgettable experience.


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215 A Yugoslav Goudstikker in The Hague

The Gemeentemuseum in The Hague is showing a first-rate selection of modern French and Serbian art from the National Museum in Belgrade. Schwartz notes that more two-thirds of the displays come from the collection of the Jewish art dealer Erich Chlomovitch, who was killed by the Nazis. His heirs have never been recompensed for the 429 valuable items that have been in the museum for over 50 years. Schwartz is reminded of the case of the Dutch Jewish art dealer Jacques Goudstikker. Continue reading “215 A Yugoslav Goudstikker in The Hague”

214 Five cities and five pillars

At an exhibition in Amsterdam titled Urban Islam, the life styles and attitudes toward religion of young Muslims from around the world are presented with short films and attributes from daily life. Their real choices have less to do with faith than with how to dress. They seem more secular than young Americans. Can this be right? Continue reading “214 Five cities and five pillars”

212 The international identity of the Netherlands

The Rijksmuseum is consulting an array of outsiders in formulating its program for the New Rijksmuseum, which is to open in 2008. As a participant in the round-table discussion on “The Rijksmuseum and Dutch national identity,” Schwartz advised the museum to focus instead on Dutch international identity. He attached to it a very concrete proposal for the presentation of Dutch and foreign art in the rebuilt museum art and an interpretation of the philosophy behind the Old Rijksmuseum. Continue reading “212 The international identity of the Netherlands”

209 The taste of the unicorn

A good provenance is not supposed to add to the value of a work of art, but it does. The information that an object was once owned by someone with famous good taste is worth money on the auction block. A collection mainly of Dutch 18th-century drawings that partakes of this quality, coming up at Sotheby’s Amsterdam on 19 May, is the Unicorno Collection, accumulated over the past 50 years by Saam and Lily Nijstad.


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