405 Early Vermeer body fluids

Did Vermeer’s Kitchen maid, an icon of Dutchness, have an older, Italian sister? Schwartz finds her resemblance to an earlier, unjustifiedly doubted, Vermeer copy after an Italian painting of a saint so convincing that he sticks his neck out to argue that she does.


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404 Dutch art outside in

Dutch art, an export product from the start, has found its way into hundreds of museums and university curriculums in large stretches of the world. This might be on the decline, but there are still institutions outside the Netherlands devoted to the art Schwartz most loves. Continue reading “404 Dutch art outside in”

403 Good Jews and bad Jews in 1620 and 1630

On four successive Mondays, from 21 January to 14 February, I moderated a webinar on the theme “Rembrandt seen through Jewish eyes,” in preparation for an exhibition of that name in the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center in Moscow. One point of disagreement among the speakers was how welcoming the Netherlands was to Jewish immigrants. I felt that some speakers had too rose-colored an impression of things, for which I bring the following heavy evidence to bear.

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188 Sex with God: for Leo Steinberg

This afternoon I had a query from my dear friend Anja Ševčík of the Wallraf-Richartz Museum concerning the iconography of a painting by Geldorp Gortzius of the Madonna and child with St. Anne. Rather than delving instantly into her case, I was inspired to post a salacious column on the subject that I wrote in 2003. When it appeared in the Financieele Dagblad there were incensed reactions from Christians who maintain a sanitized view of their god’s congress with a married Jewish virgin and her mother. Continue reading “188 Sex with God: for Leo Steinberg”

401 My ten favorite Rembrandt self-portraits

Earlier this year, the Dutch daily NRC Handelsblad asked me for an interview in which I would reveal, in order from 10 to 1, what my favorite ten Rembrandt self-portraits are. Instead of talking to the editor, Arjen Ribbens, I wrote up my preferences in an illustrated column, in English. I put them in chronological order, but that worked out all right, because my number 1 was indeed the latest. Ribbens translated a pared-down version, made it look more like an interview and published it in the issue of 6 November 2021. For the Schwartzlist, here is the English original.

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400 Rembrandt in the garbage

Half a year ago I missed an anniversary. 10 May 2021 was 25 years to the day since the appearance of the pilot of the Schwartzlist. It was an article in the Cultural Supplement of the daily NRC Handelsblad, with the title “Rembrandt bij het grofvuil” (Rembrandt in the garbage). On the basis of that publication, the newspaper offered me a bi-weekly column for a year. I wrote the columns in English, to be translated into Dutch by the paper. Starting with the first of the columns, “Vermeers razernij” (Vermeer’s frenzy), on the 5th of July 1996, I mailed the English version to my 50 or so email correspondents of the time. For the milestone installment 400, I am publishing the pilot. Continue reading “400 Rembrandt in the garbage”

399 With apologies to Alart – his missing double spread

Missing pages from Schwartz’s book on Jheronimus Bosch of 2016. The artist in Den Bosch closest to the master himself was the protean Alart du Hameel. A column to make up for leaving him out. Continue reading “399 With apologies to Alart – his missing double spread”

397 Gabriel Metsu’s Sick child – of state?

Gabriel Metsu’s Sick child in the Rijksmuseum is the poster boy of domesticism in Dutch art. What could be more touching? Schwartz thinks it was also meant to move the viewer in other ways than as an image of maternal care. He thinks he can identify the pathetic little boy as a personification of a high office leading an ailing existence. Continue reading “397 Gabriel Metsu’s Sick child – of state?”