339 Latest Rembrandt

Rembrandt’s last dated drawing and the painting that was on his easel when he died both depict the same subject – Simeon with the Christ child in the Temple – in much the same way. In honor of the memorable exhibition Late Rembrandt Schwartz publishes some thoughts on these exceptional works.

Continue reading “339 Latest Rembrandt”

338 The young Walter Liedtke

On Tuesday evening, 3 February 2015, a commuter train from Grand Central Station to Westchester County and Connecticut crashed into an automobile on a crossing in Valhalla, New York. Of the more than 600 passengers in the train, six in the first car were killed in a fire caused by the crash. Among them was Walter Liedtke, a friend and colleague of Gary Schwartz. With their first exchange of letters. Continue reading “338 The young Walter Liedtke”

337 Here’s to Vincent and Theo, Anna, Eugène and Octave

The legendary single sale of a painting by Vincent van Gogh in his lifetime is not the art market discovery it is usually taken to be. It has a rich and moving background involving a cast of admirable characters, not least of them Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, who in Brussels challenged a vilifier of van Gogh to a duel. Continue reading “337 Here’s to Vincent and Theo, Anna, Eugène and Octave”

43 The Langbehn virus

In 1890 the fanatical cultural pessimist Julius Langbehn succeeded in convincing the German people that Rembrandt was not only one of them, but the best German of all. Rembrandt’s individuality and spirituality deserved to be taken as a model for a nation diseased by the degeneracy of Jews, journalists and academics. Art historians thought this was perfectly fine. Continue reading “43 The Langbehn virus”

123 The love of three Oranges

An exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum curated by Queen Beatrix gives rise to a comparison of her choices and those of her predecessors, Stadholder Frederik Hendrik in the seventeenth century and King Willem II in the nineteenth. The comparison is limited to the ratio between artists from the northern and southern Netherlands. The results are striking. (January 2001) Continue reading “123 The love of three Oranges”

137 All together now

A masterpiece of seductive tendentiousness celebrated its 50th anniversary on 1 June 2001: Gerard Knuttel’s gorgeous De letter als kunstwerk (The letter as a work of art). Schwartz resist its charms with the help of 50-year-old memories of H.W. Janson’s insight into the anachronistic comparisons of music and visual art in LP and CD covers. Continue reading “137 All together now”

326 Antwerp and Houghton Hall rehung

Three spectacular current exhibitions set out to restore the look and content of past displays of art. Antwerp Cathedral in the sixteenth century, an Antwerp merchant’s house in the seventeenth and the greatest English collection of the eighteenth have been endowed with their historical look and contents. Schwartz is deeply content. Continue reading “326 Antwerp and Houghton Hall rehung”

174 Shoot the piano player’s girlfriend

The source of François Truffaut’s movie Shoot the piano player has never been properly identified. In 2003 Schwartz revealed the film’s debt, via the novel by David Goodis that was Truffaut’s immediate inspiration, to Joseph Conrad’s immortal Victory. Ten years later, his discovery still ignored by the world, he sends it off once more. The P.S. predicted the onset of the debt crisis five years before the fall of Lehman Brothers. Continue reading “174 Shoot the piano player’s girlfriend”

267 Predestination Hanoi

Traveling in countries where you don’t speak the language limits your possibilities. But Schwartz is anything but sorry that he spent a week in Hanoi in October 2006. He made the acquaintance there of the artistic explorer Rienke Enghardt, who collaborates with colleagues all over the world. Schwartz daydreams about the possibilities for scholarly adventures of that kind. Continue reading “267 Predestination Hanoi”