During the so-called holidays, Schwartz carried out a very long overdue and immensely satisfying rearrangement of the books in the room he works in. Passing through his hands once more were a favorite collecting genre: over-the-top books on Rembrandt. He comments on four of them. Below the column is an invitation to join a Rembrandt webinar in which Schwartz is participating on 19 January.
Relates a poem by Constantijn Huygens on the Mariakerk in Utrecht, to an interior of the church by Pieter Saenredam showing the relief of a bull dancing on waves referred to in the poem, a painting that comes from Huygens’s house in The Hague. Religious, historical and architectural issues are heavily involved in the poem and the painting. As far as the author is aware, this is the first publication dealing with Dutch church painting in other than formal and antiquarian terms.
Gary Schwartz, “Saenredam, Huygens and the Utrecht bull,” Simiolus: Kunsthistorisch Tijdschrift 1 (1966-67), pp. 69-93
Also available as an original offprint from the author: Gary.Schwartz@xs4all.nl.
Connoisseurship: l’oeil, la raison et l’instrument, ed. Patrick Michel, Paris (Ecole du Louvre) 2014, pp. 229-37.
Open pdf (663 kB) at Connoisseurship Schwartz
The Rembrandt Research Project had everything going for it when it set out in 1968 to examine the authorship of all the paintings seriously attributed to the master. However, by 1991, after publishing three massive volumes covering half of Rembrandt’s career, it ran out of steam and four of the five members quit the project. The remaining member, Ernst van de Wetering, took it over, admitting that vols. 1-3 were a failure. Schwartz asks why and suggests that the fault lay less with the members of the project than with the impossible pretensions of connoisseurship itself.
Gary Schwartz, “Ars moriendi: the mortality of art,” Art in America , November 1996, pp. 72-75
The natural condition of art is not to live on but to perish — usually sooner, almost inevitably later. We deceive ourselves in claiming that art is an undying repository of memory, that it comes to us intact from the past, and that it is in our power to preserve it for posterity. Every generation sees the decay or destruction of far more art than it conserves. This is no less true today than in the past. The conservation of art demands money, space, expert knowledge and lots of love. But which culture will lavish such attention on the art of an enemy or an alien group? Without it, art objects begin at a given moment to obey physical rather than cultural laws of survival.
“Le musée documentaire: reflections on a database of works mentioned in art treatises and town descriptions before 1800,” Journal of Information Science 15 (1989), pp. 41-47. Originally published in AICARC: Bulletin of the Archives and Documentation Centers for Modern and Contemporary Art 1986(2)/1987(1), pp. 56-59
An extended critique of the Rembrandt Research Project and of connoisseurship in general. Published in the last issue of the short-lived journal Annals of Scholarship. The issue is dated 1993, but the sickness and death of the editor, Ruth Graham, led to a delay in publication until 1995.
In April Schwartz was told by the Prince Bernhard Cultural Foundation that in November he was going to receive their tri-annual prize for the humanities. He had to keep the news under wraps until it was announced by the Foundation, which happened this morning. It was fun keeping the secret, but it’s also fun to let you know about it.