345 The transparent connoisseur 4: a Berenson scorecard

A magnificent new catalogue has been published on the Bernard and Mary Berenson collection at I Tatti. Schwartz uses it to test the sustainability of the Berensons’ attributions of paintings for which they put down cash on the barrelhead. The results are disenchanting. Only one of eighty-seven relevant entries is an original Berenson attribution that is still accepted. Continue reading “345 The transparent connoisseur 4: a Berenson scorecard”

341 The transparent connoisseur 3: the 30 million pound question

A wrong call by the Rembrandt Research Project (“the authority on Rembrandt and has final say in whether a painting is genuine”- Wikipedia) cost the heirs of the generous art collector Harold Samuel a not so small fortune. Schwartz tells the tale and discusses the issues involved. Continue reading “341 The transparent connoisseur 3: the 30 million pound question”

Saenredam, Huygens and the Utrecht bull

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

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Also available as an original offprint from the author: Gary.Schwartz@xs4all.nl.

336: The Camus complex at The New Yorker

In the 1950s death lost its sting in The New Yorker. As in the opening line of Albert Camus’s novel L’Etranger, mothers – and others – keep dying without anyone shedding a tear over them.


Continue reading “336: The Camus complex at The New Yorker”

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”

332 Vermeer’s blood-sopping saint

Christie’s is about to auction as a Vermeer a painting of the early Christian St. Praxedis, who distinguished herself by conserving the body parts of martyrs. In doing so, the auction house braves the dismissal of the Vermeer attribution by nearly all experts in the field. Schwartz is convinced that Christie’s is right and they’re wrong. Continue reading “332 Vermeer’s blood-sopping saint”

A corpus of Rembrandt paintings as a test case for connoisseurship

From the proceedings of a congress held at the Ecole du Louvre on 21-23 October 2011Couv Connoisseurship

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.

Rembrandt’s Dürer

Rembrandt’s Dürer is the text of a talk delivered by Gary Schwartz on 9 March 2013 at the opening of a sales exhibition of work on paper by both artists at Christopher-Clark Fine Art, 377 Geary Street, San Francisco. These pages are from a printed brochure produced by the gallery.

Open pdf (1.25 Mb) .

The lost portrait oeuvre of Gerard Pietersz. Zijl, from the tribute volume to Rudi Ekkart

Gary Schwartz, “Gerard Pietersz. van Zijl the portraitist: a ghost story,” in Facebook: studies on Dutch and Flemish portraiture of the 16th-18th centuries, Liber amicorum presented to Rudolf E.O. Ekkart on the occasion of his 65th birthday, Leiden (Primavera Pers) and The Hague (Netherlands Institute for Art History [RKD]) 2012, pp. 301-10

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