Schwartzlist columns

368 Marthe Pécher’s priceless letter and Griselda Pollock’s alternative facts

Publishing a book is in part like throwing a bottled message into the sea. One such message, in a book by the Holocaust victim Charlotte Salomon that I brought out in 1981, was answered with a beautiful letter from a witness to the creation of Charlotte’s masterpiece. Schwartz is upset that the author of a big new book on the artist exploits that letter but ignores its writer.


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Can the Prado be reformed before its pictures disintegrate?

At the request of the New York magazine ArtNews, of which in the 1970s I was Netherlands correspondent, I visited the Prado Museum in Madrid to report on the new climate control facilities being installed. The article appeared in the March 1980 issue, contributing to the award to ArtNews of the George Polk Award for Cultural Journalism. I am pleased to report that in the intervening decades the Prado has more than redeemed itself from the dire situation in which I encountered it.


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367 Leading expert misled by faulty publication

In a fraught discussion about Rembrandt’s motivation for making so many self-portraits, the leading Rembrandt expert of the day, Ernst van de Wetering, let himself be misled by a faulty publication of 1887, uncritically recycled in 1906 and 1979, into making an incorrect argument to which he attaches fundamental importance.

Donations to this installment of the Schwartzlist will be used not only for the website but also as a contribution to Loekie and Gary’s golden anniversary present, a new television set. See below.

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366 Les extrêmes se touchent

The summer exhibitions in the Rijksmuseum present two extremes of three-dimensional form. The somewhat brutalist geometric steel sculptures of Eduardo Chillida in the garden, and in the exhibition galleries the height of finesse, precious gold and silver objects that flirt with formlessness. Schwartz finds a common denominator.

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364 The transparent connoisseur 5: Keeping the Rembrandt Research Project to its word

The contributions of the Rembrandt Research Project to the study of Rembrandt paintings are countless and invaluable. In particular, the insistence of Ernst van de Wetering that the physical study of paintings be integrated into the practice of connoisseurship has changed the face of the field. However, inconsistencies in the six volumes of its Corpus of Rembrandt paintings leave us in uncertainty concerning its reconstruction of Rembrandt’s oeuvre. Schwartz puts his finger on a possible re-attribution that should be forthcoming, but isn’t.
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363 Saenredam and Huygens; Rubens and Rembrandt

“Saenredam, Huygens and the Utrecht bull” was Gary Schwartz’s first publication as an art historian. He looks back on how it came into being and what it meant in his life. Schwartz would like to think of the Dutch- and Flemish-speaking low countries as one culture, but circumstances keep intruding on this ideal image. Circumstances such as the lives and posterities of Peter Paul Rubens and Rembrandt van Rijn.


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Rubens in Holland, Rembrandt in Flanders

The 2018 volume of The Low Countries, an outstanding yearbook to which I have been contributing for twenty years, is the last to appear in print. From now on it will be brought out online only. The yearbook starts out with 100 pages of contributions from CODART members, in recognition of CODART’s twentieth anniversary. Mine juxtaposes the very limited cross-border experiences of the two giants of seventeenth-century art in the Low Countries and tells about the one time, two hundred years later, when they were briefly conjoined as equals in each other’s countries.

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362 Work for a grown man

Mutual relations among Rembrandt specialists are not always as cordial as they might be. It takes understanding and diplomacy to stay on good terms with everyone in the field. In that I have not been universally successful. One colleague with whom I have always got on well, differences not aside but included, is Christopher Brown. This is more to his credit than to mine. But I admire him for much more than that. Continue reading “362 Work for a grown man”