To mark the publication of the Dutch edition of a book on Pieter Saenredam that I wrote with Marten Jan Bok, the Frans Hals Museum in Haarlem invited us to install a small exhibition in the museum. The central work was Saenredam’s painting of the town hall of Haarlem. Marten Jan and I wrote a booklet to accompany the show. In it we expressed the wish that the museum acquire the painting. This has not happened. It remained with Wildenstein & Co. until they put it into a sale at Sotheby’s New York on 28 January 2016. I am told that it was purchased by a married couple of distinguished American collectors who are planning to donate it to a U.S. museum. All the better that it has passed into the hands of people who really want it.
In the Art Bulletin issue of June 1997, a number of scholars were asked to put into writing their thoughts on “Digital culture and the practices of art and art history.” My contribution predicts that viewers will be given increased control over the ways they look at art, and looks forward to the implementation of instruments that can enrich museum visits. Had I known at the time that “augmented reality” already had a name, I would have used that term.
In his paintings of faces Rembrandt displays knowledge of a particular muscular feature, the one that gives some people bags under their eyes. Schwartz became mildly obsessed with following this from face to face and found that Rembrandt never gave paying sitters the bags he admits to in some self-portraits and mercilessly records when painting old studio models.
The 350th anniversary of the Treaty of Münster and the Peace of Westphalia was celebrated with symposia in Münster, Osnabrück and the Louvre. My contribution in Paris was a lecture on the image of Dutch burghers in painting with respect to the Eighty Years War.
“City fathers as civic warriors,” in: Jacques Thuillier and Klaus Bussmann, coordinators [aside: the editors, who should have been mentioned on the title page, were Hermann Arnhold and Matthias Waschek], 1648: Paix de Westphalie. L’art entre la guerre et la paix | Westfälischer Friede. Die Kunst zwischen Krieg und Frieden. Actes du colloque organisé par le Westfälisches Landesmuseum le 19 november 1998 à Münster et à Osnabrück et le Service culturel du musée du Louvre les 20 et 21 novembre 1998 à Paris, Paris (Louvre and Klincksieck) and Münster (Westfälisches Landesmuseum) 1999, pp. 201-225
The proceedings were published in a thick, tightly bound volume that is difficult to scan. Apologies as well for the lack of complete titles in the notes – the bibliographies of the individual essays are combined at the end in a 28-page section. For full references, send me a mail.
Schwartz muses on the Dutch research libraries he loves to visit, reminiscing about the past and worrying about the future.
Schwartz uncovers misappropriations of the great Dutch artist by a raft of writers and an artist. Is he sorry he didn’t write a novel about Vermeer? Maybe.
March 2001 Art in America pp. 104-07 (can be enlarged with CTRL+ for legibility)
Last paragraph and notes (all numbered i – you can link them to their place in the text if you really want to)
Like the conjunctions of stars and planets, artists can become aligned so closely that you can’t see the difference between one and another. When that happens, the result can be greater than the sum of the parts. Schwartz looks at two Italian and two Dutch pairs of artists who entered into bondings of that kind.
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.
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.
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.
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