In giving Schwartzlist 385 the title “The Dutchness of English art,” I succumbed to the irresistible temptation to take on Nikolaus Pevsner’s classic “The Englishness of English art” and Christopher Brown’s “The Dutchness of Dutch art.” A number of readers felt that I thereby cut corners. The present column is a remake, with an unassailably clearcut definition of its scope and a properly modest title.
My discussion of British Baroque in Schwartzlist 385 was too concise and stated too categorically. It left many qualified readers with the impression that it was intended to be comprehensive, which it wasn’t. On the one hand, the incidence of artists from the Low Countries working in Britain is far greater, began far earlier, lasted far longer, than the second half of the seventeenth century, and has a considerable body of literature devoted to it. On the other, Dutch and Flemish artists were not the only ones from abroad to leave an indelible mark on the English look. The most principled, and most circumstanial, objection to my piece came in a mail from Susan Koslow:
re British Baroque: the second half of the 17th century in England, soon to become Britain, was “Dutch” only insofar as William married Mary. Some pieces managed to pass through the hands of customs, but look at Verrio here and there and everywhere. Not Dutch in any sense of the word. Gibbons was homegrown and so forth. In anything, the Flemish had a greater influence. Actually, portraiture was the English thing. Hardwick Hall, New, is filled with portraits and was always intended to be. Only when Lord Burlington changed taste did Jacobean and Prodigy disappear somewhat – although castles abounded in reference to the antiquity of a family’s lordship. Look at the little castle at Bolsover. And interiors – vast walls of Verrio at Burghley, Blenhem, etc, Italian baroque here and there and everywhere. But Chiswick’s pictures – granted 18thc – were Italian, now largely removed, from the interior. The English in the 18th century had some of this and some of that, but Dutch it was not, except for a few cabinet pictures.
Britain was Classical and Gothic – the only lovely “Dutch” house is the Queen’s House at Kew. Travel the countryside and what do you see? Palladio and Gothic and of course some Van Brugh, such as the curious Castle Howard. Did you ever see Brideshead Revisited with the young Jeremy Irons? Castle Howard is Brideshead. Almost all of the interior was destroyed. And for the movie the walls are actually flats. One would never know that. Amazing tricks of cinema.
With none of what she says do I know enough to disagree. I am grateful to her for putting it down and am pleased to pass it on to you. However, it does not impinge on what I intended the column to convey. All I wished to show is how many of the artists in the short-lived Tate show British Baroque – a responsible curatorial and art-historical endeavor – were by Dutch and Flemish artists. By my count, the exhibition featured seven artists from France, two from Italy, two from Sweden, two from Germany, one Hungarian and 21 from Britain, over and against 22 from the northern and five from the southern Netherlands, almost half of the artists represented. This justifies a more outspoken take on the matter than Susan Koslow will allow.
To make up for the false impression I created, I have put together a table of all the Dutch and Flemish artists in the exhibition (which is also not comprehensive), illustrated by one of the works by which they are represented, with thanks to Tate Britain for providing me with a pdf of the catalogue. When there is a good online image available, I supply only a link. This provides not only a picture but an entry.
|Pieter van Bloemen
|The duke of Marlborough and the earl of Cadogan at Blenheim (copy after; UK Government Art Collection)
|Medal commemorating the Battle of La Hogue, 1692 (Royal Collection)
|Balthasar van den Bossche
|Was co-author with Pieter van Bloemen of the lost Blenheim painting, represented in a copy
|A trompe l’oeil of newspapers, letters and writing implements on a wooden board (Tate; see also 385)
|Whitehall from St. James’s Park (UK Government Art Collection)
|Medal commemorating the Peace of Ryswyk (British Museum)
|Wollaton Hall, Nottinghamshire (Private collection)
|Romeyn de Hooghe
|Bird’s-eye view of Het Loo Palace (Rijksmuseum)
|Samuel van Hoogstraten
|A peepshow with views of the interior of a Dutch house (National Gallery)
|Catherine of Braganza (Royal Collection; see also 385))
|Duchess of Beaufort’s florilegium (still hers)
|Bird’s-eye view of Whitehall Palace (City of Westminster Archives; see also 385))
|A lady at confession (British Museum)
|Elizabeth Hamilton, countess of Gramont (Royal Collection)
|A representation of the Royal Fire-work (British Museum)
|The Battle of the Boyne (British Museum)
|A putto holding the crown and coat of arms of Scotland (V&A)
|Pieter Gerritsz van Roestraten
|A still life (Burghley House)
|A view of Chatsworth (Chatsworth)
|Angel at the tomb and three Marys (Marquess of Salisbury)
|Henry Howard, 6th duke of Norfolk (Tate)
|Charles II’s cavalcade through the City of London, 22 April 1661 (Museum of London)
|Jan van der Vaart
|Trompe l’oeil of a violin and bow hanging on a door (Chatsworth)
|A vase of flowers (Cambridge, Fitzwilliam Museum; see also 385)
|Greenwich and London from One Tree Hill (Greenwich, National Maritime Museum)
|The Hon. William Cecil (Burghley House)
|William III and his army at the siege of Namur (National Army Museum)
These are essential contributions all across the board, are they not? So extensive is the phenomenon that I actually forgot to mention in my last posting an article on a Dutch painter in London, not included in the exhibition, concerning whom I am one of the world authorities, J. van Beecq. There was more Dutchness in England than was brought in by the considerable entourage of William of Orange.
© Gary Schwartz 2020. Published on the Schwartzlist on 15 August 2020.
* Asterisk added on 17 August 2020, as reference to my response to Deb Markow’s comment, below.
Today is the 75th anniversary of the surrender of Japan in the Second World War, V-J Day. It is difficult to celebrate it, knowing what preceded it, not only in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but all the horrors following the attack on Pearl Harbor. In my own history a diversionary accident of fate intervenes. August 15th, 1945 is the day of my second earliest datable memory. In the summers of the mid-1940s, my parents rented a bungalow in Rockaway Beach. My father worked near our house in East New York, and he would take the A train there and back every day. I would wait for him at the Beach 60th or was it the 67th Street station and be buoyed up on his return. One memory that has stuck is of the ice box. At home on Highland Boulevard in East New York we had a refrigerator, but in Rockaway Beach there was a true ice box. The ice man would deliver big blocks of ice and put them into place. What impressed me most were the huge tongs with which he would take hold of the blocks and bring them into the house.
I have everyday memories of getting up early in the morning and climbing into the kitchen cabinet on the floor and playing with the pots and pans. I would sometimes go outside and crawl into a big sewer pipe that was lying outside our bungalow waiting to go into the ground. A photo from 2015 that I found on Google shows what our street would have looked like, even to the pipe. I doubt that my parents enjoyed these games as much as I did. However, my knowledge of kitchenware prepared me perfectly for VJ Day. With two pan covers I walked up and down the street clanging them together, to add to the ruckus going on.
An earlier datable memory turns out to have double meaning. I remember sitting on my father’s shoulders and cheering Franklin Delano Roosevelt as he drove in a motorcade on the Interboro Parkway (since 1997 Jackie Robinson Parkway) near the Cypress Hills entrance. Looking this up on Google, I find that it took place on Saturday, 21 October 1944, when the president “made a 4-hour, 65-mile journey through the streets of four boroughs before an estimated crowd of 3 million onlookers, all in the pouring rain” (website of turnstile tours; see also the story on pp. 1 and 8 of the Brooklyn Eagle, to which we subscribed, along with the New York Post). Adding to the significance of the date is that it was the day before the birth of my sister Carol Sue in King’s County Hospital. As things were done in those days, I would have been parked with family for a week or so. In my childhood, that was always with my mother’s older sister Jean, the youngest of whose three sons Stanley was my age.
Later in life, VJ Day was replaced in my mind as the main association of 15 August by the Italian holiday ferragosto. I have enjoyed two ferragostos in Rome, in 1964, which I don’t remember, and with Loekie sometime in the 1960s or 1970s. With the torrid city to ourselves, we wandered in Trastevere and ended up alone in Santa Cecilia, one of the defining experiences of our European life.
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