319 Chopped liver at Woburn Abbey

The world press has announced that a painting of an old man in Woburn Abbey, England, has been newly discovered to be an authentic Rembrandt. Schwartz, who included the painting in his book on Rembrandt of 1984, as have all other cataloguers of Rembrandt paintings from 1836 on, is incensed that the abbey practices such flagrant spin, and that the press feeds it to us so uncritically. Continue reading “319 Chopped liver at Woburn Abbey”

The clones make the master: Rembrandt in 1650

Gary Schwartz, “The clones make the master: Rembrandt in 1650,” in: Horizonte: Beiträge zu Kunst und Kunstwissenschaft | Horizons: essais sur l’art et sur son histoire | orizzonti: saggi sull’arte e sulla storia dell’arte |  Horizons: essays on art and art research, Zürich (Schweizerisches Institut für Kunstwissenschaft) and Ostfildern-Ruit, Germany (Hatje Cantz) 2001, pp. 53-64

Horizonte is a volume of studies published to mark the 50th anniversary of the Schweizerisches Institut für Kunstwissenschaft (Swiss Institute for Art Research). The article deals with unacknowledged ambiguities in our understanding of Rembrandt.

9 June 2021: I have just come across a passage in Erwin Panofsky’s classic essay “The history of art as a humanistic discipline,” which I surely would have included in my article had I been aware of it while writing.

… the simple diagnosis “Rembrandt around 1650,” if correct, implies everything which the historian of art could tell us about the formal values of the picture, about the interpretation of the subject, about the way it reflects the cultural attitude of seventeenth-century Holland, and about the way it expresses Rembrandt’s personality; and this diagnosis, too, claims to live up to the criticism of the art historian in the narrower sense.

In Meaning in the visual arts: papers in and on art history, Garden City, NY (Anchor Doubleday) 1955, pp. 19-20

“If correct”!  Panofsky does not tell us how to establish whether or not it is, and as I show, that designation is immensely uncertain, and the attendant implications he so optimistically sums up with it.

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314 @RembrandtFollowers

The terms Rembrandt school, Rembrandt workshop and Pre-Rembrandtist are taken for granted too unquestioningly. In fact, they have created immense confusion. Anticipating the second conference of Rembrandt specialists at Herstmonceux Castle in July 2011, Schwartz calls for a more critical look at the Rembrandt ambit. Continue reading “314 @RembrandtFollowers”

308 Francisco Pacheco’s son-in-law makes good

Diego Velázquez was a better artist than his master, Francisco Pacheco. This is reason enough for some art historians to deny that Pacheco, the leading Seville artist of his day, was a formative influence on his pupil. Schwartz sees this as an affront to the historical study of art, and he rallies to set matters straight. Below the line his welcome greeting to the new Dutch government. Continue reading “308 Francisco Pacheco’s son-in-law makes good”

Review of Ernst van de Wetering, Self-portraits, A corpus of Rembrandt paintings, vol. IV

Vol. IV of A corpus of Rembrandt paintings is the first for which Ernst van de Wetering is fully responsible. The uneasy relationship of the new volume to vols. I-III is examined critically.

Published in HNA News and Review of Books, November 2006, pp. 28-31, without illustration. Available online, though only for members of HNA (Historians of Netherlandish Art – if you are not a member – join!). Published previously in German in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 3 May 2006, which can be downloaded for one euro at https://fazarchiv.faz.net/.

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303 The transparent connoisseur 2: More Rembrandt core

Although the discussion is still somewhat one-sided, Schwartz continues his attempt to correct certain misapprehensions on the part of his colleagues concerning the nature and extent of Rembrandt’s work as a draftsman. Here he compares the promise of the recent Getty exhibition with the compromise it delivers. Continue reading “303 The transparent connoisseur 2: More Rembrandt core”

Rembrandt research after the age of connoisseurship

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.

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302 Did Rembrandt really not use drawings for his paintings and etchings?

Prevailing opinion has it that Rembrandt drew far fewer drawings than the 1500 in the standard catalogue of Otto Benesch, and that he almost never used drawings to prepare his compositions. Schwartz posits the opposite: that Rembrandt drew far more than 1500 drawings and that it was his normal practice to use drawings – most of them now lost – in the preparation of his etchings and paintings. Continue reading “302 Did Rembrandt really not use drawings for his paintings and etchings?”