On four successive Mondays, from 21 January to 14 February, I moderated a webinar on the theme “Rembrandt seen through Jewish eyes,” in preparation for an exhibition of that name in the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center in Moscow. One point of disagreement among the speakers was how welcoming the Netherlands was to Jewish immigrants. I felt that some speakers had too rose-colored an impression of things, for which I bring the following heavy evidence to bear.
Rembrandt suffered from a rare condition that has not yet been diagnosed. He had an aversion to spires and sometimes to towers, lopping them off his depictions of buildings we know to have had them. Schwartz worries the issue.
Schwartz muses on the Dutch research libraries he loves to visit, reminiscing about the past and worrying about the future.
The Temple Mount in Jerusalem exercises a bewitching lure over Jews, Muslims and Christians. Not even the famously sober Dutch Calvinists could escape its spell. At least four seventeenth-century churches in the Republic were identified in form with the Temple. So was the Portuguese synagogue in Amsterdam. As similar as these features of the churches and the synagogue may look, the meanings they convey are antithetical.
What could be a greater honor than to be appointed Ambassador of the Free Mind? That title was bestowed on Schwartz by unrivalled champions of the free mind, the Ritman family of Amsterdam.
The Francesco Datini Institute in Prato holds a highly distinguished yearly conference (Settimana di studi) on economics and its history. The range of subjects is impressive and inspiring, from “Wool as a raw material” in 1969 to “Water management in Europe, twelfth to eighteenth centuries” in 2017. In 2001 the theme was “Economics and art,” with more than fifty European and American participants. My contribution was a comparison of the patronage networks in three major seventeenth-century art centers. I suggested that certain structural similarities reveal themselves that may point to deep-lying social forces.
The proceedings were published in 2002 in a form that is not easy to scan well. Now that I have tried, fifteen years later, I see that the results are legible enough. An invaluable feature of Datini proceedings is that they include the discussions following each block of papers. Click here for a column on the congress.
“The structure of patronage networks in Rome, The Hague and Amsterdam in the 17th century,” in: Simonetta Cavaciocchi, ed., Economia e arte secc. XIII-XVIII: Atti della “Trentatreesima Settimana di Studi” 30 april-4 maggio 2001, Le Monnier for Istituto Internazionale di Storia Economica “F. Datini,” Prato 2002, pp. 567-74
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Gary Schwartz, “Rembrandt’s David and Mephiboseth: a forgotten subject from Vondel,” in Tribute to Lotte Brand Philip, art historian and detective, New York (Abaris Books) 1985, pp. 166-74
The royal palace in Amsterdam is being restored and cleaned. Technical repairs come in the first place, but the campaign is also intended to reduce the disturbing differences between the lightest and darkest blocks in the facade. To Schwartz’s eye the operation, impressive and succesful as it is, nonetheless increased the contrast between the upper and lower stories of the palace. Continue reading “313 The hygric division of the royal palace”