Christie’s is about to auction as a Vermeer a painting of the early Christian St. Praxedis, who distinguished herself by conserving the body parts of martyrs. In doing so, the auction house braves the dismissal of the Vermeer attribution by nearly all experts in the field. Schwartz is convinced that Christie’s is right and they’re wrong. Continue reading “332 Vermeer’s blood-sopping saint”
From the perspective of the year 1650, the past and future of Dutch seventeenth-century painting look radically different from each other. The first half of the century was dominated by participants in the greater European school, with narrative histories and allegories as the most highly prized creations. After 1650 the field is taken over by landscape and townscape, still life and genre. These were less valuable in the marketplace and helped depress the incomes of artists who were already suffering from a shrinking market for their wares. Our picture of the Dutch Golden Age is unduly determined by niche products of the latter half of the century, especially the paintings of Johannes Vermeer, who was virtually unknown until the latter nineteenth century. By forefronting Vermeer and his generation, we adopt a distorted view of the Dutch seventeenth century and its place in Europe, a view that plays into present-day political misunderstandings of where the Netherlands stands in the world.
This phenomenon was demonstrated and discussed by Gary Schwartz in the 32nd Uhlenbeck Lecture, held for the NIAS Fellows Association on 23 June 2014. NIAS is the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences.
See the pdf (1.37 mB) at 32ndUhlenbeckLectureNIAS20140623_Gary Schwartz
Connoisseurship: l’oeil, la raison et l’instrument, ed. Patrick Michel, Paris (Ecole du Louvre) 2014, pp. 229-37.
Open pdf (663 kB) at Connoisseurship Schwartz
The Rembrandt Research Project had everything going for it when it set out in 1968 to examine the authorship of all the paintings seriously attributed to the master. However, by 1991, after publishing three massive volumes covering half of Rembrandt’s career, it ran out of steam and four of the five members quit the project. The remaining member, Ernst van de Wetering, took it over, admitting that vols. 1-3 were a failure. Schwartz asks why and suggests that the fault lay less with the members of the project than with the impossible pretensions of connoisseurship itself.
The Palace of the Academy in Brussels has a secret that was revealed in a magical moment to Schwartz in June 2006. It concerns the greatest princely collection of paintings ever assembled in the Netherlands. In anticipation of an exhibition devoted to that collection, Schwartz now discloses all. Below the line he appeals for a celebration of the centenary of Kazimir Malevich’s abolition of reason. Continue reading “329 King Willem’s wall”
From the proceedings of a symposium held at the university of Lille in 2008.
“J. van Beecq, Amsterdam marine painter, ‘the only one here [in France] who excels in this genre,’” in Les échanges artistiques entre les anciens Pay-Bas et la France, 1482-1814, ed. Gaëtane Maës and Jan Blanc, Turnhout (Brepols) 2010, pp. 15-32
Open pdf at 2010LilleSchwartzEchanges (59Mb)
A reconstruction of the career of a Dutch painter who is known only for work in England and France. An accomplished follower of Willem van de Velde the Younger, van Beecq started off on a highly promising career in France, but failed to establish there anything like the position of van de Velde in England and the Netherlands. The problem seems to have lain in deficient patronage, even though van Beecq had good connections and much to offer as an artistic adjunct to the French import of Dutch shipbuilders for its naval fleet.
Gary Schwartz, “Gerard Pietersz. van Zijl the portraitist: a ghost story,” in Facebook: studies on Dutch and Flemish portraiture of the 16th-18th centuries, Liber amicorum presented to Rudolf E.O. Ekkart on the occasion of his 65th birthday, Leiden (Primavera Pers) and The Hague (Netherlands Institute for Art History [RKD]) 2012, pp. 301-10
Gary Schwartz, “With Emanuel de Witte in the Oude Kerk in Amsterdam,” Geest en gratie: essays presented to Ildikó Ember on her seventieth birthday, Budapest (Szépmüvészeti Múzeum) 2012, pp. 84-91
The photographs of the Oude Kerk and Nieuwe Kerk were taken in spring 2012 by Piet Musters.
Pieter Saenredam documented his own art so well in inscriptions on his paintings and drawings that even lost work can often be identified. Now, however, a completely unknown composition has turned up, a view of the artist’s birthplace – even the house in which he grew up – in a touchingly personal painting. Continue reading “316 Pieter Saenredam comes home again (with Marten Jan Bok)”
Gary Schwartz, “Rembrandt: ‘Connoisseurship’ et érudition,” Revue de l’Art 42 (1978), pp. 100-06
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.