285 The Cotswolds Rembrandt

A country art auction in England made the front pages all over the world when 2.2 million pounds was paid for a painting that looks a lot like a Rembrandt self-portrait. Is it? Schwartz thinks it is, and supplies an analysis to explain why. At the same time, he shows how the published opinions of the Rembrandt Research Project could have led to the rejection of the painting by the experts consulted by the owner and the auction house. More like an article than a column.


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227 Senseless sensibility

Two exhibitions of Dutch genre paintings take competing approaches to the interpretation of these irresistible depictions of everyday life. One show, in Haarlem and Hamburg, interprets them as moral warnings to the viewer; another, in Rotterdam and Frankfurt, sees them as nothing more than fun subjects. Schwartz introduces into the discussion the ideas of the literary historian René van Stipriaan, whose theories about farces for the stage open new possibilities for interpreting paintings as well.

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222 The captain of the Barony

In 1622 Jacques Callot published a suite of 25 etchings of beggars that established a more humane image of the vagabond than had been current until then. The title print of Callot’s series is a lanky, insolent figure with a banner reading Capitano de Baroni. Schwartz hypothesizes that in Dutch eyes he would have been seen as a caricature of the “beggar” – the Dutch rebel – who was captain of the Barony of Breda. This was Justinus van Nassau, whom Callot was later to etch, and Velazquez to paint, as the vanquished commander of Breda. Continue reading “222 The captain of the Barony”

219 Rembrandt as eyewitness

The papers are full of long stories on a short letter in the New England Journal of Medicine. The authors, Harvard neurobiologists, claim that his self-portraits contain certain evidence that Rembrandt was wall-eyed and that this had consequences for his artistry. Schwartz begs to differ. The scientists simply ignore a mass of material in which no such aberration is visible, and they fail to notice that similar effects as they observe in Rembrandt portraits can also be seen in self-portaits by others. Continue reading “219 Rembrandt as eyewitness”