392 “Charlotte” at 40

On the 26th of February 1981 three events took place that laid the basis for the recognition of Charlotte Salomon (1917-1943) as the creator of one of the great works of art of the twentieth century. An exhibition of her work opened in the Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam; the film “Charlotte,” directed by Frans Weisz with a scenario by him and Judith Herzberg, had its première; and the first complete edition of her monumental work Life? or Theater? was published. Schwartz was the publisher of the book. He looks back with a sense of achievement, unfortunately blighted by recent events.

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The making of Life? or Theater?

This text was written, in Dutch, for the magazine of the Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam, to mark the fortieth anniversary of the publication of the first integral edition of the great creation of Charlotte Salomon (1917-43), Life? or Theater? The original work is in care of the museum, and since its publication in book form has constantly been on demand for exhibitions all over the world. The English translation below was generated with astonishing accuracy by Google Translate and edited by me. See also
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391 Four strains of the Rembrandt virus

During the so-called holidays, Schwartz carried out a very long overdue and immensely satisfying rearrangement of the books in the room he works in. Passing through his hands once more were a favorite collecting genre: over-the-top books on Rembrandt. He comments on four of them. Below the column is an invitation to join a Rembrandt webinar in which Schwartz is participating on 19 January.

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390 What did Rembrandt have against spires?

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.

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From Otto Benesch to Peter Schatborn: a concordance

For whatever bad reason this has happened, the long-awaited catalogue of Rembrandt’s drawings by Peter Schatborn, former head of the department of prints and drawings of the Rijksmuseum, has been published without a concordance in which one can look up the drawings by their Benesch numbers. Those are the numbers that have been used universally since the appearance in 1954-57 of the catalogue by Otto Benesch, edited by his wife Eva Benesch, In 1974, after the death of Otto, Eva brought out a revised edition. Both were published by Phaidon Press. Peter Schatborn’s catalogue came out in 2019 in a volume that also contains Rembrandt’s etchings: Peter Schatborn and Erik Hinterding, Rembrandt: the complete etchings and drawings, Cologne (Taschen) 2019.

Because I found Schatborn’s catalogue unacceptably irritating to use without a concordance – for which reason I have not been using it at all – I have made a concordance, which I make available to all.

Concordance of Benesch numbers with Schatborn numbers

Comparing Rembrandt and Saenredam: Het belang van banale zaken

In an article in the Dutch art magazine Kunstschrift, the editor, Mariette Haveman, disparaged the importance Schwartz attaches to documentary records as evidence for understanding Rembrandt as a person. Schwartz responds.

Letter to the editor: Gary Schwartz, 8 December 1991: “Het belang van banale zaken,” Kunstschrift 36:1 (1992), p. 6

1992HetBelangVanBanaleZaken

388 Convention and uniqueness in Rembrandt’s response to the east

On 29 and 30 October 2020, the ceremonial openings were to have taken place of an exhibition in Kunstmuseum Basel of which I am guest curator: Rembrandt’s orient: west meets east in Dutch art of the seventeenth century. Because of the pandemic, no openings are being held. Today, I am pleased to say, 31 October, the exhibition is open to the public. Travel restrictions have kept me from being in on the hanging or seeing the exhibition at all for the time being. I can only hope that I can see it before it closes on 14 February 2021 and that by the time the exhibition moves on to Museum Barberini in Potsdam in March 2021 there will be an opening at which I can speak. The catalogue includes an essay of mine on Rembrandt. It had to be shortened, but I have permission from the museums to publish the complete version on the Schwartzlist. The essay is a review of oriental motifs in Rembrandt’s art, which tend to be conventional, and an argument concerning the nature of one group of works that is entirely unique.

To entice you into reading the essay, this column shows only the illustrations. To find out what I have to say about them, click here.

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Convention and uniqueness in Rembrandt’s response to the east

The full version of an essay published in the catalogue to the exhibition Rembandt’s Orient: West Meets East in Dutch Art of the Seventeenth Century, Basel (Kunstmuseum Basel) and Potsdam (Museum Barberini) 2020-21.

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384 The man who was Charlotte’s muse

Few of us ever come as deeply under the influence of another person as Charlotte Salomon was affected by Alfred Wolfsohn. To his charismatic teachings we owe the existence of one of the great works of art of the twentieth century. One tie that bound them to each other was the movies. A new exhibition shows how.

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382 Counting back from the end

The New York art gallery of Nicholas Hall asked me to contribute to a series of online writings called Food for Thought. My own thoughts went back to the 1990s, when I brought myself to pick up a research project I had abandoned in the 1960s. Impacted by current events, the memories are fraught with thoughts of mortality.

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