“Though deficient in beauty”: a documentary history and interpretation of Rembrandt’s 1654 painting of Bathsheba

“‘Though deficient in beauty’: a documentary history and interpretation of Rembrandt’s 1654 painting of Bathsheba,” in: Rembrandt’s Bathsheba reading King David’s letter, ed. Ann Jensen Adams, Cambridge, England (Cambridge University Press) 1998, pp. 176-203

For a volume on Rembrandt’s Bathsheba in the Cambridge University Press series Masterpieces of Western painting, edited by Ann Adams, I contributed an essay on the provenance and critical history of the painting, ending with an interpretation of my own.

Schwartz 1998 Though deficient in beauty – Bathsheba

413 Gazing through King David’s eyes at irresistible beauty

Pondering an old, bitter debate, Schwartz puts together some previously unconnected pieces. In one year, 1654, Rembrandt painted two bathing women who make you think of sex, both of whom have been linked to models in classical antiquity. Leading to a daring conclusion.

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411 Vermeeren of verminderen: in memory of Albert Blankert

Translation: Increase or decrease [the number of paintings by Vermeer, whose name is baked into the Dutch word for increasing.] My oldest and dearest friend in the Netherlands, Albert Blankert, died last Tuesday. I am channeling and seconding his inspired take on a current Vermeer dispute.


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409 “I’m certain Rembrandt loves me”

The exhibition at the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center in Moscow on which I have been working for five years with Mirjam Knotter of the Jewish Museum in Amsterdam. “Rembrandt seen through Jewish eyes,” has been postponed indefinitely. Still, I have to submit text for the Russian-language catalogue that was going to be printed. Here are fragments from the section “Jewish artists discover Rembrandt.”

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Love in the kunstkamer: additions to the work of Guillam van Haecht (1593-1637)

An exploration of the riches of beauty and meaning invested in and taken from art by Guillam van Haecht and his patron Cornelis van der Geest. Published in the Dutch art magazine Tableau, the summer issue of 1996, pp. 43-52.

LoveInTheKunstkamerTableauSummer1996

407 The Rembrandt virus, the Syndics variant

Never would I ask you to pity the poor Rembrandt specialist. I regret not a moment of the years I have put into studying him. But besides the outreach of my publications and lectures, there is also inreach, which can be challenging. Read about the biggest painting I have ever been called upon to certify as a Rembrandt.

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405 Early Vermeer body fluids

Did Vermeer’s Kitchen maid, an icon of Dutchness, have an older, Italian sister? Schwartz finds her resemblance to an earlier, unjustifiedly doubted, Vermeer copy after an Italian painting of a saint so convincing that he sticks his neck out to argue that she does.


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401 My ten favorite Rembrandt self-portraits

Earlier this year, the Dutch daily NRC Handelsblad asked me for an interview in which I would reveal, in order from 10 to 1, what my favorite ten Rembrandt self-portraits are. Instead of talking to the editor, Arjen Ribbens, I wrote up my preferences in an illustrated column, in English. I put them in chronological order, but that worked out all right, because my number 1 was indeed the latest. Ribbens translated a pared-down version, made it look more like an interview and published it in the issue of 6 November 2021. For the Schwartzlist, here is the English original.

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