The current Vermeer exhibition in the Rijksmuseum is the second one ever to be held there. The first took place in 1935. For the 114 days that the present exhibition is running, the Rijksmuseum is admitting 450,000 visitors, about 4,000 a day. Some people, like me, find it too crowded. The 1935 exhibition was on view for only 13 days, and drew 123,000 visitors, about nine and a half thousand a day. Another reason to be glad that I hadn’t been born yet.
Research on one topic (Vermeer exhibitions) put Schwartz on the track of another (historical Rembrandt numbers). This year is the 100th anniversary of the publication, in 1923, of the most extreme highs and lows known to man for the count of paintings by Rembrandt. (Click on images to enlarge them.)
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.
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.
Schwartz uncovers misappropriations of the great Dutch artist by a raft of writers and an artist. Is he sorry he didn’t write a novel about Vermeer? Maybe.
March 2001 Art in America pp. 104-07 (can be enlarged with CTRL+ for legibility)
Last paragraph and notes (all numbered i – you can link them to their place in the text if you really want to)
On the 30th of September 1676 the Delft courts appointed Anthoni van Leeuwenhoek as curator to the insolvent estate of Catharina Bolnes, the widow of Johannes Vermeer. So great is the power of those two names that generations of art historians have interpreted the document as a sign of profound bonding between art and science. Schwartz, in the footsteps of Michael Montias, reveals the disenchanting truth.
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”