Twelve essays on the theme of Rembrandt seen through Jewish eyes are coming out in a book edited by Schwartz and Mirjam Knotter of the Jewish Museum, Amsterdam. You are invited to the launching on 14 December at the museum.
The way art historians write about their subject leaves little room for highly personal responses to art or for freewheeling associations. Non-art historians can take more liberties, and it’s a pleasure to see them exercise them. (Followed by a take on the coming Dutch elections.)
With a helping of author’s vanity, Schwartz claims to have foreseen, in two passages from his novel Bets and scams, some things from today’s news. Below the line, he wrestles with his reactions to the ongoing tragedy in Israel and Gaza.
In the night of 9/10 April 1921 a Rembrandt self-portrait was stolen from the museum in Weimar, Germany, with three other paintings. Three of the four resurfaced on 3 August 1945 in Dayton, when an Ohio woman married to a German-American immigrant brought them to the director of the Dayton Art Institute. This did not become known to the public until 10 February 1947, after the paintings had been removed from the ownership of the couple. The documentation stunned Schwartz and will stun you!
Schwartz finds himself reminiscing about past procedures he has mastered and devices he has used that have now become obsolete. Why? Angst, maybe?
On 1 July I will be lecturing (in Dutch) at the Hermitage Museum Amsterdam on a painting from the current exhibition, Rembrandt and his contemporaries: History paintings from The Leiden Collection. The painting is a depiction of the prophet Elisha declining to accept the gifts of the Syrian army commander Naaman, offered in thanks for curing his leprosy. Here is a preview, the part about leprosy. Seating still available.
On Monday, 8 May, in Berlin, Schwartz heard a top connoisseur account for differences in finish between two paintings by Hugo van der Goes as acceptable variations within a single artistic personality, and on 12 May, in Den Bosch, heard another top connoisseur denying the very possibility of such a thing concerning two paintings by Jheronimus Bosch. What a week!
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.
A sequence of fortunate circumstances put Schwartz and his Loekie into one artistically rich environment after another.Sheer non-committal enjoyment, giving birth to reactions he does not have to defend in the court of art-historical responsibility.
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.)