246 Rembrandt’s ear

State Secretary for Culture Medy van der Laan called upon Dutch museums to entice immigrant teenagers with electronic fun and games. Chief Art Mandarin Rudi Fuchs protested. Never mind electronics, he said. A good human explicator could convince anyone who would listen why Rembrandt was a great artist. He was given the chance to prove this, and failed. Schwartz challenges van der Laan to convince her own civil servants of the importance of art. Continue reading “246 Rembrandt’s ear”

245 Medy and Hedy

The Netherlands State Secretary for Culture, Medy van der Laan, spoke contemptuously of the museums under her charge in a newspaper interview. Rather than conserving, displaying and explaining the objects in their care, she said, they should be exerting their efforts to attract minorities and kids to the museum. For all their shortcomings, this the Dutch museums do not deserve. Continue reading “245 Medy and Hedy”

223 Theodorus van Gogh

The violent deaths and attitudes toward Islam of Theo van Gogh and the brother of his great-grandfather, Vincent van Gogh, are compared. The murder of Theo brings to mind Schwartz’s one meeting with him, which remained the only one because Schwartz could not ignore van Gogh’s repugnant anti-Semitism. A man who figuratively went for the jugular of his opponents has been brought down by one of them who did the same literally. Continue reading “223 Theodorus van Gogh”

244 Art to impress the customers

One of the first corporate art collections in the Lowlands was built between 1950 and 1975 by the banker Maurits Naessens for the Belgian division of the exclusive Banque de Paris et des Pays-Bas. The collection solidified local pride, associating the bank with the glorious past. After a series of mergers, the collection now belongs to the much larger Dexia Bank, which has stopped collecting Old Masters and only buys contemporary art. Whereas the Banque derived prestige from its purchases, Dexia conveys prestige on the artists it buys. Continue reading “244 Art to impress the customers”

243 Pricing prices

A powerful new challenge to the neoclassical school of economics has come out of a study of prices for new works of art by the Dutch sociologist Olav Velthuis. Velthuis finds that prices are not just amounts of money, but symbolic indicators, "social, cultural and moral" entities. This applies to more markets than just that for art. Schwartz is impressed, but wonders whether this truth is enough to pull the rug from under the feet of the Chicago school. See also Schwartz’s low-key celebration in words of the fortieth anniversary of his arrival in Holland on 5 November 1965. Continue reading “243 Pricing prices”

242 The Nobel Prize for art history

In 1975 Derk Snoep published a classic study on the public ceremonies held in the Netherlands in the 16th and 17th centuries to welcome high guests. Because art of this kind has been out of favor among students of Dutch culture, his book has not received the attention it deserves. Schwartz nominates it, along with four other, more obviously influential Dutch contributions, for the non-existent Nobel Prize for art history. Continue reading “242 The Nobel Prize for art history”

241 The Swedish Netherlands

The Nationalmuseum in Stockholm is showing an overview of Dutch painting of the 17th century based mainly on its own large and excellent collection. The most interesting art-historical novelty in the exhibition is the section on Dutch painters who worked in Sweden. The most influential of them was Allaert van Everdingen, who as a young man from Alkmaar introduced the wild Scandinavian look into landscape painting. Continue reading “241 The Swedish Netherlands”

240 Noortman scores another century

Art dealing in the grand style is practiced by the Maastricht dealer Rob Noortman. Crowning his second published collection of 100 paintings is a Rembrandt portrait, depicting the artist’s wife’s cousin Aeltje Pietersdochter Uylenburgh, which Noortman bought in 2000 and sold this year. It probably thanks its spectacular condition to benign neglect on the part of its previous owners, the French Rothschilds, who owned it from 1835 to 2000. Continue reading “240 Noortman scores another century”

238 The art of the chairman

Theo Scholten (1927-2005) was a remarkable man, a legend in the world of business, finance and art collecting. He and his wife built a collection of modern sculpture, mainly by Dutch artists, that they donated to the city of The Hague as Museum Beelden aan Zee. Schwartz commemorates his gift as chairman of a committee to buy art for the city of Utrecht in the 1970s and ’80s. The column is followed by a notice on the death of Michael Montias. Continue reading “238 The art of the chairman”