Schwartzlist columns

226 How Sterre came home

The jacket image of the new summary illustrated catalogue of the Mauritshuis is the double portrait of Constantijn Huygens and his wife Suzanna van Baerle, Sterre. This brings back vivid memories of the acquisition of the painting by the Mauritshuis 13 years ago. Schwartz tells the inside story of his role in that coup, and that of the venerable Julius Held. Continue reading “226 How Sterre came home”

225 The 20th century strikes back

The Foundation for Prussian Palaces and Gardens has published a massive compendium of the easel paintings it lost during and after the Second World War. Most turn out not to have been destroyed, but misappropriated or taken off by the Russians as "trophy art." Schwartz stands up for the international conventions that prohibit taking cultural heritage as booty, no matter how just a war might be or how much one’s own side has suffered. Continue reading “225 The 20th century strikes back”

224 Learning moments

Commemorating the death of two old friends in the past year, Schwartz thinks of experiences with them that changed his life. With Bob Cahn he learned a lesson in gentlemanliness and from Stuart Hampshire the importance of supporting institutions in which you believe. Putting these two things together goes some way toward a model for the good life in society, a better one than preaching to others about their deficient values. Continue reading “224 Learning moments”

222 The captain of the Barony

In 1622 Jacques Callot published a suite of 25 etchings of beggars that established a more humane image of the vagabond than had been current until then. The title print of Callot’s series is a lanky, insolent figure with a banner reading Capitano de Baroni. Schwartz hypothesizes that in Dutch eyes he would have been seen as a caricature of the "beggar" – the Dutch rebel – who was captain of the Barony of Breda. This was Justinus van Nassau, whom Callot was later to etch, and Velazquez to paint, as the vanquished commander of Breda. Continue reading “222 The captain of the Barony”

221 Leonardo’s Last Supper and my first breakfast in Milan

To be creative is to do something for the first time. The chance of doing something worthwhile for the first time and doing it right is about the same as the chance of shooting a hole in one the first time one picks up a golf club. On the basis of this insight, Schwartz sketches a minor theory of creativity. Continue reading “221 Leonardo’s Last Supper and my first breakfast in Milan”

220 Att: Medy van der Laan

Dutch government subsidies for the arts are largely bundled in a single 4-year cycle called the Cultuurnota (Cultural Policy Document). After the closing of application for the Cultuurnota 2005-2008, the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science changed the criteria for awards. A new distinction was drawn between "producing" and "supporting" institutions, with the latter being disadvantaged. Schwartz objects and argues for a postponement of the revision of the Cultuurnota until after 2008. Continue reading “220 Att: Medy van der Laan”

219 Rembrandt as eyewitness

The papers are full of long stories on a short letter in the New England Journal of Medicine. The authors, Harvard neurobiologists, claim that his self-portraits contain certain evidence that Rembrandt was wall-eyed and that this had consequences for his artistry. Schwartz begs to differ. The scientists simply ignore a mass of material in which no such aberration is visible, and they fail to notice that similar effects as they observe in Rembrandt portraits can also be seen in self-portaits by others. Continue reading “219 Rembrandt as eyewitness”