This compilation of articles, all but one of which was originally published in Kunstschrift, amply fulfills its stated goal of presenting the variety within Eddy de Jongh’s scholarship. The author presents the articles, none of which exceeds ten pages, in chronological order based on the period most thoroughly discussed. As a glance through the fine color reproductions reveals, the periods range all the way from the tenth to the twentieth century.
As might be expected given De Jongh’s scholarship, the majority of the thirty-three articles concern the Baroque. Three articles dealing with medieval or Byzantine objects and five that take Renaissance images as their point of departure lead to discussions of baroque art and artists in the middle of the book. Chapters 25 and 26 move beyond the seventeenth century with discussions of baroque art from the eighteenth century. Chapters 27 through 33 focus on nineteenth and twentieth century art.
De Jongh’s inclination toward Dutch art is also clear in the book. Whereas about a third of the articles focus on non-Dutch art, only articles on a Byzantine ivory, Pontormo, Bernini and Ingres as well as one (chapter 26) entitled “Tijd en Waarheid” are free of comparisons with Dutch art and artists. The remaining articles focusing on Dutch art present a range of subjects, from portraiture to genre to history painting. While weighted toward the ‘realist’ strain of Dutch art, several articles concern classicizing art and one, Chapter 10, pointedly questions the terms scholars have tended to use when describing the Dutch classicizing tradition.
Those who associate De Jongh with the issue of symbolism and meaning in Dutch art will find, as expected, that some articles privilege symbolic characters, animals or objects. These are, however, interspersed with articles taking individual paintings, specific subjects such as Apelles and Campaspe in Chapter nine, and scholarly debates such as the purpose of Rembrandt’s self-portraits in Chapter 22, as their starting points. Overall, the book makes for pleasant reading and looking. Each article reveals solid research, interesting observations and a narrative quality that guides the reader easily from image to image and from idea to idea.
Melinda Vander Ploeg Fallon
George Mason University