About: Scott Schaefer

In 1964 I visited my first museum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, as a high school student; 16 years later I would become its first curator of paintings. I went on to become senior vice-president at Sotheby's New York, working first as Director of Museum Services, then in Old Master Paintings, and finally as Head of Old Master Drawings. In 1999 I was named the fourth curator of paintings at the J. Paul Getty Museum, where I'm currently senior curator of the department—and proud to have presented 55 paintings and pastels for acquisition.

Posts by Scott

Posted in Behind the Scenes, Getty Center, J. Paul Getty Museum, Paintings

A Curator Undercover at the Museum Info Desk

Hans Hoffmann's A Hare in the Forest is curved because its wooden support has warped with time.

As the Getty Museum’s senior curator of paintings, I feel it is incumbent on me to walk through the galleries almost every day, speaking with the security officers and other staff and watching how the public looks at the collections…. More»

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      gettypubs:

      COBALT

      The histories of many colors are amazing, but cobalt may well have the most brilliant of them all. From the Ming Dynasty to Renaissance Italy, cobalt was a popular glaze for porcelain and other ceramics. Cobalt ink is invisible unless exposed to flame, which turns it a vivid green. In the 17th century, this quality made Europeans believe it was witchcraft, but decades later it was used as a neat trick on fire screens. It wasn’t until 1802 that painters added cobalt to their palette. 

      It is this little tidbit from cobalt’s history that saved master forger Han van Meergeren’s skin after WWII, when he was tried for collaborating with the Nazis. Want to find out how some art history sleuthing and smart science got him a not guilty verdict? Hint: Don’t try to forge a Vermeer with cobalt! 

      Read all about it in The Brilliant History of Color in Art!

      Images, clockwise:

      Glazed earthenware dish with a marchant ship, Italy, about 1510. 

      Glazed earthenware tile floor, Spain, about 1425-50.

      Porcelain lidded vase, China, about 1662-1772.

      All objects from the J. Paul Getty Museum. 

      12/18/14

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