Abstracts of Amsterdam 2010
GLOBAL BAROQUE: THE NETHERLANDISH IMAGE IN ASIA, AFRICA AND THE AMERICAS
Chair: Mia M. Mochizuki (Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley and Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley)
Rebecca Tucker, Colorado College
At Home in Bijapur: Cornelis Claesz. Heda and Dutch Art in India
17th-century Dutch artists, we know, traveled long distances in their newly expanding world. Artists like Frans Post, Aelbert Eeckhout, Jan
Lucasz. van Hasselt, Maria Sibylla Merian, and Philips Angel made their careers capitalizing on exotic journeys to far-flung locations in South
America, Africa, and the Mideast. Art historians are familiar with these intrepid artists, and their images of exotic flora, fauna, and locales which
sold to collectors across Europe. This paper will focus instead upon a Dutch artist who made his career in India, and examine the complex ways that
Dutch art operated in Indian court cultures.
Archival and travel records, letters and VOC documents give tantalizing glimpses of several Dutch artists active in the Persian and Indian courts
between 1610 and 1675. This paper follows the career of one of the first to arrive in the Indian subcontinent: Cornelis Claesz. Heda. Heda was a member
of the Haarlem school who made his way to central India in 1610 and served as a court artist to Sultan Ibrahim Adil Shah II of the kingdom of Bijapur.
Although his original destination was Isfahan and his original intention was to work for Shah Abbas of Persia, Heda found an ideal situation and an
ideal patron in Bijapur. He also built connections with the Dutch East India Company, and embarked on trading ventures, providing political and
diplomatic assistance to the VOC and its agents in the region.
Though none of his paintings survive, Heda’s presence in Bijapur suggests a conduit for the arrival of western imagery, visible in select pieces of
Bijapuri court art. In these works, the impact of an artist trained in western European figurative styles (and one presumably conversant with humanist
and classicizing discourses), as well as the availability of western prints, can be detected. These images reveal the awareness of western conventions
for representing bodies along with a multitude of observed details about the oddities of western (and other foreign) costumes, commodities, and
behaviors. This paper aims to explore the meanings and permutations of the Bijapuri translation of western imagery, examining several examples of wall
paintings and manuscript illuminations from the period. In each case, the images manipulate western elements, tweaking them to fit into a specifically
Bijapuri visual culture. In the Bijapuri images, the western elements are melded into a metaphorically rich layering of visual and poetic associations,
a transformation well suited to the Adil Shahi culture of nauras (“new flavors,” an eclectic mix of music, art, pleasure, and commerce).
What role did Heda play in Bijapuri art, then? He may have provided Bijapuri artists with certain kinds of material, which were then reformulated into
the Bijapuri visual idiom of the time. But the visual evidence also suggests a rethinking of Heda’s career in the Adil Shahi court is in order. Deborah
Hutton has shown that Ibrahim’s unique court culture of nauras functioned as an astute form of political maneuvering in a pan-Indian and
international setting. This paper will argue that Heda’s unique career in Bijapur, and the particular approach to western imagery found in Bijapuri
art, should be connected to Ibrahim’s political and cultural agendas. Heda was a valuable artist, who produced exotic commodities of western paintings.
But Heda was also valuable as a vehicle for political displays of power. His presence at court conveyed Ibrahim’s status as an enlightened patron and a
ruler with control over other cultures. Both Heda and the western-nuanced imagery of Bijapur can be seen as manifestation of the nauras of
Bijapur, Ibrahim’s special cultural environment which was the basis of its political, economic, and spiritual power.
In the past decade, scholars of encounter studies have reframed the orientalizing narrative of the West’s “discovery” of the East. The Victoria and
Albert show Encounters (2004) codified the revisionist approach of texts such as Lisa Jardine and Jerry Brotton’s Global Interests (2000)
and ushered in an era of scholarship of world trade and cultural exchange. Heda’s career in Bijapur reveals that there is more at hand for scholars
than mapping the conduits of influence from western objects and artists on eastern states (a common approach to the Mughal art patronage, for example).
Instead, Heda’s experiences in Bijapur open a window into the layers of meaning – economic, political, and artistic – that a western artist (or object,
or detail) might convey for the local culture. In the context of Ibrahim’s self-conscious art patronage, Heda also served as a powerful commodity in
the ongoing competition between rival courts in India and abroad. Heda’s success in Bijpur, and the manipulation of western art evident in Bijapuri
visual culture, thus provides an opportunity to explore in greater detail the complexity of the visual conversation between West and East at the
beginning of a global age.
Dawn Odell, Lewis and Clark College
The Poetry of Netherlandish Prints in Early Modern China
Although China extended its artistic influence to the Netherlands through the export of a variety of material goods, among these porcelain, lacquer,
woodcarving, and textile, the circulation of Netherlandish art in China was promoted primarily through printed imagery. European Jesuits brought
illustrated editions of the Life of Christ (Vita Domini Nostri Jesu Christi) and other religious texts, containing engravings by
Hieronymus Wierix, Hendrik Goltzius, and Johannes Strandanus among others, to China and oversaw the translation of these works into a Chinese visual
and textual language. In addition, even Dutch orders for Chinese decorated export wares were often negotiated through printed imagery, as Dutch
engravings of cityscapes, mythological narratives, and historical events became the templates for Chinese porcelain painters.
To more fully understand the influences of Netherlandish engravings within China, we must see the circulation of these images not as an isolated
occurrence but rather as part of a larger transformation of print culture in the late Ming and early Qing dynasties. This was a period in which print
in China became both a site for repositioning the social status of a rising merchant class, facilitating the distribution of elite imagery to common
viewers, and a means of undermining the very authority the images sought to assert, calling into question the mimesis or “realism” of print
illustrations. Chen Hongshou, in particular, manipulated his training as an elite painter to create woodblock prints that direct the viewer’s attention
to the easily fractured illusionism of the representational form, in the process finding a means to articulate his own disenfranchised social status.
Within this turbulent Chinese print world, Netherlandish engravings played a important role in encouraging elite Chinese artists and viewers to test
the limits of print’s mimetic boundaries, focusing attention instead on the medium’s possibilities as a poetic and meditative, rather than a narrative,
tool. Through an examination of two contemporary illustrated texts, Zhang Shenzhi’s 1639 edition of Xixiang ji ( The Romance of the West Chamber), illustrated by Chen Hongshou, and the 1640 Beijing Jincheng shuxiang, a visual and literary translation
of the Jesuit devotional text Life of Christ, this paper seeks to overturn a conventional argument of “East/West” artistic contact in the early
modern period. Rather than asserting that chiaroscuro, one point perspective, and renditions of naturalistic detail in Netherlandish prints made them
more convincing and “realistic” to the Chinese, I suggest that the meditative structure of the Life of Christ, as it was translated visually in
the Jincheng shuxiang and referenced in works such as The West Chamber, helped to transform print in China from a reproductive tool to an
independent art form.
Ricardo De Mambro Santos, Willamette University
"How Tasty Was My Flemish Man": Karel van Mander’s Concepts of ‘Nae het leven’ and ‘Uyt den gheest’ and the Depiction of ‘Cannibals’ and
Native Indians in Dutch Brazil
One of the most complex concepts established by Karel van Mander in his Schilder-Boeck (1604) is undoubtedly the notion of “nae het leven
,” usually translated with the English expression “from life”. The concept has been generally interpreted in opposition to another of Van Mander’s
influential categories, namely the notion of “uyt den gheest,” literally “from the spirit”. According to the most diffused reading of these
terms, the making of an image “nae het leven” implies a direct contact with the natural – or artificial – model that should be rendered in a
painting, drawing or print. In opposition to this immediate method of registering “life” (leven), an image done “uyt den gheest” would
be, on the contrary, the result of a process in which the forms come, more subjectively, from the artist’s mind or, as the term itself seems to stress,
from an inward “spirit” (gheest). This explanation, however, assumes too uncritically that the final products of these modes of representation
should create two radically different kinds of images: a more “naturalistic” one, in the first case, and a less “realistic” one, in the second.
paper, I shall provide a new interpretation of such a “conceptual diptych”. Consequently, the main goal of my paper will be to provide a more
articulated understanding of these terms in order to verify their effective hermeneutic reliability in the study of artworks produced in the
Netherlands (and not only in the Netherlands) in the seventeenth century. I will start my analysis with a close reading of some verses by Van Mander
from the Grondt der edel vrij schilder-const related to these two categories in the attempt to demonstrate that they should not be considered as
similarly engaging structures of visual persuasion, equally present in any pictorial work. Far from interpreting them as indicative of essentially
separated modes of representation, I shall claim their symmetry as categories adopted by Van Mander to better describe contiguous stages within an
analogous process of pictorial “invention,” culminating in the codification of a common visual lexicon: namely, the “Foundations” of the Schilder-const. Therefore, I shall address my attention to the analysis of how these two categories might have played a relevant role in the
representations of “cannibals” by Theodor de Bry, in the prints for America Tertia Pars (1592), and Albert Aeckhout, in the series of
“portraits” and “stories” depicting native Indians, executed in Brazil between 1637 and 1644, when the artist was in the service of the General
Governor of Dutch Brazil, Count Maurits van Nassau-Singen.
Julie Hochstrasser, University of Iowa
Fortifying the Global Baroque: Dutch Forts as Lieux de Mémoire
Among the most durable material legacies of early modern Dutch presence in Asia, Africa, and the Americas are the many fortifications built by the
great trading companies all across their sprawling global network. As massive earthworks, one can see them to this day even on Google-Earth. From
satellite altitude, one is struck by the scope and scale of this particular genre of Netherlandish architectural production – yet it is one that does
remain largely “outside mainstream historiography.”
To touch upon a few of the topics invited for this session, certainly there were artistic problems to be navigated: building materials often had to be
improvised, like the bizarre mortar devised for Tainan’s Fort Zeelandia of oyster shells, sugar, and glutinous rice. And the structures themselves
frequently copied models back in the Netherlands, like Cape Town’s Fort of Good Hope (erected between 1666 and 1679), whose belfry bears a distinct
resemblance to the one topping the new Town Hall in Amsterdam just completed in 1665.
But how did they fare, these outposts so very far beyond Netherlandish borders? In fact it is their sheer scale and durability that oblige us to
pursue that question beyond concerns of iconography or design or production, to the plane of sociological interaction with the communities they
inhabited (or encompassed) – and still do today. One is invariably impressed with the presence they still command within the lives of the communities
that now surround them, so we are prompted as well to pursue that question even beyond the early modern period and into the present.
When it comes to the question of the “effects of Netherlandish art taken overseas,” these major investments in military architecture naturally made an
impact nothing short of profound, and they continue to do so in a wide variety of ways, whether they live on in various states of ruin or restoration.
It is most of all their function as potent lieux de mémoire that invokes Pierre Nora’s seminal theorization from his eponymous project, to
embrace "a history in multiple voices . . . less interested in causes than in effects; . . . less interested in 'what actually happened' than in its
perpetual re-use and misuse, its influence on successive presents; less interested in traditions than in the way in which traditions are constituted
and passed on." (Nora, Realms of Memory, 1: xxiv).
The afterlives of these structures are as complex and fraught as they are diverse: as museums (sometimes commemorating independence from the very rule
the structures were initially erected to defend); as tourist attractions redeployed for other uses (like the slaving forts along Ghana’s coast now
offering bed-and-breakfast); as bastions that now protect those they once rebuffed (like the ramparts in Galle that sheltered all those fortunate
enough to dwell within from the full force of the 2004 tsunami). This study will indeed consider “the impact of the Netherlandish image” abroad – but
not only in the sense of visual but also of mental image, the mentalité among the people in these many and far-flung places who have lived for
so many centuries with these stolid architectural remains.