Histories of Global Netherlandish Art, 1550-1750

2021 Conference

Philips Angel, Kūrmāvatāra, Second Avatar of Vishnu, from manuscript Deex-Autaers (Ten Avatars), 1658 | Postel Abbey, Mol, Belgium

Annual conference Werkgroep Zeventiende Eeuw: The cultural dimension of Dutch overseas expansion

“It is only money and not knowledge that our people are seeking [in the East Indies], which is to be lamented”, complained the Amsterdam mayor and VOC governor, Nicolaes Witsen, in 1712. The Dutch trading companies may have been associated with various qualities, but an interest in culture was not one of them. None of the VOC officials even noted the presence of the world’s biggest Buddhist temple, the Borobudur, on the island of Java, leaving its re-discovery to the British in 1814. No Dutch writer tried to emulate the epic celebration of the Portuguese maritime empire by Luís de Camões. Dutch expansion had an obvious impact on the sciences and medicine, as demonstrated in Harold Cook’s Matters of Exchange: Commerce, Medicine, and Science in the Dutch Golden Age (2007). But what, if any, was its impact on culture and the humanities? This conference brings together historians of culture, art, books, and literature to arrive at a fuller picture of the cultural dimensions of Dutch overseas expansion.

The conference will take place online, for more details see here. Attendance is free but please register via Eventbrite 


Friday, August 27, 2021, 15:00 (Central European Time) – Opening

(on behalf of the UU team: Thijs Weststeijn, Marjolijn Bol, Surekha Davies, Jaap de Haan and Cora van de Poppe)

15:10-16:10 Session A (Plenary)

16:10-16:30 Break

16:30-17:50 Parallel session B

16:30-17:50 Parallel session C

17:50-18:30 Plenary discussion


Sessie A (English, chair: Thijs Weststeijn)


How did the culture of print affect the introduction of Chinese medicine in early modern Europe?

Trude Dijkstra (Warburg Institute) 

Dutch representations of “Barbary” piracy and captivity during the early seventeenth century

Farah Bazzi (Stanford University)

“Invenit et fecit”: Remaking the world in mother-of-pearl

Cynthia Kok (Yale University)


Sessie B (Nederlands, voorzitter: Cora van de Poppe)


Banho, Sampo en Rumphius: Twee verhalen over Chinese helden in G.E. Rumphius’ D’Amboinsche Rariteitkamer (Amsterdam 1705)

Charlotte Kiessling (Universität zu Köln)

De avonturen van Andras Jelky in Batavia en het Hongaarse culturele geheugen

Gábor Pusztai (Universiteit Debrecen) 

Reisbeschrijvingen en tekeningen van de Haarlemse chirurgijn Wouter Schouten

Marijke Barend-van Haeften (Universiteit van Amsterdam) 

Linked Data en het onderzoek naar creatieve industrie en overzeese expansie in de zeventiende eeuw

Harm Nijboer (Universiteit van Amsterdam), Judith Brouwer (Huygens ING) en Marten Jan Bok (Universiteit van Amsterdam)


Sessie C (English, chair: Surekha Davies)


Depicting the enslaved in the Dutch periodical press

Esther Braakman (Universiteit Leiden)

Afro-Hollanders Relaxing in an Inn, a previously unknown subject in 17th-century Dutch art..

Joaneath Ann Spicer (Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, USA)

Material matters: reassessing global objects in the cabinets of Amalia van Solms-Braunfels (1602-1675), Princess of Orange

Lauryn Smith (Case Western Reserve University/Cleveland Museum of Art)

Three recycled reincarnations: the Ten Avatars of Vishnu in Bernard and Picart’s Ceremonies et coutumes religieuses de tous les peuples du monde

Margaret Mansfield (University of California, Santa Barbara)