With their bold foray into global exploration and trade, the Dutch, through the East and West India companies, established centralized trading entrepôts and capitals in Batavia on Java and Willemstad on Curaçao. Both of these cities were built following Dutch urban planning principles and were filled with Dutch-styled buildings that reflected the architecture at home, yet were hybridized as they drew on local materials and forms, adapting to local conditions and responding to the ethnic diversity of the populations. In print, however, these cities were pictured as full of Dutch step- and spout-gabled houses, seemingly direct transplants from Amsterdam. This paper considers vernacular buildings in these cities, alongside visual representations of these cities in maps and printed travel accounts, primarily those of Johan Nieuhof, provoking a consideration of the role of print culture in cultivating a visual culture of imaginary Dutch gables for European viewers and readers.
Dawn Odell, “The Soul of Transactions. Illustration and Johan Nieuhof’s Travels in China,” in Tweelinge eener Dragt: Woord en Beeld in de Nederlanden, 1500-1750, ed. Karel Bostoen, Elmer Kolfin, and Paul J. Smith (Hilversum, 2001), 225.
Stephan Füssel, “Natura Sola Magistra – The Evolution of City Iconography in the Early Modern Era,” in Civitates orbis terrarum/Cities of the World: 363 Engravings Revolutionize the View of the World. Complete edition of the colour plates of 1572-1617,ed. Stephan Füssel (Cologne, 2008), 9.
Kristina Hartzer Nguyen, “The Made Landscape: City and Country in Seventeenth-century Prints,”Harvard University Art Museums Bulletin, vol. 1, no. 1 (1992): 7-47; and Boudewijn Bakker, “De Stad Gezien door Hollandse Tekenaars/The City as Seen by Dutch Draughtsmen,” in Opkomst en Bloei van het Noordnederlandse Stadsgezigt in de 17de Eeuw. The Dutch Cityscape in the 17th Century and its Sources, ed. Carry van Lakerveld (Amsterdam, 1977), 136-143.
Reitbergen, “Zover,”29. Carolina Mangone notes that the figure resembles the earlier straight-armed restoration of the Laocoön, which was drawn by Peter Paul Rubens, a particularly apt allusion considering the shared snake theme. Consultation with Carolina Mangone, 2014.