Imaginary Gables: The Visual Culture of Dutch Architecture in the Indies

in Journal of Early Modern History
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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.

Journal of Early Modern History

Contacts, Comparisons, Contrasts. Early Modernity Viewed from a World-Historical Perspective

Sections

References

7

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.

9

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.

10

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.

16

Schmidt, Inventing, 25.

21

Odell, “Soul,” 235.

26

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.

33

Ulrichs, Blick, 29-30; Odell, “Soul,” 236-237, compares these to rutter images.

Figures

  • (A) Jacob van Meurs atelier, De Tijgersgracht op Batavia, 1682. Engraving. J. Nieuhof, Gedenkwaerdige zee en lantreize door de voornaemste landschappen van West en Oostindien (Amsterdam, Jacob van Meurs, 1682), between pages 198 and 199.

    (B) Detail of center.

    f2511 .n67. rare book and manuscript library, columbia university in the city of new york.

    View in gallery
  • Unknown artist, Seventeenth-century houses in Batavia, c. 1920. Photograph.

    leiden university library (kitlv digital image library, image code 88693).

    View in gallery
  • Unknown artist, Willemstad, Curaçao, from the harbor circa 1750. 1780. Drawing with watercolor.

    het scheepvaartmuseum, amsterdam, s.0163.

    View in gallery
  • Jacob van Meurs atelier, View of Jamcefu (Yangzhou), 1665. Engraving. J. Nieuhof, Het gezantschap der Neêrlandtsche Oost-Indische Compagnie, aan den grooten Tartarischen Cham, den tegenwoordigen keizer van China, (Amsterdam, Jacob van Meurs, 1665), between pages 144 and 145.

    photo courtesy of the newberry library, chicago. call # fg66.624.

    View in gallery
  • (A) Jacob van Meurs atelier, De Kruys Kerck op Batavia, 1682. Engraving. J. Nieuhof, Gedenkwaerdige zee en lantreize door de voornaemste landschappen van West en Oostindien (Amsterdam, Jacob van Meurs, 1682), between pages 200 and 201.

    (B) Detail, right side.

    f2511 .n67. rare book and manuscript library, columbia university in the city of new york.

    View in gallery
  • Johannes Rach, The Dutch Church in Batavia, Seen from the Rear, 1769.

    drawing, rijksmuseum, amsterdam, inv. no. ng-400-t.

    View in gallery
  • Gilliam van der Gouwen, Malabaarse Landlopers die Slangen Laten Dansen, 1682. Engraving. J. Nieuhof, Gedenkwaerdige zee en lantreize door de voornaemste landschappen van West en Oostindien (Amsterdam, Jacob van Meurs, 1682), between pages 158 and 159.

    f2511 .n67. rare book and manuscript library, columbia university in the city of new york.

    View in gallery
  • (A) Jacob van Meurs atelier, Raet of Stadhuys, 1682. Engraving. J. Nieuhof, Gedenkwaerdige zee en lantreize door de voornaemste landschappen van West en Oostindien (Amsterdam, Jacob van Meurs, 1682), facing page 201. (B) Detail, right side.

    f2511 .n67. rare book and manuscript library, columbia university in the city of new york.

    View in gallery
  • (A) Jacob van Meurs atelier, Nieuwe-Zijds Heeren Logement, 1663. Engraving. O. Dapper, Historische beschryving der stadt Amsterdam (Amsterdam, Jacob van Meurs, 1663), between pages 452 and 453. (B) Detail, right side.

    avery architectural & fine arts library, columbia university.

    View in gallery
  • (A) Jacob van Meurs atelier, Het Eylandt Amboina, 1682. Engraving. J. Nieuhof, Gedenkwaerdige zee en lantreize door de voornaemste landschappen van West en Oostindien (Amsterdam, Jacob van Meurs, 1682), between pages 26 and 27. (B) Detail of fort.

    f2511 .n67. rare book and manuscript library, columbia university in the city of new york.

    View in gallery
  • Jacob van Meurs atelier, Coylang (Kollom), 1682. Engraving. J. Nieuhof, Gedenkwaerdige zee en lantreize door de voornaemste landschappen van West en Oostindien (Amsterdam, Jacob van Meurs, 1682), between pages 116 and 117.

    f2511 .n67. rare book and manuscript library, columbia university in the city of new york.

    View in gallery
  • Unknown artist after Jacob van Meurs atelier, A View of the Citadel of Batavia, 1744. Engraving. J. Harris, Navigantium atque itinerantium bibliotheca. Or, A complete collection of voyages and travels, vol. 1 (London, T. Woodward, 1744), facing page 280.

    smithsonian libraries, dibner library, washington, dc.

    View in gallery
  • Unknown builder, Penha Building, 1708. Herenstraat 1, Willemstad, Curaçao (photo author).
    View in gallery
  • Gerard van Keulen, Nieuwe afteckening van het eyland Curaçao, detail, 1716. Handcolored engraving.

    reproduced from an original in the collections of the geography & map division, library of congress (no filing location).

    View in gallery
  • F.R.C. Soublette, View of the Handelskade across Sint Anna Bai, 1885. Photograph.

    nationaal museum van wereldculturen, leiden. coll.no. tm-60028720.

    View in gallery
  • Unknown artist, ‘t Eyland Curacao Anno 1786, c. 1786. Watercolor.

    © national maritime museum, greenwich, london, pai0334.

    View in gallery

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