In one painting, a military officer in a Dutch sitting room flirts with a laughing girl. In another, a woman at a window weighs pieces of silver. Vermeer’s paintings haunt us with their beauty and mystery—what stories lay behind these stunningly rendered moments? As Timothy Brook shows us, these pictures, which seem so intimate, actually offer a remarkable view of a rapidly expanding world. The dashing officer’s hat is of beaver fur from Canada, while the pieces of silver, mined in Peru, might be used to purchase the Chinese porcelain seen in other Vermeer paintings. Moving outward from Vermeer’s studio, Brook traces the web of trade that was spreading across the globe in the seventeenth century. The wharves of Holland, wrote a French visitor, were “an inventory of the possible.” Vermeer’s Hat shows just how rich this inventory was, and how the urge to acquire such things was refashioning the world more powerfully than we have yet understood.
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In one painting, a Dutch military officer leans toward a laughing girl. In another, a woman at a window weighs pieces of silver. In a third, fruit spills from a porcelain bowl onto a Turkish carpet. The officer's dashing hat is made of beaver fur, which European explorers got from Native Americans in exchange for weapons. Beaver pelts, in turn, financed the voyages of sailors seeking new routes to China. There - with silver mined in Peru - Europeans would purchase, by the thousands, the porcelain so often shown in Dutch paintings of this time. Vermeer's haunting images hint at the stories behind these exquisitely rendered moments. As Timothy Brook shows us in Vermeer's Hat, these pictures, which seem so intimate, actually open doors onto a rapidly expanding world.
In this critical darling Vermeer's captivating and enigmatic paintings become windows that reveal how daily life and thought-from Delft to Beijing--were transformed in the 17th century, when the world first became global. A Vermeer painting shows a military officer in a Dutch sitting room, talking to a laughing girl. In another canvas, fruit spills from a blue-and-white porcelain bowl. Familiar images that captivate us with their beauty--but as Timothy Brook shows us, these intimate pictures actually give us a remarkable view of an expanding world. The officer's dashing hat is made of beaver fur from North America, and it was beaver pelts from America that financed the voyages of explorers seeking routes to China-prized for the porcelains so often shown in Dutch paintings of this time, including Vermeer's. In this dazzling history, Timothy Brook uses Vermeer's works, and other contemporary images from Europe, Asia, and the Americas to trace the rapidly growing web of global trade, and the explosive, transforming, and sometimes destructive changes it wrought in the age when globalization really began.
China is one of the oldest states in the world. It achieved its approximate current borders with the Ascendancy of the Yuan dynasty in the 13th century, and despite the passing of one Imperial dynasty to the next, it has maintained them for the eight centuries since. Even the European colonial powers at the height of their power could not move past coastal enclaves. Thus, China remained China through the Ming, the Qing, the Republic, the Occupation, and Communism. But, despite the desires of some of the most powerful people in the Great State through the ages, China has never been alone in the world. It has had to contend with invaders from the steppe and the challenges posed by foreign traders and imperialists. Indeed, its rulers for the majority of the last eight centuries have not been Chinese. Timothy Brook examines China's relationship with the world from the Yuan through to the present by following the stories of ordinary and extraordinary people navigating the spaces where China met and meets the world. Bureaucrats, horse traders, spiritual leaders, explorers, pirates, emperors, invaders, migrant workers, traitors, and visionaries: this is a history of China as no one has told it before.
Please note: This is a companion version & not the original book. Sample Book Insights: #1 I was 20 years old when I bought a bicycle in Amsterdam and cycled southwest across the Low Countries on what would be the final leg of a journey that took me from Dubrovnik on the Adriatic to Ben Nevis in Scotland. I was on my second day out when the light began to fade and the drizzle turned the road under my tires slick. #2 The churches of Delft are decorated with paintings of the interiors that date from the seventeenth century, when the town was Protestant and the Catholic religion was being purged. Vermeer was a headman of the artisans’ guild of St. Luke, and he enjoyed a position of honor in the town militia. #3 Vermeer’s paintings are the only way to step into his world. However, none of them remain in Delft. They were sold after he died or carted to auctions elsewhere, and now are dispersed among seventeen different galleries. #4 The story of Delft is similar to that of Shanghai, if we consider the two cities’ histories from a different perspective. Delft was built on land that had once been under the ocean, and it depended on water sluices to drain the bogs on which it rests.
A critique of the greatest reallocation of resources in the history of the world and an analysis of its effects on indigenous peoples, the growth of property rights, and the evolution of ideas that make up the foundation of the modern world.
Johannes Vermeer, one of the greatest Dutch painters and for some the single greatest painter of all, produced a remarkably small corpus of work. In Vermeer's Family Secrets, Benjamin Binstock revolutionizes how we think about Vermeer's work and life. Vermeer, The Sphinx of Delft, is famously a mystery in art: despite the common claim that little is known of his biography, there is actually an abundance of fascinating information about Vermeer’s life that Binstock brings to bear on Vermeer’s art for the first time; he also offers new interpretations of several key documents pertaining to Vermeer that have been misunderstood. Lavishly illustrated with more than 180 black and white images and more than sixty color plates, the book also includes a remarkable color two-page spread that presents the entirety of Vermeer's oeuvre arranged in chronological order in 1/20 scale, demonstrating his gradual formal and conceptual development. No book on Vermeer has ever done this kind of visual comparison of his complete output. Like Poe's purloined letter, Vermeer's secrets are sometimes out in the open where everyone can see them. Benjamin Binstock shows us where to look. Piecing together evidence, the tools of art history, and his own intuitive skills, he gives us for the first time a history of Vermeer's work in light of Vermeer's life. On almost every page of Vermeer's Family Secrets, there is a perception or an adjustment that rethinks what we know about Vermeer, his oeuvre, Dutch painting, and Western Art. Perhaps the most arresting revelation of Vermeer's Family Secrets is the final one: in response to inconsistencies in technique, materials, and artistic level, Binstock posits that several of the paintings accepted as canonical works by Vermeer, are in fact not by Vermeer at all but by his eldest daughter, Maria. How he argues this is one of the book's many pleasures.
Explores the possibility that Vermeer used the camera obscura to achieve the photographic qualities of his paintings and provides a history of the camera obscura, how it is used, and the composition of Vermeer's paintings.
Selected for The Globe 100 Books in 2013. A fascinating work of history, biography, cartography, and literary mystery, Mr Selden’s Map of China unlocks the secrets behind a recently discovered map of China like no other of its time. In 1659, a vast and unusual map of China arrived in the Bodleian Library, Oxford. It was bequeathed by John Selden, a London business lawyer, political activist, former convict, MP, and the city’s first Orientalist scholar. Largely ignored, it remained in the bowels of the library, until called up by an inquisitive reader. When Timothy Brook saw it in 2009, he realized that the Selden Map was “a puzzle that had to be solved”: an exceptional artefact so unsettlingly modern-looking it could almost be a forgery. But it was genuine, and what it has to tell us is astonishing. It shows China, not cut off from the world, but a participant in the embryonic networks of global trade that fuelled the rise of Europe — and now power China’s ascent. And it raises as many question as it answers: How did John Selden acquire it? Where did it come from? Who re-imagined the world in this way and, most importantly, what can it tell us about the world at that time? Like a cartographic detective, award-winning author and historian Timothy Brook has provided answers. From the Gobi Desert to the Philippines, from Java to Tibet, and into China itself, Brook uses the map to tease out the varied elements that defined this crucial period in China’s history.
The Dutch East India Company was a unique, hybrid organization acting as both company and state, aggressively intervening in Asian political matters in which it had no place. This study focuses on the company’s clashes with Tokugawa Japan in the seventeenth century, particularly in the areas of diplomacy, sovereignty, and violence. In each encounter, the Dutch were forced to abandon claims to sovereign powers and refashion themselves—from subjects of a fictive king to loyal vassals of the shogun, from aggressive pirates to meek merchants, and from insistent defenders of colonial rule to legal subjects of the Tokugawa state. The first book to treat the Dutch East India Company as more than a commercial enterprise, this text offers unprecedented perspective on one of the most important, long-lasting unions between an Asian state and a European overseas enterprise and the surprisingly limited influence of Europeans operating in early-modern Asia.