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.
From the author of the award-winning Vermeer's Hat, a historical detective story decoding a long-forgotten link between seventeenth century Europe and China. Timothy Brook's award-winning Vermeer's Hat unfolded the early history of globalization, using Vermeer's paintings to show how objects like beaver hats and porcelain bowls began to circulate around the world. Now he plumbs the mystery of a single artifact that offers new insights into global connections centuries old. In 2009, an extraordinary map of China was discovered in Oxford's Bodleian Library-where it had first been deposited 350 years before, then stowed and forgotten for nearly a century. Neither historians of China nor cartography experts had ever seen anything like it. It was so odd that experts would have declared it a fake-yet records confirmed it had been delivered to Oxford in 1659. The “Selden Map,” as it is known, was a puzzle that needing solving. Brook, a historian of China, set out to explore the riddle. His investigation will lead readers around this elegant, enigmatic work of art, and from the heart of China, via the Southern Ocean, to the court of King James II. In the story of Selden's map, he reveals for us the surprising links between an English scholar and merchants half a world away, and offers novel insights into the power and meaning that a single map can hold. Brook delivers the same anecdote-rich narrative, intriguing characters, and unexpected historical connections that made Vermeer's Hat an instant classic.
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.
Stretching from the tributaries of the Danube to the Urals and from the Russian forests to the Black and Caspian seas, the vast European steppe has for centuries played very different roles in the Russian imagination. To the Grand Princes of Kiev and Muscovy, it was the "wild field," a region inhabited by nomadic Turko-Mongolic peoples who repeatedly threatened the fragile Slavic settlements to the north. For the emperors and empresses of imperial Russia, it was a land of boundless economic promise and a marker of national cultural prowess. By the mid-nineteenth century the steppe, once so alien and threatening, had emerged as an essential, if complicated, symbol of Russia itself. Traversing a thousand years of the region's history, Willard Sunderland recounts the complex process of Russian expansion and colonization, stressing the way outsider settlement at once created the steppe as a region of empire and was itself constantly changing. The story is populated by a colorful array of administrators, Cossack adventurers, Orthodox missionaries, geographers, foreign entrepreneurs, peasants, and (by the late nineteenth century) tourists and conservationists. Sunderland's approach to history is comparative throughout, and his comparisons of the steppe with the North American case are especially telling. Taming the Wild Field eloquently expresses concern with the fate of the world's great grasslands, and the book ends at the beginning of the twentieth century with the initiation of a conservation movement in Russia by those appalled at the high environmental cost of expansion.
Global Interactions in the Early Modern Age is an interdisciplinary introduction to cross-cultural encounters in the early modern age (1400–1800) and their influences on the development of world societies. In the aftermath of Mongol expansion across Eurasia, the unprecedented rise of imperial states in the early modern period set in motion interactions between people from around the world. These included new commercial networks, large-scale migration streams, global biological exchanges, and transfers of knowledge across oceans and continents. These in turn wove together the major regions of the world. In an age of extensive cultural, political, military, and economic contact, a host of individuals, companies, tribes, states, and empires were in competition. Yet they also cooperated with one another, leading ultimately to the integration of global space.
Johannes Vemeer, a 17th century artist, is recognised primarily for his genre scenes. Through meticulous precision in his paintings and drawings he achieves perfection and maximum impact. Unlike his predecessors, Vermeer used a camera obscura to bring even more perspective to his art in the most delicate of manners. He revolutionised the way in which we use and make paint and his colour application techniques predate some of those used by the impressionists nearly two centuries later. Girl with a Pearl Earring remains to this day his greatest masterpiece.
This book examines these fascinating characteristics of Dutch art by bringing together some of the finest works from the period, including five masterpieces by Johannes Vermeer. These paintings and the scholarly essays that accompany them off glimpses into the reality of Dutch life, particularly as it unfolded in the city of Delft during the middle years of the seventeenth century. The book accompanied an exhibition at Osaka Municipal Museum of Art from April to June 2000. The book includes scenes that would have represented shared experiences for every citizen of Delft, but also images that were private , in that individual activities and values served as the artist's focus. Understanding and articulating their respective characteristics provides the focus of the discussions. The world that seventeenth century Dutch artists portrayed seems real and immediate. One can almost imagine wandering within their flat landscapes, with towns and church towers silhouetted against the Dutch sky, or participating in the tender human encounters these artists so movingly captured in their renderings of daily life. However, most Dutch paintings, while seemingly true to life, contain ideas and beliefs that remain elusive, however carefully one examines the images.
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.
The Mongols carved out the largest land-based empire in world history, stretching from Korea to Russia in the north and from China to Syria in the south in the thirteenth century. Along with their leader Chinggis Khan they conjure up images of plunder and total destruction. Although this book does not ignore the devastation and killings wrought by the Mongols, it also reveals their contributions to governance, arts, culture, and the promotion of trade. The Mongol peace resulted in considerable travel and relations among numerous merchants, scientists, artists, missionaries, and entertainers of different ethnic groups. It is no accident that Europeans, including Marco Polo, first reached China in this period. Eurasian and perhaps global history starts with the Mongol empire.
Part of The World in a Life series, this brief, inexpensive text provides insight into the life of slave soldier Malik Ambar. Malik Ambar: Power and Slavery across the Indian Ocean offers a rare look at an individual who began in obscurity in eastern Africa and reached the highest levels of South Asian political and military affairs in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. Ambar's rise from slavery in East Africa to ruler in South Asia sheds light on the diverse mix of people, products, and practices that shaped the Indian Ocean world during the early modern period. Originally from Ethiopia--historically called Abyssinia--Ambar is best known for having defended the Deccan from being occupied by the Mughals during the first quarter of the seventeenth century. His ingenuity as a military leader, his diplomatic skills, and his land-reform policies contributed to his success in keeping the Deccan free of Mughal imperial rule. We live in a global age where big concepts like "globalization" often tempt us to forget the personal side of the past. The titles in The World in a Life series aim to revive these meaningful lives. Each one shows us what it was like to live on a world historical stage. Brief, inexpensive, and thematic, each book can be read in a week, fit within a wide range of curricula, and shed insight into a particular place or time. Four to six short primary sources at the end of each volume sharpen the reader's view of an individual's impact on world history.