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Vermeers Hat: The Seventeenth Century And The Dawn Of The Global World
     

Vermeers Hat: The Seventeenth Century And The Dawn Of The Global World

2.7 6
by Timothy Brook
 

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This masterful work expands our appreciation and understanding of how our global village really began in the seventeenth century. Brook demonstrates that the lust for luxury goods— porcelain, silver, and beaver pelts, drove expansion. Using several objects to illustrate the web of trade and the explosive changes that they wrought, Brook gives us a remarkable

Overview

This masterful work expands our appreciation and understanding of how our global village really began in the seventeenth century. Brook demonstrates that the lust for luxury goods— porcelain, silver, and beaver pelts, drove expansion. Using several objects to illustrate the web of trade and the explosive changes that they wrought, Brook gives us a remarkable view of the expanding world in this thrilling history.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“In his highly readable book … Brook offers as fascinating an account of economic history as you’re likely to encounter.” - National Post

“A fascinating approach to cultural history, providing new ways of thinking about the origins of commonplace objects.” - Entertainment Weekly

“Elegant and quietly important … Brook does more than merely sketch the beginnings of globalization and highlight the forces that brought our modern world into being; rather, he offers a timely reminder of humanity’s interdependence.” - Seattle Times

Michael Dirda
Commercially, the 17th century was an age of silver, tobacco and slaves, and Brook shows how the three interconnect to form an intricate economic network. This new international economy is revealed in every aspect of life, not only in the account books of the [Dutch East India Company] and the histories of the Jesuit missionaries in China and Latin America, but also in the items depicted in paintings by a Delft artist who died young. All our experience is global. As Brook writes in his final chapter, "If we can see that the history of any one place links us to all places, and ultimately to the history of the entire world, then there is no part of the past—no holocaust and no achievement—that is not our collective heritage." Vermeer's Hat shows how this is true of the 17th century and by so doing provides not only valuable historical insight but also enthralling intellectual entertainment.
—The Washington Post
Library Journal

Brook (Chinese studies, Oxford Univ.; Confusions of Pleasure ) takes a distinctive look at the global economy and world trade in the 17th century in this captivating work. He uses works of art, in particular by the Dutch painter Vermeer, as windows into that specific time in Delft (Vermeer's hometown and home to a chamber of the Dutch East India Company ) and as conduits into other aspects of the emerging world. Through specific paintings such as Officer and Laughing Girl and Woman Holding a Balance , Brook takes the reader on adventures across countries, continents, and trade routes in the era's quest for beaver pelts, Chinese porcelain (i.e., china ), tobacco, and silver, and shows men and women caught up in the "whirlpool of global movement." This book will certainly make you look differently at Vermeer's paintings, as you imagine the greater context of the time period and ponder the acquisition of seemingly minor objects. An insightful read for historians and art historians alike and a fine guide into the rewards of studying material culture. Recommended for both academic and public libraries.-Susanne Markgren, SUNY at Purchase Lib.

Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Details in the noted Dutch artist's paintings lead readers through doorways into the period when the world was becoming increasingly interconnected. Brook (Chinese Studies/Oxford Univ.; Collaboration: Japanese Agents and Local Elites in Wartime China, 2005, etc.) begins several decades ago, when he crashed his bicycle near Delft. This happy accident led to his initial viewing of Vermeer's grave in a local church, and eventually to this book. The author's narrative strategy is effective and illuminating. He first discusses Vermeer's View of Delft, directing attention to the roofline of the Dutch East India Company-from which Brook advances the interesting story of the company's history and its major role in early globalization. The eponymous chapter, perhaps the book's strongest, uses Vermeer's Officer and Laughing Girl to describe and analyze the North American beaver trade. The officer sports a large hat made of felt, which was manufactured from the beaver's underfur. Brook enriches the scene with background material on relations between indigenous North Americans and the rapacious invaders, which inevitably led to bloodshed. (A graphic description of a ritual torture makes rough reading.) Subsequent chapters range over vast geographical and cultural terrain, examining objects and people in paintings by Vermeer and a few contemporaries, stressing throughout their global implications. In such fashion, we learn much-occasionally too much-about Chinese porcelain, Delft pottery, globes, Jesuits and Dominicans in China, the differences between Chinese and European soups, the tobacco and opium trades, African slavery, the emergence of silver as the most desired metal and the spread of prizedobjects around the shrinking globe. A magic-carpet conducted by a genial, learned host. Agent: Beverly Slopen/Beverley Slopen Literary Agency

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780670067855
Publisher:
Penguin Canada
Publication date:
01/22/2008
Pages:
256

Meet the Author

Timothy Brook is the author or editor of twelve books on  China , as well as the award-winning The Confusions of Pleasure: Commerce and Culture in Ming China . He is currently chair,  Republic of China, with the Department of History and Institute  of Asian Research at the University of British Columbia.

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Vermeer's Hat: The Seventeenth Century and the Dawn of the Global World 2.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
bayareagirl More than 1 year ago
The interesting view points and the invigorated writing make this a very good book -- but it should have had the art pieces included. I looked them up on the Net so I don't think it means one star to not have the pictures; the writing and ideas surmount the absence of the art work. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Buy the hard copy not the Nook version. They actually published a book about a painter and did not include the paintings in the ebook version. Outrageous.
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