Global Netherlandish Art: Chinese Impact on the Low Countries in the 17th century
China holds a special place in the European imagination. The Chinese economy, politics and culture are increasingly attracting foreigners, but preconceptions and stereotypes often distort the European perspective. This is not a new dynamic. It is rooted in the first period of intensive contacts, the 17th century, when the Low Countries were the European hub for products from and images of China, shaping Western conceptions that persist to the present day.
China’s impact on low and high culture in the Netherlands ranged from the Chinese ceramics in Rembrandt’s studio to the popular comparison of Spinoza to Confucius. The self-image of the fledgling Dutch Republic was honed in the Chinese mirror, from Delftware imitations of porcelain to ideals of religious toleration and republicanism. Historians have neglected the 17th-century Low Countries because they failed to analyze art and ideas in an integrated manner. Thijs Weststeijn will argue that only interdisciplinary study can do justice to the mutually dependent images by craftsmen and scholars from the Netherlands which were widely influential. Understanding the development of these popular stereotypes enlightens Chinese-Western relations that continue to be relevant in a globalized world.
Thijs Weststeijn is professor of Art History before 1850 at Utrecht University, where he studies seventeenth-century Dutch art in a global context. He is particularly interested in the global connections that shaped early modern Netherlandish works as well as in the opportunities that non-Western artworks provide to look back at the Netherlands.
Public lecture – everyone welcome! The lecture will be followed by drinks.