The Company One Keeps: View of Ambon (ca. 1617) in the Dutch East India Company’s Sociopolitical Landscape

Anonymous (attributed to David de Meyne),  View of Ambon (Gezicht op Ambon),  ca. 1617, Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum

This essay examines View of Ambon (ca. 1617), the earliest documented commissioned painting to adorn the Amsterdam headquarters of the Dutch East India Company (VOC). The painting commemorates the VOC’s conquest of the South Pacific island of Ambon, showing the captured Portuguese fort at near center and, in the lower right, a medallion-like portrait of VOC officer Frederick de Houtman, who provided the map on which the painting was based. Investigating the combination of cartographic projection, perspectival recession, and portraiture in View of Ambon and related newsprints, this essay elucidates how the layering of seemingly objective pictorial modes constituted a visual rhetoric of reality and a sense of good order and governance overseas. Viewed in the VOC’s contentious sociopolitical landscape, however, View of Ambon ultimately illustrates how seemingly objective modes of picturing were inflected to express conflicting corporate and individual self-imaginings.

DOI: 10.5092/jhna.2018.10.1.4

Acknowledgements

Research for this essay is part of the author’s PhD project “For Profit and Power: The Dutch East India Company (VOC) and the Art of Trade, ca. 1600–1670,” supervised by Claudia Swan, Jésus Escobar, and Edward Muir at Northwestern University. Research was funded by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation’s History of Art: Institutional Fellowship at Leiden University, the Huntington Library’s Robert R. Wark Fellowship, and Northwestern University. I would like to thank Claudia Swan, who advised me on this topic, offered many valuable suggestions on earlier versions of this essay, and provided encouragement and support. I would also like to thank the anonymous reviewers and editor at JHNA, whose comments shaped the essay’s final form.

Anonymous (attributed to David de Meyne),  View of Ambon (Gezicht op Ambon),  ca. 1617, Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum
Fig. 1 Anonymous (attributed to David de Meyne), View of Ambon (Gezicht op Ambon), ca. 1617, oil on canvas, 148.8 x 268.2 cm. Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum, inv. SK-A-4482 (artwork in the public domain)
Anonymous (attributed to David de Meyne),  View of Ambon (Gezicht op Ambon), detail of fig. ,  ca. 1617, Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum
Fig. 2 Detail of fig. 1: Ambonese villages labeled on the painting
Anonymous (attributed to David de Meyne),  View of Ambon (Gezicht op Ambon), detail of fig. ,  ca. 1617, Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum
Fig. 3 Detail of fig. 1: portrait of Frederick de Houtman, VOC governor of Ambon
Anonymous,  Portrait of Frederick de Houtman (1571–1627),  ca. 1610–20, Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum
Fig. 4 Anonymous, Portrait of Frederick de Houtman (1571–1627), ca. 1610–20, oil on canvas, 129.2 x 93.7 cm. Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum, inv. SK-A-2727 (artwork in the public domain)
Simon Fokke,  Willem V Taking His Position as Director of the V,  1769–73, Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum
Fig. 5 Simon Fokke, Willem V Taking His Position as Director of the VOC, 1768, 1769–73, etching, 295 x 405 mm. Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum, inv. RP-P-1944-2072 (artwork in the public domain)
Anonymous,  The Dutch East India House in Amsterdam,  1650–1724, Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum
Fig. 6 Anonymous, The Dutch East India House in Amsterdam, 1650–1724, etching, 224 x 300 mm. Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum, inv. RP-P-OB-102.062 (artwork in the public domain)
Frontispiece, From Johannes Pontanus, Rerum et U,  San Marino,  Calif., The Huntington Library
Fig. 7 Frontispiece, engraving, h. 31 cm. From Johannes Pontanus, Rerum et Urbis Amstelodamensium Historia (Amsterdam: Jodocus Hondius, 1611), San Marino, Calif., The Huntington Library, inv. 194133 (artwork in the public domain; photo by the author)
Map of Ambon, From Johannes Pontanus, Rerum et ,
Fig. 8 View of Ambon, engraving, 14 x 20.5 cm. From Jacob van Neck, Het tweede boeck, iournael oft dagh-register . . . (Amsterdam: Barent Langenes, 1601). Amsterdam, University of Amsterdam Library, inv. O 60 641 (artwork in the public domain; photo by the author)
View of Ambon, From Jacob van Neck, Het tweede bo,  University of Amsterdam Library
Fig. 9 Map of Ambon, engraving, h. 31 cm. From Johannes Pontanus, Rerum et Urbis Amstelodamensium Historia (see fig. 7) (artwork in the public domain; photo by the author)
Geography and Chorography, From Petrus Apianus, C,  San Diego State University Library, Special Collections
Fig. 10 Geography and Chorography, engraving, 21 cm. From Petrus Apianus, Cosmographia (Antwerp: In pingui gallina Arnoldo Berckma no, 1540). San Diego, Calif., San Diego State University Library, Special Collections, inv. GA6.A5 1540 (artwork in the public domain; photo by author)
David de Meyne, after Nicolaas van Geelkerken,  Universi Orbis Tabula De-Integro Delineata, 1610,  Rotterdam, Maritiem Museum
Fig. 11 David de Meyne, after Nicolaas van Geelkerken, Universi Orbis Tabula De-Integro Delineata, 1610, engraving, 409 x 575 mm. Rotterdam, Maritiem Museum, inv. K111-A (artwork in the public domain)
Jodocus Hondius the Elder,  detail of Nova et exacta totius orbis terrarum de, 1608, London: Royal Geographical Society
Fig. 12 Jodocus Hondius the Elder, detail of Nova et exacta totius orbis terrarum descriptio geographica et hydrographica, 1608, engraving. From Jodocus Hondius, The Map of the World on Mercator’s Projection (Amsterdam, 1608). Fascimile. London: Royal Geographical Society, 1927.
Claes Jansz. Visscher (II),  after David Vinckboons, The Battle of Gibraltar, 1607,  Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum
Fig. 13 Claes Jansz. Visscher (II), after David Vinckboons, The Battle of Gibraltar, 1607, etching, 432 x 847 mm. Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum, inv. RP-P-OB-77.989 (artwork in the public domain)
Frans Huys (printmaker) and Hieronymus Cock (publisher),  Portrait of King John III of Portugal, 1556,  Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum
Fig. 14 Portrait of Steven van der Haghen, engraving. From “Journael van de voyagie, gedaen met twaelf scheepen naer Oost-Indien, onder het beleydt van den Heer Admirael Steven van der Hagen,” in Verscheyde Oost-Indische Voyagien [Several East Indian voyages] (Amsterdam: Gillis Joosten Saeghman, 1663). Amsterdam, University of Amsterdam Library, inv. O 60 830 (artwork in the public domain)
Portrait of Steven van der Haghen, from “Journa,  University of Amsterdam Library
Fig. 15 Frans Huys (printmaker) and Hieronymus Cock (publisher), Portrait of King John III of Portugal, 1556, engraving, 199 x 157 mm. Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum, inv. RP-P-OB-102.581 (artwork in the public domain)
Double Hemisphere Map with Portraits of Magellan,,
Fig. 16 Double Hemisphere Map with Portraits of Magellan, Drake, van Noort, Cavendish, Spilbergen, and Willem Schouten, engraving. Frontispiece from Eigendliche Beschreibung der wunderbarlichen Reyse . . . (Amsterdam: Willem Jansz Blaeu, 1618/19) (artwork in the public domain)
Portrait of Jacob le Maire, From Spieghel der Aus, New Haven, Yale University Art Gallery
Fig. 17 Portrait of Jacob le Maire, engraving, 17.7 x 11.7 cm. From Spieghel der Australische Navigatie (Amsterdam: Michiel Colijn, 1622). New Haven, Yale University Art Gallery, inv. 1983.1.21 (artwork in the public domain)
  1. 1. Kees Zandvliet, The Dutch Encounter with Asia, 1600–1950 (Amsterdam: Rijksmuseum/Zwolle: Waanders, 2002), 178. In 2013, after a decade-long renovation, Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum reopened and re-presented to its visitors a trove of Golden Age treasures long hidden from view in the museum’s vaults, including View of Ambon. At the time of writing, the painting was hung high above a doorway in Room 2.9, commanding for itself a view of visual documents and archaeological remains representing the power and control wielded worldwide by Dutch global trading companies in the seventeenth century.

  2. 2. This partial translation of the commission is given in Kees Zandvliet, Mapping for Money: Maps, Plans and Topographic Paintings and Their Role in Dutch Overseas Expansion during the 16th and 17th Centuries (Amsterdam: De Bataafsche Leeuw, 1998), 241. For the commission, see ARA VOC 228, Resolutions, February 16, 1617, as cited in Zandvliet, Mapping for Money, 241, 296n79. The original text of the commission reads: “d’Eijland, fort, ende dorpen in eene bequame karte te doen stellen, met perfecte aenteikeninge van compass ende mate” (the island, fort, and villages [shall] be represented in a skillful map, with perfect notations of compass and scale). This translation is my own. See below, notes 35 and 44.

  3. 3. It is also possible that the inset portrait is based on an as yet unknown print.

  4. 4. Quoted from the commission of the painting, ARA VOC 228, Resolutions, February 16, 1617, as cited in Zandvliet, Mapping for Money, 241, 296n79.

  5. 5. This essay engages with recent cartographic and art historical studies that provide a wide view of the subject of early modern Dutch cartography in relation to politics and global trade. These studies include Zandvliet’s Mapping for Money (1998) and Elizabeth Sutton’s Capitalism and Cartography in the Dutch Golden Age (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015), https://doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226254814.001.0001. The latter publication explores the cartographic production of the Dutch West India Company (WIC). Relatedly, Christi M. Klinkert’s Nassau in het Nieuws: Nieuwsprenten van Maurits van Nassaus militaire ondernemingen uit de periode 1590–1600 (Zutphen: Walburg Pers, 2005) explores the propagandistic potential of newsprints, including maps, concerning Dutch military enterprises under Prince Maurits of Orange (1567–1625).

  6. 6. Zandvliet, The Dutch Encounter with Asia, 178.

  7. 7. Van der Haghen’s protest and lack of representation by the VOC are discussed in numerous entries in Arnoldus Buchelius, “VOC-Dagboek 1619–1639,” transcribed by Kees Smit (2011), Nationaal Archief, accessed July 15, 2016, http://www.gahetna.nl/sites/default/files/bijlagen/transcriptie_voc-dagboek_buchelius.pdf.

  8. 8. Willeke Jeeninga, Het Oostindisch Huis en het Sint Jorishof te Amsterdam, trans. Beverly Jackson as The East Indies House and St. Jorishof (Zwolle: Waanders, 1995), 16. For additional thorough discussion of Amsterdam’s Dutch East India House, see Roelof van Gelder and Lodewijk Wagenaar, Sporen van de Compagnie: De VOC in Nederland (Amsterdam: De Bataafsche Leeuw, 1988), esp. 17–18 and 64–67.

  9. 9. Jeeninga, Het Oostindisch Huis, 16, 18.

  10. 10. Jeeninga, Het Oostindisch Huis, 13–14.

  11. 11. Jeeninga, Het Oostindisch Huis, 6.

  12. 12. Jeeninga, Het Oostindisch Huis, 16.

  13. 13. Originally from the anonymously authored Le Guide d’Amsterdam (Amsterdam, 1701) and cited, for example, in Sheilagh Ogilvie, Institutions and European Trade: Merchant Guilds, 1000–1800 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011), 32, https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511974410; Jan de Vries and Ad van der Woude, The First Modern Economy: Success, Failure, and Perseverance of the Dutch Economy, 1500–1815 (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 407–8, https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511666841; and Fernand Braudel, The Perspective of the World, trans. Sian Reynolds, vol. 3, Civilization and Capitalism: 15th–18th Century (New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 1979), 153.

  14. 14. Pierre Bergeron, as cited and translated in Grégoire Holtz, “The Model of the VOC in Seventeenth-Century France (Hugo Grotius and Pierre Bergeron),” in The Dutch Trading Companies as Knowledge Networks, eds. Siegfried Huigen, Jan L. de Jong, and Elmer Kolfin (Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2010), 331–32, https://doi.org/10.1163/ej.9789004186590.i-448.96. Considerable recent art historical scholarship is reevaluating the relationship between early modern Dutch art and the conspicuous visibility of global trading activities in Amsterdam, including, particularly, Julie Berger Hochstrasser, Still Life and Trade in the Dutch Golden Age (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2007), and Claudia Swan, “Lost in Translation: Exoticism in Early Modern Holland,” in Art in Iran and Europe in the 17th Century: Exchange and Reception, ed. Axel Langer (Zurich: Museum Rietberg, 2013), 100–16.

  15. 15. Citations are from the Dutch edition of Johannes Isacius Pontanus, Historische Beschrijvinghe der seer wijt beroemde Coop-stadt Amsterdam . . . , trans. Petrus Montanus (Amsterdam: Jodocus Hondius, 1614), 145.

  16. 16. J. W. Neumayr von Ramzla, Des durchlauchtigen hochgebornen Fürsten Johann Ernst . . . Reise in Frankreich, England und die Niederlanden (Leipzig, 1620), 294–95, as cited and translated in Zandvliet, Mapping for Money, 217, 295n32. The original text reads: “Bey dem Camin hieng eine grosse Seekarte war die Indianische Seefahrt mit dem Winden und Porten alles gar schön auff Pergamen mit der Feder gerissen und theils gemahlet.” Zandvliet notes that this account also mentions Asian masterpieces in the Great Hall.

  17. 17. Zandvliet, Mapping for Money, 211, 263–64. Company boardrooms as “geopolitical theaters” is a concept explored only in Zandvliet’s conclusion and, as Zandvliet notes, is worthy of further investigation.

  18. 18. I borrow the term “cognitive possession” to characterize practices of Dutch artistic production and reception that constitute a sense of virtual possession of the East Indies, in a manner broadly resonant with discussions of “cognitive possession” in Anthony Pagden, European Encounters with the New World: From Renaissance to Romanticism (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993).

  19. 19. Zandvliet, Mapping for Money, 75.

  20. 20. Zandvliet, Mapping for Money, 86–87.

  21. 21. As governor-general, Jan Pietersz Coen’s ruthless efforts to achieve and maintain the VOC’s monopoly on commodities include the 1621 conquest of the Banda Islands, during which a great portion of the indigenous population was massacred. Zandvliet, The Dutch Encounter with Asia, 80.

  22. 22. Zandvliet, Mapping for Money, 87–95.

  23. 23. Zandvliet, Mapping for Money, 50. Gerritsz’s 1617 provisional appointment was made official in 1619.

  24. 24. Zandvliet, Mapping for Money, 95.

  25. 25. Jerry Brotton, Trading Territories: Mapping the Early Modern World (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1998), 57.

  26. 26. The translated caption is given in Zandvliet, Mapping for Money, 69, 71.

  27. 27. Zandvliet, Mapping for Money, 69, 71.

  28. 28. Femme S. Gaastra, The Dutch East India Company: Expansion and Decline (Zutphen: Walburg Pers, 2003), 39.

  29. 29. This was a voyage sponsored by one of the so-called voorcompagnieeën (precompanies) prior to the establishment of the VOC in 1602. Jacob van Neck, Het tweede boeck, iournael oft dagh-register: Inhoudende een warachtich verhael ende historische vertellinghe vande reyse, gedaen door de acht schepen van Amstelredamme, gheseylt inden maent martij 1598 (Amsterdam: Barent Langenes, 1601).

  30. 30. The 1601 engraving of Ambon and its inhabitants (fig. 9) issued in Jacob van Neck’s Het tweede boeck, iournal oft dagh-register (note 29 above) was reissued in numerous publications, including Pontanus’s Rerum et Urbis Amstelodamensium Historia (Latin edition 1611; Dutch translation 1614) and, later, Isaac Commelin’s Begin ende voortgangh van de Vereenighde Nederlantsche Geoctroyeerde Oost-Indische Compagnie (Amsterdam: Jan Janssonius, 1645/46).

  31. 31. Quoted from the published English translation of Jacob van Neck’s Het tweede boeck, iournael oft dagh-register (note 29), titled The iournall, or dayly register, contayning a true manifestation, and historicall declaration of the voyage, accomplished by eight shippes of Amsterdam . . . (London: [Simon Stafford and Felix Kingston] for Cuthbert Burby & John Flasket, 1601), 25r, 26v. San Marino, Calif., The Huntington Library, inv. 18660.

  32. 32. Gaastra, The Dutch East India Company, 46.

  33. 33. Harold J. Cook, Matters of Exchange: Commerce, Medicine, and Science in the Dutch Golden Age (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2007), 63, 183–84, https://doi.org/10.12987/yale/9780300117967.001.0001.

  34. 34. The attribution to de Meyne is supported by Kees Zandvliet and Günter Schilder, as noted in Zandvliet, Mapping for Money, 241, 296n80.

  35. 35. This partial translation of the commission is given in Zandvliet, Mapping for Money, 241. For the commission, see ARA VOC 228, Resolutions, February 16, 1617, as cited in Zandvliet, Mapping for Money, 241, 296n79. The original text of the commission reads: “d’Eijland, fort, ende dorpen in eene bequame karte te doen stellen, met perfecte aenteikeninge van compass ende mate” (the island, fort, and villages [shall] be represented in a skillful map, with perfect notations of compass and scale). This translation is my own.

  36. 36. Marie-Odette Scalliet, “Twee eeuwen Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie,” in Indië omlijst: Vier eeuwen schilderkunst in Nederlands-Indië, eds. Koos van Brakel, et al. (Amsterdam: Koninklijk Instituut voor de Tropen, 1998), 21.

  37. 37. Zandvliet, The Dutch Encounter with Asia, 180. Regarding Hyto’s authority, Zandvliet cites the 1623 report of VOC governor of Ambon Herman van Speult.

  38. 38. See Svetlana Alpers, “Chapter Four, The Mapping Impulse in Dutch Art,” in The Art of Describing: Dutch Art in the Seventeenth Century (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983), esp. 133–39.

  39. 39. Alpers, Art of Describing, 133–34.

  40. 40. Alpers, Art of Describing, 135.

  41. 41. Klinkert, Nassau in het Nieuws, 43, 45, 322.

  42. 42. Dirk de Vries, “‘Chartmaking is the Power and Glory of the Country’: Dutch Marine Cartography in the Seventeenth Century,” in Mirror of Empire: Dutch Marine Art of the Seventeenth Century, ed. George S. Keyes (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990), 72.

  43. 43. The seminal essay on this subject and on the rising “cult” of Dutch maritime heroes in the early seventeenth-century is Cynthia Lawrence, “Hendrick de Keyser’s Heemskerk Monument: The Origins of the Cult and Iconography of Dutch Naval Heroes,” Simiolus 21, no. 4 (January 1992): 265–95, https://doi.org/10.2307/3780789.

  44. 44. This partial translation of the commission is given in Zandvliet, Mapping for Money, 241. For the commission, see ARA VOC 228, Resolutions, February 16, 1617, as cited in Zandvliet, Mapping for Money, 241, 296n79. The original text of the commission reads: “d’Eijland, fort, ende dorpen in eene bequame karte te doen stellen, met perfecte aenteikeninge van compass ende mate” (the island, fort, and villages [shall] be represented in a skillful map, with perfect notations of compass and scale). This translation is my own.

  45. 45. Zandvliet, Mapping for Money, 241–42. Zandvliet, The Dutch Encounter with Asia, 181.

  46. 46. Buchelius, “VOC-Dagboek 1619–1639.”

  47. 47. From the transcription of Buchelius’s journal, in Navorscher 47 (1897): 627–28, as cited and translated by Zandvliet, Mapping for Money, 241, 296n80.

  48. 48. Buchelius, “VOC-Dagboek 1619–1639.” Translation is my own.

  49. 49. Buchelius, “VOC-Dagboek 1619–1639.” Translation is my own.

  50. 50. Buchelius, “VOC-Dagboek 1619–1639.” Translation is my own.

  51. 51. Zandvliet, Mapping for Money, 69, 71. 

  52. 52. Zandvliet, Mapping for Money, 241. Zandvliet, The Dutch Encounter with Asia, 181.

  53. 53. Cook, Matters of Exchange, 183–84.

  54. 54. Zandvliet, Mapping for Money, 241. Zandvliet, The Dutch Encounter with Asia, 181.

  55. 55. Cook, Matters of Exchange, 122. Zandvliet, Mapping for Money, 37–39, 43. Zandvliet maintains that it is unclear if the de Houtman brothers were instructed to obtain Portuguese maps and charts, though “it seems quite likely that they did acquire such material.”

  56. 56. Fr. de Houtman, Spraeck ende woord-boeck, in de Maleysche ende Madagaskarsche talen, met vele Arabische ende Turcsche woorden . . . noch zijn hier byghevoecht de declinatien van vele vaste Sterren, staende ontrent den Zuyd-pool (Amsterdam: Jan Evertsz. Cloppenburch, 1603). See also E. Dekker, “Early Explorations of the Southern Celestial Sky,” Annals of Science 44, no. 5 (1987): 439–70, https://doi.org/10.1080/00033798700200301.

  57. 57. Zandvliet, Mapping For Money, 118. Willem Jansz. Blaeu would hold the post of official mapmaker to the VOC from 1633 to 1638.

  58. 58. ARA, Resolutions Heren XVII, December 30, 1620, as cited and translated in Zandvliet, Mapping for Money, 241, 296n81. The original Dutch text reads: “Ende wert hem gepermitteert, dat hij tot costen van de Comp. sal [mogen] laten maecken een gelijcke caerte van den lande van Amboyna, in dewelcke hij sal vermogen te stellen sijn pourtraict met een inscriptie, als sijnde geweest den conquesteur en de eerste gouverneur van Amboyna . . . , en sal ook vermogen in een parcke [cartouche] . . . laten afmalen, de overwinning die hij gehad heeft over de vier gallioenen voor Malacca, tot een memorie voor de voorschreven heer Admiraal.”

  59. 59. Regarding VOC shareholder dissent, see, for example, Gaastra, The Dutch East India Company (2003), and Jacob Soll, The Reckoning: Financial Accountability and the Rise and Fall of Nations (New York: Basic Books, 2014). See below, note 65.

  60. 60. Pieter van Dam, Beschryvinge van de Oostindische Compagnie 1693–1701, eds. F. W. Stapel and C. W. Th van Boetzelaer (The Hague, 1927–54), vol. 1.2, p. 311.

  61. 61. Zandvliet, The Dutch Encounter with Asia, 181.

  62. 62. Herman de La Fontaine Verwey, “Willem Jansz Blaeu and the Voyage of Le Maire and Schouten,” Quaerendo 3, no. 2 (1973): 88–89, https://doi.org/10.1163/157006973X00020.

  63. 63. La Fontaine Verwey, “Willem Jansz Blaeu and the Voyage of Le Maire and Schouten,” 89–92.

  64. 64. La Fontaine Verwey, “Willem Jansz Blaeu and the Voyage of Le Maire and Schouten,” 89–92.

  65. 65. Regarding VOC shareholder dissent, see, for example, Gaastra, The Dutch East India Company and Soll, The Reckoning.

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Pagden, Anthony. European Encounters with the New World: From Renaissance to Romanticism. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993.

Pontanus, Johannes Isacius. Historische Beschrijvinghe der seer wijt beroemde Coop-stadt Amsterdam. . . Translated by Petrus Montanus. Amsterdam : Jodocus Hondius, 1614.

Pontanus, Johannes Isacius. Rerum et Urbis Amstelodamensium Historia. Amsterdam: Jodocus Hondius, 1611.

Ramzla, J. W. Neumayr von. Des durchlauchtigen hochgebornen Fürsten Johann Ernst . . . Reise in Frankreich, England und die Niederlanden. Leipzig, 1620.

Scalliet, Marie-Odette. “Twee eeuwen Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie: Europese schilders in Oost-Indië in de zeventiende en achttiende eeuw.” In Indië omlijst: Vier eeuwen schilderkunst in Nederlands-Indië, edited by Koos van Brakel et al., 13–38. Amsterdam: Koninklijk Instituut voor de Tropen, 1998.

Soll, Jacob. The Reckoning: Financial Accountability and the Rise and Fall of Nations. New York: Basic Books, 2014.

Sutton, Elizabeth. Capitalism and Cartography in the Dutch Golden Age. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015.  https://doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226254814.001.0001

Swan, Claudia. “Lost in Translation: Exoticism in Early Modern Holland.” In Art in Iran and Europe in the 17th Century: Exchange and Reception, edited by Axel Langer, 100–117. Zurich: Museum Rietberg, 2013.

Vries, Dirk de. “‘Chartmaking is the Power and Glory of the Country’: Dutch Marine Cartography in the Seventeenth Century.” In Mirror of Empire: Dutch Marine Art of the Seventeenth Century, edited by George S. Keyes, 60–76. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990.

Vries, Jan de, and Ad van der Woude. The First Modern Economy: Success, Failure, and Perseverance of the Dutch Economy, 1500–1815. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997.  https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511666841

Zandvliet, Kees. The Dutch Encounter with Asia, 1600–1950. Amsterdam: Rijksmuseum/Zwolle: Waanders, 2002.

Zandvliet, Kees. Mapping for Money: Maps, Plans and Topographic Paintings and Their Role in Dutch Overseas Expansion during the 16th and 17th Centuries. Amsterdam: De Bataafsche Leeuw, 1998.

List of Illustrations

Anonymous (attributed to David de Meyne),  View of Ambon (Gezicht op Ambon),  ca. 1617, Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum
Fig. 1 Anonymous (attributed to David de Meyne), View of Ambon (Gezicht op Ambon), ca. 1617, oil on canvas, 148.8 x 268.2 cm. Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum, inv. SK-A-4482 (artwork in the public domain)
Anonymous (attributed to David de Meyne),  View of Ambon (Gezicht op Ambon), detail of fig. ,  ca. 1617, Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum
Fig. 2 Detail of fig. 1: Ambonese villages labeled on the painting
Anonymous (attributed to David de Meyne),  View of Ambon (Gezicht op Ambon), detail of fig. ,  ca. 1617, Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum
Fig. 3 Detail of fig. 1: portrait of Frederick de Houtman, VOC governor of Ambon
Anonymous,  Portrait of Frederick de Houtman (1571–1627),  ca. 1610–20, Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum
Fig. 4 Anonymous, Portrait of Frederick de Houtman (1571–1627), ca. 1610–20, oil on canvas, 129.2 x 93.7 cm. Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum, inv. SK-A-2727 (artwork in the public domain)
Simon Fokke,  Willem V Taking His Position as Director of the V,  1769–73, Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum
Fig. 5 Simon Fokke, Willem V Taking His Position as Director of the VOC, 1768, 1769–73, etching, 295 x 405 mm. Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum, inv. RP-P-1944-2072 (artwork in the public domain)
Anonymous,  The Dutch East India House in Amsterdam,  1650–1724, Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum
Fig. 6 Anonymous, The Dutch East India House in Amsterdam, 1650–1724, etching, 224 x 300 mm. Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum, inv. RP-P-OB-102.062 (artwork in the public domain)
Frontispiece, From Johannes Pontanus, Rerum et U,  San Marino,  Calif., The Huntington Library
Fig. 7 Frontispiece, engraving, h. 31 cm. From Johannes Pontanus, Rerum et Urbis Amstelodamensium Historia (Amsterdam: Jodocus Hondius, 1611), San Marino, Calif., The Huntington Library, inv. 194133 (artwork in the public domain; photo by the author)
Map of Ambon, From Johannes Pontanus, Rerum et ,
Fig. 8 View of Ambon, engraving, 14 x 20.5 cm. From Jacob van Neck, Het tweede boeck, iournael oft dagh-register . . . (Amsterdam: Barent Langenes, 1601). Amsterdam, University of Amsterdam Library, inv. O 60 641 (artwork in the public domain; photo by the author)
View of Ambon, From Jacob van Neck, Het tweede bo,  University of Amsterdam Library
Fig. 9 Map of Ambon, engraving, h. 31 cm. From Johannes Pontanus, Rerum et Urbis Amstelodamensium Historia (see fig. 7) (artwork in the public domain; photo by the author)
Geography and Chorography, From Petrus Apianus, C,  San Diego State University Library, Special Collections
Fig. 10 Geography and Chorography, engraving, 21 cm. From Petrus Apianus, Cosmographia (Antwerp: In pingui gallina Arnoldo Berckma no, 1540). San Diego, Calif., San Diego State University Library, Special Collections, inv. GA6.A5 1540 (artwork in the public domain; photo by author)
David de Meyne, after Nicolaas van Geelkerken,  Universi Orbis Tabula De-Integro Delineata, 1610,  Rotterdam, Maritiem Museum
Fig. 11 David de Meyne, after Nicolaas van Geelkerken, Universi Orbis Tabula De-Integro Delineata, 1610, engraving, 409 x 575 mm. Rotterdam, Maritiem Museum, inv. K111-A (artwork in the public domain)
Jodocus Hondius the Elder,  detail of Nova et exacta totius orbis terrarum de, 1608, London: Royal Geographical Society
Fig. 12 Jodocus Hondius the Elder, detail of Nova et exacta totius orbis terrarum descriptio geographica et hydrographica, 1608, engraving. From Jodocus Hondius, The Map of the World on Mercator’s Projection (Amsterdam, 1608). Fascimile. London: Royal Geographical Society, 1927.
Claes Jansz. Visscher (II),  after David Vinckboons, The Battle of Gibraltar, 1607,  Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum
Fig. 13 Claes Jansz. Visscher (II), after David Vinckboons, The Battle of Gibraltar, 1607, etching, 432 x 847 mm. Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum, inv. RP-P-OB-77.989 (artwork in the public domain)
Frans Huys (printmaker) and Hieronymus Cock (publisher),  Portrait of King John III of Portugal, 1556,  Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum
Fig. 14 Portrait of Steven van der Haghen, engraving. From “Journael van de voyagie, gedaen met twaelf scheepen naer Oost-Indien, onder het beleydt van den Heer Admirael Steven van der Hagen,” in Verscheyde Oost-Indische Voyagien [Several East Indian voyages] (Amsterdam: Gillis Joosten Saeghman, 1663). Amsterdam, University of Amsterdam Library, inv. O 60 830 (artwork in the public domain)
Portrait of Steven van der Haghen, from “Journa,  University of Amsterdam Library
Fig. 15 Frans Huys (printmaker) and Hieronymus Cock (publisher), Portrait of King John III of Portugal, 1556, engraving, 199 x 157 mm. Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum, inv. RP-P-OB-102.581 (artwork in the public domain)
Double Hemisphere Map with Portraits of Magellan,,
Fig. 16 Double Hemisphere Map with Portraits of Magellan, Drake, van Noort, Cavendish, Spilbergen, and Willem Schouten, engraving. Frontispiece from Eigendliche Beschreibung der wunderbarlichen Reyse . . . (Amsterdam: Willem Jansz Blaeu, 1618/19) (artwork in the public domain)
Portrait of Jacob le Maire, From Spieghel der Aus, New Haven, Yale University Art Gallery
Fig. 17 Portrait of Jacob le Maire, engraving, 17.7 x 11.7 cm. From Spieghel der Australische Navigatie (Amsterdam: Michiel Colijn, 1622). New Haven, Yale University Art Gallery, inv. 1983.1.21 (artwork in the public domain)

Footnotes

  1. 1. Kees Zandvliet, The Dutch Encounter with Asia, 1600–1950 (Amsterdam: Rijksmuseum/Zwolle: Waanders, 2002), 178. In 2013, after a decade-long renovation, Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum reopened and re-presented to its visitors a trove of Golden Age treasures long hidden from view in the museum’s vaults, including View of Ambon. At the time of writing, the painting was hung high above a doorway in Room 2.9, commanding for itself a view of visual documents and archaeological remains representing the power and control wielded worldwide by Dutch global trading companies in the seventeenth century.

  2. 2. This partial translation of the commission is given in Kees Zandvliet, Mapping for Money: Maps, Plans and Topographic Paintings and Their Role in Dutch Overseas Expansion during the 16th and 17th Centuries (Amsterdam: De Bataafsche Leeuw, 1998), 241. For the commission, see ARA VOC 228, Resolutions, February 16, 1617, as cited in Zandvliet, Mapping for Money, 241, 296n79. The original text of the commission reads: “d’Eijland, fort, ende dorpen in eene bequame karte te doen stellen, met perfecte aenteikeninge van compass ende mate” (the island, fort, and villages [shall] be represented in a skillful map, with perfect notations of compass and scale). This translation is my own. See below, notes 35 and 44.

  3. 3. It is also possible that the inset portrait is based on an as yet unknown print.

  4. 4. Quoted from the commission of the painting, ARA VOC 228, Resolutions, February 16, 1617, as cited in Zandvliet, Mapping for Money, 241, 296n79.

  5. 5. This essay engages with recent cartographic and art historical studies that provide a wide view of the subject of early modern Dutch cartography in relation to politics and global trade. These studies include Zandvliet’s Mapping for Money (1998) and Elizabeth Sutton’s Capitalism and Cartography in the Dutch Golden Age (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015), https://doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226254814.001.0001. The latter publication explores the cartographic production of the Dutch West India Company (WIC). Relatedly, Christi M. Klinkert’s Nassau in het Nieuws: Nieuwsprenten van Maurits van Nassaus militaire ondernemingen uit de periode 1590–1600 (Zutphen: Walburg Pers, 2005) explores the propagandistic potential of newsprints, including maps, concerning Dutch military enterprises under Prince Maurits of Orange (1567–1625).

  6. 6. Zandvliet, The Dutch Encounter with Asia, 178.

  7. 7. Van der Haghen’s protest and lack of representation by the VOC are discussed in numerous entries in Arnoldus Buchelius, “VOC-Dagboek 1619–1639,” transcribed by Kees Smit (2011), Nationaal Archief, accessed July 15, 2016, http://www.gahetna.nl/sites/default/files/bijlagen/transcriptie_voc-dagboek_buchelius.pdf.

  8. 8. Willeke Jeeninga, Het Oostindisch Huis en het Sint Jorishof te Amsterdam, trans. Beverly Jackson as The East Indies House and St. Jorishof (Zwolle: Waanders, 1995), 16. For additional thorough discussion of Amsterdam’s Dutch East India House, see Roelof van Gelder and Lodewijk Wagenaar, Sporen van de Compagnie: De VOC in Nederland (Amsterdam: De Bataafsche Leeuw, 1988), esp. 17–18 and 64–67.

  9. 9. Jeeninga, Het Oostindisch Huis, 16, 18.

  10. 10. Jeeninga, Het Oostindisch Huis, 13–14.

  11. 11. Jeeninga, Het Oostindisch Huis, 6.

  12. 12. Jeeninga, Het Oostindisch Huis, 16.

  13. 13. Originally from the anonymously authored Le Guide d’Amsterdam (Amsterdam, 1701) and cited, for example, in Sheilagh Ogilvie, Institutions and European Trade: Merchant Guilds, 1000–1800 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011), 32, https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511974410; Jan de Vries and Ad van der Woude, The First Modern Economy: Success, Failure, and Perseverance of the Dutch Economy, 1500–1815 (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 407–8, https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511666841; and Fernand Braudel, The Perspective of the World, trans. Sian Reynolds, vol. 3, Civilization and Capitalism: 15th–18th Century (New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 1979), 153.

  14. 14. Pierre Bergeron, as cited and translated in Grégoire Holtz, “The Model of the VOC in Seventeenth-Century France (Hugo Grotius and Pierre Bergeron),” in The Dutch Trading Companies as Knowledge Networks, eds. Siegfried Huigen, Jan L. de Jong, and Elmer Kolfin (Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2010), 331–32, https://doi.org/10.1163/ej.9789004186590.i-448.96. Considerable recent art historical scholarship is reevaluating the relationship between early modern Dutch art and the conspicuous visibility of global trading activities in Amsterdam, including, particularly, Julie Berger Hochstrasser, Still Life and Trade in the Dutch Golden Age (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2007), and Claudia Swan, “Lost in Translation: Exoticism in Early Modern Holland,” in Art in Iran and Europe in the 17th Century: Exchange and Reception, ed. Axel Langer (Zurich: Museum Rietberg, 2013), 100–16.

  15. 15. Citations are from the Dutch edition of Johannes Isacius Pontanus, Historische Beschrijvinghe der seer wijt beroemde Coop-stadt Amsterdam . . . , trans. Petrus Montanus (Amsterdam: Jodocus Hondius, 1614), 145.

  16. 16. J. W. Neumayr von Ramzla, Des durchlauchtigen hochgebornen Fürsten Johann Ernst . . . Reise in Frankreich, England und die Niederlanden (Leipzig, 1620), 294–95, as cited and translated in Zandvliet, Mapping for Money, 217, 295n32. The original text reads: “Bey dem Camin hieng eine grosse Seekarte war die Indianische Seefahrt mit dem Winden und Porten alles gar schön auff Pergamen mit der Feder gerissen und theils gemahlet.” Zandvliet notes that this account also mentions Asian masterpieces in the Great Hall.

  17. 17. Zandvliet, Mapping for Money, 211, 263–64. Company boardrooms as “geopolitical theaters” is a concept explored only in Zandvliet’s conclusion and, as Zandvliet notes, is worthy of further investigation.

  18. 18. I borrow the term “cognitive possession” to characterize practices of Dutch artistic production and reception that constitute a sense of virtual possession of the East Indies, in a manner broadly resonant with discussions of “cognitive possession” in Anthony Pagden, European Encounters with the New World: From Renaissance to Romanticism (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993).

  19. 19. Zandvliet, Mapping for Money, 75.

  20. 20. Zandvliet, Mapping for Money, 86–87.

  21. 21. As governor-general, Jan Pietersz Coen’s ruthless efforts to achieve and maintain the VOC’s monopoly on commodities include the 1621 conquest of the Banda Islands, during which a great portion of the indigenous population was massacred. Zandvliet, The Dutch Encounter with Asia, 80.

  22. 22. Zandvliet, Mapping for Money, 87–95.

  23. 23. Zandvliet, Mapping for Money, 50. Gerritsz’s 1617 provisional appointment was made official in 1619.

  24. 24. Zandvliet, Mapping for Money, 95.

  25. 25. Jerry Brotton, Trading Territories: Mapping the Early Modern World (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1998), 57.

  26. 26. The translated caption is given in Zandvliet, Mapping for Money, 69, 71.

  27. 27. Zandvliet, Mapping for Money, 69, 71.

  28. 28. Femme S. Gaastra, The Dutch East India Company: Expansion and Decline (Zutphen: Walburg Pers, 2003), 39.

  29. 29. This was a voyage sponsored by one of the so-called voorcompagnieeën (precompanies) prior to the establishment of the VOC in 1602. Jacob van Neck, Het tweede boeck, iournael oft dagh-register: Inhoudende een warachtich verhael ende historische vertellinghe vande reyse, gedaen door de acht schepen van Amstelredamme, gheseylt inden maent martij 1598 (Amsterdam: Barent Langenes, 1601).

  30. 30. The 1601 engraving of Ambon and its inhabitants (fig. 9) issued in Jacob van Neck’s Het tweede boeck, iournal oft dagh-register (note 29 above) was reissued in numerous publications, including Pontanus’s Rerum et Urbis Amstelodamensium Historia (Latin edition 1611; Dutch translation 1614) and, later, Isaac Commelin’s Begin ende voortgangh van de Vereenighde Nederlantsche Geoctroyeerde Oost-Indische Compagnie (Amsterdam: Jan Janssonius, 1645/46).

  31. 31. Quoted from the published English translation of Jacob van Neck’s Het tweede boeck, iournael oft dagh-register (note 29), titled The iournall, or dayly register, contayning a true manifestation, and historicall declaration of the voyage, accomplished by eight shippes of Amsterdam . . . (London: [Simon Stafford and Felix Kingston] for Cuthbert Burby & John Flasket, 1601), 25r, 26v. San Marino, Calif., The Huntington Library, inv. 18660.

  32. 32. Gaastra, The Dutch East India Company, 46.

  33. 33. Harold J. Cook, Matters of Exchange: Commerce, Medicine, and Science in the Dutch Golden Age (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2007), 63, 183–84, https://doi.org/10.12987/yale/9780300117967.001.0001.

  34. 34. The attribution to de Meyne is supported by Kees Zandvliet and Günter Schilder, as noted in Zandvliet, Mapping for Money, 241, 296n80.

  35. 35. This partial translation of the commission is given in Zandvliet, Mapping for Money, 241. For the commission, see ARA VOC 228, Resolutions, February 16, 1617, as cited in Zandvliet, Mapping for Money, 241, 296n79. The original text of the commission reads: “d’Eijland, fort, ende dorpen in eene bequame karte te doen stellen, met perfecte aenteikeninge van compass ende mate” (the island, fort, and villages [shall] be represented in a skillful map, with perfect notations of compass and scale). This translation is my own.

  36. 36. Marie-Odette Scalliet, “Twee eeuwen Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie,” in Indië omlijst: Vier eeuwen schilderkunst in Nederlands-Indië, eds. Koos van Brakel, et al. (Amsterdam: Koninklijk Instituut voor de Tropen, 1998), 21.

  37. 37. Zandvliet, The Dutch Encounter with Asia, 180. Regarding Hyto’s authority, Zandvliet cites the 1623 report of VOC governor of Ambon Herman van Speult.

  38. 38. See Svetlana Alpers, “Chapter Four, The Mapping Impulse in Dutch Art,” in The Art of Describing: Dutch Art in the Seventeenth Century (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983), esp. 133–39.

  39. 39. Alpers, Art of Describing, 133–34.

  40. 40. Alpers, Art of Describing, 135.

  41. 41. Klinkert, Nassau in het Nieuws, 43, 45, 322.

  42. 42. Dirk de Vries, “‘Chartmaking is the Power and Glory of the Country’: Dutch Marine Cartography in the Seventeenth Century,” in Mirror of Empire: Dutch Marine Art of the Seventeenth Century, ed. George S. Keyes (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990), 72.

  43. 43. The seminal essay on this subject and on the rising “cult” of Dutch maritime heroes in the early seventeenth-century is Cynthia Lawrence, “Hendrick de Keyser’s Heemskerk Monument: The Origins of the Cult and Iconography of Dutch Naval Heroes,” Simiolus 21, no. 4 (January 1992): 265–95, https://doi.org/10.2307/3780789.

  44. 44. This partial translation of the commission is given in Zandvliet, Mapping for Money, 241. For the commission, see ARA VOC 228, Resolutions, February 16, 1617, as cited in Zandvliet, Mapping for Money, 241, 296n79. The original text of the commission reads: “d’Eijland, fort, ende dorpen in eene bequame karte te doen stellen, met perfecte aenteikeninge van compass ende mate” (the island, fort, and villages [shall] be represented in a skillful map, with perfect notations of compass and scale). This translation is my own.

  45. 45. Zandvliet, Mapping for Money, 241–42. Zandvliet, The Dutch Encounter with Asia, 181.

  46. 46. Buchelius, “VOC-Dagboek 1619–1639.”

  47. 47. From the transcription of Buchelius’s journal, in Navorscher 47 (1897): 627–28, as cited and translated by Zandvliet, Mapping for Money, 241, 296n80.

  48. 48. Buchelius, “VOC-Dagboek 1619–1639.” Translation is my own.

  49. 49. Buchelius, “VOC-Dagboek 1619–1639.” Translation is my own.

  50. 50. Buchelius, “VOC-Dagboek 1619–1639.” Translation is my own.

  51. 51. Zandvliet, Mapping for Money, 69, 71. 

  52. 52. Zandvliet, Mapping for Money, 241. Zandvliet, The Dutch Encounter with Asia, 181.

  53. 53. Cook, Matters of Exchange, 183–84.

  54. 54. Zandvliet, Mapping for Money, 241. Zandvliet, The Dutch Encounter with Asia, 181.

  55. 55. Cook, Matters of Exchange, 122. Zandvliet, Mapping for Money, 37–39, 43. Zandvliet maintains that it is unclear if the de Houtman brothers were instructed to obtain Portuguese maps and charts, though “it seems quite likely that they did acquire such material.”

  56. 56. Fr. de Houtman, Spraeck ende woord-boeck, in de Maleysche ende Madagaskarsche talen, met vele Arabische ende Turcsche woorden . . . noch zijn hier byghevoecht de declinatien van vele vaste Sterren, staende ontrent den Zuyd-pool (Amsterdam: Jan Evertsz. Cloppenburch, 1603). See also E. Dekker, “Early Explorations of the Southern Celestial Sky,” Annals of Science 44, no. 5 (1987): 439–70, https://doi.org/10.1080/00033798700200301.

  57. 57. Zandvliet, Mapping For Money, 118. Willem Jansz. Blaeu would hold the post of official mapmaker to the VOC from 1633 to 1638.

  58. 58. ARA, Resolutions Heren XVII, December 30, 1620, as cited and translated in Zandvliet, Mapping for Money, 241, 296n81. The original Dutch text reads: “Ende wert hem gepermitteert, dat hij tot costen van de Comp. sal [mogen] laten maecken een gelijcke caerte van den lande van Amboyna, in dewelcke hij sal vermogen te stellen sijn pourtraict met een inscriptie, als sijnde geweest den conquesteur en de eerste gouverneur van Amboyna . . . , en sal ook vermogen in een parcke [cartouche] . . . laten afmalen, de overwinning die hij gehad heeft over de vier gallioenen voor Malacca, tot een memorie voor de voorschreven heer Admiraal.”

  59. 59. Regarding VOC shareholder dissent, see, for example, Gaastra, The Dutch East India Company (2003), and Jacob Soll, The Reckoning: Financial Accountability and the Rise and Fall of Nations (New York: Basic Books, 2014). See below, note 65.

  60. 60. Pieter van Dam, Beschryvinge van de Oostindische Compagnie 1693–1701, eds. F. W. Stapel and C. W. Th van Boetzelaer (The Hague, 1927–54), vol. 1.2, p. 311.

  61. 61. Zandvliet, The Dutch Encounter with Asia, 181.

  62. 62. Herman de La Fontaine Verwey, “Willem Jansz Blaeu and the Voyage of Le Maire and Schouten,” Quaerendo 3, no. 2 (1973): 88–89, https://doi.org/10.1163/157006973X00020.

  63. 63. La Fontaine Verwey, “Willem Jansz Blaeu and the Voyage of Le Maire and Schouten,” 89–92.

  64. 64. La Fontaine Verwey, “Willem Jansz Blaeu and the Voyage of Le Maire and Schouten,” 89–92.

  65. 65. Regarding VOC shareholder dissent, see, for example, Gaastra, The Dutch East India Company and Soll, The Reckoning.

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DOI: 10.5092/jhna.2018.10.1.4
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Stephanie Glickman, "The Company One Keeps: View of Ambon (ca. 1617) in the Dutch East India Company’s Sociopolitical Landscape," Journal of Historians of Netherlandish Art 10:1 (Winter 2018) DOI: 10.5092/jhna.2018.10.1.4