Asian Splendour. Company Art in the Rijksmuseum
Author: Jan van Campen and Ebeltje Hartkamp-Jonxis. Full colour, 96 pages, paperback
Soon after the VOC, the Dutch East India Company, was founded in 1602 it set up trading posts throughout Asia. The VOC shipped huge quantities of spices, tea, porcelain and cotton to the Netherlands. The employees of the VOC often brought expensive products made by Asian craftsmen to trade privately. These costly oriental objects were so greatly admired that people came to Holland from all over Europe to acquire them. Asian art was a source of inspiration for European craftsmen and it had an important influence on the way they viewed the world. Nevertheless they soon felt the need to change the appearance of these products to suit their own tastes and so an exciting fusion of cultures developed. The Rijksmuseum has a magnificent collection of valuable private commissions. You will find the finest of them in this book. The authors discuss the trade of the Dutch East India Company and focus on Ceylon, India, China, Japan and the Dutch East Indies, each the source of different treasures: cotton, lacquer, silk, porcelain, furniture, jewellery and much more. In a separate chapter living in Batavia (present day Jakarta) is portrayed, showing how all these objects of art were once used in everyday life.