Dutch New York Between East and West: The World of Margrieta van Varick
Presented in conjunction with the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson's voyage of discovery and celebrating the lasting legacy of Dutch culture in New York, this book explores the world of a fascinating woman, her family, and the possessions she accumulated over an eventful lifetime. Margrieta van Varick was born in 1649 in the Netherlands, but she spent many years at the extremes of the Dutch world—in Malacca on the Malay Peninsula and in Flatbush, now part of Brooklyn. She arrived in New York in 1686 with her husband, a Dutch Reformed minister, and set up a textile shop, bringing with her an astonishing array of objects from the Far East and Europe. Her shop goods, along with her household furnishings, were meticulously recorded in an estate inventory made after her death in 1695.
The inventory lay forgotten for more than 200 years but was rediscovered in the 20th century, pointing the way to new research into the histories of New York City, the Dutch overseas trading empire, women, and material culture. An intriguing selection of this ground-breaking research is presented in this volume. It has been edited by Peter Miller, Dean and Chair of Academic Programs at the Bard Graduate Center, and Deborah Krohn, Associate Professor at the BGC, with the assistance of Marybeth De Filippis, Associate Curator of American Art at the New-York Historical Society, who also pieced together Margrieta's life in the East largely from archival documents. Essays by leading scholars in the field—Joyce D. Goodfriend, Jaap Jacobs, Els Kloek, Ruth Piwonka, David William Voorhees, and Kees Zandvliet—illuminate aspects of Margrieta's world. An interview with renowned historian Natalie Zemon Davis conducted by Peter Miller considers the role of inventories in historical inquiry. Although to date it has been impossible to link specific objects to the items in Margrieta's inventory, representative objects have been judiciously chosen for the exhibition. They serve as springboards to discussions by a group of more than 30 leading curators and scholars, covering different areas of expertise, who have contributed insightful catalogue entries. The intense investigation of the past by this wide group of scholars holds up a mirror to present-day New York and serves as a reminder of a vanished world.
The catalogue is published by the Bard Graduate Center: Decorative Arts, Design History, Material Culture; The New-York Historical Society; and Yale University Press.