Michael North gave a Brown Bag Lunch presentation on Wednesday March 23, 2016. His talk was entitled “Collecting European and Asian Art Objects in Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century Batavia.”

After John Maurice was named stadholder of Brazil by the West India Company, he took the painters Frans Post and Albert Eeckhout with him on his Brazilian travels as members of his entourage of learned men. Over the next six years the painters recorded what they saw—Post painted mainly landscapes and Eeckhout people and their work—thus making an important contribution to contemporary Europe’s knowledge of Brazil. Compared with this series of paintings, the visual documents of the Dutch presence in Asia have, apart from the graphical reproduction of Batavia, found less attention, although the Dutch East India Company (VOC) has long attracted scholarship. Yet while there are important publications on the trade, shipping, institutional organization, and administration of the Dutch East India Company, the role of the VOC in cultural history, and especially in the history of visual and material culture, has not yet attracted comparable interest. In this talk, North discussed the role and function of art in the settlements and factories of the VOC in Asia. He also explored the many forms of cultural exchange that occurred across Asia and offer insights into the mediating processes between the different ethnicities and cultures in Batavia.

Michael North is Professor and Chair of Modern History and Director of the Graduate Program on Baltic Borderlands at Ernst Moritz Arndt University Greifswald. This winter he was a visiting Professor in the Department of History at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His publications include Art and Commerce in The Dutch Golden Age (1997), Material Delight and the Joy of Living: Cultural Consumption in Germany in the Age of Enlightenment (2008), The Expansion of Europe (2012), and he is editor of several more publications, including Art Markets in Europe (1998), Artistic and Cultural Exchanges between Europe and Asia, 1400–1900 (2010), and Mediating Netherlandish Art and Material Culture in Asia (together with Thomas DaCosta Kaufmann 2014). His most recent book, The Baltic: A History, was published this past year by Harvard University Press.