Rarities of These Lands

Rarities of These Lands Art, Trade, and Diplomacy in the Dutch Republic SWAN, Claudia

A vivid portrait of the exoticism of the Dutch Republic at a critical moment in its cultural and political history

The seventeenth century witnessed a great flourishing of Dutch trade and culture. Politically, the Netherlands secured independence from Spain, becoming a sovereign state in 1648 at the conclusion of the Eighty Years' War. Over the course of the first half of the century, the nascent republic sought to establish a place in global trade and engaged in diplomatic relations with the Ottoman Empire and other Muslim powers. Central to the political and cultural emergence of the Dutch Republic were curious foreign goods the Dutch called "rarities."

Rarities of These Lands offers an episodic account of the role that rarities played in the formation of the Dutch Republic. It explores how rarities were obtained, exchanged, and valued, tracing their global trajectories and considering their role within the politics of the new state. Claudia Swan examines Dutch interest in exotic wares and illuminates what was often fraught cultural exchange, by invoking travelogues and memoranda; contemporary chronicles and private journals; pamphlets and broadsheets; natural history publications and poetry; auction records and inventories; and prints, paintings, dollhouses, and other artifacts.

This deeply researched and exquisitely illustrated book examines how foreign goods and encounters informed the art, trade, and diplomacy of the young nation. Swan's insightful analysis offers a novel and compelling account of how the Dutch Republic turned foreign objects into expressions of its national self-understanding.

Rarities of These Lands illuminates the formative years of the Dutch Republic, offering an innovative examination of a central aspect of this momentous period in Dutch history-its exoticism.


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Princeton University Press
336 pp.

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