Vermeer's Hat: The Seventeenth Century and the Dawn of the Global World (Paperback)

The Seventeenth Century and the Dawn of the Global World

By Timothy Brook

Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, 9781596915992, 272pp.

Publication Date: January 2, 2009



In this critical darling Vermeer's captivating and enigmatic paintings become windows that reveal how daily life and thought-from Delft to Beijing--were transformed in the 17th century, when the world first became global.

A Vermeer painting shows a military officer in a Dutch sitting room, talking to a laughing girl. In another canvas, fruit spills from a blue-and-white porcelain bowl. Familiar images that captivate us with their beauty--but as Timothy Brook shows us, these intimate pictures actually give us a remarkable view of an expanding world. The officer's dashing hat is made of beaver fur from North America, and it was beaver pelts from America that financed the voyages of explorers seeking routes to China-prized for the porcelains so often shown in Dutch paintings of this time, including Vermeer's. In this dazzling history, Timothy Brook uses Vermeer's works, and other contemporary images from Europe, Asia, and the Americas to trace the rapidly growing web of global trade, and the explosive, transforming, and sometimes destructive changes it wrought in the age when globalization really began.

About the Author

Timothy Brook received a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship for the work on which this book is based. He holds the Shaw Chair in Chinese studies at Oxford University and is the author of many books, including the award-winning Confusions of Pleasure.