Marten Jan Bok, born in Haren, the Netherlands, in 1958. Ph.D. from Utrecht University. Associate Professor of Art History of the Early Modern Period at the University of Amsterdam.
Fellow (1 September 2009 – 31 January 2010)
THE TRADE IN ART OBJECTS BETWEEN THE NETHERLANDS AND ASIA AND THE MIGRATION OF ARTISTS
My research focused on the migration of Netherlandish artists to Asia in the 17th century. I built a database with biographical information of 83 painters and draftsmen. I analysed this database in order to understand why they travelled to Asia, how they made a living and whether or not they served as mediators of visual culture between Europe and Asia. Most artists turn out to have left Europe for economic reasons. They worked as draftsmen or cartographers for the East India Company (VOC), some were court painters in Persia and India, and others painted mostly for the European population of Batavia (now Jakarta). The art market consisted mostly of Europeans with a Dutch lifestyle. A minority eventually returned home, in some cases after a very successful career in Asia. Most others died in Asia, often soon after their arrival. I concluded that the role of migrating artists as mediators of visual culture was limited.