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Kolfin, Elmer

Kolfin, Elmer


Elmer Kolfin, born in Amersfoort, the Netherlands, 1969. Ph.D. from Leiden University. Assistant Professor at the University of Amsterdam.

RKD Fellow (1 February – 30 June 2016)

Art, Patronage and Politics in the Batavian Cycle in the Town Hall of Amsterdam, 1645-1665

Research Question

Why did the burgomasters of Amsterdam favore the Antwerp painter Jacques Jordaens over local,  Amsterdam painters for a large and prestigeous commission in Amsterdams town hall? This question leads to research on the meaning of the paintings, the artistic taste of Amsterdam’s ruling elite and the reception of Jordaens in the North.

Project Description

For the paintings of the Batavian revolt in the Amsterdam Town Hall the Amsterdam burgomasters favored the Flemish painter Jacques Jordaens over local painters like Rembrandt, Lievens and Bol. This research examines the reasons for that. It brings together art history, history and Dutch literature. Chapter one analyses the paintings’ pictorial qualities and discusses the iconography, devised by burgomaster Cornelis de Graeff, in the context of political developments. Chapter two discusses De Graeff’s ideas on public art in relation to his social and political position. It combines  archival- and art historical research with the analysis of literary texts. The study of Jordaens’ reception in the final chapter explores whether De Graeff’s ideas and expectations were consistent with what was known about Jordaens and his work.

Selected Publications

1) E. Kolfin, ‘Past imperfect. Political ideals in the unfinished Batavian Series for the Town Hall of Amsterdam’, in R. Cohen Tervaart and M. van der Zwaag (eds.), The Batavian  Commissions. Flinck, Ovens, Lievens, Jordaens, de Groot Bol and Rembrandt, Amsterdam 2011, pp. 11-20.

2) E. Kolfin and M. van Eikema Hommes, De Oranjezaal in Huis ten Bosch. Een zaal van loutere liefde, Zwolle 2013.

3) E.Kolfin, ‘Rembrandt’s Africans’, in: D. Bindman, H. L. Gates jr. and K.C.C. Dalton (eds.), The image of the Black in Western Art III.1. From the ‘age of discovery’ to the age of abolition. Artists of the Renaissance and Baroque, Cambridge (MA) and London 2010, pp. 271-306.