Michael North, born in Gießen, Germany, in 1954. Ph.D. from Justus Liebig University Gießen. Professor of Modern History at the University of Greifswald.
Fellow (1 September 2009 – 31 January 2010)
THE RECEPTION OF NETHERLANDISH ART AND ARCHITECTURE IN THE CAPE COLONY
My research showed that the production and reception of Netherlandish art in the Indian Ocean and in Asia were results of intensified market relations whereby the VOC (Dutch East India Company) played the role of a major actor. There existed, however, numerous local agents within and outside this framework. Art objects were commodities on the international but above all on the local markets. When people in Batavia or at the Cape moved there from Holland/Europe/America/Asia they brought only a small number of art objects for decorative or commemorative purposes, such as portraits, with them. So they had to commission art objects or buy them on the market whereby estate auctions provided a second-hand art market. Two processes of cultural exchange are visible. First a trickle down and dissemination process of Dutch decoration patterns from the Netherlands via the upper social strata of the Company to the middle classes and to the different indigenous groups. Second the expansion of Chinese art production. The Chinese decoration model penetrated into the European strata in Batavia in an early stage. A big market for Chinese art objects existed here already in the 1620s, whilst Chinese paintings entered into Dutch and Cape households only around 1700.