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Vermeer's Hat The Seventeenth Century and the Dawn of the Global World


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Bloomsbury Press


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1596915994

9781596915992

288 Pages

$18.00

Request Desk Copy Request Exam Copy
Winner of the Lukas Prize Project Award

A painting shows a military officer in a Dutch sitting room, talking to a laughing girl. In another, a woman at a window weighs pieces of silver. The beauty and mystery of Vermeer’s images are captivating.  What stories lie behind these moments rendered on canvas?  Timothy Brook shows that these pictures, which seem so intimate, actually offer a remarkable view of a rapidly expanding world. The officer’s dashing hat is made of beaver fur, which European explorers got from Native Americans in exchange for weapons. Those beaver pelts, in turn, financed the voyages of sailors seeking new routes to China. There—with silver mined in Peru—Europeans would purchase, by the thousands, the porcelains so often shown in Dutch paintings of this time. Moving outward from Vermeer’s studio, Brook traces the web of trade that was spreading across the globe. The wharves of Holland, wrote a French visitor, were “an inventory of the possible.” Vermeer’s Hat shows how rich this inventory was, and how the urge to acquire the goods of distant lands was refashioning the world more powerfully than we have yet understood.

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Timothy Brook completed this book while a John Simon G uggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellow. He holds the Shaw Chair in Chinese at Oxford U niversity and is the author of many books, including the award-winning Confusions of Pleasure.

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  • Timothy Brook completed this book while a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellow. 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.
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