Vermeer's Hat by Timothy Brook.
Hardback 2008. 273 pages with 8 colour plates and maps. Condition: with dust jacket, excellent.
The Seventeenth Century and the Dawn of the Global World.
The officer's hat (on the book cover) is made of beaver fur, which European explorers got from Native Americans in exchange for weapons. 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 the time.
Timothy Brook traces the rapidly growing web of trade that might bring a beaver pelt, a Turkish carpet, or a Chinese bowl to a sitting room in Delft. The wharves of Holland, wrote a French visitor, were ' an inventory of the possible'. Vermeer's Hat shows just how rich this inventory was, and how the urge to acquire such things was refashioning the world more thoroughly than anyone quite realized.
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