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Vermeer's Hat: The Seventeenth Century and the Dawn of the Global World (2008)
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"In one painting, a Dutch military Officer leans toward a laughing girl. In another, a woman at a window weighs pieces of silver. In a third, fruit spills from a porcelain bowl onto a Turkish carpet. Vermeer's images haunt us with their beauty and mystery--what stories lie behind these exquisitely rendered moments? As Timothy Brook shows us in Vermeer's Hat, these pictures, which seem so intimate, actually open doors onto a rapidly expanding world." "The dashing officer's hat 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 this 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. It offers us a rich new understanding both of Vermeer's paintings and of the era they portray."--From publisher description.
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