Early Modern Dutch Prints of Africa: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Early Modern Dutch Prints of Africa

1st Edition

By Elizabeth A. Sutton


300 pages

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Paperback: 9781138245952
pub: 2016-10-14
Hardback: 9781409439707
pub: 2012-12-20
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Using Pieter de Marees' Description and Historical Account of the Gold Kingdom of Guinea (1602) as her main source material, author Elizabeth Sutton brings to bear approaches from the disciplines of art history and book history to explore the context in which De Marees' account was created. Since variations of the images and text were repeated in other European travel collections and decorated maps, Sutton is able to trace how the framing of text and image shaped the formation of knowledge that continued to be repeated and distilled in later European depictions of Africans. She reads the engravings in De Marees' account as a demonstration of the intertwining domains of the Dutch pictorial tradition, intellectual inquiry, and Dutch mercantilism. At the same time, by analyzing the marketing tactics of the publisher, Cornelis Claesz, this study illuminates how early modern epistemological processes were influenced by the commodification of knowledge. Sutton examines the book's construction and marketing to shed new light on the social milieus that shared interests in ethnography, trade, and travel. Exploring how the images and text function together, Sutton suggests that Dutch visual and intellectual traditions informed readers' choices for translating De Marees' text visually. Through the examination of early modern Dutch print culture, Early Modern Dutch Prints of Africa expands the boundaries of our understanding of the European imperial enterprise.


A Baker & Taylor Academic Essentials Title in Area/Ethnic Studies, Africa

'This very satisfying case study frames its particulars and adds important new material to the emerging art history about European views of the wider world in the early modern period… Makes insightful arguments as it adds to the growing literature on early European visual ethnography… A fine, well-researched, significant book.' Larry Silver, University of Pennsylvania, USA

'Sutton’s book makes an important contribution to the debate about European views of African people in the early modern period, while also providing a very valuable account of De Marees, Claesz and the illustration of travel writing.' Historians of Netherlandish Art

'Early Modern Dutch Prints of Africa is a comprehensive, very well-executed case study in the production of preconceived images and ideas. It deserves to be read by specialists of Dutch art as well as by scholars of early modern encounters and ethnographic representations.' Renaissance Quarterly

'…Sutton's book is a welcome invitation to enter a process of defamiliarization in order to undo this process of calcification of thought by transporting the reader to an era in which, as she puts it, "the presentation and legitimization of knowledge underwent seismic shifts."' Sixteenth Century Journal

'… Sutton makes a particular contribution to the study of early modern pictorial representations of Africa: a field of research that has remained nearly untouched… In addition to shedding new light on the processes of creating early illustrations of Africa, and showing the constructed nature of images, Sutton gives interesting examples of the importance of these images for subsequent illustrations… Sutton's study offers a fascinating and amply-illustrated account of the birth and development of the visual imagery of Africa…' Journal of Historical Geography

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction; Negotiating trade and travel in North Holland; The Description and Historical Account of the Gold Kingdom of Guinea by Pieter de Marees; Analogy and anthropology; To inform and delight; Emblematic map borders; Legacies; Epilogue; Bibliography; Index.

About the Author

Elizabeth A. Sutton is Assistant Professor of Art History at The University of Northern Iowa, USA.

About the Series

Transculturalisms, 1400-1700

This series presents studies of the early modern contacts and exchanges among the states, polities and entrepreneurial organizations of Europe; Asia, including the Levant and East India/Indies; Africa; and the Americas. Books investigate travellers, merchants and cultural inventors, including explorers, mapmakers, artists and writers, as they operated in political, mercantile, sexual and linguistic economies. We encourage authors to reflect on their own methodologies in relation to issues and theories relevant to the study of transculturism/translation and transnationalism. We are particularly interested in work on and from the perspective of the Asians, Africans, and Americans involved in these interactions, and on such topics as:

-Material exchanges, including textiles, paper and printing, and technologies of knowledge

-Movements of bodies: embassies, voyagers, piracy, enslavement

-Travel writing: its purposes, practices, forms and effects on writing in other genres

-Belief systems: religions, philosophies, sciences

-Translations: verbal, artistic, philosophical

-Forms of transnational violence and its representations.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
ART / History / Baroque & Rococo