Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

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Civic Monuments and Naval Celebrity in the Dutch Republic
by Schmid, Vanessa I., Ph.D., New York University, 2017, 839; 10261809
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation charts the patronage of the arts by the navy of the Dutch Republic in the seventeenth century with a focus on the construction of naval celebrity through sculpture, objects, and paintings. The Stadholderless Period of 1650-72 marked the high point of naval promotion, which was integral to Johan de Witt’s statecraft and the naval wars waged to defend mercantilism and republican free trade, or “mare liberum.” It was during this time that the Admiralty colleges engaged most actively in urban ritual to establish and project their role in governance.

Stately and costly marble monuments in honor of Dutch admirals were erected in the seven main cities of the coastal provinces, where they served to promote the ideals of the urban elite as represented by the naval councils. Erected in Dutch Protestant churches, the monuments’ iconography, placement, ritualized form, and the exuberant style of sculptors Artus Quellinus and Rombout Vershulst elevated admirals as exemplary citizens in the honorable service of state. By engaging the principles “civic Calvinism”, States Party republicans co-opted common and enduring aspects of Dutch political culture that had been formulated in the Revolt period. Moreover, the resurrection of heraldic form and symbols, emphasis on the admirals’ effigies, and extensive use of Carrara marble reinvigorated the status of sculpture as a medium of authority within a religious environment.

In 1667, the commission and display of Ferdinand Bol’s portrait of Admiral Michiel de Ruyter in the naval councilors meeting rooms of the five colleges represented a significant challenge to the stadholderate and Orangism. The final chapter considers naval celebrity as experienced and recast by admirals who were negotiating their newfound status to shape their social image in painted portraits. Bartholomeus van der Helst and Abraham Blooteling played a central role in this reformulation of the admiral’s image as worldly, professional men of state.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Westermann, Mariët, Mochizuki, Mia M.
Commitee: Dickey, Stephanie S., Nagel, Alexander, Soucek, Pricilla
School: New York University
Department: Fine Arts
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 79/02(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Religious history, Art history, Political science
Keywords: Admiral, Bol, Ferdinand, Civic calvinism, Dutch navy, Tombs, van der Helst, Bartholomeus
Publication Number: 10261809
ISBN: 9780355406917
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