The Dutch imagination holds a special place for China. Ever sinds the first period of intensive contact that started at the beginning of the Seventeenth-century, China has had a profound impact on both low and high culture in the Dutch Republic. Images and ideas about China were contained in various forms: both the fine arts as well as the applied arts took their inspiration from the far East. One of the most important sources of information on China available to a large part of the population in the Dutch Republic were books. Starting with Jan Huygen van Linschoten’s Itinerario of 1595, a large quantity of travelogues, plays, scientific works and general descriptions on China were published and sold. In this period, the Low Countries were the European nerve centre for product from and images of China, thereby shaping Western perception to the present day.
This research project pioneers the comprehensive study of China's impact on low and high culture in the Netherlands, from the Chinese ceramics in Rembrandt's studio to the popular comparison of Spinoza to Confucius. It establishes how the self-image of the fledgling Dutch Republic was honed in the Chinese mirror, with a focus on the world of printing and publishing. Only interdisciplinary study does justice to the mutually dependent images by craftsmen and scholars from the Netherlands which were widely influential. Understanding the development of these popular stereotypes enlightens Chinese-Western relations that continue to be relevant in a globalized world
This research project is part of the NWO-Vidi program ‘The Chinese Impact: Images and Ideas of China in the Dutch Golden Age’, directed by dr. M.A Weststeijn.
'It is said that… The Chinese Rites Controversy in Dutch newspapers and periodicals in the seventeenth century', in: Jaarboek voor Nederlandse Boekgeschiedenis (2016).
Trude Dijkstra and Rindert Jagersma, 'Uncovering Spinoza's Printer by means of Bibliographical Research' in: Quaerendo 43 no. 4 (2013), 278-310.
‘Anatomische illustraties in de schaduw van Andreas Vesalius. Het geniale overleeft, al het andere is sterfelijk’, in: Boekenpost 125 (2013), 12-14.
Paul Dijstelberge and Trude Dijkstra, ‘Ik ruik mensenvlees!’ in: De boekenwereld 29 no. 6 (2013), 50-55.