Vermeer's Hat by Timothy Brook
The Seventeenth Century and the Dawn of the Global World

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A Vermeer painting shows a military officer in a Dutch sitting room, talking to a laughing girl. In another canvas, fruit spills from a blue-and-white porcelain bowl. Familiar images that captivate us with their beauty--but as Timothy Brook shows us, these intimate pictures actually give us a remarkable view of an expanding world. The officer's dashing hat is made of beaver fur from North America, and it was beaver pelts from America that financed the voyages of explorers seeking routes to China-prized for the porcelains so often shown in Dutch paintings of this time, including Vermeer's. In this dazzling history, Timothy Brook uses Vermeer's works, and other contemporary images from Europe, Asia, and the Americas to trace the rapidly growing web of global trade, and the explosive, transforming, and sometimes destructive changes it wrought in the age when globalization really began.

About Timothy Brook

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Timothy Brook received a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship for the work on which this book is based. He holds the Shaw Chair in Chinese studies at Oxford University and is the author of many books, including the award-winning Confusions of Pleasure.
Published August 1, 2010 by Bloomsbury Press. 288 pages
Genres: History, Arts & Photography. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Vermeer's Hat

The Guardian

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Brook's point, really, is that while most of the figures in the paintings of the Dutch golden age look as if they have never strayed more than a day or two from Delft, the material world through which they move is stuffed with hats, pots, wine, slaves and carpets that have been gusted around the ...

Aug 01 2008 | Read Full Review of Vermeer's Hat: The Seventeent...

Entertainment Weekly

Vermeer's Hat (2007) Johannes Vermeer was a master not only of light and color, but of ennobling the ordinary activities of 17th-century Delft citizens.

Dec 14 2007 | Read Full Review of Vermeer's Hat: The Seventeent...

The Bookbag

Using five paintings by the seventeenth century Delft artist Johannes Vermeer along with a blue and white porcelain plate and the works of two of Vermeer's contemporaries, Brook demonstrates how the far flung corners of the seventeenth century world were drawn together by the ambitions of Europea...

Sep 02 2012 | Read Full Review of Vermeer's Hat: The Seventeent...


The object of the book's title, the big felt hat worn by the man whose back we see in Officer and Laughing Girl, proves a launching pad for a trip through the Canadian beaver fur trade, pioneered by the French as a sideshow in their failed effort to find a new route to East Asia.

| Read Full Review of Vermeer's Hat: The Seventeent...

San Francisco Chronicle

... But, as Timothy Brook shows in his elegant and quietly important book, "
Vermeer's Hat," such stories have been with us for centuries, and our ...

Feb 15 2008 | Read Full Review of Vermeer's Hat: The Seventeent...

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