Oud Holland

Review essay: 'Rembrandt and India' (2021)

June 2021

Review essay: Rembrandt and India

Stephanie Schrader (ed.), with contributions by Catherine Glynn, Yael Rice and William W. Robinson, Rembrandt and the inspiration of India, Los Angeles [Getty Publications], 2018 (Exhibition: 13 March-24 June, 2018) | Jos Gommans, The unseen world: The Netherlands and India from 1550, Nijmegen [Vantilt] 2018 | Gary Schwartz (ed.), with contributions by Erik Spaans, Michael Philipp, Jan de Hond, Roelof van Gelder and Arnoud Vrolijk, Rembrandt’s Orient: West meets East in Dutch art of the seventeenth century, Munich [Prestel], 2020 (Exhibitions: Kunstmuseum, Basel, 31 October 2020-14 February 2021, and Museum Barberini, Potsdam, 13 March 2021-27 June 2021)

The reception of artifacts from beyond Europe within the Dutch Republic is of increasing interest to art historians. East Asia was most substantial in numeric terms: porcelain was imported in the tens of millions of pieces by the Dutch East India Company (VOC) and became a standard feature in still lifes.1 The West Indies, by contrast, provided raw materials such as Brazilwood, cochineal red and indigo blue, and, incidentally, a giant tortoiseshell – such as the one used as a support for a portrait of Stadhouder Frederik Hendrik.This trade with East Asia and the Americas consisted mainly in a one-way movement. There was little interest on the part of the Chinese or indigenous peoples of the Americas in Dutch-produced artworks. When it came to a respectful reciprocal exchange, South Asia presented a different, perhaps more attractive picture. Artists in the service of the Mughal Emperors borrowed frequently from imported engravings, some of them produced in the Netherlands. These painters’ main Dutch counterpart was Rembrandt, who made 25 documented drawings (23 of which are extant) after portrait miniatures from the Mughal Empire.

By the 1660s Rembrandt, having earned his reputation and preparing important commissions such as the Conspiracy of Claudius Civilis, had laid his hands on some of the first Mughal paintings to reach Europe. The works were of the highest quality, having been produced just a few decades earlier in the imperial workshop under the patronage of Sjah Jahangir and his son, Sjah Jahan. Rembrandt’s drawings, made on expensive East Asian paper, remain so close to their sources that almost all of his originals can be identified as portraits of emperors and princes. For each of his works, a corresponding composition has been identified in surviving Mughal portraits, but never an exact model. While Rembrandt incidentally looked for models in Dürer, Mantegna, Carracci and others, there is no other series of copies as extensive as this one. 

In 2018, Stephanie Schrader curated an exhibition at the Getty Museum – Rembrandt and the inspiration of India – which displayed 23 of the series’ drawings, alongside Mughal miniatures similar to the ones Rembrandt had at hand as well as Mughal works that were inspired by European engravings. Earlier studies focused on positioning the artist’s drawings within his oeuvre. By contrast, the exhibition’s handsomely produced catalogue brings together specialists in Netherlandish drawings (William W. Robinson), Mughal painting (Catherine Glynn) and Islamic art (Yael Rice), to portray Rembrandt’s activities against a broader background of global trade, diplomacy and artistic exchange.

The authors raise two essential questions. Robinson asks, did Rembrandt in fact possess the Mughal miniatures he copied? The inventory made at the artist’s bankruptcy at 1656 mentioned a book with, “curious miniature drawings […] of all kinds of costume.”As the works are not identified with the term 'Mughal', which often occurs in contemporary Dutch inventories, it is unclear whether the reference is to Indian paintings. A more consequential issue is that none of the drawn copies after Indian art, are signed: what is the evidence for their attribution to Rembrandt? His name was first associated with the set mentioned in a London sale catalogue of 1747. On the basis of stylistic analysis, however, Martin Royalton-Kisch has argued that some of the Mughal-inspired works are so unlike Rembrandt’s habitual draftsmanship that the whole set should be attributed instead to his pupil Arent de Gelder, whose paintings and drawings demonstrate “conspicuous display of Asianising garb.”4

Cover of Rembrandt and the inspiration of India

Cover of The unseen world: The Netherlands and India from 1550

Cover of Rembrandt’s Orient: West meets East in Dutch art of the seventeenth century

Right: fig. 1 Bichitr (active c. 1615-1640), Jahangir favors a holy man over kings, watercolour, ink and gold on paper, 25.3 x 18 cm., Freer Gallery of Art, Washington, inv. F1942.15a.

The catalogue pairs concern for such nitty-gritty details to a wide-ranging picture of Amsterdam as Europe’s most globally oriented city around 1650. Schrader compares it to the Indian city of Surat in the North-Easterly region of Gujarat, where the VOC had sought to engage with local markets since 1616. She also suggests that Rembrandt copied Mughal art to appeal to a wealthy collector, rather than as reference material for his own cabinet. Who, within the master’s circle, had the means to acquire foreign artifacts or develop scholarly interest in India? An individual worthy of note is the painter Philips Angel, who recommended Rembrandt’s art in his treatise In praise of painting (1642), and etched in the master’s manner. He joined the VOC in 1645 and became court artist to the shah of Persia, Abbas II. Mural paintings in the Palace of Forty Columns in Isfahan may have been based on his designs. In 1658 Angel presented the VOC director in Batavia with a translation of a book on Hindu iconography, containing detailed images of the 10 avatars of Vishnu, possibly by the artist’s own hand. When the manuscript reached Europe in 1664, various Amsterdam publishers printed the images.5

Another artist Schrader draws into the spotlight is Willem Schellinks, whose paintings feature Mughal subjects that are apparently based on Rembrandt’s copies. He also wrote a long poem that expressed his high regard for the art of India. In a brisk outline of art’s historical development since Mesopotamia, he explained its progress via Greece to Italy, Germany, the Netherlands and France. At the time of writing, however, the Indians or “Benjanen” (from vaniya – a Hindu or Muslim trader) had taken over the “crown” of art. This paean was noteworthy: earlier European views on art from beyond Europe, even including Chinese painting, had unanimously been dismissive. Schellinks was the first European author to prefer Asian art.

Two other catalogue chapters (by Glynn and Rice) foreground Indian art in relation to the Mughal genre of muraqqa: an album with miniature paintings, specimens of Islamic calligraphy from different sources and occasionally other matters, such as European engravings and drawings. This was a highly unstable genre. Individual pages were often detached and sent across the expanse of the Mughal Empire, sometimes as far as Europe. It was precisely the circulation of so many versions of canonical compositions that has made it impossible to identify exact sources for Rembrandt’s works. These peripatetic paintings, Rice argues, were an expression of the cosmopolitanism of the Mughal court. Rembrandt’s engagement with them fulfilled their “global aspirations.”Some of the iconography was certainly explicit about the emperors’ worldwide ambitions. The artist Bichitr, for instance, represented a giant Sjah Jahan standing on a globe, receiving a golden crown from two angels, represented in European fashion. His father, Jahangir, was portrayed with a submissive Ottoman Sultan and King James I of England looking up in awe, while two angels write on his hourglass-shaped chair: “Oh Shah, may the span of your life be a thousand years” (fig. 1).Such images expressed cultural imperialism as well as cosmopolitanism.

Since the Getty’s exhibition, additional study has been undertaken of the artistic exchange between the Mughal Empire and the Dutch Republic.In 2018 Jos Gommans published The unseen world: India and the Netherlands from 1500, commissioned by the Rijksmuseum, which uses the museum’s objects for an overview of the two countries’ shared past. The author holds the chair of colonial and global history at Leiden University. In line with its historiographical approach, his book rests on the analysis of large-scale socio-economic developments. Patterns of intensive trade and migration, he argues, were at the basis of a single cultural sphere stretching “from Haarlem to Bijapur”, characterised by a shared “neoplatonic” belief in the existence of a world inaccessible to the senses. This belief found its expression in the arts of Islam as well as Christianity.

The volume’s argument culminates in the chapter on ‘Rembrandt the Magus’. The master appears as a worthy European counterpart to the Mughal artist Kesu Das: “Both painters were part of a cultural continuum that emerged from Hellenistic philosophy and connected the Mediterranean and Indian Ocean regions with each other from as early as the first centuries of the Christian era. A fundamental principle of this common body of thought is the understanding – derived from the work of the ancient Greek philosopher Plato – that all that is visible, in all its diversity, conceals a higher divine entity, and that only the most gifted and most skilled individuals – prophets, monarchs, musicians and artists – can have knowledge of this ‘unseen world’.”In his famous Self-portrait with two circles of 1660 (now in Kenwood), Rembrandt would have represented himself not only as, “an intermediary between Asia and Europe”, but also as the “artist-magus connecting the seen world and the unseen world.”10 If only the treatise by Rembrandt’s pupil Samuel van Hoogstraten, titled The invisible world, had survived, there would have been written proof.

Left: fig. 2 Anthony van Dyck, The Madagascar portrait (double portrait of Aletheia Talbot, 13th Baroness Furnivall, Countess of Arundel (1585–1654) and Thomas Howard, 21st Earl of Arundel (1585-1646), 1627-1632, oil on canvas, 124 x 202 cm., Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, inv./cat.nr 504.

Middle: fig. 3 Hendrik van Schuylenburgh, The trading post of the Dutch East India Company in Hooghly, Bengal, 1665, oil on canvas, 203 × 316 cm., Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, inv. SK-A-4282 (detail).

Right: fig. 4 Johan de la Rocquette, Portrait of Philippus Baldaeus and Gerrit Mosopotam, 1668, oil on canvas, 141 x 176 cm., Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, inv. SK-A-1299.

This portrayal of Rembrandt as gravitating towards “Eastern” esoteric wisdom borrows from some abstruse earlier scholarship, such as the suggestion that the etching, A scholar in his studio (1650-1654, formerly known as Doctor Faustus), expresses the mysticism of Jacob Böhme.11 Gommans’ approach will not be attractive to everyone. The main importance of his book lies in its ambition to complement traditional micro-level, object-based art history with macro-level intellectual history in a longue durée perspective. The research for this book also fed concretely into Gommans’ curatorship of the exhibition India and the Netherlands in the age of Rembrandt – held at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya Museum in Mumbai, during 2019. It showcased 12 works from the Rijksmuseum, including the so-called Faustus and the etching Abraham welcoming the angels, which Rembrandt based on one of his Mughal-inspired drawings.12

Mumbai’s relatively small display was followed by the major exhibition, Rembrandt’s Orient: West meets East in Dutch art of the seventeenth century, at Basel’s Kunstmuseum (2020) and the Museum Barberini in Potsdam (2021), devised by Gary Schwartz who also edited the catalogue. This featured the Mughal Empire as the most important political entity within an “Orient” which, in seventeenth-century Dutch eyes, stretched from North Africa to East Asia. An essay on ‘Ottoman, Mughal and Safavid art in the Dutch Republic in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries’ (by Jan de Hond) presents a formerly unknown rival to Rembrandt: Gesina ter Borch, who pasted a Persian (probably Isfahan School) portrait of a youth in the family album she began in 1660. Like Rembrandt, who engaged creatively with his foreign sources, Gesina modified some details and placed the figure against a uniform black background.

Schwartz’s own essay, ‘Convention and uniqueness: Rembrandt’s response to the East’ – which he also published in more extensive form on his own website – traces the master’s approach back to the “Oriental” figures depicted by Pieter Lastman.13 Schwartz also presents new hypothesis regarding the origin of Rembrandt’s Mughal examples: the miniatures were in the possession of Aletheia Talbot, Countess of Arundel. A “small book with East Indian drawings” is mentioned in a 1655 inventory of the Countess’ estate;14 she had been living in the Netherlands since 1641, and in Amsterdam for the last years of her life. From the fact that she owned five works by Rembrandt (none of them identifiable today), Schwarz concludes that she was in contact with the artist. He also suggests that after Rembrandt copied the Indian miniatures, his friend the tax collector Joannes Wtenbogaert acquired them from the Arundel estate. This was the “quite valuable book of Mughal portraits” that in January 1668, Wtenbogaert presented to Cosimo de’ Medici on his visit to the Netherlands.15 The hypothesis helps to explain why no direct models for Rembrandt’s copies have been found: Cosimo would have taken them to Florence – where they may remain, unnoticed, in one of the city’s rich collections.

Another benefit of Schwartz’s hypothesis is that it illuminates the logistics of how, and the reason why, the miniatures arrived in Europe and eventually in Rembrandt’s hands. Lady Arundel, before coming to the Netherlands, had considered a grand colonisation project in the Indian Ocean: an English settlement in Madagascar, the island so strategically placed athwart trade routes linking India, Africa and the Levant. In Van Dyck’s famous portrait of the Countess and her husband, it is she who holds the compass, pointing to a globe that displays the Indian Ocean (fig. 2). Ernest Gilman has interpreted this painting in terms of “the imagination of the protocolonial moment.”16 The visibility of the Arundels’ ambitions should be judged against the foil of the invisible human cost that made them possible, adds Peter Erickson, who would have expected a dark-skinned servant in the painting’s background.17 In any account, the Countess’ bundle of “East Indian drawings” is likely to have been related to this project, if only in terms of their geographical trajectory. The presumed connection with the Arundels is therefore suggestive of how Rembrandt’s encounter with Mughal art was firmly rooted in protocolonial practices and ideals.

The new studies of Rembrandt’s engagement with India were very timely in light of the societal developments that had been ongoing and crescendoed around the time of their publication, now that the Black Lives Matter movement has prompted attempts at diversifying art historical curricula in the United States and Europe. How do the publications discussed here connect to, for instance, the Rembrandt House Museum’s project Black in Rembrandt’s time (2020)? This exhibition and its catalogue explored the images of Africans by Rembrandt and his pupils, in relation to the presence of men and women of African descent in Amsterdam.18 Their rich findings suggest that more could be said on how Rembrandt’s circle engaged with images as well as actual visitors from South Asia in seventeenth-century Europe. There is also an elephant in the room, sitting rather uncomfortably: VOC officials were intensively involved in the slave trade in Asia. Although the catalogue of Rembrandt’s Orient devotes a chapter to Christians enslaved by Barbary pirates (by Roelof van Gelder), the role of the Dutch as enslavers is not touched upon.

When in 1626, Sjah Jahangir explicitly asked the VOC to allow one of his court painters to travel to Europe aboard a Dutch ship, seemingly in order to procure artifacts – the VOC denied the request, as it wanted to protect its monopoly on trade.19 Lower-placed individuals, however, such as servants, sailors and enslaved persons, frequently made the journey. As Matthias van Rossum has recently pointed out, the Dutch exploits in Asia in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries rested on the labor of between 660.000 and 1.135.000 slaves, a much larger number than that involved in the trans-Atlantic slave trade of the West India Company.20 For the upkeep of its trading post in Malabar in South-West India, for instance, the VOC exploited more than a thousand enslaved individuals. In their colonial headquarters in Batavia, the Dutch depended on many more “mardijkers” (i.e., orang merdeka, or free men), who had been enslaved in the coastal areas of India (Malabar, Coromandel and Bengal) and then set free and converted to Christianity.21 

The situation was made explicit, not long after Rembrandt’s engagement with India, in two paintings by Hendrik van Schuylenburgh. They represent two VOC trading posts, probably Hooghly and Cossimbāzār, in Bengal in the northeastern part of the Mughal Empire (1665, Rijksmuseum). Both works show a sizeable number of dark-skinned enslaved men at work in the Dutch settlement’s gardens and courtyard (fig. 3).22 The slaves’ availability was due to recurring periods of famine. The VOC surgeon Nicolaus de Graaff, who traveled from Bengal to Patna in 1670, witnessed that “the man sold the wife, the parents their child, the children, oftentimes their parents, brothers, and sisters for a miserable price; because for a handful or two of rice we could buy a slave man or woman, and for a daalder or two once could have a fine son or daughter of 10, 12, or 20 years, healthy in body and spirit.”23 Never passing by a business opportunity, De Graaff acquired 11 of them. This travelogue is quoted by Gommans, but neither his book nor the two exhibition catalogues do justice to slavery as the essential substructure that underpinned the aesthetic encounter between the Netherlands and India.

Black in Rembrandt’s time pointed out that dozens of people with Afro-Atlantic backgrounds lived in Rembrandt’s neighbourhood. Individuals from South and East Asia were, however, less likely to have arrived in the Netherlands, due to the longer sailing route and time. Yet the very first Dutch expedition to reach the East Indies, which returned in 1597, did bring along two youngsters from Malabar and an adult man from Gujarat on the Western coast of India.24 If these individuals would originally have been enslaved, they must have been set free upon arrival in the Low Countries, where slavery was illegal; Amsterdam explicitly outlawed it in 1644. In later years, the VOC forbade their sailors to bring back Asian slaves, and even Asian wives and their children, to the Netherlands.25 This decree, however, was not watertight. Ongoing research by Mark Ponte in the Amsterdam City Archive has uncovered more than 20 men, women and children who were listed as hailing from India and lived in Amsterdam in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.26One example is the marriage of Jacob from Bengal and Susanna from Gujarat, who had been enslaved by Jan van Teylingen, commander of the VOC trading post in Surat. In October 1652 they pledged their vows in the village of Sloterdijk just outside of Amsterdam. They stayed for a few months on the Deventer Houtmarkt, just steps away from Rembrandt’s house, in the same area where the Afro-Atlantic community lived, before leaving the country again on 31 October 1652.27 As Black in Rembrandt’s time suggested, acknowledging Rembrandt’s everyday experience in regard to his Afro-Atlantic neighbours is essential to fully understand his engagement with the “Black presence” in Western art. Could the same argument be made for his neighbours hailing from South Asia? To what extent could the possibility of an actual encounter have impacted Rembrandt’s unique interest in, and understanding of, images from the Mughal court in the 1650s and 1660s?

Among the migrants from South Asia, there is one who might have held particular attraction to the artist. In 1666, a few years after he made his drawings after Mughal examples, an Indian-born visitor arrived in Amsterdam, who was able to read and write in at least one of his own languages and was probably knowledgeable in Hindu art iconography. He travelled in the company of Philip Baldaeus – the first Dutch minister in Jaffna on Ceylon – who returned to Amsterdam in December 1666, and moved to The Hague early in 1667. Baldaeus’ subsequent publications on Malabar, Coromandel and Ceylon made him the main authority on South Asia in the Netherlands. Yet he also admitted that his learning relied on the conversations he had had with learned Hindus and Indians in general, holding that “when it comes to their civility, they often put many Europeans to shame.”28 As was suggested by Mieke Beumer, these books were in fact co-productions with a Christian convert born in India, named Gerrit Mosopatam.29

Mosopatam’s name, which survives in Roman and Tamil script on a witness testimony drafted in The Hague in 1667, probably refers to his birthplace: the city of Masulipatnam (or Machilipatnam) on the Eastern coast of South India (current-day Andhra Pradesh). Here the VOC had established as early as 1605 its main factory on the Coromandel coast. Baldaeus would have originally employed Mosopatam as his interpreter and brought him to the Netherlands to assist him in the preparation of his books. The couple appears in a double portrait by Johan de la Rocquette of 1668, now in the Rijksmuseum (fig. 4). Baldaeus is depicted wearing a striking Mughal costume, which was probably gifted to him on one of his visits to a South Indian court. Mosopatam has his writing tools prominently at hand, accompanied by a green parakeet as a symbol of his profession: the bird is one of the vehicles of Sarasvati, the Hindu patron goddess of the arts and sciences.

Mosopatam’s contribution must have been essential to Baldaeus’ book, Accurate description of Malabar and Coromandel and the adjoining lands, as well as the mighty island of Ceylon (1672).30 This included prints based on the images of Hindu iconography that were originally procured in India by Philips Angel. In this manner there was a link, however tenuous, between Mosopatam and Rembrandt’s circle. In terms of the chronology of his arrival, even a meeting between Mosopatam and Rembrandt is possible. Schwartz notes that through Angel, the artist was “one handshake from the Shah of Persia.”31 What is more important to realise, is that for Amsterdammers who, like Rembrandt, did not travel, the world was sometimes quite literally at their doorsteps. Whereas all three books under review take highly admirable and long-overdue steps in integrating Rembrandt into a long-distance network of diplomatic and artistic exchange that stretched across continents, an additional argument can be made about a personal encounter far closer to home.

Thijs Weststeijn
Utrecht University

1 J. van Campen and T. Eliëns (eds.), Chinese and Japanese porcelain for the Dutch golden age, Amsterdam 2014. More than 1.000 Dutch seventeenth-century paintings survive that feature Chinese porcelain, as is testified by a card inventory made by the late Hessel Miedema (presently kept at Utrecht University).

2 Anonymous artist, Equestrian portrait of Prince Frederik Hendrik, in or after 1631, oil on turtle shell, 114 x 100 cm., Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, inv. NG-NM-2970. The origin of the tortoise may have been South American or South Asian.

3 The inventory of Rembrandt’s insolvent estate (Cessio Bonorum) [fol. 34r.] (25-26 July 1656): “curieuse minyateur teeckeninge […]  van alderhande dragt.” Permanent link: http://remdoc.huygens.knaw.nl/#/document/remdoc/e12721

4 S. Schrader (ed.), with contributions by Catherine Glynn, Yael Rice, and William W. Robinson, Rembrandt and the inspiration of India, Los Angeles [Getty Publications], 2018 (Exhibition: 13 March-24 June, 2018), p. 47.

5 Maggie Mansfield’s ongoing doctoral dissertation (UC Santa Barbara) discusses Angel’s images as well as their sources and afterlife.

6 Schrader 2018 (note 4), p. 74.

7 Schrader 2018, plate 2 and fig. 20.

8 C. Forberg and P. Lunsingh Scheurleer, ‘How to succeed in marketing something repulsive: a recently discovered drawing of a yogi by Willem Schellinks (1623-1678),’ Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte 81.3 (2018), pp. 356-373.

9 J. Gommans, The unseen world: The Netherlands and India from 1550, Nijmegen 2018, p. 19.

10 Gommans 2018 (note 9), p. 321, p. 233.

11 L. Behling, ‘Rembrandts sog. “Dr. Faustus”, Johann Baptista Portas Magia naturalis und Jacob Böhme’, Oud Holland 79 (1964), pp. 49-77.

12 17 October-16 December 2019.

13 G. Schwartz, ‘Convention and uniqueness in Rembrandt’s response to the east’, 13 September 2020. http://www.garyschwartzarthistorian.nl/convention-and-uniqueness-in-rembrandts-response-to-the-east/

14 S. A. C. Dudok van Heel, ‘Een Holbein uit de collectie Six’, Maandblad Amstelodamum 79 (1992), pp. 51-55, esp. p. 55: “een boexken met eenige Oostindise tekeningen.”

15 G. J. Hoogewerff, De twee reizen van Cosimo de’ Medici prins van Toscane door de Nederlanden (1667-1669): journalen en documenten, Amsterdam 1919, p. 83: “un libro assai stimabile di ritratti del Mogor.”

16 E. Gilman, ‘Madagascar on my mind: the Earl of Arundel and the arts of colonisation’, in P. Erickson and C. Hulse (eds.), Early modern visual culture: representation, race and empire in Renaissance England, University Park 2000, pp. 284-314, esp. p. 286.

17 According to Peter Erickson, ‘Invisibility speaks: servants and portraits in early modern visual culture’, Journal for early modern cultural studies 9, no. 1 (2009), pp. 23-61, esp. p. 32, the painting is an expression of “whiteness trying to hide under a cover of invisibility.”

18 5 March-31 May 2020. Extended to 10 September. E. Kolfin and E. Runia (eds.), with contributions by Stefanie Archangel, Mark Ponte, Marieke de Winkel, and David de Witt, Black in Rembrandt’s Time, Zwolle 2020.

19 M. J. Bok, ‘European artists in the service of the Dutch East India Company’, in T. DaCosta Kaufmann and M. North (eds.), Mediating Netherlandish art and material culture in Asia, Amsterdam 2014, pp. 177-204, esp. p. 188.

20 M. van Rossum, Kleurrijke tragiek: De geschiedenis van slavernij in Azië onder de VOC, Hilversum 2015, p. 24; See, also: V. Smeulders (et al.), Slavery: Ten true stories, Amsterdam 2021.

21 Van Rossum 2015 (note 20), p. 23.

22 M. Gosselink, ‘Schilderijen van Bengaalse VOC-loges door Hendrik van Schuylenburgh’, Bulletin van het Rijksmuseum 46 (1998), pp. 390-409.

23 J. C. M. Warnsinck (ed.), Reizen van Nicolaus de Graaff, The Hague 1930, pp. 122-25: “verkogt de man syn vrouw, de vrouw de man, de ouders haar kinderen, de kinderen dikmaals haar ouders, de broeders en susters malkanderen voor een geringe prijs; want om een hand vol rijs of twe[e] konden wy een slaaf ofte slavinne kopen, en voor een Rijksdaalder oft twe[e] kopt men een schone jongen of dogter van 10, 12, 16 of 20 Jaren, gesond van lijf en leden.” Quoted by Gommans 2018, p. 73.

24 Anon., ‘Eerste schipvaert der Hollanders […]’, in: I. Commelin, Begin ende voortgangh van de Vereenighde Nederlantsche geoctroyeerde Oost-Indische compagnie: Vervatende de voornaemste reysen, by de inwoonderen der selver provincien derwaerts gedaen, Amsterdam 1646, vol. I, fol. 101b-102a: "acht vremdelinghen, die sy op de uytreyse ghekreghen hadden, namelijck […] twee Malabaren, […] ende Abdul de Guzarat.” The journal of the First Navigation may have been written by Frederik de Houtman, according to P. Rouffaer and J.W. IJzerman (eds.), De eerste schipvaart der Nederlanders naar Oost-Indië onder Cornelis de Houtman, 1595-1597; journalen, documenten en andere bescheiden, The Hague 1929, vol. II, p. 361, note 2; cf. vol. III, p. 203, note 3.

25 M. van Rossum, Werkers van de wereld: globalisering, werk en interculturele ontmoetingen tussen Aziatische en Europese zeelieden in dienst van de VOC, 1600-1800, Amsterdam 2014, p. 80.

26 I am greatly indebted to Mark Ponte for discussing his current research with me.

27 Amsterdam City Archive, Ondertrouwregister, toegangsummer 5001, inv.nr. 470, p. 209, URL: https://archief.amsterdam/indexen/deeds/4db084c3-9fa1-4406-9134-14f8a040d435. See, also: M. Ponte, ‘Tussen slavernij en vrijheid,’ in P. Brandom (et al.), De slavernij in Oost en West: het Amsterdam onderzoek, Utrecht 2020, pp. 248-256, esp. p. 252.

28 P. Baldaeus, Naauwkeurige beschryvinge van Malabar en Choromandel, Amsterdam 1672, p. 197: “zy in civiliteyt dikmaals veel Europoeanen ten hooghsten beschamen.”

29 M. Beumer, ‘Philippus Baldaeus en Gerrit Mosopatam: een buitengewoon portret’, Bulletin van het Rijksmuseum 47, no. 2/3 (1999), pp. 144-173.

30 Baldaeus 1672.

31 http://www.garyschwartzarthistorian.nl/convention-and-uniqueness-in-rembrandts-response-to-the-east/.

Thijs Weststeijn, 'Review of: Rembrandt and India', Oud Holland Reviews, June 2021.