New Book | The Moving Statues of Seventeenth-Century Amsterdam

Posted in books by Editor on December 3, 2022

From Penn State UP:

Angela Vanhaelen, The Moving Statues of Seventeenth-Century Amsterdam: Automata, Waxworks, Fountains, Labyrinths (University Park: Penn State University Press, 2022), 236 pages, ISBN: 978-0271091402 (hardcover), $115. Also available as an ebook, with a paperback edition scheduled for release in March 2023.

This book opens a window onto a fascinating and understudied aspect of the visual, material, intellectual, and cultural history of seventeenth-century Amsterdam: the role played by its inns and taverns, specifically the doolhoven.

Doolhoven were a type of labyrinth unique to early modern Amsterdam. Offering guest lodgings, these licensed public houses also housed remarkable displays of artwork in their gardens and galleries. The main attractions were inventive displays of moving mechanical figures (automata) and a famed set of waxwork portraits of the rulers of Protestant Europe. Publicized as the most innovative artworks on display in Amsterdam, the doolhoven exhibits presented the mercantile city as a global center of artistic and technological advancement. This evocative tour through the doolhoven pub gardens—where drinking, entertainment, and the acquisition of knowledge mingled in encounters with lively displays of animated artifacts—shows that the exhibits had a forceful and transformative impact on visitors, one that moved them toward Protestant reform.

Deeply researched and decidedly original, The Moving Statues of Seventeenth-Century Amsterdam uncovers a wealth of information about these nearly forgotten public pleasure parks, situating them within popular culture, religious controversies, global trade relations, and intellectual debates of the seventeenth century.

Angela Vanhaelen is Professor of Art History at McGill University. She is the author of the award-winning book The Wake of Iconoclasm: Painting the Church in the Dutch Republic, also published by Penn State University Press.


List of Illustrations

1  The Closed Door: Walking In

Ritual Routes
2  The Courtyard Fountain: Bacchic Rites
3  Into the Labyrinth: Containing the Human Monster

The Moving Statue Strikes
4  Automata: Activating Human Behavior
5  Strange Things for Strangers: Transcultural Automata

Protestant Paganism
6  Wax Portraits: Body Politics
7  Time Machines in the Golden Age: The Kairos of Clockwork

Epilogue: Obsolescence




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