Globalization and Social Change Through Art Essay

1325 Words 6 Pages
While artistic style is well known to have altered and developed over the course of history, the individual and often secondary objects depicted within a piece of artwork can illustrate just as much about the era of history as the overall style and image as a whole. In the words of Timothy Brooks, the author of Vermeer’s Hat, “If we think of the objects in them not as props behind windows but as doors to open, then we will find ourselves in passageways leading to discoveries about the seventeenth century world that the paintings on their own don’t acknowledge.” Throughout Vermeer’s Hat Brooks does just this as he explores the singular, seemingly unimportant details of a painting to explain the driving force of European history at that …show more content…
This stratification was particularly noticeable in regards to European purchase of Chinese blue and white porcelain dishes. In Vermeer’s painting, Young Woman Reading a Letter at an Open Window, one of these such Chinese dishes is depicted holding a variety of fruit. Brooks chooses this dish as a door to the expansion of European trade with China as well as the economic changes it brought to Europeans. As Brooks notes, “ The people of Delft looked on Chinese dishes as totems of their good fortune and happily displayed them in their homes.” This European enthusiasm for both, the Chinese dishes as well as the European imitations, was a reflection of the new economic wealth that globalization allowed the majority of Europeans to feel in their consumption habits. On a larger scale, globalization also assisted in shaping the entire economic system of the seventeenth century, also known as the silver century. Vermeer’s painting entitled Woman Holding a Balance depicts a woman weighing silver coins as had become commonplace in Europe to ensure the correct value of the softer, less durable coins of the time. As Brooks focuses on the task of the woman in Vermeer’s painting, he explains the importance that silver took on in both Chinese and European society during the seventeenth century. In Brook’s words, “The percolation of silver down into everyday transactions in Europe and China

Related Documents