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September 30, 2021

Cornelis Bellekin, oyster shell with the liberation of Andromeda, 1660-1700, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam BK-NM-616.

The Kress Institutional Fellows in residence at Leiden University this year, Cynthia Kok and Margaret Mansfield, recently gave a virtual public talk on each of their projects. This event took place online on September 22, 2021, as part of a series of “Museum Talks” hosted by the Leiden Art History department.

Cynthia Kok (6th year PhD student at Yale University) – Mother-of-Pearl and Material Literacy in the Early Modern Dutch World

Kok’s paper explores how Dutch craftspeople worked with and learned from imported materials such as mother-of-pearl. It examines how this material served as a commercial resource, a research specimen, and an artistic medium, and what its reuse and reinvention can tell us about how Dutch artisans explored and imagined the early modern world.

Frontispiece of Philip Baldaeus’ True and Exact Description of the Malabar and Coromandel Coasts, 1672.

Margaret Mansfield (7th year PhD student at UC Santa Barbara) – Ramping up Publication in Het Rampjaar: Dueling Dutch Accounts of India and its Religious Practices in a Year of Disaster

This paper compares two contrasting portrayals of India and its religious practices, produced by two dueling Dutch publishers, Philip Baldaeus and Olfert Dapper. These two publishing houses were in a race during the infamous Dutch Het Rampjaar (the Disaster Year) to produce comprehensive compendiums of the Indian subcontinent, its people, and their religious beliefs. The paper examines how Baldaeus’ True and Exact Description of the Malabar and Coromandel Coasts (1672) and Dapper’s Asia (1672), while both produced in 1672 in Amsterdam, differ.

A recording of Kok and Mansfield's talks can be found on the Leiden University – Faculty of Humanities YouTube page: