Rezension über:

Sabine Craft-Giepmans / Charles Dumas / Simon Groenveld et al. (eds.): Stadhouders in beeld. Beeldvorming van de stadhouders van Oranje-Nassau in contemporaine grafiek 1570-1700 (= Jaarboek Oranje-Nassau Museum; 2006), Rotterdam / Gronsveld: Barjesteh van Waalwijk van Doorn & Co 2007, 224 S., ISBN 978-90-5613-092-3
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Rezension von:
Koenraad Jonckheere
Department of Art, music and theatre sciences, Faculty of Arts and Philosophy, University of Ghent
Redaktionelle Betreuung:
Dagmar Hirschfelder
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Koenraad Jonckheere: Rezension von: Sabine Craft-Giepmans / Charles Dumas / Simon Groenveld et al. (eds.): Stadhouders in beeld. Beeldvorming van de stadhouders van Oranje-Nassau in contemporaine grafiek 1570-1700, Rotterdam / Gronsveld: Barjesteh van Waalwijk van Doorn & Co 2007, in: sehepunkte 11 (2011), Nr. 11 [15.11.2011], URL:

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Sabine Craft-Giepmans / Charles Dumas / Simon Groenveld et al. (eds.): Stadhouders in beeld

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In 2007, a special issue of the Jaarboek Oranje-Nassau 2006 appeared. It was edited by Sabine Graft-Giepmans, Charles Dumas, Simon Groenveld and Elmer Kolfin and is devoted to the image building of the Dutch Stadtholders in the Early Modern era. The volume consists of seven essays and an introduction by Kolfin and Groenveld. The Jaarboek (annual) comprises the proceedings of a conference held in 2005 in the Museum Het Prinsenhof in Delft, a museum devoted to the history of the Orange-Nassau family, housed in the building where William the Silent was murdered in 1584.

Propaganda and image building in the Orange-Nassau family is an old topic. Since the early twentieth century Van Beresteyn [1], Staring [2] and others have been studying the issue. In recent decades, such studies have gained new momentum, since historians have started to question how the inhabitants of the Netherlands in the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries assessed themselves and how they used their own turbulent history for propagandistic and other purposes. [3] However, among art historians, Dutch art (especially prints) as a means to create (multiple) identities and iconic public profiles has rarely attracted attention. Image building and propaganda were nevertheless a crucial aspect of at least part of the vast print production in the Dutch Golden Age. This volume clearly brings this to our attention.

As explained in the introduction, the volume's intention is to study on three levels the vast production of Orange-Nassau prints in the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries: The authors want to give an overview of the iconography, an explanation of the iconographic choices and also of the propagandistic significance of prints. Not all essays address all three themes, but on the whole, a satisfying answer to the initial questions is given. Particularly Kolfin's recapitulation of the opening queries in the epilogue is helpful.

The essays are all written in Dutch and ordered chronologically, starting with William the Silent and ending with William III the Stadtholder King. Thus, the first essay in the Jaarboek deals with the earliest propaganda prints. It is written by Daniel Horst, a scholar who previously published a book (De opstand in Zwart-Wit, 2003) on propaganda prints in the first decades of the Revolt. Horst's essay on the propagated image of William of Orange and the Dutch revolt rephrases some of the key findings of his monograph on the prince of Nassau. He shows that as early as the 1560s, prints were deliberately used to adjust the image of the 'rebel' in the public domain. Christi Klinkert studies the so called 'nieuwsprenten' (news prints) on Maurice of Orange-Nassau's war campaigns. Surprisingly, the image of the successful general is hardly cultivated in these prints. In satirical prints on the other hand, the political, military and religious glory of the Stadtholder is particularly visualized, as Anne de Snoo shows. In these etchings and engravings, Maurice was portrayed as the primus inter pares. Elmer Kolfin is the first to try and pinpoint the exact relation between a publishing house, the Dutch 'court' and the Staten Generaal, in particular the shop of Jan Pietersz. van de Venne. He convincingly places the production of 'Stadtholder imagery' in a larger socio-economic framework. The lengthy contribution of Simon Groenveld, in turn offers a (close to) exhaustive overview of imagery related to William II's short life and reign. His analysis is purely historical and informs us about the changing perception of the Stadtholder in his own circle and the wider community of the Dutch Republic. Meredith Hale, who finished her PhD on Romeyn de Hooghe in 2006, writes on this artist and his work for William III. She argues that de Hooghe's satirical prints were a well thought of, new type of visual propaganda developed by the Stadtholder King and his immediate entourage.

Stadhouders in Beeld is a richly illustrated volume that confirms once again that a broad, historical reading of art ought to precede all other interpretations and explanations. By placing the vast imagery of the Stadtholders from the 1560s to the late seventeenth century in perspective, this volume surely broadens our understanding of the phenomenon.


[1] E.A. Van Beresteyn: Iconographie van Willem I van Oranje, Haarlem 1933.

[2] Adolph Staring: Oranjeportretten in een historisch landschap, in: Oud Holland 75 (1960), 157-175.

[3] E.g. Judith Pollmann: Tales of the Revolt Project, Leiden University 2008.

Koenraad Jonckheere