Vermeer's Hat Analysis

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Register to read the introduction… While the porcelain dish in Young Woman Reading a Letter at an Open Window showed the economic impact that globalization had upon the masses of Europe, it was also a reflection of new societal trends. Authentic Chinese porcelain was a marker of social status along with the quantity and quality of the porcelain, but for those who could not afford such products, substitutes were available. In the eyes of Brooks, “For everyone else, European ceramics producers came up with import substitutes to cash in on the taste for things Chinese.” Thus, all of these new commodities available with globalization created social stratification beyond simply wealthy and poor but also a growing middle class that could afford conspicuous consumption on at least a small scale. Another element of social change was the creation of new customs including the wearing of fur hats and smoking. The fur hat appears in Vermeer’s paintings of Officer and Laughing Girl while the smoking is in another form of art upon a plot from the Lambert Van Meerten museum of Delft. Brooks details how fur hats came through trade and trapping with Native Americans while smoking appeared out of China. Both fur hats and smoking were a reflection of the types of social changes that globalization brought in both social practices and attitudes. Together, the growing middle class of society along with the developing social customs allowed the globalization of the world through trade to alter the social perspective of nearly all Europeans during the seventeenth …show more content…
While art alone creates an atypical source, Brooks selection of the minute details of lesser known paintings and works creates an even more unique perspective of history. Despite this unusual approach, Vermeer’s Hat truly creates a stunning picture of its own of seventeenth century Europe and the world. By allowing a glimpse into the everyday lives of Europeans, Brooks gives a more personal and gripping account of history that is refreshing in comparison to what is found in many history books. When investigating eras of history which bring sweeping change to the entire world, looking beyond the powerful elite into the lives of the individuals who dealt with and pushed for the changes presents an opportunity to understand what drove these individuals to make changes. Europe in the seventeenth century experience radical changes economically, technologically, and socially as a result of globalization; these changes, both good and bad, would shape and prepare it for further changes in the coming years. In writing Vermeer’s Hat, Timothy Brooks truly grasps the power of looking at these changes through art as a door into the lives of the individuals in the European

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