Tag Archives: Netherlands

Thanks for hanging in there

Once again, I’ve taken you on an elaborate side-trip. You must be wondering: why in the world is Manders spending so much time blathering about the Pilgrims? We came here looking for a history of reading and writing and our dear old Uncle John (who we assumed still had all his marbles) can’t seem to shut up about the Restoration and Henry the Eighth and Puritans and the Spanish Empire and Dutch politics. I am aware some of you—out of sheer frustration—have already hurled your half-eaten toaster-waffles at whatever device you use to receive these blog posts.



Don’t worry. There’s a good reason for taking you down this rabbit hole. Here it is: for all the reasons I’ve been telling you, the Pilgrims decided they needed to pack their stuff and beat it out of Leiden. They chartered a couple of leaky old tubs named Speedwell and Mayflower to take them to the New World—North America. There were English settlements already established. This would be their best bet for starting fresh in their quest to get back to religious basics.

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Rembrandt

The Hundred Guilder print

Side-note: One of my favorite artists, Rembrandt, was a boy in the Netherlands while the Pilgrims were there. When I was a new Sunday-school teacher, I joked that everything I knew about the Bible came from looking at Rembrandt paintings. A benefit of the Netherlands being a haven for religious minorities was that there was a Jewish quarter in Amsterdam. Rembrandt lived in and had friends there. He depicted Christ and the Holy Family as Jews (which they were, of course), using his friends as models. This was a departure from tradition. https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/rmbt/hd_rmbt.htm
Look at Christ’s hands in the Hundred Guilder print. Rembrandt drew with a steel stylus, cutting lines into a copper plate. Yeah, he could draw.

https://www.haaretz.com/jewish/1.5160992
https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/371732

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Wait, there’s more!

Red brick & cobblestones on the street where the Pilgrims lived.

Adding to the Pilgrims’ worries: Leiden’s corrupt city government was beginning to fall apart. A barricade was built around city hall and protected by soldiers. There was mob rule in the streets and the mob had become not-so-tolerant of religions from other countries (at least one Pilgrim was beaten senseless on his way home from church). To top it off, the Pilgrims were farmers trying to adapt to city life. The main way to earn a living in Leiden was to work in the cloth mills. You could make a decent buck while you’re young, but the old guys didn’t work as fast and so brought home less money. They couldn’t get ahead or get out of debt.

The Pilgrims started looking around for someplace else to set up shop.

Here are links to cover this week’s posts:
https://atdspain.com/en/news/how-was-netherlands-part-spanish-empire
https://www.britannica.com/place/Spanish-Netherlands
https://americanliteraturechallenge.wordpress.com/2012/01/23/why-did-the-puritans-leave-holland-were-their-reasons-justified-2/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calvinism
https://netherlandsinsiders.com/discover-the-pilgrims-legacy-in-leiden-their-home-from-1609-1620/
https://www.saburchill.com/history/events/009.html
https://leidenamericanpilgrimmuseum.org/en/page/pilgrim-life-in-leiden-why-the-pilgrims-left
https://www.lakenhal.nl/en/story/leiden-cloth

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There were some downsides

After they moved to Leiden in the Netherlands, the Pilgrims discovered just one hitch—well, okay, a few hitches: Spain had the idea that a global Spanish Empire (paid for with buttloads of gold from the New World) would be a good thing. Spain was ardently Catholic and not tolerant of other people’s religions. There’d been a 12-year truce between Spain and Holland that was about to end while the Pilgrims were there. If you lived in Holland in the early 1600s and kept up on current events, you understood that things could go sideways pretty quickly. Not only that, the Pilgrim kids were becoming more Dutch than English. Dutch tolerance was not only for religion but for libertine lifestyles. If you’re a strict Calvinist you don’t want your kids lured away to wallow in the fleshpots of Leiden.*

A couple of Dutch wantons.

* The Pilgrims were serious about their faith and it must have been exhausting. I’m exhausted just from writing this: Sunday morning service began at eight o’clock with an hour of prayers, then a 3-hour sermon, then lunch (dessert was always red Jello with those little marshmallows in it), then another sermon, then discussion. They stood for most of it (too much risk of falling asleep if they sat, I suppose)—no kneeling; kneeling reminded them of Catholicism or the Church of England. They wore sober-looking clothes; men & women were kept separate during service; no church building; no organ—hymns were sung with no instruments. There’s a painting of a church service, The Pilgrim Fathers, in Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum. The artist August Allebé (1857-1878) mixed up the crowd to make an interesting composition, but generally the ladies and kids sit in front, the gents stand in the back. They look to be in a store-house with a dirt floor. https://www.rijksmuseum.nl/nl/collectie/RP-P-1905-2755

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Puritans & Pilgrims

Some English people wanted to reform Henry’s Church of England. They wanted to get back to the Church’s roots. They wanted to get closer to what Saint Peter founded and Saint Paul mapped out. They wanted a more pure stripped-down no-frills version of worship, so those guys were called ‘Puritans.’


Other English people threw up their hands and said ‘It can’t be fixed. Gotta start from scratch.’ They wanted what the Puritans wanted but decided to start over in a different country. Those guys were called ‘Pilgrims’ and they moved to Holland (the Netherlands)—a country tolerant of other people’s religions.

There’s a hair salon in the village of Scrooby famous for their signature ‘do. http://www.finedictionary.com/Pilgrim.html

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Step Four: we got better ink!

In case you’re wondering what those lollipop things are—Gutenberg used goose-skin inking balls to apply ink to the form.

So oil paint was a hot ticket in the art world of the mid-1400s. If you’re Johannes Gutenberg and you need to figure out how to get ink to stick to your metal type, that oil binder looks pretty good. He developed an oil-based ink that’s thick, sticks to metal and can be applied evenly. Gutenberg created a blacker-than-black pigment by mixing carbon (charred bone), graphite, copper, lead, titanium and sulfur. The graphite and copper give the ink sheen (I’m guessing it’s the orangey copper that’s powdered somehow—like when you saw through a copper pipe with a hacksaw—rather than scraping the green corrosion).

https://www.historytoday.com/history-matters/history-ink-six-objects
Scroll down to Making Relief Ink to see how to make your own oil-based ink: https://www.lawrence.co.uk/blog/how-to-make-your-own-paint-relief-ink/
https://www.speedballart.com/our-product-lines/speedball-printmaking/speedball-blockrelief-printing/speedball-block-printing-inks/speedball-oil-based-inks/

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How to get better ink: Step Three

My take on A Man In A Red Turban, thought to be Jan van Eyck’s self-portrait.

A painter in the Netherlands, Jan van Eyck (yahn wahn IKE), made oil paint famous. You can get fine details and dramatic lighting effects and smooth blending of tones with oil paint more easily than in other media, and van Eyck was a master oil painter (as well as a master at drawing). Look at any of his paintings and you’ll see what I mean. Van Eyck mixed pigment with varnish to create transparent glazes of color—your eye looks through the layers. His paintings are like jewels. He may not have invented oil paint, but van Eyck put it on the map.*

Speaking of maps, Ghent isn’t all that far from Mainz. Gutenberg must have been aware of the Flemish art scene. https://geology.com/world/netherlands-satellite-image.shtml

* It used to be thought that Jan and his brother Hubert invented oil paint. That’s what Giorgio Vasari told me in his book The Lives of the Artists, and I believed him. It turns out they didn’t. Now I need to call all my old History of Graphic Design students and tell them the bad news.
https://www.thriftbooks.com/w/the-lives-of-the-artists_giorgio-vasari/325683/item/1243619/?gclid=Cj0KCQjw_dWGBhDAARIsAMcYuJxUnr29Uil9zgUCCGHw4FvdpotvBxBVQt6wyJf1nvNF5IO6po_-E28aAroxEALw_wcB#idiq=1243619&edition=3580770
A pet peeve: Historians, nobody ‘discovered’ oil paint. It was invented.

http://www.oil-painting-techniques.com/analysis-jan-van-eyck.html
https://www.oilpaintingguide.com/brief-history-of-oil-painting/
https://biography.yourdictionary.com/hubert-and-jan-van-eyck
https://www.art.com/products/p12972944-sa-i2208828/jan-van-eyck-a-man-in-a-red-turban-self-portrait-of-jan-van-eyck-1433.htm?upi=P145KXO1ZOO&RFID=217825&ProductTarget=12972944-P145KXO1ZOO&utm_medium=cpc&utm_source=google&utm_campaign=PLA&gclid=CjwKCAjwrPCGBhALEiwAUl9X07zWpfGHcidrW5VW3uTpfJPZzPXU5i0zCbmyXc23qqHbcI5F5yOZDxoCFQsQAvD_BwE

Here’s where I use to teach History of Graphic Design back when it was Pittsburgh Technical Institute: https://ptcollege.edu/

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