Is there stylistic evidence of more than one SAC illustration copyist

Robert Jenkin wrote:

Till very recently I speculated that some of the later SAC illustrations, including ‘people of Island Moa Iamna and other surrounding islands’ and ‘Thus appears the vessel of Noua Guinea and people dwelling therein’ might have been the work of a different draughtsman/copyist. I thought I saw in them a somewhat tidier, less sketchy style.

But now, on close examination of details such as those I’ve pasted in below, I’m coming to the view that all the large composite illustrations were created and copied by one man.

Without ‘The Merchant of the Zeehaen’ we would have no earlier signed work of Gilsemans with which to compare them.

It would be very good to have the benefit of any such expert appraisal, that of a trained art historian, one able to discern stylistic differences with confidence and so discern whether or not a given work of art is in the hand of a known master. But failing that we do have Anderson’s evidence, and many thanks are due to him for finding and presenting it.

Also, thanks to the internet, and to the generosity of the National Archive of the Netherlands, we have the chance to view the details of these images online and judge them for ourselves here.

The following are details from the two Tongan illustrations of ‘native inhabitants’ and the two later ones. The more closely I look the more I think the drawing style of all these images is actually very similar.

I invite comments as to whether other viewers think so too:

Tongatapu Amsterdam - The natives of the land - detail

Tongatapu Amsterdam – The natives of the land – detail

 

Nomuka Rotterdam - The inhabitants of the land - detail

Nomuka Rotterdam – The inhabitants of the land – detail

 

people of Island Moa Iamna and other surrounding islands

people of Island Moa Iamna and other surrounding islands – detail

 

Thus appears the vessel of Noua Guinea and people dwelling therein - detail

Thus appears the vessel of Noua Guinea and people dwelling therein – detail

 

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4 Responses to Is there stylistic evidence of more than one SAC illustration copyist

  1. Dave Horry says:

    I favour the view that there was only one ‘artist’ on the expedition, and that it was probably Gilsemans, but for a rather different reason to the analysis you propose here.

    The nature of the expedition was entirely commercial; to find new territories with goods to trade, and to find a good way to get to Chile from Batavia.

    It was an extremely expensive excersize. Two ships and 110 men, with provisions for more than a year, plus all the salaries, were taken from profit generating activities (carrying goods back to Europe) to this exploration, which was entirely a cost to the business.

    Every effort would have been made to minimise the cost of this expedition, and an obvious one to me is to avoid the additional cost of having an ‘artist’ on board whose sole task it was to draw.

    The principal ‘art’ requirement was to prepare coastal surveys, for the benefit of subsequent mariners, and Gilsemans was named as having this skill. It also makes sense that the Merchant would be a suitable candidate for this task, as he was not required to help sail the vessel at all and would otherwise only be occupied when they were in a port, trading.

    On this basis, I never looked for another artist.

  2. My reasons for believing Gilsemans was not the expedition’s designated draughtsman are given in this adjoining post:

    http://abeltasman.org.nz/was-gilsemans-really-tasmans-draughtsman/

    In a nutshell, he was one of the senior officers told that a draughtsman had been ‘provided for them’ so I don’t think he was himself that draughtsman, the wording implies otherwise. Michael Ross has recently told us that drawing of lands and peoples and mapmaking were among the skills all VOC officers were required to have, but Schouten writes that Visscher was a good pilot and map maker and that Gilsemans had ‘some skill in the drawing of lands’ so its a safe bet these two officers were deemed exceptional in those two ways. But I think Gilsemans was too busy on the 18th to have done the coastal drawing of Abel Tasman Point and the hills behind that appears at top left in the Farewell Spit illustration, and I think most accurately in the Blok. My idea is the specialist draughtsman was on Heemskerck, and he drew sketches which were later tidied up into finished illustrations.

  3. admin says:

    Since writing the above I have stopped thinking Gilsemans did any of the drawings in the SAC, see posts in June 2017 – Robert

  4. Robert Jenkin says:

    Re ‘Gilsemans was too busy on the 18th’ (and 19th) I have just posted a more detailed view of that:
    http://abeltasman.org.nz/which-waka-was-the-subject-of-the-sketch-for-murderers-bay/

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