1665 Johan Nieuhof Large Antique Print of Chinese Mounted Cavalry, Archery

Publisher : Johan Nieuhof

  • Title : Kryghs-Ordre in Het Marseren; L Ordre de la Cavallerie en Marchant
  • Ref #:  17056
  • Size: 15in x 12 1/2in (380mm x 310mm)
  • Date : 1665
  • Condition: (A+) Fine Condition

This original copper-plate engraved antique print of Chinese Mounted Cavalry in formation by Johan Nieuhof was published by Jacob van Meurs in the 1665 edition of L’Ambassade de la Compagnie Orientale des Provinces Unies vers l’Empereur de la Chine, ou Grand Cam de Tartarie, faite par les sieurs Pierre de Goyer et Jacob de Keyser illustrée d’une très-exacte description des villes, bourgs, villages, ports de mer et autres lieux plus considérables de la Chine....1665. Title in English: An embassy from the East-India Company (1669).

General Definitions:
Paper thickness and quality: - Heavy and stable
Paper color : - off white
Age of map color: -
Colors used: -
General color appearance: -
Paper size: - 15in x 12 1/2in (380mm x 310mm)
Plate size: - 12 1/2in x 7 1/2in (310mm x 195mm)
Margins: - Min 1in (25mm)

Margins: - None
Plate area: - None
Verso: - None

The vast, immediate success of the book which was published in Johan Nieuhof's name in 1665 in Dutch language was every publisher's dream. In this time and age, his report on his journey to China, compiled of the material he had sent to his brother, was a bestseller! In the 17th century alone, six Dutch editions were published. Within the same year of its release it was translated to French – the very same edition we have here – and shortly after it was also translated to German, Latin and English.
This huge interest in the book by the global public was not by chance! At the time, China was the dream country of every merchant and especially of every investor in Europe. China had the goods European markets were longing for. Firstly there was tea, but also the incredibly modern porcelain and the wonderfully soft silk. In addition, the spices and remedies from the Chinese market were promising great profit!
Since individual people of the 17th century could not finance successful trading companies of this size any longer, ambitious men had cooperated with the government and founded trading companies due to royal privileges. One can imagine a sort of incorporated company whose capital was provided by a market of investors. These resources were used to fit out fleets, establish local strongpoints and pay permanent employees whose work should bring investors great profit on their deposits.
The area called East India at the time was particularly popular for such investments. This wasn't just India and the Spice Islands, but also China and Japan. In 1600 the British founded their East India Company. In 1602 the Dutch East India Company followed, and Johan Nieuhof was allowed to accompany the imperial embassy. But other countries wanted to participate in the trade, too and founded companies: Denmark, Sweden, Portugal – and also France in 1665. Louis XIV had first privileged an East India Company on the initiative of his minister of finance Colbert, which competed for funds in 1665. Therefore Nieuhof's book was just in time!
What made Nieuhof's report especially interesting, were the 150 copper engravings that carried the reader off into the exotic worlds of the Far East. Nieuhof's book thus started the China-trend. There could be no rococo castle without a porcelain cabinet. No bourgeois household without chinoiseries. But Johan Nieuhof did not know which goods were desired by China in exchange. Consequently tea and silk had to be paid with silver. The negative trade balance was troubling to all European governments until the English had the delinquent idea to import opium on a large scale. It was only then that the trade balance turned around. But surely Johan Nieuhof cannot be made responsible for this.

Nieuhof, Johan (1618 – 1672)
Nieuhof was a Dutch traveler who wrote about his journeys to Brazil, China and India. The most famous of these was a trip of 2,400 kilometers from Canton to Peking in 1655-1657, which enabled him to become an authoritative Western writer on China. He wrote An embassy from the East-India Company containing the written account of this journey.
Johan Nieuhof was born in Uelsen, a town in the county of Bentheim, Lower Saxony, sitting just across the Dutch-German border. His father (originally from Zwolle) was mayor of the town, and was later succeeded by one of Johans brothers and brother-in-law. By the grace of Cornelis Jan Witsen, a leading figure within the Dutch West India Company (or WIC), Nieuhof left for Dutch Brazil in 1640 as a reserve officer-candidate. From then on, barring two short family visits in 1658 and 1671, he spent all the rest of his life abroad.
Nieuhof was employed in Brazil to explore the regions between Maranhão and the São Francisco Rivers, made a particular study of the neighborhood of Pernambuco. He left Brazil in 1649, after the Portuguese victory in the Second Battle of Guararapes. Upon his return, Nieuhof joined the service of the Dutch East India Company (or VOC). In service of the VOC he resided several years in Batavia, and then was appointed in 1654 steward of an embassy to the relatively new Qing emperor China under Peter de Goyer and Jacob de Keyser, which aimed to gain trading rights on Chinas southern coast.
He remained in China until 1657. In 1663 he operated as an ambassador in Quilon, after the occupation of the Malabar Coast by Rijckloff van Goens. During this period he visited several chiefs of indigenous tribes in order to secure trade relations with them. Afterwards, he was offered a post on Ceylon where he was stationed between 1663 and 1667. He was imprisoned for seven months because of illegal trade in pearls. Nieuhof was sent to Batavia by Hendrik van Rheede and fired by the Dutch East India Company.
On returning to the Indies from a trip home in 1672, he stopped on the isle of Madagascar. On October 8 1672, Nieuhof traveled inland along with the first mate, in search of the local tribes in order to trade with them, as well as secure water for his crew. Upon hearing several gunshots, the captain sent a second ship towards the island in order to await Nieuhofs return. After three days of waiting, the captain presumed Nieuhof and his company to be murdered and sailed onwards towards Mauritius. On order of the governing council in Amsterdam, a ship was sent from the Cape of Good Hope to retrieve Nieuhof and his fellows, but no trace of them could be found.
In the first half of the 17th century, the VOC tried to break the Portuguese monopoly position on trade to Macau. When they did not succeed, they sent six embassies to Peking between 1655 and 1685. Their aim was to convince the Qing emperor to open up trade relations on the southern coast, in favor of the VOC, although they ultimately failed. Nieuhof was appointed to the position of steward on one of these embassies by Joan Maetsuycker, which traveled from Canton to Peking between 1655 and 1658. They were the second embassy to try and gain the emperors favor, the first was led by Zacharias Wagenaer. Nieuhofs duties as part of the embassy primarily consisted of ceremonial matters as well as securing lodgings. He was, however, specifically appointed to illustrate any and all of the cities, palaces, temples, rivers and other noteworthy buildings in their true to nature form.
On March 17 1656, after months of negotiations and discussions of tributes to be paid to the Chinese emperor and viceroy, the embassy left Canton by barge, to travel towards Peking. The embassy arrived at the emperors court in Peking on July 18 the same year. The hired the jesuit scholar Johann Adam Schall von Bell to be their translator, who warned them of the possible dangers and required ceremonies to approach the emperor. On September 24, the embassy was received by the Shunzhi Emperor. As dictated by their translator, the party performed the traditional kowtow, as failing to do so would most likely result in immediate refusal by the emperor. As a result, the emperor allowed Dutch embassies to visit the court once every eight years, in parties consisting of no more than 100 men. Any trading rights were not discussed nor granted at this point. On October 16 the embassy was asked to leave the city of Peking within two hours. Their return trip took three months; putting the entire length of the embassy at 20 months and 6 days.
At his homecoming in 1658, he had entrusted his notes and annotations to his brother Hendrik, whom Johan thanked when finally (in 1665) Hendrik produced an ample study of China, with many images, text and explanation of the latest events. The work was published by Jacob van Meurs in 1665, titled Het Gezandtschap der Neêrlandtsche Oost-Indische Compagnie, aan den grooten Tartarischen Cham, den tegenwoordigen Keizer van China: Waarin de gedenkwaerdigste Geschiedenissen, die onder het reizen door de Sineesche landtschappen, Quantung, Kiangsi, Nanking, Xantung en Peking, en aan het Keizerlijke Hof te Peking, sedert den jaren 1655 tot 1657 zijn voorgevallen, op het bondigste verhandelt worden. Beneffens een Naukeurige Beschrijvinge der Sineesche Steden, Dorpen, Regeering, Weetenschappen, Hantwerken, Zeden, Godsdiensten, Gebouwen, Drachten, Schepen, Bergen, Gewassen, Dieren, et cetera en oorlogen tegen de Tartar : verçiert men over de 150 afbeeltsels, nat leven in Sina getekent. Hendrik dedicated the work to Hendrik Spiegel and Cornelis Jan Witsen (Nicolaes Witsens father), administrators of the East and West India Companies respectively. Translations into French (1665), German (1666), Latin (1668) and English (1669) were also published, each going into at least two editions. More of Nieuhoffs material, on Chinese ships, appeared in Nicolaes Witsens Scheepsbouw (1671).
The reports from these embassies and the reports of the Jesuits formed the only reliable source of information on China available in Western Europe. As mentioned, being the purser of the VOC embassy to Peking, Johan Nieuhof in 1655 had special instructions to observe all farms, towns, palaces, rivers, ... [and other] buildings that he might pass by, drawing them in straight form and figure, as well as remains of the historical victory of the Tartars (Manchus) that brought an end to the reign of the Ming dynasty. The inclusion of approximately 150 illustrations in the book marked the first time that literature on China contained images that were true to nature. In previously published works, belonging to the imaginative fantastic tradition where fact and fiction were hardly discernible, the Chinese were depicted as creatures of fantasy. Nieuhofs illustrations, as opposed to these previous works, depicted the Chinese and their culture as they were observed by the illustrator himself, without fanciful additions.
The 150 illustrations of the Nieuhoffs book were one inspiration for chinoiserie, which became especially popular in the 18th century. Many artists and architects based their designs on the pictures in the book. The original drawings were rediscovered in 1984 in the collection of prince Roland Bonaparte, an anthropologist who collected material about Madagascar, Lapland and the Native Americans.
- Johannes Nieuhof (1668), Legatio batavica ad magnum Tartariæ chamum Sungteium, modernum Sinæ imperatorem; Historiarum narratione, quæ legatis in provinciis Quantung, Kiangsi, Nanking, Xantung, Peking, & aula imperatoriâ ab anno 1665 ad annum 1657 obtigerunt ..., Amstelodami: Jacobum Meursium, OCLC 2134985, OL 23411529M

- Het gezantschap der Neêrlandtsche Oost-Indische Compagnie, aan den grooten Tartarischen Cham, den tegenwoordigen keizer van China : waar in de gedenkwaerdighste geschiedenissen, die onder het reizen door de Sineesche landtschappen, Quantung, Kiangsi, Nanking, Xantung en Peking, en aan het keizerlijke hof te Peking, sedert den jare 1655 tot 1657 zijn voorgevallen, op het bondigste verhandelt worden : befeffens een naukeurige Beschryving der Sineesche steden, dorpen, regeering, wetenschappen, hantwerken, zeden, godsdiensten, gebouwen, drachten, schepen, bergen, gewassen, dieren, &c. en oorlogen tegen de Tarters : verçiert men over de 150 afbeeltsels, nat leven in Sina getekent. Amsterdam: Jacob van Meurs, 1665. Title in English: An embassy from the East-India Company (1669).
- Zee- en Lant-Reise door verscheide Gewesten van Oostindien, behelzende veele zeldzaame en wonderlijke voorvallen en geschiedenissen. Beneffens een beschrijving van lantschappen, dieren, gewassen, draghten, zeden en godsdienst der inwoonders: En inzonderheit een wijtloopig verhael der Stad Batavia. Amsterdam: de Weduwe van Jacob van Meurs, 1682. Google books
- Gedenkweerdige Brasiliaense Zee- en Lant-Reise und Zee- en Lant-Reize door verscheide Gewesten van Oostindien. Amsterdam: de Weduwe van Jacob van Meurs, 1682.