Engraving by Romeyn de Hooghe, 1670, depicting the conquest of the Kingdom of Makassar 1666 - 1669 by the Dutch East India Company (VOC) under the command of Cornelis Speelman, who is depicted upper left. The Radjah Palakka is depicted upper right.
SignificanceIn the 17th century the Dutch United East India Company (VOC ) was the world's most powerful trading company owing to its well-equipped ships, navigational expertise and a ruthless confidence in its right to trade, using force if
necessary. A naval and military power in its own right, by 1701 the VOC had 160 ships and 15,000 regular troops. The Company's influence extended from the Cape of Good Hope to Japan. It traded in spices, textiles, silk, metals, tea, coffee, tobacco, exotic paintings, porcelain and furniture.
HistoryRomeyn de Hooghe was born in Amsterdam 10 September,1645. He was the nephew of painter Pieter de Hooch. In 1668 he is recorded as working in Paris, before returning to Amsterdam in 1670 where he was to remain until 1687. He then moved to Haarlem where he died 15June 1708.
This print, titled The Conquest of Makassar, commemorates the conquest of Makassar (Ujung Pandang, South Sulawesi, Indonesia) by the Dutch East India Company led by Admiral Cornelis Speelman (whose portrait is in the top left corner) and the Arung/Raja of Palakka (top right).
The large etching shows various battles on land and at sea, with additional scenes running between the portraits and crest at top.
Arung Palakka was the Bugis prince La Tenritatta to Unru and "one of the most famous Indonesian warriors of the seventeenth century". In 1663 Arung Palakka and his warriors allied with the VOC and committed to assist them in the overthrow of the Sultanate of Gowa, a dominate ruling state in South Sulawesi. Gowa had been a constant source of conflict for the VOC and in December 1666 the Governor General of the Indies, Maetsuysker, decided to send a force of 21 ships and 600 troops to deal with Gowa. The leader of the fleet was Cornelius Speelman and together with Arung Palakka, he defeated Gowa in what was to become known as the Conquest of Makassar.
The assault upon the Makassarese depicted here is practically a primer on 17th century warfare, depicting as it does sword fights, pike blocs, muskets and cannon fire. The VOC had what was essentially the world's largest private army, but service in the East was highly unpopular and the numbers had to be made up with recruits from other countries and in this case, Arung Palakka's troops.
This is a work of the imagination, created in the safety of Paris or Amsterdam, yet there's a real sense of being present at the action. The detail is incredible, the technical mastery of the medium of etching is exceptional. A numbered key, now absent in this copy, explained what was occurring.
Arung Palakka remained an ally of Speelman's and the VOC after their victory and continued to campaign in the region on their behalf.