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Handcoloured engraving of Batavia in the East Indies

Date: 1793
Image: 152 x 222 mm
Sheet: 194 x 264 mm
Overall: 194 x 264 mm, 0.005 kg
Medium: Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Engraving
Object No: 00018944
Place Manufactured:London

User Terms

    A hand-coloured engraving of the port city of Batavia, Dutch East Indies (now Jakarta, Indonesia) published in London in 1793. Although there is very little information available pertaining to its source and creator, it closely resembles an engraving of Batavia by Jan van Reyne that was published by Robert Sayer in 1754 and it is quite possible that this is a copy. There are, however, minor differences between the appearances of this engraving and the original. This engraving would most likely have been published as part of one of the many geographical texts that were coming out of London during the late-18th and early-19th centuries.
    SignificanceThis engraving can be regarded as a useful source in providing a relatively detailed view of Batavia as it is likely to have appeared during the first half of the eighteenth century. It is important as a document in the history of the Netherlands and the Dutch East India Company.
    HistoryThis hand-coloured engraving appears to be a facsimile of a 1754 engraving by Jan van Ryne (c. 1712 - c.1760, sometimes called 'John' or 'Johannes') entitled 'The City of Batavia in the Island of Java and Capital of all the Dutch Factories & Settlements in the East Indies.' It was originally published in London by Robert Sayer (c.1725 - 1794). The original appears to contain far more detail than this copy. There are more ships pictured in the harbour, the buildings and farms are more distinctive and there is more cloud-cover apparent in the sky. Otherwise, however, they appear to be depicting Batavia from exactly the same perspective and during the same time period. If anything, it is more of a rough approximation of the original rather than a precise facsimile.

    It was not uncommon for engraving plates to circulate among publishers, especially when the subject matter contained in the prints was difficult to obtain (using old works negated the expense of commissioning new ones). Some of Sayer's works are known to have been republished by Laurie and Whittle, London, during the 1790s and this depiction of Batavia may well have been among them. It is not known who was responsible for this facsimile, but it was published in 1793.

    This engraving is very useful in providing a relatively detailed view of Batavia as it is likely to have appeared during the first half of the eighteenth century. At this point in its history the Dutch East India Company (VOC) would have passed its commercial peak although, as the engraving shows, it was still very much alive and well.

    Dutch trade in the Far East was a one-way enterprise. The demand for Eastern goods in Europe far outweighed the practically non-existent demand for Western goods in Asia. Local and regional trade was an important part of the enterprise. VOC ships carrying silver from the Netherlands could acquire silk in China, which could then be traded for copper and gold in Japan, which, in turn, could be traded for textiles in India and so on. A well-situated headquarters was clearly needed in the region to manage the Eastern end of the VOC's affairs.

    On 1 September, 1602, the Lords XVII appointed a resident Governor General in the East Indies. His task was to look after all major questions of a political nature as well as, when deemed necessary, to administer military matters. The first three Governors General found it very difficult to promote the imperialistic aims of the Company, given the extensive amount of travel that was required of them. It was only when longtime VOC employee Jan Pieterszoon Coen was appointed to the post in 1618, that the city of Batavia (now Jakarta) was established on the island of Java and designated as the Dutch administrative centre in the Far East.

    Under the direction of the Council of Batavia local indigenous rulers were subdued, while the British and the Portuguese were gradually driven out of Indonesia, Malaya and Ceylon. The city grew considerably, with each Governor General leaving his own mark on it and would eventually take on the form in which it appears in this engraving.

    Additional Titles

    Web title: Handcoloured engraving of Batavia in the East Indies

    Primary title: 'Batavia in the East Indies', Hand Coloured Engraving on Paper

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