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Portrait of Jan Maetsuyker, Goveral General of the Dutch East Indies, 1653-1678

Date: 1726
Dimensions:
Overall: 296 x 190 mm
Medium: Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Classification:Art
Object Name: Engraving
Object No: 00008303
Place Manufactured:Amsterdam

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    Description
    Jan Maetsuyker was Governor General of the Dutch East Indies between 1653 and 1678. He was the longest running VOC Governor General, serving for 25 years. It was under his leadership that the Dutch East India Company (VOC) reached the height of its economic power. Makassar (the largest city on what is now the Indonesian island of Sulawesi) was conquered, the west coast of Sumatra was occupied and the first Dutch expedition to the interior of Java was undertaken. One of the few low points of his administration was the loss of Formosa (Taiwan) to the Chinese in 1662.
    SignificanceJan Maetsuyker is important for his work for the Dutch East India Company. The Maatsuyker Island Group (off the south coast of Tasmania) were named in his honour. This print also provides one of the few visual records available for an important and unique individual in Dutch (and world) history.
    HistoryJan Maetsuyker (sometimes called Maatsuyker or Maetsuycker) was born on 14 October, 1606 in Amsterdam and died on 24 January, 1678 in Batavia, Dutch East Indies. Despite being the longest serving Governor General, precious little is known about Maetsuyker. His given name, on occasion, has been recorded as Joan and Johan.

    Jan Maetsuyker studied law at the Catholic University of Leuven (today the largest and oldest university in the Low Countries of The Netherlands). He practiced as a lawyer, first in the Hague and later in Amsterdam. He was initially hired by the Dutch East India Company (VOC) as pensionary (legal advisor) to the Judicial Council of Batavia, arriving in the city in 1636.

    It was in this role that Maetsuyker drafted the Indisch Wetboek (loosely translated as Indian Law Code but more commonly known in English as the Statutes of Batavia). Proclaimed on 1 July, 1642, this was a law code that would remain in force right up until the demise of the VOC two centuries later. Following the Dutch conquest of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) in the 1630s, Maetsuyker became Governor of Ceylon between 1646 and 1650. In 1653 he became Governor General of Batavia.

    Maetsuyker was the longest-running Governor General of Batavia. He served for 25 years and died in office. It was under his leadership that the VOC reached the height of its economic power; Makassar (the largest city on what is now the Indonesian island of Sulawesi) was conquered, the west coast of Sumatra was occupied and the first Dutch expedition to the interior of Java was undertaken. One of the few low points of his administration was the loss of Formosa (Taiwan) to the Chinese in 1662.

    Maetsuyker was instrumental, in both his role as Governor of Ceylon and as Governor General of Batavia in driving the Portuguese (Holland's greatest commercial rival at the time) from key settlements in the East Indies. Like Jan Coen before him, he was an advocate of Dutch colonialism. However, unlike his predecessor, Maetsuyker's colonial vision merely favoured the settlement of VOC employees and their families, rather than a more widespread program of relocating Dutch citizenry.

    Additional Titles

    Web title: Portrait of Jan Maetsuyker, Goveral General of the Dutch East Indies, 1653-1678

    Primary title: Depicting Jan Maetsuyker ('Maatsuyker Island, Tasmania'), Inscription under sight reads "Ioan Maat Suyker, Gouverneur Generaal Van Nederlands Indien"

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