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'T Eylant Amsterdam

Date: 1726
Overall: 349 x 214 mm
Medium: Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Engraving
Object No: 00008312
Place Manufactured:Amsterdam

User Terms

    Eighteenth century Dutch depictions of Amsterdam Island (now Tongatabu Island) in the Kingdom of Tonga. These two prints most likely depict Abel Janszoon Tasman's discovery of the island in 1643. His voyage was later documented by Dutch writer/vicar Francois Valentijn in his famous work Oud en Nieuw Oost-Indiën (Old and New East India) in 1726. These prints are from that text and were engraved by Dutch artist Frederik Ottens.
    SignificanceThis engraving comes from Dutch writer/vicar Francois Valentijn's celebrated text Oud en Nieuw Oost-Indien (Old and New East India, published in several volumes between 1724 and 1726). The work is important to historians as it gives a detailed account of the activities of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) during this period as well as providing a unique insight into how the Dutch regarded and treated other cultures. This particular print forms a valuable record of Dutch explorer Abel Janszoon Tasman's voyages in the early 1640s.
    HistoryTongatabu Island was discovered by Europeans on 20 January 1643 by Abel Janszoon Tasman commanding two ships, the HEEMSKERCK and the ZEEHAEN commissioned by the Dutch East India Company's headquarters in Batavia (Jakarta). The expedition's goals were to chart the unknown southern and eastern seas and to find a possible passage through the South Pacific and Indian Ocean providing a faster route to Chile. The expedition set sail from Batavia on 14 August 1642. Tasman named the island t' Eylant Amsterdam (Amsterdam Island), because of its abundance of supplies. This name is no longer used except by historians.

    These prints were published in one of the volumes of Francois Valentijn's, Oud en Nieuw Oost-Indiën in 1726. Born in Dordrecht, the Netherlands on 17 April 1666, Valentijn studied theology and philosophy at the Universities of Leiden and Utrecht before leaving for the Dutch East Indies in 1685 to become a preacher.

    Valentijn spent sixteen years in the Indies (1685-1694 and 1706-1714), mostly on the island of Ambon, in the Moluccas. He wrote his famous multi-volume work Oud en Nieuw Oost-Indiën (The East Indies Past and Present) in the Netherlands between 1724 and 1726. This text gives a detailed account of VOC activities during this period as well as providing a unique insight into how the Dutch regarded and treated other cultures. It also contains interesting geographical, biological and botanic data.

    These prints probably depict Abel Janszoon Tasman's discovery of Tongatabu in 1643. Born in 1603, Tasman is best remembered for his voyages of 1642 and 1644 when he was in the service of the VOC. His was the first known European expedition to reach the islands of Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania) and New Zealand and to sight the Fiji islands, which he did in 1643. Tasman, his navigator Visscher, and his Merchant Gilsemans also mapped substantial portions of Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands.

    The entire book was published by 1726, and became a bestseller, attracting 650 subscribers before it appeared. For centuries it was highly regarded as an historical source on the Indies, but in current times it is valued more for its evocative anecdotes and attractive prose. One critic noted that 'some of his pieces are true oases in the desert of eighteenth-century historical writing'.

    Additional Titles

    Primary title: 'T Eylant Amsterdam

    Web title: T Eylant Amsterdam (Amsterdam Island) (now known as Tongatabu Island, Tonga)

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