View of Ambon, anonymous, c. 1617

View of Ambon, anonymous, c. 1617

oil on canvas, h 148.8cm × w 268.2cm More details

Scores of clove trees dot the landscape of Ambon, an island in eastern Indonesia. To gain control of trade in this extremely costly spice, in 1605 the Dutch successfully besiege the Portuguese fort; that is why it is depicted as abnormally large in this painted map. Frederik de Houtman (lower right) becomes governor and uses harsh measures to increase the profitable clove production at the expense of the local population. The map hung for a long time in the Amsterdam headquarters of the VOC, the Dutch East India Company.

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