Timothy Brook

Vermeer's hat

Vermeer’s Hat

The 17th Century and the Dawn of the Global World

More reviews:

“This is a spellbinding book... a telling antidote to the doctrine that art exists in some pure, ethereal realm, abstracted from the lives people lead… as a guide to the world behind the pictures Vermeer’s Hat is mind-expanding.”
John Carey
The Times

“This is a fabulous book that drags Vermeer away from our complacent Eurocentric assumptions of his insular domesticity… it persuasively argues that our present global predicament is nothing new but stretches back at least as far as the 17th century... The writing is effortless but compelling and Brook is a wonderful storyteller...I doubt I will read a better book this year.”
Jerry Brotton
The Telegraph

“[Brook] is too good a scholar to treat Vermeer’s paintings as straightforward windows into the past, but he does show us how pictorial sources can open “doors” into “corridors” linking up diverse regions of the globe... His approach is not merely eclectic, but shows a consistent ability to depict the lives if individuals against a background of impersonal forces.”
TH Barrett
The Independent

“In this exhilarating book [Brook] watches for those moments or places where a “door” (his word) opens in a Vermeer interior, allowing the viewer to step through into the teeming social, economic and political context which lies beyond... Vermeer’s Hat is a brilliant attempt to make us understand the reach and breadth of the first global age... What Brook shows is that with a driving intellectual design and a detailed understanding not just of “here” but “there” too, a history of commodities and the way they circulate is no mere novelty but a key to understanding the origins of our own modern age.”
Kathryn Hughes
The Guardian

"Many of 2008's best history books are, in one way or another, global histories or histories of globalisation - or both. Brook's Vermeer's Hat traces global trade networks via a single painting."
Stephen Howe
The Independent UK

"In this creative blend of social, cultural and art history, Brook succeeds in capturing the dynamism of the seventeenth century, the flow of people and goods across oceans, the way things took on new meanings when relocated from one setting to another...Brook's expertise in [the Ming] period of Chinese history enables him to write authoritatively about a critically important dimension of the seventeenth-century world in a way that specialists in European history cannot."
Timothy B. Weston
World History Connected

"Brook brilliantly discussed the development of silver as currency, smoking as a global habit and the European obsession with supposed riches to be had in China. A real eye opener of a book for those of us who tend to get a little ghettoized in nineteenth and twentieth century history. I doubt I'll read anything more engrossing or informative or thought provoking this year."
Paul French
China Rhyming blog