From Dutch Boy paint to democracy, an intriguing study of how largely forgotten Dutch influences once helped to shape...


HOLLAND MANIA: The Unknown Dutch Period in American Art and Culture

From Dutch Boy paint to democracy, an intriguing study of how largely forgotten Dutch influences once helped to shape American culture and national identity. In 1903, the editor of the Ladies' Home Journal proclaimed Holland as ""The Mother of America."" Scott examines Dutch influence from the 1880s to 1920, which she terms a period of Holland Mania. In choosing the label, Scott stresses the irrational, exaggerated quality of this celebration of things Dutch. Placing Holland Mania in a broader historical perspective, she compares it to modern Afrocentrism in its extreme attempt to redefine American identity through the primacy of a single ethnic influence. Holland Mania took hold when the turn of the century invited reexamination of the nation's past; when an increased flow of European immigrants challenged the nation's cultural selfhood; and when unprecedented wealth among businessmen created an interest in art collecting--all told, forces that lured Americans to look beyond classical or British/French influences for political and cultural identity. Scott, an art historian, focuses primarily on pictorial images and on the rewriting of American history based on Dutch influences. Chapters on Dutch art in America and on the American artists who traveled to the Netherlands and painted in the Dutch style offer full and informative accounts. Equally important, though developed with less analytical sophistication, is Scott's explanation of the underlying political and ideological attraction of Dutch painting to Americans. Turning to the 16th and 17th centuries for inspiration, some American historians engaged in revisionism, arguing that American history was based on Dutch political influences. Finally, Scott examines the Dutch impact on popular culture until WWI: Dutch colonial architecture, advertising images, children's literature (Hans Brinker, for instance), etc. A book that tells us as much about American sentimentality and ideological stubbornness as it does about the Dutch themselves.

Pub Date: Nov. 18, 1998


Page Count: 310

Publisher: Overlook

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1998

Close Quickview