Blakely & Westermann Reflection

The above picture shows a painting of a windmill by Jacob Van Ruisdael. According to Mariet Westermann, the author of “A Worldly Arts”, the Dutch were proud of their “newly gained freedom and prosperity” at the time when landscape arts prevailed. (Pg. 104, Westermann) As part of the surge of landscape arts, the windmills demonstrated the Dutch’s ability to utilize their local land to achieve economic success as a nation. The ability to use windmills to control their own land also symbolized Dutch’s independence from the Spanish reign, which reinforced their newly returned national identity as the Dutch Republic.

Although Westermann mainly focused on the national identity framework, the stories or religious meaning behind the windmill painting is also touched on and can be further developed under the perspective of Allison Blakely. The stories of the windmill have changed from time to time. Its blades were originally seen as the cross of Christ but in later painting the windmill itself represented the “power of nature and the spirit” given by God. (Pg. 105, Westermann) Similar to the evolution of the Zwarte Piet story presented by Blakely, the implication behind the windmill in landscape painting changed. Surprisingly, in both cases, the main characters—Zwarte Piet and windmill—remained the same even when certain details of the stories has changed during different time periods.

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One thought on “Blakely & Westermann Reflection

  1. I like your use of the religious and national context of something as straightforward as the windmill to highlight the arguments of Westermann and Blakely. The different narratives of the windmill exemplify how one can change a singular image for their needs or rhetoric. The windmill is an iconic emblem of the Netherlands, so its impact as a reinforcement of Dutch ideals, negative or positive, is influential. Do you think in time that those changing details could have a more significant impact on the narrative of the Windmill iconography?

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