• Vol. 10
  • Chapter 05

Banquet Still Life: An Empire of Riches

A banquet, a celebration. A lavish spread of textures and colours, with bright fruits, deep wines, and sweet cheeses. An intricate arrangement of abundance in food and luxurious goods, creating colliding worlds of far-away colonial spaces intermingling with the familiar and domesticated. The scene is an eclectic and vibrant mix of contradictions. The depiction of the spoils of Dutch imperialism spilling out from its frame, the juicy ripeness of the fruits giving a bittersweet reminder of the country's acquired power. The overabundance, so vivid and alive, carries a somber mood for the contemporary viewer, filled with the muted silence of a reflection on the price and history of conquest. And what of the monkey and the dog? The monkey grasps a branch and holds fast. Perhaps it is a branch of friendship, of welcome, and as a reminder of the ideology that brought the Dutch empire to Asia. Of honourable profit and ideals of global exchange based on peace and mutual benefits. The dog is curious, ears perked up in interest and eyes filled with wonder, does it understand the message? Honestum et utile.