The Flag of New York City

David Amiel, Vincent Ren, Raina Vettithanam, Amanda Chan

Flag of New York City

The NYC flag consists of the colors blue, white, and orange. The middle of the flag features the city’s seal, which possesses various symbols, each with their own symbolic representations. There is a native, a sailor with navigational tools, a windmill, flour barrels, beavers, and an eagle. At the bottom of the seal is a date of significance, 1625, which shows when the colony was founded, and at the border are the latin letters spelling out: “Seal of the City of New York.”

Our artifact can be found in the City of New York, and is on display outside all government and public buildings in the city. The flag was adopted by the city in December of 1977, although a variant of the flag exists at the mayoral office, which has five stars placed directly above the seal. The flag features many symbols which demonstrate the intimate connection between New York City and the Dutch. Looking closely at the seal, the beavers inside the coat of arms represent the Dutch East India Company, the first trade company to open trade to the city. Other Dutch influences can be seen inside the seal as well. For example, the windmill fans which divide the seal represent the prosperity of the flour-milling industry, whose prosperity directly affected the economic success of New York City, at the time, the New Netherlands. Furthermore, the figure on the left of the seal is a colonial seaman, which also points to the Dutch’s founding of New Amsterdam; to his right is a native, which represents the original indigenous population.

This intertwining of histories resonates with many people, considering the population of the city. The flag, which is a symbol of the city, and in the past, a source of great pride for its inhabitants, is a reminder of the city, and the country’s, connection to the Dutch. The year 1625, which is printed in the city’s seal, is the year in which New Amsterdam was founded by the Dutch. Although hundreds of years have gone by, the flag is still a present-day reminder of the city’s roots.

We chose this artifact because of its abundance of connections to our inter-woven histories with the colonial Dutch. New York City is close to home for many Rutgers students, and its influence extends well beyond the city’s borders. In investigating the influence that the Dutch had on New York City, the cultural center of our country, we were able to see not only that much of our colonial history and prosperity is due to the Dutch – specifically the Dutch East India Trading Company – but to appreciate the deep connections that exist between our two societies.

External Sources:

NYC Green Book Highlights - City Seal and Flag
The Official New York City Flag

Hugo Grotius and UNCLOS III

1609 Freedom of the Seas and Modern Implications

Jeanne Ryder

United Nations Headquarters

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United Nations Headquarters 40.747538, -73.970778

HugoGrotius-MareLiberum-1609   Mierevelt_grotius_1608

NYC_United Nations Headquarters

What is it?

Mare Liberum written by Hugo Grotius inspired the most successful international organization of our age – the United Nations. At 540 United Nations Plaza in New York, New York, discussions and compromises about international relations can be heard on the daily. This building – so close to home – serves as the headquarters for the entire United Nations, a location that bears great pride for the entire tri-state area. Much of the thanks for this tremendous honor should go to the Dutch jurist, Hugo Grotius. He is generally known as the father of international law, thanks to the legal and philosophical ideas he shared in the several books he published. This post looks closely at his book Mare Liberum and the affects that it had on the development of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). This book, published in 1609, birthed the concept of “freedom of the seas” that now dictates international law regarding water passages.

Why is this important?

The Dutch have influenced American legal proceedings in a plethora of ways – from the original Democratic roots of the Mayflower Compact to the corporate laws surrounding modern day capitalism. The Dutch were generally more progressive than their surrounding countries – especially during the Dutch Golden Age that characterized the 17th century. It was during this Dutch cultural peak that Hugo Grotius first elaborated on his ideas of open sea territories. As he claims, “Every nation is free to travel to every other nation, and to trade with it” (Grotius 7). Grotius later served as a counsel for the Dutch East India Company in their legal trouble with Portugal following the seizure of the Santa Catarina ship, putting his ideas to the test. Clearly they survived the case, and even outlived time as his principles are executed everyday on the open seas. His revolutionary ideas about border endings transcended basic trading laws to serve as a guide for the multi-governmental organization we know as the United Nations today. Grotius did not believe in the claiming of water for two of the following reasons: “First, it is not susceptible of occupation; and second its common use is destined for all men. For the same reasons the sea is common to all, because it is so limitless that it cannot become a possession of any one, and because it is adapted for the use of all, whether we consider it from the point of view of navigation or of fisheries” (Grotius 28). In the 1920s, national claims in waters was brought to the table of the League of Nations (first attempt of international law) as nations (including the Netherlands) wished to extend borders to include mineral resources, protect fish stocks and control pollution. Several nations met at the Hague in Holland to discuss the matter – where Dutch jurist Cornelius van Bynkershoek’s “cannon shot rule” was used to make borders extend 3 nautical miles into the water. The Dutch are inseparable from both American politics and the universal politics we see today. It is no coincidence that 2 of the 6 hosting cities of the UN are Dutch and American. Actually, the Hague was considered for the headquarters of the UN but John D. Rockefeller Jr.’s 8.5 million dollar donation to purchase the land in Manhattan swayed the architects. Instead the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court remain in the Hague today, since the Netherlands philosophical and legal developments were crucial in the foundation of international relations. Today, Dutch and American government officials are crucial for the carrying out of compromises between nations in the UN, thanks to the originally Dutch principles that have been carried over into the American political system. Open seas are especially important today considering problems like the GPGP (Great Pacific Garbage Patch) and the lack of responsibility for oceanic pollution. UNCLOS is working hard to find a solution, but would never have been able to do so without Hugo Grotius’s Mare Liberum. 

Works Consulted

David Armitage, “Introduction”. In: Hugo Grotius (2004) The Free Sea, Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, pp. xxii–xxiii.

Grotius, The Freedom of the Seas.

“Lake Success: A Reluctant Host to the United Nations”Newsday (New York). Archived from the original on May 23, 2006

Tullio Scovazzi lecture entitled The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and Beyond in the Lecture Series of the United Nations Audiovisual Library of International Law Accessed April 11, 2016.

The Vanderveer House

By: Sharon Kang, Rose Kostak, Cynthia Tsai

The Vanderveer House

The original part of the Vanderveer House shows Dutch and English traditions of vernacular construction. It is a one and a half story clapboard frame dwelling. The original fabric of the house is still intact today, and the original flooring is of wide pine boards. A wall in the west parlor features raised wood paneling above the fireplace with a barrel-back cabinet to the side. The house had a few alterations later in the 19th and 20th century such as imposing “bungaloid” features like exterior stucco. The interior of the house interprets both the west Georgian section when Knox were in residence and also the east Federal addition with its higher ceilings.

Vanderveer House

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Vanderveer House 40.666667, -74.645000

The Vanderveer House is located in Bedminster Township in Somerset County, along the North Branch of the Raritan. It served as headquarters for General Henry Knox during the Revolutionary War’s Second Middlebrow Encampment and is the only known building still standing that was associated with the Pluckemin Artillery Cantonment. It is also the last surviving building in Bedminster associated with the Vanderveer Family. The Vanderveer family was prominent in Bedminster Township history from its earliest settlement through the mid 19th century. The location has never moved, and the house is now used as a museum and an educational center. It was first built in the early 1770’s by Jacobus Vanderveer, the father of Jacobus Vanderveer Sr., who built it for his son and other Vanderveer families to come. It was then purchased by the Township of Bedminster in 1989 and has experienced many changes in construction since then, although remains of the original framing still exist and endure in sturdy condition. Jacobus Vanderveer was descended from Dutch immigrants who arrived in Long Island, New York in 1659. He was a very active member of the Dutch Reform Church of Bedminster, acting as an elder in the church and playing a major part in the organization of the church. He even donated the land that the church was built on, and eventually married Mariah Hardenbergh, the daughter of Jacob Ruten Hardenbergh, who was the minister of the church. The Dutch Reform Church was a huge part of Dutch life in America, and Jacobus Vanderveer was a big player in the church. 

The Vanderveer House is connected to Rutgers history because Jacobs R. Hardenbergh, Jacobus Vanderveer’s father-in-law, was Queen’s College’s first President. Its first instructor was Frederick Frelinghuysen, and through intermarriages, Frederick Frelinghuysen and Elias Vanderveer were brothers-in-law. The Vanderveer’s strong connections to Frelinghuysen portray that the family was strongly linked with Dutch-American cultural elites. 

We picked the Vanderveer House because it is very close to where one of our partners, Rose, lives in Morris County and it is interesting how such an influential historical monument could be located only a short drive away from home. It is also fascinating how so much information can be gathered about a building that at first glance appears to be like any average one-story house but in reality was reconstructed multiple times so that it now retains most of the original Dutch framework and holds the appearance of the Vanderveer House from when it was first built. This object brings many aspects of Dutch life to light, specifically the connection to the Dutch Reform Church, which played such a large role in the history of the house. The Dutch had such an influence in America, especially in our area and at Rutgers University, and continues to be a legacy to many families here, and this house perfectly exemplifies their life and their culture. It tells a story that parallels many whose ancestors may have come here not only from the Netherlands, but also from other places in Europe and maybe even from elsewhere in the world.

“The Vanderveer families remained in the Pluckemin/Bedminster area for generations and are remembered today as major contributors to the legacy of the area.” (


“Guardians.” The Pluckemin Cantonment and Jacobus Vanderveer House in Bedminster New Jersey. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Apr. 2016.

“Jacobus Vanderveer House and Museum.” Jacobus Vanderveer House and Museum. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Apr. 2016.

“The Vanderveer House.” The Vanderveer House. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Apr. 2016.

Old and Contemporary Dutch Legal Codes and Their Effects on US Law

By Saba Yasmin, Bassam Aly, Jordan Plaut – Section 4


This post will lay out the history of Dutch law, look at legal traditions in the United States that have descended from the Dutch tradition of civil codes, and, finally, take a look at similarities between contemporary Dutch and American law.

Old Dutch Law

Roman-Dutch Law is broken up into four subcategories, Germanic, the Frankish, Feudal, and the Republican.  Germanic spans from the beginning of German history to the ascension of the Clovis. The Frankish era came to an end in 1581 with the establishment of the Declaration of Dutch Independence. The third period continues throughout 1806 in which Louis Bonaparte became the King of the Dutch lands. Lastly, the fourth period is recognized simply because of the influences that precede it.  The Declaration of Dutch Independence, brought forward prominently the great idea that rulers are responsible to the people and can be deposed by them. The growth of this idea is center of the development of constitutional and republican government.

Old Law derives from several sources. They are privileges granted by Counts of Holland and other feudal superiors, judicial decisions, legal treatises, court ordinances, and provisional laws. An important similarity between Old Dutch law and Modern Western law is the carried significance of Judicial Decisions. For example, many privacy laws are not explicitly granted within the US constitution but, have nevertheless, been integrated into modern law; Similarly, there were judicial decisions within Old Dutch Law that were implicitly adopted.

The History of the Roman-Dutch Law Author(s): R. W. Lee Source: Journal of the Society of Comparative Legislation, Vol. 10, No. 2 (1910), pp. 261- 268 Published by: Cambridge University Press on behalf of the British Institute of International and Comparative Law Stable URL:

Legal Traditions in United States Adopted from Our Dutch Ancestry

The Dutch had, and still have, a civil law system. A civil law system is one in which statutes and codes are designed to cover all eventualities and judges have a more limited role and are only supposed to apply the law to the case at hand (what we hear in the United States refer to as mechanical jurisprudence).

A school of thought that follows this tradition is Textualism. Textualism is a school of thought in which the interpretation of the Constitution should not squarely belong to the courts but that politics, especially legislative bodies, are far more appropriate sources of Constitutional authority. Textualism refers to the documents that are regarded as essential to the country and its founding, such as the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. Those who adhere to this school of thought, including the late Justice Antonin Scalia, believe these texts should be regarded as the final word on the law and they should be followed to the letter. It does not allow for the interpretation of the law by the courts. Adherents to textualism believe that the law can only be interpreted one way and mechanically applied to each situation. Whether or not this is true is another matter but the school of thought derives its ideology from civil law tradition.

A Matter of Interpretation by Antonin Scalia

Similarities between contemporary Dutch and American Law

Both went through a process of going from common law to civil law

Idea of Stare Decisis– The idea that precedent in the court (i.e documented court decision) is referred to and/or upheld in similar cases. This is a transition to a civil law system.

The U.S. has the Uniform Commercial Code- a written set of laws that provide legal rules and regulations governing commercial or business dealings and transactions. It has been accepted by all 50 states with slight variations among the states.

Interior with a Young Couple

By: Arianne Bisar, Amina Zaidi, and Jason Ni

Honors Colloquium Spring 2016, Section 11

Interior with a Young Couple 

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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The Metropolitan Museum of Art 40.779437, -73.963244


Interior with a Young Couple was painted by Pieter de Hooch in the year 1662. It is showcased in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In 1913, philanthropist Benjamin Altman purchased this painting and it was placed in the Metropolitan in the same year. There, it is part of the Dutch Golden Age collection with paintings of other Dutch painters like Rembrandt and Hals.

This oil painting captures a scene of the interior of the house of a husband and wife. It shows clear influences from Rembrandt such as use of warm colors, use of gold and placement of the subjects. Like other Dutch Golden Age painters, de Hooch used dark colors and balanced compositions, played with light and perspective and paid attention to small details. He likes to use open doors, windows and hallways like in the painting. With these techniques he creates a very calm and peaceful portrait of the couple. De Hooch mostly painted scenes of the tavern or soldiers and switched to domestic scenes when he started his family in mid 1650s.

What story about the Dutch in America does your story tell

This painting shows the domestic scene of Dutch culture, with this painting we are able to see the mundane details of their everyday life. These types of paintings were very common during this era. Because of the economic prosperity in the Netherlands, an elite merchant class arose. People became rich enough to get portraits painted of them. The gold curtains and tile floor depicts this couple’s wealth. This also shows how women play a role in society. The painting even shows the woman standing and the man sitting. Women in the Dutch republic had one of the highest literacy rates than anywhere else in Europe. While their husbands were at sea, they took over their business. Even though this painting has both a man and a women, paintings of women in the household vastly outnumbered male portraits. Running the household was very much a woman’s job. Cleanliness is also something the Dutch take pride in; it represented virtue and good citizenship. This painting also depicts how clean and orderly their house is.


“Interior With A Young Couple – Pieter De Hooch.” YodelOut Art. YodelOut Art, n.d. Web. 12 Apr. 2016.

“Interior with a Young Couple Pieter De Hooch 1662-66.” Interior with a Young Couple by Pieter De Hooch, 1662-66. FindTheData, n.d. Web. 12 Apr. 2016.

“Interior with a Young Couple.” The Met. Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000. Web. 6 Apr. 2016.

“Pieter De Hooch.” Pieter De Hooch. Pagina Artis, n.d. Web. 12 Apr. 2016.

“Pieter De Hooch.” RKD. Netherlands Institute for Art History, n.d. Web. 6 Apr. 2016.

The Inventors of Modern Timekeeping

By Jake Migdail-Smith, Dori Kasper, Colin Stard, and James McCaughan (Section 2)

The Rutgers Clock Tower at College Avenue

One of the most iconic images of Rutgers is the Rutgers Clock Tower, nestled above the doorway to the College Avenue Barnes and Noble. Its bright red lettering and huge size dominate the surrounding scene, and it serves as a constant reminder or two things: the longevity of Rutgers University that has allowed it stand the test of time for 250 years, and the modern reliance we have on timekeeping, a problem first practically solved by the Dutch.

slgckgc via Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
slgckgc via Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The clock is located at 126 College Ave, New Brunswick, NJ 08901. The clock was presented by a class graduating from Rutgers. Considering the connections between the Dutch and Rutgers University, as well as the Dutch invention of the pendulum clock and wristwatch, it serves as a more than appropriate gift.

Rutgers Clock Tower

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Rutgers Clock Tower 40.502673, -74.452213

The clock is a huge part of our daily lives. We wake up to the clock,  we work by the clock, we base our whole day around the clock. That is why we chose the clock as our artifact.  Whether it’s a cell phone, a watch or a wall clock, clocks are a huge part of modern life and they have been for centuries. The impact that timekeeping has on us is one that is mostly taken for granted. This impact can be traced back to the work of Dutch inventor Christiaan Huygens and his invention of the first pendulum clock in the year 1656, an invention that provided the world with both accurate and accessible timekeeping from then on.  Prior to this clocks had been available but only on a large scale basis. For instance, many people relied on clocks in cathedrals that utilized massive weight systems, and they were incredibly inaccurate.  While the invention was later refined with escapement systems and metallic alloys that accounted for the temperature differences in the pendulum, the inciting of the first accurate clock can be traced to the Netherlands.

Aldo Cavini Benedetti via Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Aldo Cavini Benedetti via Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Trans-Atlantic travel was already possible at the time that the clock was invented, along with later addition of the more accurate spring driven watch, invented by Huygens as well.  Nevertheless, the more precise clocks afforded sailors with a trustworthy way to track their location on the globe, and even proved useful centuries later with the rise of airplanes.  With eased navigation New Jersey and the United States were allowed to grow and prosper through trade with Europe and the rest of the world.  Later on pilots too were able to navigate effortlessly and know where they were using the inventions that were first born in the Netherlands. Clocks were essential to the development of the New World, reflecting the large role that the Dutch played in the establishment of the first North American settlements.

The illustrious face of the Rutgers Clock Tower at College Avenue has parallels to the value that the Dutch have provided in their groundbreaking ingenuity in timekeeping. Just as the Dutch are often times taken for granted in their presence in early America, clocks are taken for granted as well. Knowing the time is crucial to the modern way of life, and the Rutgers Clock Tower emanates that very notion of the reliance on time that is distinctive to the world today.

Works Cited:

The Rutgers History Lesson

Section 11- Chris Kay, Neven Abdo, Kedar Trivedi

“The Rutgers History Lesson”

Lyrics for “The Rutgers History Lesson”

In seventeen and sixty six
On the banks of the old Raritan
A Dutchman’s college in the sticks
Oh, then began.
The Revolution came,
With a boom, boom, boom,
And a zoom, zoom, zoom,
With a boom, and a zoom, and a boom.
But all through the shot and shell
The Dutchmen, they fought like—well
The old Queens flag on high shall fly forevermore.

In eighteen hundred sixty nine
From a place with a mild bid to fame
Came twenty five Tigers in their prime
To play a game.
And football then was born,
With a punt, punt, punt,
And a grunt, grunt, grunt,
With a punt, and a grunt, and a punt.
But although the Princeton yell
Resounded as loud as—well
The old Queens flag on high shall fly forevermore.

In nineteen hundred and eighteen
Just a mile or a bit more from Queens
An institution we esteem
Came on the scene.
Oh Douglass C we hail,
With a mm, mm, mm,
And an oh, oh, oh,
With an mm, and an oh, and an mm.
But when the last truth we tell
The rest may all go to—well
The old Queens flag on high shall fly forevermore.

Background for “The Rutgers History Lesson”

The “Rutgers History Lesson” isn’t the most straight-forward monument to Rutgers’ Dutch Heritage.  This is because it is a song and not a tangible artifact.  But our group felt that once one took a step back from the obvious, the song actually managed to capture the essence of Rutgers and its heritage better than any static object.  The song was written for the Glee Club to serve as a memorial to several of Rutgers’ most celebrated moments.  It recounts the school’s founding as a Dutch seminary, it’s small but important role in the Revolution, the first collegiate football game, and the founding of our women’s college on Douglas Campus.  Our group selected this song as our “object” because it captured the full spectrum of the Rutgers’ experience.  Some songs, like our Alma Mater, give only a brief slice of our history; this piece provides a fuller picture and we saw that as something worth directing more attention towards.  Additionally, this song helps remind everyone within the Rutgers’ community of just how rich our history is.  There are few schools who can list off as long or successful a resume as ours and such history shouldn’t go unappreciated.  The beauty of this song is that it allows everyone to have that moment of appreciation.  Unfortunately our group was unable to find who wrote the “The Rutgers History Lesson” or when they might have written it but we do know that the Rutgers Glee Club performed the song for their record The Bells Must Ring which was released in 1998.  “The Rutgers History Lesson” is an even more perfect song to represent our heritage this year as we celebrate our 250 year anniversary because, as we’ve said already, the song encapsulates some of our proudest accomplishments.



The Stroopwafel

Section 2 – Emlyn, Joanna, Justin



The stroopwafel is a Dutch syrup cookie. They are circular and consist of two waffle cookie paddies held together by a delicious caramel syrup. The cookies are typically about three and a half inches in diameter, and are relatively thin. The stroopwafel cookies are scrumptious, so let’s dig in!


The stroopwafel is a Dutch waffle-like cookie. The stroopwafel is made out of two sweet waffles which are held together by a syrupy caramel filling. Stroopwafels are believed to have originated in the Dutch town of Gouda–also famous for the delicious cheese of the same name–all the way back in 1784. According to legend, an inventive local baker created the first batch of stroopwafels from leftover breadcrumbs that he proceeded to sweeten with syrup. These satisfying treats quickly caught on; by the 19th century there were nearly 100 stroopwafel bakers operating in Gouda alone!

Stroopwafels today have become a popular international snack. The story of the popularization of the stroopwafel tells the story of a more modern Dutch history, and that of a Netherlands connected with the commercial global market. Sold everywhere from the original small Dutch bakeries to large corporations, like Starbucks, the stroopwafel seems to have followed the same pattern of mass popularization like those of other European sweets. For example, cannoli’s, the popular Italian cream-filled pastries, can today be bought at both small Italian bakeries and large chain supermarkets. In addition to being found in local chain shops across the globe, United Airlines have started offering stroopwafels on their flights as tasty snacks! At this rate of popularity, stroopwafels may soon become as synonymous with the Netherlands as pasta is with Italy!

Talking to students who had embarked on spring break to Utrecht this past March, they all said something about how delicious the stroopwafels were in the Netherlands. When this group got together to discuss our final project subject, we immediately thought to research the stroopwafel. (Plus, who doesn’t love a tasty treat?!)

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Geology Hall

Geology Hall

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Geology Hall 40.497842, -74.446429

By Matt Hinger and Abdul Abdul – Section 11

Geology Hall is building in the historic Queens section of the College Avenue campus at Rutgers.  Designed Henry Janeway Hardenbergh, Geology Hall was ordered to be built by President William Henry Campbell in order to expand the Rutgers facilities near Old Queens in 1872.  When Rutgers was chosen as New Jersey’s Land Grant College in 1864, fundraising began for the creation of new buildings on campus, and Geology Hall became one of the first projects to be completed.  Henry Hardenbergh, born in New Brunswick to a Dutch family, designed Geology Hall in a way that imitates gothic architecture in the Netherlands.  In 1872, Geology Professor George H. Cook utilized the building to found the Rutgers Geology Museum.  The Museum has housed many artifacts, including a prehistoric skull that was initially found in Holland in 1720.  The native Dutch artifact serves as a connection between the University and Dutch history that traces back even further than the founding of Rutgers.

We decided to pick Geology Hall because it is a major Rutgers landmark that ties both directly and indirectly with Dutch heritage.  Derived from a Dutch designer, it connects with the traditionally Dutch influences that Rutgers is known for in the College’s early years.  The Dutch style of the architecture is a true standing reminder of the origins of the University.  It still operates to this day as the house of many geological collections and artifacts, and is open for visitation to the public. Bill Selden, former director of the Museum said in an interview with the Daily Targum, “’The thing about the Old Queens Campus in general is the fact that it is an architectural record of the change from natural philosophy to the arts and sciences,’”.








Works Cited

1)         Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey – Rutgers University Libraries. “Paths to Historic Rutgers: A Self-Guided Tour” from the Special Collections and University Archives: University Archives. Retrieved September 27, 2013.

2)         Olsson, Richard. “History of EPS: A Brief History Of Geology At Rutgers, 1830–1980” at Rutgers School of Arts and Sciences: Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences (official website). Retrieved September 27, 2013.

3)         Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey — Rutgers Geology Museum. “About the Museum”. Retrieved September 27, 2013.

4)         Szteinbaum, Sabrina. “Rutgers Geology Museum to Remain Fixture on Campus.”The Daily Targum. Rutger University Press, 04 Sept. 2013. Web. 6 Apr. 2016. <>.

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Castle by a River by Jan Van Goyen

By: Mansi Adroja, Lizbeth Cespedes, Ananya Mondal, Madhuri Bhupathiraju, and Tanya Banerjee

Section: 5

Jan Van Goyen, Castle by a River (1647) The Metropolitan Museum of Art  

Castle by A River is an oil piece painted by Dutch artist, Jan Van Goyen, in 1647. Goyen was a landscape artist who painted this particular scene in the Netherlands. In 1964, Edith Neuman de Vegvar gifted the painting to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, where it currently resides.

We chose this particular painting because it is an eye-catching depiction of rivers, and it encompasses their importance to the Dutch economy and life. During the late 16th century, as the Dutch Republic started to become a distinct entity and form a distinct culture, Dutch paintings also began to show a similar representation of the country. Many paintings included seascapes which represented the “naval and trade power”, which was popular among the Dutch Republic.

By juxtaposing the fisherman with the castle in the background, the painting distinguishes the working class from the wealthy. This piece is also an example of how during the Golden Age, art transitioned from depicting religious aspects to portraying political viewpoints and everyday lifestyles. This shift reflected the change in the focus of the country from religious to secular themes as well as the economic growth taking place during this time period.   

People today can connect to this painting through its deep roots in Dutch history and culture. It reminds viewers of some of the core foundations of a civilization–perseverance and work ethic. These values are not limited to any one country; they are universal.

The following is a short, interesting analysis of the castle’s “identity” and the choice of colors in Goyen’s painting: “The subject and composition of this picture recall Jan van Goyen’s many views of Nijmegen, but the fort here, with its Romanesque bell tower, improbable portals, and asymmetrical façade, is surely imaginary. The work is remarkable for the warmth of its brown and yellow tones, with rose and salmon colors throughout the cloudy sky.”
A major part of the painting is the stormy sky. Goyen uses a yellow and brown color scheme for most of the landscape and subtle pink tones for the sky. Although there is an emphasis on the castle in this painting, Goyen interestingly employs perception to also accentuate the boat with three fishermen in the foreground.


  1. “Castle by a River by GOYEN, Jan Van.” Castle by a River by GOYEN, Jan Van. N.p., n.d. Web.       6 Apr. 2016.
  2.  “Castle by a River.” N.p., n.d. Web. 6 Apr. 2016.
  3. “History of Dutch Golden Age.” N.p., n.d. Web. 6 Apr. 2016″ 
  4. “Jan Van Goyen’s River Landscape (Pellekussenpoort near Utrecht).”Jan Van Goyen’s River Landscape (Pellekussenpoort near Utrecht). N.p., n.d. Web. 6 Apr. 2016.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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The Metropolitan Museum of Art 40.779437, -73.963244

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