Freathy P & Thomas I (2022) The art of propaganda: marketing nationhood through visual imagery. Journal of Historical Research in Marketing. https://doi.org/10.1108/jhrm-08-2021-0040
During the 17th century, the Dutch Republic sought to project a positive global image centred around the principles of economic endeavour, moral stewardship and military resilience. By illustrating one way in which the country sought to communicate its international position, the paper aims to provide an early example of political diplomacy and reputation management.
Pictorial narratives provide an important but often underutilised insight into our cultural, social and economic history. As works of art were considered legitimate and authoritative forms of communication, their importance can lie beyond any aesthetic accomplishment. Using established iconographic techniques, this paper deconstructs and interprets the meaning contained within a specific genre painting, The Young Mother (1658) by Gerrit Dou.
Rather than being devoid of meaning, The Young Mother represents a narrative purposely constructed to symbolise the cultural, religious and economic character of the United Provinces. It celebrates success through global trade, innovation and enterprise while simultaneously reminding audiences of the country’s moral and spiritual foundations. Like the patriotic allegory of De Hollandse Maag protecting the sacred space of the hortus conclusus, the painting is a secular representation of the new Loca Sancta.
While acknowledging that The Young Mother has been praised for its visual qualities, this paper maintains that any broader political significance has been largely overlooked. The analysis and findings therefore offer original interpretations from which new conclusions are drawn.
Golden age; Genre art; The Gift; Gerrit Dou; Charles II
Output Status: Forthcoming/Available Online
Journal of Historical Research in Marketing