Restored Van Langren globe back in Stedelijk Museum Zutphen after 1.5 years


ZUTPHEN – Van Langren’s unique, more than 400-year-old Zutphen globe has lived through movement and survived fires, but never before had it been outside the municipal boundaries of Zutphen since it was purchased by the Zutphen city council in 1608. Until last year. Over the past year and a half she has been carefully restored in Haarlem. Yesterday, councilor Sjoerd Wannet and director Tiana Wilhelm unveiled the restored globe in its familiar, prominent place in the Stedelijk Museum Zutphen.

The globe was made by Jacobus Florentius van Langren. The quality of the globe from this first Amsterdam globe manufacturer is recognized worldwide. He was the example of the later, world-famous Dutch globemaker families Hondius and Blaeu.

Only fifteen of these special globes still exist worldwide, of which only five are in public Dutch collections. The son Arnold Floris van Langren sold this specific copy in 1608 for sixty Carolus guilders to the city of Zutphen. On the cartouche you can read that it is dedicated to the city. As far as is known, the globe has never been outside the city limits before this restoration. The important events depicted on the globe, such as the wintering of Willem Barentsz in Bevangen Huys on Nova Zembla (1596), make it a wonderful period document.

Globes became popular from the late sixteenth century. The growth was a direct result of increasing demand from the shipping industry. In 1585, Amsterdam took over the position of the main sea trading port from Antwerp; The Netherlands became a seafaring nation of importance. Good (sea) maps and terrestrial and celestial globes were indispensable for this. At the same time, Protestants, including intellectuals, artists and printers, moved from the south to the ‘religion-free’ north. These (cultural) developments contributed to the emergence of the Dutch ‘Golden Age’ and thus to globe production in the Netherlands; the globe also became a popular object of prestige.

Little was known about the Zutphen globe until the late nineteenth century. Curator Christiaan te Strake dug into it for the archives and only in 1894 did he find a first mention since the purchase by the mayors of Zutphen on September 16, 1608. In his presentation prior to the unveiling, Te Strake showed by means of prints where in the city the globe probably has stood for centuries. In 1920 and 1945, the globe survived large fires in the Wijnhuistoren, where the museum was located at the time.

Although this Van Langren globe has fared reasonably well for the past four hundred years despite these mishaps, restoration was necessary. The inscriptions and drawings had become dark and illegible over the years. Paper restorer Francien van Daalen and wood restorer Jurjen Creman cleaned the globe and the wooden ‘chair’ in which the globe is placed, restoring it where necessary. Metal restorer Daan Brouwer checked the copper parts. The Zutphen Museums have received grants for this from the Rembrandt Association (among other things thanks to its VriendenLoterij Restoration Fund) and the Friends of the Zutphen Museumsforening. Van Daalen called restoring the globe a “journey of discovery” in itself; she also discovered old repairs and repaired them where necessary in a way that can also be undone in the future if there are new insights or techniques.

Movies and apps
The globe can now be admired again as a masterpiece in the Stedelijk Museum Zutphen’s permanent collection. A restoration film will also be shown and everyone will have the opportunity to study the sphere in detail via an interactive app.

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