Photographic subjects examines photography at royal celebrations during the
reigns of Wilhelmina (1898–1948) and Juliana (1948–80), a period spanning the
zenith and fall of Dutch rule in Indonesia. It is the first monograph in English
on the Dutch monarchy and the Netherlands’ modern empire in the age of mass and
amateur photography. This book reveals how Europeans and Indigenous people
used photographs taken at Queen’s Day celebrations to indicate the ritual uses
of portraits of Wilhelmina and Juliana in the colonies. Such photographs were
also objects of exchange across imperial networks. Photograph albums were sent
as gifts by Indigenous royals in ‘snapshot diplomacy’ with the Dutch monarchy.
Ordinary Indonesians sent photographs to Dutch royals in a bid for recognition
and subjecthood. Professional and amateur photographers associated the Dutch
queens with colonial modernity and with modes of governing difference across an
empire of discontiguous territory and ethnically diverse people. The gendered
and racial dimensions of Wilhelmina’s and Juliana’s engagement with their
subjects emerge uniquely in photographs, which show these two women as female
kings who related to their Dutch and Indigenous subjects in different visual
registers. Photographic subjects advances methods in the use of photographs
for social and cultural history, reveals the entanglement of Dutch and
Indonesian histories in the twentieth century, and provides a new interpretation
of Wilhelmina and Juliana as imperial monarchs. The book is essential for
scholars and students of colonial history, South-east Asian and Indonesian
studies, and photography and visual studies.
The Dutch colonial world during Queen Wilhelmina’s reign,
Between 31 August and 6 September 1923, QueenWilhelmina of the Netherlands marked her silver jubilee, the 25th anniversary of her inauguration. The week-long festivities united disparate populations across the globe, not just in the Netherlands but throughout its empire, which included Suriname and the West Indies in the Atlantic realm, and the East Indies in South-east Asia. The milestone also resonated across the Indian Ocean in places that had not been part of the Dutch colonial world for over a century, including Cape Town in southern
Royal Indonesian visits to the Dutch court in the early twentieth century
. It was given in honour of Crown Princess Juliana of
the Netherlands’ engagement to a German nobleman, Prince Bernhard of
Lippe-Biestefeld. In this most unusual live recital, radio dramatically
bridged the distance between the Netherlands and its oldest and most
important overseas possession, the jewel in the modern Dutch empire. Juliana
and her mother, QueenWilhelmina (1880–1962), were so taken with the
spectacle that they
Salutations from a Dutch queen’s supporters in a British South Africa
In 1909, QueenWilhelmina of the
Netherlands received a spectacular letter from the Women’s
Committee of the Netherlanders of Johannesburg in Transvaal, then a
British colony. It was an oorkonde , a formal salutation
handwritten in calligraphic script and richly illustrated with symbols
of the Netherlands’ Royal House of Orange: a coat of arms, the
Dutch tricolour crossed
On the last night of the festival week for QueenWilhelmina's silver jubilee in 1923, Max Foltynski and his wife, Petronella, joined the crowd of spectators who turned out to admire the electric lights that decorated many of the major buildings in Bandung, the large city in West Java where they lived. One of them took a photograph of the illuminated Bandung Residency, the house occupied by the most senior Dutch administrator in the city ( figure 4.1 ). Someone also photographed Bandung's new Technical College, completed only three years before
In 1923 QueenWilhelmina's brother-in-law, Adolf Friedrich von Mecklenburg (1873–1969), toured the Moluccas and Dutch New Guinea. It was the year of Wilhelmina's silver jubilee, and for the twenty-fifth year since her coronation, she was not touring her empire. In her absence, ‘ Hertog (Duke) Adolf’, as he became known on his travels, accrued celebrity status in the Netherlands Indies.
That he was German nobility and only related to the queen by her marriage to Hendrik made no difference
We first encountered the photograph album of E. P. L. de Hoog, a Dutch engineer who worked in New Guinea in the late 1930s, in Chapter 3 . De Hoog's images revealed how, even in communities far from the centres of Dutch colonial power, QueenWilhelmina's fortieth jubilee in 1938 prompted a major public festival, with crowds of participants drawn from the large Javanese and Papuan workforce at Babo. During the day, men congregated at the town's airfield to watch and participate in contests of speed, strength and endurance that were simple to
have chosen their moment for the troonwisseling (‘throne change’) rather than vacating the throne by leaving the land of the living. After half a century, then, Wilhelmina's reign had finally come to an end – and Juliana was now Queen of the Netherlands.
Van Baal's albums record the new date of Queen's Day: 30 April, Juliana's birthday. We know from Chapter 3 that he had been following her fortunes since his Indies career began in the late 1930s. Now he was Juliana's representative. His photograph albums show that it was her image on the
Photographic encounters between Dutch and Indonesian royals
Cosmos sitting on his medals, Pemberton deemed the act ‘quite plausible as an early twentieth century response to His Majesty's shrinking cosmos’.
He alludes here to the progressive Dutch incursion upon Central Javanese kings’ powers in the Princely States ( vorstenlanden ), which I described in Chapter 2.
What we do know from photographs is that, throughout the 1920s and 1930s, Pakubuwono X sent many portraits of himself to QueenWilhelmina and the Crown Princess Juliana that substantiate his
Mass photography, monarchy and the making of colonial subjects
per se , that defined this development. The present-day status of European monarchies such as the Dutch royal family as a popular – perhaps even popul ist – institution therefore has its origins in the early twentieth century, when ‘family photography’ emerged as a mode of connecting royals with their subjects at ‘home’, in the colonies as well as the metropole.
Royal celebrations in colonial family albums
During Wilhelmina's reign, the annual koninginnedag (Queen's Day) festivities went from 29 August to 6 September, and