Holmes’ Bonfire, Terschelling 1666 – Caspar Bouttats

TERSCHELLING 1666, ARSON BY THE ENGLISH “Rapresentanza delle due Isole di Vlie, e terschelling e del fuoco dato da vascelli…

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Rapresentanza delle due Isole di Vlie, e terschelling e del fuoco dato da vascelli Inglesi ad alcune novi Olandesi, et incendio di diverse case. Anno 1670. adi 18; e 19 di Agosto“. [Representation of the two islands of Vlieland and Terschelling, and of the fire given by English vessels to some new Dutchmen, and the burning down of several houses. On the 18th and 19th of August the year 1670.] Copper engraving made by Caspar Bouttats in 1670(?). Size (plate): 30,7 x 37,6 cm.

We see the burning of the village West-Terschelling by the English under Admiral Robert Holmes on 19-20 August 1666. [I.e. not in 1670 as stated in the title of print!] The raid on the Vlie estuary was executed during the Second Anglo-Dutch War and became known as the Holmes’ Bonfire. It destroyed a large Dutch merchant fleet of 140 ships.

Almost all the ships – East Indiamen and ships trading with Russia – were destroyed. At least 2,000 people were killed. On the second day, Holmes’ men plundered West-Terschelling (“the town of Brandaris”), causing outrage in the Dutch Republic. It was the heaviest blow to Dutch merchant shipping ever. When the news reached Amsterdam, trade on the stock exchange was halted.

Caspar Bouttats, who made this print, came from a family of Antwerp engravers. He was president of the Antwerp Guild of Saint Luke from 1690-1691. He engraved many portraits and history paintings.

Literature: Frederik Muller – De Nederlandsche geschiedenis in platen : beredeneerde beschrijving van Nederlandsche historieplaten, zinneprenten en historische kaarten, I, p. 323, nr. 2213c

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