Mark Lamster | Essays

Red Star


The New York-Amsterdam connection has been much in the news of late, and rightly so, as this is the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson's Dutch-sponsored voyage of American discovery. An exhibition at the MCNY, a new book on the landscape he found, and any number of events mark the occasion. With all that, it would be easy to overlook a small exhibition on Eugeen Van Mieghem and the Red Star Line at Flanders House.

The show documents the relationship between New York and Antwerp, Amsterdam's rival to the south. In the sixteenth century, when Amsterdam was barely a mark on the map, Antwerp was the cultural and financial capital of Northern Europe, a position it lost to its northern neighbor. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, however, Antwerp was a major port of embarkation for the deluge of humanity fleeing Europe for America. Some two million emigrants departed Antwerp on Red Star Line ships, the preponderance coming to New York. Eugeen Mieghem, an Antwerp native, captured the lives of those harried travelers in his tender paintings and pastels. The beautiful Red Star Line posters featured in the show are also a treat.

Posted in: Arts + Culture, History

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