Four centuries of visual reporting. Floods in the Low Lands, 1500-1953Depicting the news is not a phenomenon of the modern era. Since the advent of printing, publishers have traded in pictures of news items. Dutch archives contain information about a large number of flood disasters covering a long period. The author uses modern, online picture collections to research 400 years of depicting floods from the 16th century to the flood of 1953. These collections enable us to track changes in the way floods have been represented over time. However, they also present new problems for the researcher. The collections only include the pictures, which means that the element that ultimately determines what the reader 'sees' - the accompanying (con)text - is missing.Visualising techniques have changed over time, but many pictorial conventions have remained the same. Endearing children, flooded homes and the like, used time and time again, thus become icons of flood disasters, allowing us to trace features of the cultural blueprint of floods, stored in the collective memory. These iconic elements influenced those artists who produced drawings in the early-modern period just as they did the photographers of 1953. The latter was one of the first floods to be photographed extensively. And yet, in many respects these photographs do not differ very much in representational style from the drawings of earlier eras.

Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision
Tijdschrift voor Mediageschiedenis

de Kruif, José. (2010). Vier eeuwen visuele verslaggeving. Overstromingen in de Lage Landen 1500-1953. Tijdschrift voor Mediageschiedenis, 13(1), 45–77. doi:10.18146/tmg.574