A Fascination with the Unknown: The Work of Albert Eckhout and Frans Post in Dutch Colonial Brazil

Hannah Wiepke


Within the last forty years, a significant amount of research has been completed about the artistic works of Albert Eckhout (c. 1610-1665) and Frans Post (c. 1612-1680) and their connection to Dutch colonialism in Brazil. This presentation will explore the paintings created by Post and Eckhout during their seven-year stay in Brazil as well as the images based on their visit to Brazil and completed after their return to the Netherlands. To European eyes, the landscape of Northeast Brazil would be described as beyond comparison. With its natural waterfalls, forests, and winding rivers, Brazil was like an exotic paradise to its colonial settlers. The native peoples that inhabited the Brazilian coast had utterly different languages, cultural values, clothing styles, and familial systems, and governing structures than the Dutch. The native population was completely unfamiliar and foreign. Fortunately, these Dutch artists choose to create images of costumes and customs they observed, and thus today, we have access to some of the first formally painted images of the Viceroyalty of Brazil and its inhabitants. During their stay in the port of Recife, Golden Age landscape artist, Post, and portrait artist, Eckhout, created images of the New World. The work of Post and Eckhout contributes to the larger understanding of Dutch colonialism and the value of intercontinental travel and representation of the exotic in Baroque-era Europe. Using early modern taxonomic frameworks and practices along with visual analysis and historical studies of indigenous peoples, this investigation goes beyond previous scholarly interpretations referencing images of inhabitants along the northeast Brazilian coastline during the Baroque era.


Albert Eckhout, Frans Post, Dutch, Colonial Brazil

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