Iberian Union of the 1580-1640 period, found themselves with diminished resources and man-power to defend their far-flung empire. The tide began to turn in the 1620s (see my previous post on the Portuguese-Spanish defeat of the Dutch in Bahia, 1625), but the Dutch retained a foothold in Pernambuco and the north Amazon region until the 1650s, as shown by the map below.
Albert Eckhout (1610-1665) was perhaps the most outstanding of these imperial observers. Below are a selection of some of his wonderfully observed paintings of Brazil's flora, fauna, landscapes and peoples. All images are from the National Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen unless otherwise noted, and were painted during Eckhout's travels in Brazil between 1637 and 1644:
|"East Indies Fruits."|
|Tupi Indian woman with child.|
|Tupi Indian man. Interestingly, this figure appears to be the model for one of the flanking figures in Piso's Natural History of Brazil.|
|Willem Piso's 1668 Historia Naturalis Brasilia (Natural History of Brazil), hand-colored frontispiece. Compare the figure at left to the Tupi Indian painted by Eckhout above. Piso traveled on the same expedition as Eckhout and fellow painter Frans Post, serving as a physician.|
For more on these beautiful paintings, see Rebecca Parker Brienen's Visions of Savage Paradise (2007). Charles Boxer's monograph The Dutch in Brazil is unfortunately out of print, but Benjamin Schmidt's Innocence Abroad: the Dutch Imagination and the New World (2006) is a great general survey of Dutch empire and observation in the seventeenth century Americas - highly recommended. Tweet