Visions of Savage Paradise
Visions of Savage Paradise
Albert Eckhout, Court Painter in Colonial Dutch Brazil
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Table of Contents - 7 Acknowledgments - 10 Introduction - 12 1 Albert Eckhout (ca. 1607-1665/6): Portrait and Still-life Painter at Johan Maurits's Brazilian Court - 28 2 ‘To Reproduce Nature Itself as Perfectly as Possible’: The Brazilian Natural History Drawings of Albert Eckhout - 48 3 Cannibalizing America: From the Ethnographic Impulse to the Ethnographic Portrait - 74 4 Between the Savage and the Civilized: Eckhout’s Brasilianen and Tapuyas - 96 5 Black, Brown, and Yellow: Eckhout’s Paintings of Africans, Mestizos, and Mulattos - 132 6 Eckhout’s Paintings: Location and Interpretation - 172 Conclusion - 202 Colour Plates - 209 Appendix A: Chronological Overview of Albert Eckhout’s Life - 227 Appendix B: Works of Art by Albert Eckhout - 229 Notes - 232 Bibliography - 267 Index of Names - 280 General Index - 283 List of Illustrations - 287

Reviews and Features

Rebecca Parker Brienen's splendid Visions of Savage Paradise gives us much to be grateful for. It provides a thorough and imaginative study of Albert Eckhout's Brazilian paintings and oil studies; it tackles several important questions pertaining to colonial art and empire; and it explores such rich topics as "scientific" illustration, ethnographic representation, and colonial display. Not least, it brings together in one volume far-flung images from Copenhagen, Krakow, Dresden, and Berlin, along with superb graphic material from seventeenth-century imprints--all excellently reproduced. This is a learned and rewarding book sure to interest scholars of colonial and visual studies, Dutch Golden Age art, and early modern history. Benjamin Schmidt School for Historical Studies Princeton University Rebecca Parker Brienen's Visions of Savage Paradise is undoubtedly the most significant study to date of Albert Eckhout's fascinating depictions of Brazlian imagery. For Eckhout's paintings and drawings of this subject matter have long baffled art historians and ethnographers alike. As Parker Brienen amply demonstrates, the artist's Brazilian representations have been traditionally viewed as ricordi, a perspective that raises more questions than it answers. By contextualizing the material within the broader framework of the early modern European understanding of non-European peoples in general and the Dutch experiences in Brazil in particular, Parker Brienen arrives at a much more nuanced and, ultimately, convincing analysis of Eckhout's seemingly enigmatic work. Thus, her book should enjoy a wide readership, engaging not only lay persons but scholars representing a host of different disciplines. Wayne Franits Professor and Chair Department of Fine Arts Syracuse University Brienen’s study meets a vital need in the scholarship on seventeenth-century Dutch art, one that has grown more urgent as the interest in Eckhout has increased in recent years. She examines his significant pictorial record of early modern Dutch Brazil, from the stunning natural history drawings recently rediscovered in Krakow to the still lifes and provocative life-size figures. Usefully placing Eckhout’s figural representations into the longer context of European representations of indigenous Americans and Africans, she critically re-examines past interpretations of this important painting cycle, particularly with regard to the notion of a hierarchy of relative civility, and evaluates new evidence to argue for its disposition within Johan Maurits’ palace of Frijburg in the colony’s capital city of Mauritsstad. The book provides a fuller and even almost poignant understanding of the role of these paintings for the governor-general who commissioned the works, then gave them away to his cousin the King of Denmark in 1654 when the Dutch colony was lost to the Portuguese, and finally in his last years asked for them back, nostalgically recalling the former days of his much-vaunted colonial enterprise. Julie Berger Hochstrasser Associate Professor Early Modern Northern European Art School of Art and Art History The University of Iowa

Rebecca Brienen

Visions of Savage Paradise

Albert Eckhout, Court Painter in Colonial Dutch Brazil

Visions of Savage Paradise is the first major book-length study of the Dutch artist Albert Eckhout to be published since 1938. This book, which draws extensively on the author’s doctoral dissertation, examines the fascinating works of art produced by Eckhout while he was court painter in Dutch Brazil to the German count Johan Maurits van Nassau-Siegen.

Johan Maurits, who was colonial governor from 1637-1644 of the Dutch West India Company’s Brazilian colony, supported the study and representation of natural history as part of a program to document the different peoples and natural resources present in the colony. As part of this project, Eckhout created life-size paintings of Amerindians, Africans, and peoples of mixed “racial” background for display in Vrijburg, the governor’s palace. He also made still-life paintings and hundreds of chalk sketches and oil studies on paper of the “savage”peoples, plants, and animals of his new Brazilian home.

In this study, the author provides a careful analysis of these works of art, framing them with a discussion of contemporary artistic practices in the Dutch Republic. Nonetheless, the primary focus of this book is the function of these works within their original colonial context. As the author makes clear, the creation, use, and display of the Brazilian paintings and drawings by Albert Eckhout strengthened Johan Maurits’s position as a colonial and cultural leader.

This work will not only be of interest to students and scholars of seventeenth-century Dutch art, but it will also be an important resource for those interested in visual anthropology and the history of the WIC.
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Rebecca Brienen

Rebecca Parker Brienen is an Assistant Professor of Art History at the University of Miami. She has received fellowships from the Fulbright Foundation and the Kress Foundation. Her publications on early modern visual culture include articles and catalog essays on the German naturalist-illustrator Georg Macgraf and the Dutch artists Frans Post and Albert Eckhout. In addition to a new project on images of slavery in the Caribbean in the 18th century, she is currently editing a collection of essays on images of the Conquest of Mexico.