Albert Eckhout

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African Woman

Albert Eckhout (c.1610–1665) was a Dutch portrait and still life painter. Eckhout, who was born in Groningen, was among the first European artists to paint scenes from the New World. In 1636 he traveled to Dutch Brazil, where he stayed until 1644, invited by count John Maurice, Prince of Nassau-Siegen.[1] There, he painted portraits of the natives, slaves and mulattos of Brazil in the seventeenth century, besides numerous sketches of plants and animals.[2]

Still Life with Watermelons, Pineapple and Other Fruit

Eckhout is also famous for his still-life paintings of Brazilian fruits and vegetables. The majority of his work is now stored at the National Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen. In art history, he is taken to be part of Baroque. Minor planet 11241 Eckhout is named for him.

Dutch Brazil[edit]

Mameluca woman (1641-44)

John Maurice, Prince of Nassau-Siegen took the painters Albert Eckhout and Frans Post to Dutch Brazil to have them record the country's landscape, inhabitants, flora and fauna. Eckhout focused on the people, plants and animals. For this, he created eight life-size representations of Brazil's inhabitants, twelve still lifes and a large piece of dancing natives. For many Europeans, these works were their first introduction to the New World.


While Post was focusing on painting maps and landscapes, Eckhout made pieces about the inhabitants and still lifes with fruits and vegetables.[1] His work is said to give the first realistic image of the native population, part of the Tupi and Tapuia tribes. The Tupis were regarded as the natives who were the closest to the Europeans; in the pieces, they are clothed and pose in a cultivated environment. The Tapuya dance, performed by eight Tapuia Indians with their characteristic mushroom hair style, cudgels and spears, deals with the preparation for the confrontation with the enemy. This picture was much more in accordance with the mental image of the natives back in Europe.

Still lifes[edit]

For a couple of reasons, the series of twelve still-life paintings by Albert Eckhout are unique. First, they show Brazil's abundant crops and second, these are the only known still-life paintings from the seventeenth century showing an overcast sky in the background.

Tapuias dancing


  1. ^ a b Maria Burguete, Lui Lam (2011). Arts: A Science Matter, Vol. 2. World Scientific. p. 53. ISBN 981-4324-93-0. 
  2. ^ See Ernst van den Boogaart's article in The Slave in European Art: From Renaissance Trophy to Abolitionist Emblem, ed Elizabeth McGrath and Jean Michel Massing, London (The Warburg Institute) and Turin 2012.

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