Portrait of Don Miguel de Castro, Emissary of Congo

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Jaspar Beckx (tidl. tilskrevet) - Don Miguel de Castro, Emissary of Kongo - KMS7 - Statens Museum for Kunst.jpg
Portrait of Don Miguel de Castro, Emissary of Congo
ArtistJasper or Jeronimus Becx
Year1643 (1643)
MediumOil on canvas
Dimensions75 cm × 62 cm (30 in × 24 in)
LocationNational Gallery of Denmark, Copenhagen
Diego Bemba, a Servant of Don Miguel de Castro.
Pedro Sunda, a Servant of Dom Miguel de Castro.

Portrait of Don Miguel de Castro, Emissary of Congo is a 1643 painting by the Dutch Golden Age painter Jasper or Jeronimus Becx. It was earlier attributed to Albert Eckhout.


The painting is a portrait of Don Miguel de Castro, a cousin of the Count of Sonho, who was sent as an envoy to the Dutch Republic to ask the Dutch stadtholder for mediation in a conflict the count had with King Garcia II of Kongo.[1] The Dutch West India Company had conquered Loango-Angola in 1641 from the Portuguese, and they had heavily relied on the assistance of the Count of Sonho.[2][3][4][5]

Don Miguel de Castro travelled with a few servants to the Dutch Republic via Dutch Brazil, where they had been received by Governor John Maurice, Prince of Nassau-Siegen. On 19 June 1643, Don Miguel de Castro arrived in Flushing, where he was received by three directors of the Zealand chamber of the Dutch West India Company, and who provided him with accommodation in Middelburg. Eventually he was sailed by yacht to The Hague on 2 July 1643, where he had an audience with stadtholder Frederick Henry, Prince of Orange.[2]

During his two-week stay in Middelburg, the directors ordered six paintings from Jasper or Jeronimus Becx, comprising two portraits of Don Miguel de Castro, one portrait each of both his servants, a painting "in Portuguese clothes," and a full-length painting in "Congolese dress." Don Miguel de Castro requested to take one of his portraits back to Africa. The paintings were paid for in May 1645.[2]

After John Maurice resigned his governorship of Brazil in early 1644, he visited Middelburg in October 1644 to settle his affairs with the Zealand chamber of the Dutch West India Company. At this occasion, he was given the portrait of Don Miguel de Castro and that of two of his servants.[6]


John Maurice donated the three portraits, together with 20 Brazilian paintings by Albert Eckhout, to King Frederick III of Denmark, which is why the portraits eventually ended up in the collection of the National Gallery of Denmark. Because the portraits were donated together with the Brazilian paintings of Eckhout, the three portraits have been mistakenly attributed to him as well. Documentary evidence clearly suggests the paintings were painted during Don Miguel de Castro's stay in Middelburg. Furthermore, the fact that the paintings were painted on oak wood, which at the time was not readily available in Brazil, clearly suggests that the portraits were painted in Europe.[6]

It is still unclear whether Jasper or his brother Jeronimus Becx painted the portraits. Both worked and lived in Middelburg in 1643.[6]


The Senegalese photographer Omar Victor Diop made a self-portrait in reference to Don Miguel de Castro' portrait for his 2015 exhibition Diaspora.[7] In 2008, Portrait of a Black Man with a Sword was shown in Amsterdam that had previously been associated with this portrait. It has since been shown to be by a different hand but dated to the same period.[8]


  1. ^ LaGamma 2015, p. 74.
  2. ^ a b c Heyning 2008, p. 45.
  3. ^ Meuwese 2012, p. 215.
  4. ^ Van der Ham 2013, pp. 98-99.
  5. ^ Cotter, Holland (12 October 2018). "Brazil Enthralls With an Art Show of Afro-Atlantic History". New York Times. Retrieved 27 January 2019.
  6. ^ a b c Heyning 2008, p. 46.
  7. ^ "Don Miguel de Castro (1643)". omarviktor.com. Retrieved 26 January 2019.
  8. ^ Black is beautiful: Rubens tot Dumas, catalog nr. 73, exhibition & catalog in Nieuwe Kerk Amsterdam, 2008


  • Heyning, Katie (2008). Terug naar Zeeland: topstukken uit de 16e en 17e eeuw. Catalogue of an exhibition held in 2008 in Middelburg. Middelburg: Zeeuws Museum.
  • LaGamma, Alisa (2015). Kongo: Power and Majesty. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art. ISBN 9781588395757.
  • Meuwese, Mark (2012). Brothers in Arms, Partners in Trade: Dutch-indigenous Alliances in the Atlantic World. Leiden, Boston: Brill. ISBN 978-90-04-21083-7.
  • Van der Ham, Gijs (2013). Dof Goud. Nederland en Ghana, 1593–1872. Amsterdam & Nijmegen: Rijksmuseum Amsterdam & Uitgeverij Vanthilt. ISBN 978-94-6004-157-0.