Johan Maurits, Prince of Nassau-Siegen, also known as The Brazilian, served as governor of the Dutch possessions in Brazil from 1637 to 1644. He founded the town of Mauritsstad, commissioned the construction of a splendid palace and led the colony as an enlightened official. Artist Frans Post travelled along with the governors entourage, documenting not only military conquests, but also the exotic flora and fauna. His drawings served as the basis for the scientific book by Casper Barlaeus, commissioned by Johan Maurits, which to this day remains one of the most significant books about Brazil. The Rijksmuseum
exhibits 18 paintings and prints by Post and several of his contemporaries, complemented by a unique presentation of parchment manuscripts from Johan Maurits palace in Brazil.
Post produced approximately 140 paintings during his lifetime. Of these, nearly half are dated, making it possible to track the evolution of his work between 1637, the day he landed in Brazil, and 1669, the date of his last letter. The paintings Post produced while he was in Brazil drastically differ from those he painted after he left Brazil. While he was in Brazil, he produced a large number of sketches and etchings, but only completed six paintings. They are the paintings dated from 16371640, and later presented by Nassau to Louis XIV in 1679.
His Brazilian works strongly resemble the landscapes by his Haarlem contemporaries in terms of composition, style, and technique. Wolfgang Stechow describes Posts landscapes as the old bottle filled with new wine. These works depict specific locations in Dutch Brazil, identifiable because of the representation of recognizable topography and buildings; most also include water. Post includes a selection of Brazilian vegetation, and occasionally features birds and other small animals in the foreground. The skies are a curious gray, seemingly heavy with rain, an aspect that is emphasized by the fact that they take up at least half the canvas. The subdued color scheme, especially when compared to his post-Brazilian production, lends them a somber almost reverential quality characteristic of Dutch tonal landscapes from the 1620s to the 1640s.
Johan Maurits & Frans Post. Two Dutchmen in Brazil will be on display at the Rijksmuseum from 20 September 2011 up to and including 21 November 2011.
With information from wikipedia.org