Afbeelding uit 'Het land van de suikermolen'

The travels of Johann Moritz Van Nassau in Brazil

Bij Wbooks a nice book About the conquest of part of Portuguese Brazil by Johann Moritz van Nassau Siegen, the Al Orange family. The special thing about this short-range possession was that Moritz not only allowed guns to speak, but also his performers. They had to paint on his behalf this strange world in the West, show it and present it so attractively that investors in that wealthy republic of the Seven Provinces would paint the stock market and be backed by statesmen. Under his auspices, painters and painters traveled the newly won area, but also reclaimed the eastern coastal region of Brazil and captured nature, people, sugar mills, and landscapes at minimal cost.

Of course he worked to legitimize this conquest and the man who employed them. In short, their action justified this violent takeover, and thus makes it understandable with pen and paper what the admirals and generals had acquired with their weapons.

In six chapters and about 120 pages, historian Ernst van den Bogart tells the story of those military, scientific and artistic campaigns. This is done in a solid, albeit somewhat fascinating, scientific way that many facts are thrown at the negotiating table. The book contains charming images of all these artworks, so much of what these artistic conquerors noticed and photographed can be enjoyed. The conclusion that this has essentially become a book of presentation does not detract from the appreciation of the text. But first to the what, who, and why of this history. This could not be otherwise, because Van den Bogart is the guest curator of the exhibition in Mauritshuis in The Hague about Johan Moritz van Nassau, or the Brazilian.

2 pages of wbooks

In the early 17th century, the young republic awakened a longing for a heartfelt bite from the colonies of its enemies, the Spaniards and the Portuguese, who were still united in one kingdom. One of the most important successes was the conquest of part of Portuguese Brazil. There, sugar production actually began in the last century and was so successful that these plantations dominated the world market. Sugar was popular for all kinds of purposes: for medicines, as a seasoning for meat and fish, as a preservative; In order to decorate. Sprinkle sugar in the lettuce dressing. There were sugary animals, and sugar gave energy, comfort, strength, and of course sugar was the sweetener. Today, sugar also refers to tooth decay, diabetes, and obesity. Today, the sugar carts run with an incorrect but convincing slogan: Sugar is a natural product.. The 17th century gourmand did not yet know all these dangers.

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Image from 'Sugar Mill Land'
Photo from “Sugar Mill Land” (Books)


On Portuguese plantations in the new colony, many slaves worked, or, as the author writes, “a workforce imported from Africa”. Four out of five African slaves initially worked in the sugar regions where the Portuguese exploited the plantations. In addition to the sugar plantations, there were businesses of tobacco, coffee and cotton. All of these companies operate in the foreign market. Each sugar plantation had its own mill, in which juice was squeezed from the cane and fed into copper pans. In one cookhouse, this juice was reduced to a thick liquid, which was dried in clay pans and stored in a drying house as the liquids crystallized into sugar. After a few months, it was taken out of the clay briquettes, packed as sugar loaves, and shipped to Europe.

And so the sugar plantation was a farm and a factory in one. He lived on the plantations a new community of “whites, negroes, mulattos and Indians”, in which more and more colorful people communicated with each other at that time. But the contemporary also spoke of free men, freedmen, and slaves. Van de Bogart writes about the use of words at the time, although he could deal with the objections against it. To describe the term “slaves” is incorrect: after all, many slaves were born as slaves, even before they were taken in Africa or later in America.

The West India Company (WIC) tried to control Portuguese plantations since 1624. Bahia was occupied but abandoned a year later. A second attempt followed in 1630, when Recife was captured. Only six years later, in 1636, the hinterland, Pernambuco, Itamarca and Paribas, were conquered. Johan Moritz van Nassau Siegen was (in fact) appointed governor of Dutch Brazil, thanks to family ties. Now, sugar production disrupted by the war is back on track, and as a result, WIC begins the slave trade. The protests in the republic against the slave trade, initially seen as something of the Portuguese’s affair, disappeared like a piece of sugar in a cup of tea. Moritz will return to the Republic after two terms in office. The Portuguese then revolted, and the company fought back ten years ago, but then surrendered with the end of the WIC adventure.

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Image from 'Sugar Mill Land'
Photo from “Sugar Mill Land” (Books)


This book is less concerned with this political-military context than it is with cultural appropriation. Morris came and looked again and described. The ruler brought with him a whole group of skilled and learned collaborators who surveyed, described, and mapped that new land. This is how his people did – and it may be inevitable – in terms of their employer and their time. This resulted in a number of important artistic and scientific works in which Moritz could make international progress. Colonial intentions were imposed on him. However, this artwork has survived through the centuries and gives an early picture of the colony of Brazil, an image we would not have been familiar with that way. You can see art and science as late luck in an early accident.

Who was that? After his return to the Republic, Caspar Barelius described the history of Moritz administration and printed it by the famous publisher and printer Joan Blau. Barelius’s book contained many topographical prints and a beautiful map of the area drawn by the German scholar Georg Markgraf. Court chaplain Franciscus Blunt wrote a Latin eulogy on the Maurice administration. One of them was written by personal physician Willem Piezo The natural history of Brazil, Which is the country’s natural history. Architect Jacob van Campen in Amsterdam designed tapestries based on the visual materials that Moritz brought home. In the decades that followed, these drawings and descriptions found their way into the most important European courts, in Berlin, Copenhagen, Paris, Vienna, Saint Petersburg, and even China. Moritz made sure his Brazilian adventure thanks Advanced Reputation Management He went around the world.

Image from 'Sugar Mill Land'
Photo from “Sugar Mill Land” (Books)

Pleasant places

However we do have the context of this Brazilian adventure and can look at those same artifacts. It must be said that the authors and publishers empty its contents so that, for example, the works of artists such as France Post and Albert Eckhout are beautifully depicted. Their drawings of animals – anteater and jaguar – of sugar mills or beautiful cassava mills (pictured). In Post’s paintings, according to van den Bogart, we always see a “facelift” of reality. Sometimes the “usefulness” of the “Brazilian” was of paramount importance, other times its “newness or lack of knowledge”. His paintings basically showed “places of pleasant,” you had to be crazy not to want to overstep your boundaries there. Implicitly, his paintings value man in order from lowest to highest. Their clothing was an important indicator of their place in the click ranking in this sugar society, the more clothes the scarcity, the lower the ladder. However, Post basically suggested harmony in a multi-ethnic society, as long as everyone knew their place in it.

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With Groningen painter Albert Eckhote, the basic message was not entirely different. This book also provides an engaging representation and interpretation of his work. Husbands became known as husband and wife, who could be thought of as the pars pro toto of entire ethnic groups. This was actually used on the voyage of the first Dutch traveler Jan Huijn van Linshouten in 1595/96. Here, too, the clothes have made the man and the woman, and thus the group they represent as well. Weapons and jewelry spoke of morals and customs, and plants and animals depicted their natural environment. And of course every drawing was also an appraisal, an order of courtesy, which could be gratefully used by the administration in that colony.

Conquest and magic

Land of the sugar mill
Land of the sugar mill

In short, it became a beautiful book showing something of what became an amazing expedition, the conquest of Brazil, funded by benefits it still celebrates. Treasure Fleet Written by Pete Hein and legalized by the curious and scientifically interested modernist Johann Moritz. Who and what these artists and scholars faced in their new country and how did they try to sell and defend it. Thanks to them, we now have glamorous pictures of this time, this place and these people, and thanks to Ernst van den Bogart, we know those pictures aren’t so innocent.

~ Ghost Eskise

Book: Land of the sugar mill
Also interesting: Dutch Brazil (and the beginning of the Dutch slave trade)

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