King of Kongo Receiving Dutch Ambassadors, 1642

Click on the image to open a larger version in a new window.
previous image return to thumbnails next image

If you are interested in using this image, please consult Acknowledging the Website.

Image Reference

D. O. Dapper, Description de l'Afrique . . . Traduite du Flamand (Amsterdam,1686; 1st ed., 1668), p. 353. (Copy in the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University; also, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, LC-USZ62-30842)

Caption, "comment le roy de congo donne audience aux ambassadeurs (how the king of congo gives an audience to ambassadors)." Dapper describes how, in 1642, the King received Dutch emissaries: "The King was in a chapel built of thick earth that was covered with leaves and greenery. A copper chandelier with many arms holding lit candles was suspended from the middle of this little building and illuminated all of it. The King was wearing a gold brocade robe and wore three thick gold chains around his neck; he wore a carbuncle on his right thumb and two larger emeralds on his left hand. A gold cross was attached to the left sleeve of his robe . . . . At his sides were two pages . . . . The throne was an arm chair of velvet and on it was embroidered 'Don Alvarez King of Congo' . . ." (Dapper, p. 352; our translation). In an informed discussion of Dapper as an historical source, Adam Jones writes "there is virtually no evidence" that Dapper "took much interest in what sort of visual material was to accompany his text," and that it was the publisher, Van Meurs, "who probably did all the engraving himself." With respect to the plates, in particular, Jones concludes: "For those interested in seventeenth-century black Africa rather than in the history of European perceptions, few of the plates showing human beings and artefacts are of any value . . . . [and] originated solely from Van Meurs' imagination . . . .[although] they have been used as historical evidence in modern works" (Decompiling Dapper: A Preliminary Search for Evidence (History in Africa [1990], vol. 17, pp. 187-190).