African Man with Weapons, Brazil, ca. 1641


Titled, Omem Negro (a corruption, according to the translators, of the Portuguese homen negro [black man]). These blacks, Wagener writes, are brought to Brazil, from the neighboring and adjacent territories to Guinea, Angola, Cape Verde, the Congo river and others, taken from their home regions. They have great wars between themselves, using swords, shields, and long assagai . . . . Most are sold to the Portuguese . . . who immediately bring hundreds of them to Brazil to trade them for a high price with the wealthy sugar factory owners (vol. 2, p. 174). Wagener/Wagner was a German mercenary for the Dutch West India Company. In 1634, at the age of about 20, he went to northeastern Brazil where he stayed for 7 years. He probably copied this painting from one done in 1641 by Albert Eckhout/Eeckhout, a Dutch painter who lived in Brazil from 1637 to 1644 (R. P. Brienen, Visions of Savage Paradise [Amsterdam, 2006] p. 130). The Eckhout painting is published in Antonio Riserio, Uma Historia de Cidade da Bahia (Salvador, Bahia, 2000), p. 121; the original hangs in the National Museum of Denmark, Copenhagen. See also image NW0319 on this website. (Thanks to Ana-Lucia Araujo for her help.)


C. Ferrao and J. P. Soares, eds., Dutch Brazil, The "Thierbuch" and "Autobiography" of Zacharias Wagener; D.H. Treece and R. Trewinnard, English translators (Rio de Janeiro, Editora Index, 1997), vol. 2, p. 173, plate 97."


Wagener, Zacharias

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