Post accompanied Count Johan Maurits of Nassau-Siegen when he served as governor for the West India Company in northeastern Brazil (1637–44). The artist’s drawings became the basis for the first illustrated book on Brazil (Amsterdam, 1647) and for the exotic landscapes he painted back in his native Haarlem. Rare as an iguana or a cactus to Dutch eyes was Post’s ability to describe foreign plants, animals, and other sights in great detail (native huts and ships appear in the distance) and—at the same time—land and sky as momentary glimpses of infinity.
This large painting by Post is remarkable for its excellent state of preservation and for its exceptional quality. It was painted in the artist's native Haarlem in 1650, about six years after he returned from his long stay in Brazil, where he was employed by the governor of the Dutch colony, Johan Maurits, Count of Nassau-Siegen. For Post, a painter of sweeping vistas, the timing of his return to Holland could hardly have been better. The second half of the 1640s was the beginning of a golden age for this kind of view.
At least a dozen different plants are carefully described in the repoussoir of vegetation that fills the right foreground, providing refuge for an iguana. The inclusion of an iguana, anteater, or armadillo in the foreground is common in Post's oeuvre. Georg Marcgraf (1610–1643/44), a naturalist, was the artist's companion on expeditions, and their mutual interests are recorded in many pictures by Post. The river valley in the Museum's painting probably corresponds with a view that Post recorded in a drawing, but it would be difficult to identify the location today. A good number of Post's pictures show native Brazilians traveling on foot, as depicted here, occasionally in the company of Europeans.
[2011; adapted from Liedtke 2007]
Inscription: Signed and dated (right, on papaya tree): F POST / 1650
Popper, Prague (in 1946); E. Kellner, Rio de Janeiro (in 1947); E. Rais, Rio de Janeiro (until 1948); Octales Marcondes Ferreira, São Paulo (1948–at least 1973); [Noortman & Brod, New York, until 1981; sold to MMA]
Rio de Janeiro. Museu de Arte Moderna. "Os Pintores de Maurício de Nassau," May 21–July 7, 1968, no. 17 (as "Paisagem Fluvial," lent by O. Marcondes Ferreira, São Paulo).
Haus der Kunst München. "Frans Post (1612–1680): Maler des Verlorenen Paradieses," June 2–September 17, 2006, no. 8 (as "Brasilianische Landschaft mit Tupi-Indianern").
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Age of Rembrandt: Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art," September 18, 2007–January 6, 2008, no catalogue.
Joaquim de Sousa Leão, filho. Frans Post. São Paulo, 1948, p. 99, no. 11, ill. p. 46, as in the collection of O. Marcondes Ferreira, São Paulo.
Argeu Guimarães. "Na Holanda, com Frans Post." Revista do Instituto Histórico e Geográfico Brasileiro 235 (April–June 1957), p. 258, no. 69, as in the collection of O. Marcondes Ferreira, São Paulo.
Erik Larsen. Frans Post. Amsterdam, 1962, p. 187, no. 15.
Joaquim de Sousa-Leão. Frans Post, 1612–1680. Amsterdam, 1973, p. 65, no. 14, ill., as in the O. Marcondes Ferreira collection, São Paulo; calls it "an unusual setting for Post"; gives provenance information.
Walter A. Liedtke inThe Metropolitan Museum of Art: Notable Acquisitions, 1981–1982. New York, , pp. 41–42, ill.
Walter A. Liedtke. "Frans Post at the Met and in General." Tableau 4 (January–February 1982), pp. 350–51, ill. (color).
Peter C. Sutton. A Guide to Dutch Art in America. Grand Rapids, Mich., 1986, p. 191.
Frederik J. Duparc inThe Dictionary of Art. Ed. Jane Turner. Vol. 25, New York, 1996, p. 326, calls it "one of his most successful compositions of [the] period".
Pedro Corrêa do Lago inFrans Post: Le Brésil à la cour de Louis XIV. Exh. cat., Musée du Louvre, Paris. Milan, 2005, p. 23, fig. III.10 (color).
León Krempel. Frans Post (1612–1680): Maler des Verlorenen Paradieses. Exh. cat., Haus der Kunst München. Petersberg, Germany, 2006, pp. 21, 24, 78–80, 133, 147, no. 8, ill. (color).
Pedro Corrêa do Lago and Bia Corrêa do Lago. Frans Post (1612–1680): Catalogue Raisonné. Milan, 2007, pp. 9, 42–43, 73, 128, 194, 339, no. 13, ill. pp. 128–29 (color, overall and detail), call it "among the most successful and original pictures of Post's second phase".
George Gordon inFrans Post (1612–1680): Catalogue Raisonné. Milan, 2007, p. 73.
Esmée Quodbach. "The Age of Rembrandt: Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 65 (Summer 2007), pp. 22, 62, fig. 72 (color).
Walter Liedtke. Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2007, vol. 1, pp. 532–34, no. 137, colorpl. 137, fig. 121 (color detail).