Allegory of America

Nicolaes Berchem Dutch

Not on view

This drawing served as a model for an engraved title page in the second volume of an atlas on the Americas, Joan Blaeu’s Atlas Maior (Amsterdam, 1662). Berchem, a prolific draftsman and painter who specialized in landscapes, reconfigured the New World allegory for a Dutch context by including a detailed setting alluding to trade and religion. At the indigenous woman’s feet, another native pours out gold. A salamander and gold bars suggest the exoticism and riches associated with the Americas. Background scenes show the metal being mined, carried, and transported on a European vessel. Up in the clouds, European allegories convert natives to Christianity and battle the devil.

Allegory of America, Nicolaes Berchem (Dutch, Haarlem 1621/22–1683 Amsterdam), Black chalk, brush, black ink, gray wash. Incised for transfer.

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