The Foreign Crave: The Afro-Atlantic presence in 17th-Century Netherlandish paintings, 1600-1700
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This research aims to come to a closer understanding of the perception of Afro-Atlantic individuals by the Dutch public through a visual analysis of their depictions in a selection of Dutch painting. For this paper we will ask: How do Afro-Atlantic individuals function amongst other commodities in portraiture, genre painting, and history painting in the seventeenth-century Low Countries? Along with the formal/visual description of paintings, this research will investigate the iconographic context of certain objects represented in compositions, in order to come to a closer understanding of the object/paintings’ meaning. This research has led to a number of conclusions partially based on the category. Firstly and specifically for genre and portrait paintings, depicting African individuals alongside the assortment of objects in many of the compositions, overall convey a noticeably foreign image/identity, which the Dutch are fascinated by. Another conclusion is that, in many of portraits and genre paintings, the African individual was occasionally depicted as the servant to a white sitter. A key reason for this was to enhance the beauty and/or wealth of the sitter. A separate reason for this pairing may have been because of an artistic interest to depict the contrast of the white sitter, and African servant’ skin.