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Eckhout, Alberto

Date Born.:

Painter and draughtsman

Eckhout, Alberto

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Last update: 05/09/2013

By: Lúcia Gaspar - Librarian of the Fundação Joaquim Nabuco

The painter and draughtsman Alberto van der Eckhout was possibly born in 1610 in Groningen, the Netherlands, to real estate broker Albert Ekhout and Marryen Reoleffs.

There is little biographical data about the painter before his stay in Brazil. He probably began the art of painting being guided by his uncle, the painter Gheert Roeleffs.

In 1636, he was invited by Count Maurice of Nassau to join him on his mission to Brazil (1637-1644), with the task of portraying the Brazilian fauna, flora and people. Eckhout remained in the company of Nassau throughout the eight years of his presence in Brazil.

During this period,he produced about 400 drawings and sketches, resulting from the direct observation of live specimens made on his travels around Brazil and at the botanical garden created by Nassau at the Fribourg Palace, built in Recife, Pernambuco.
Eckhout became known mainly for his collection of oil paintings on Brazilian motifs. He portrayed black people, Indians and mestizos of Brazil in the seventeenth century, and still life paintings with tropical fruits and vegetables grown or cultivated in Brazilians oil. He also drew numerous sketches of plants and animals.

Among his best known paintings are: Tarairiu Indian Man (266x159cm); Tarairiu Indian Woman (264x159cm); Tupi Indian (269x170cm); Tupi Woman with Child (265x157cm); Brazilian Mulatto (268x165cm); Mameluca (169x170), Black Woman with Child (270x180cm ) Black Warrior (264x162cm) and the large panel The Dance of Tapuias, the largest and most famous of Eckhout’swork (168x294cm) depicting a ritual of the Tarairius (Tapuias)Indians from Rio Grande do Norte.

All these works were donated by Nassau to his cousin Frederick III, King of Denmark, in 1654, and today belong to the National Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen.

In 1642, Eckhout made a trip to Chile and returned with Nassau to Groningen in 1644, where he joined the city’s painter’s guild.

In 1645, he married Annetgen Jansen Wigboldi and moved to Amersfoort, east of Amsterdam.

In 1653, he went to work in Dresden, Germany, where by an appointment from Nassau, he was hired as court painter to George II.

In 1663, he went back to live in Groningen and died around 1665.

In 1679, Nassau presented Louis XIV, king of France, with a series of postcards from Eckhout and other painters, which were transformed into tapestries bythe Gobelins Manufactory.

Eckhout’s works before and after his stay in Brazil remains mysterious. There is no known pre-Brazilian painting, and the authorship of the work that can be attributed to him after his return to Holland is debatable.
Emperor Dom Pedro II, in a visit to the National Museum in Copenhagen in 1876, ordered copiesof some of the Eckhout paintings in smaller dimensions, which were made by the painter-copyist Niels Aagaard Lützen. These copies were incorporated at the time to the collection of the Historical and Geographical Institute of Brazil, in Rio de Janeiro.

In 2002, the works of Albert Eckhout belonging to the National Museum of Denmark returned to Brazil for the first time, for the exhibition Portraits of the New World: the legacy of Albert Eckhout,held by the Ricardo Brennand Institute, in Recife.




Recife, 26 july 2004.
(Updated on 25 august 2009).
Translated by Peter Leamy, March 2012.

sources consulted

SCHAEFFER, Enrico. Um pintor holandês no Brasil (1637-1644). Anais do Museu Histórico Nacional, Rio de Janeiro, v. 20, p. 17-84, 1968.

SILVA, Leonardo Dantas. Albert Eckhout, retratista de Maurício de Nassau. Notícia Bibliográfica e Histórica, Campinas, SP, ano 35, n. 189, p. 179-194, abr./jun. 2003.

VALLADARES, Clarival do Prado; MELLO FILHO, Luiz Emygdio. Albert Eckhout: pintor de Maurício de Nassau no Brasil, 1637-1644. Rio de Janeiro: Livroarte, 1981.


how to quote this text

Source: GASPAR, Lúcia. Alberto Eckhout. Pesquisa Escolar Online, Joaquim Nabuco Foudation, Recife. Available at:  <>. Accessed: day month year. Exemple: 6 Aug. 2009