Frans Janz Post was born in Haarlem, Holland, in 1612. Some authors claim that Post was born in Leyden, however, according to Joaquim de Souza Leão,baptism records found at Haarlem Cathedral prove that he was a native of that city.
Little is known about his education. It is not known which schools he studied at, or where he learned to paint. Perhaps he attended the workshops of the Dutch landscapists of the time.
He was the son of Jan Janszoon Post, a renowned glass painter, and brother of Pieter Jansz Post, the private architect of Count Maurice of Nassau.
Frans Post was part of Nassau’s entourage to Brazil, along with Albert Eckhoutand some naturalists. As a landscapist, he was charged with documenting the topography, civil and military architecture, naval battle scenes and lands of the New World.
He was not only the first Brazilian landscapist, but also the first landscapist in the Americas. He painted Brazilian landscapes, principally in Pernambuco, portraying forts, cities, towns, plantations, villages, rivers and forests, with sparse characters.
During the seven years he spent in Brazil, he acted as the living memory of Maurice of Nassau, accompanying him in all of his travels and military campaigns. He resided at the Fribourg Palace, or the Palace of the Towers, and all indicates that he became a close friend of the Count-Governor.
Little is known about Frans Post’s work before his stay in Brazil. It is believed that he is the author of 18 paintings, painted during the time he was in the country, but only seven of them can be viewed today; eleven have disappeared.
Among the most well-known, the following stand out: Ilha de Itamaracá (Itamaracá Island) (1637); O rio São Francisco e o forte Maurício (The São Francisco River and Fort Maurício)(1638); Paisagem de Porto Calvo(Port Calvo Landscape) (1639);Forte Ceulen, no Rio Grande (Fort Ceulen, on the Grande River) (1639); Forte Frederick Hendrick(1640).
In 1644, he returned to Holland, parting with Nassau, but continued painting Brazilian themes based on his sketches and designs done in Brazil, adding exotic elements of the tropical fauna and flora.
In 1646, he entered into the Guild of St Luke (Luckasgilde),where he was director and later treasurer.
He married JannetyeBogaert on 27 March 1650, who died on 7 August 1664, leaving him with three living children: Anthoni, Jan and Rachel.
For the study of his work, four important periods stand out: the first corresponds to the seven years he spent in Brazil; the second to the period immediately after his return to Holland (1644-1659); the third (1659/60-1669), which was the most productive, the height of his career; and the fourth which corresponds to a period of artistic and personal decline (1669-1679).
From 1660 to 1669, at the height of his commercial career, he did not risk new compositions, always returning to the same themes. His current known production is constituted exclusively of paintings with Brazilian themes.
He lived his final years in relative obscurity, giving himself over to drink and without the ability to create. His final work is dated 1669, eleven years before his death.
There is information that in 1679, a year before his death, consumed by alcoholism, Post was in a decrepit state.
Frans Post died on 18 February 1680, being buried in Haarlem.
The Ricardo Brennand Institute in Recife possesses fifteen paintings by Post. Its collection is considered the largest in the world. It is the only institution that has been able to gather pieces for all the phases of the Dutch painter’s career.
Recife, 30 july 2004.
(updated on 28 august 2009).
Translated by Peter Leamy, February 2012.
BARATA, Mário. Tricentenário de Frans Post. Revista do Arquivo Público,Recife, v.33-34, n.35-36, p.71-74, 1979-1980.
LAGO, Bia Corrêa do (Org). Frans Post e o Brasil holandês na coleção do Instituto Ricardo Brennand:catálogo da exposição. Recife: Instituto Ricardo Brennand, 2003.
SOUSA-LEÃO FILHO, Joaquim de. Frans Post, 1612-1680. Rio de Janeiro: Civilização Brasileira, 1948.
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Source: GASPAR, Lúcia. Frans Post. Pesquisa Escolar Online, Joaquim Nabuco Foudation, Recife. Available at: <http://basilio.fundaj.gov.br/pesquisaescolar/>. Accessed: day month year. Exemple: 6 Aug. 2009