The Old Portuguese Fort of the Three Kings (1638)

Post, Frans (1612-1680)

The Old Portuguese Fort of the Three Kings or Fort Ceulen, at the mouth of the Rio Grande, Brazil
Oil on canvas, 62 x 95 cm
Musée du LouvreParis

The sea is on the left, the river (the Rio Grande) on the right. The Portuguese fort (located in present-day Natal, capital of the state of Rio Grande do Norte), 250 km north of the city of Recife, was conquered in 1633 by the Dutch admiral Matthias van Ceulen. Site authenticated by the engraving of the work of Barlaeus (1647), almost identical to the INV. 1726, except for the Tapuya Indians, in the foreground, further away and more numerous in the engraving. Note that the INV. 1726 is titled in the Villot Inventory in the middle of the 19th century. Fort Saint Georges de Lamina (Elmina, Ghana), no doubt by allusion to Post‘s return from Africa in 1644 and by contamination of African views of Post known from the engravings of Barlaeus, see below. The date of 1638 may allude to the meeting of Jean-Maurice, at Fort Ceulen, that year, with a delegation of Indians (which the engraving already quoted from 1647 actually represents), or may also relate to the date of a preparatory drawing or that of the completion of the painting. Table of a series of paintings (18 according to Corrêa do Lago, or 22 if we refer to the Brazilian views engraved and published by Barlaeus), very probably executed on site and kept from the outset by Jean-Maurice, to whom belong also the INVs. 17271729, clearly distinguishable by size and style (more monochrome palette) from the late series of INV. 17221725. This first, and finest, Brazilian series undoubtedly had a palatial destination (Corrêa do Lago [2007], p. 53), linked to the decor of the palace of the prince-governor, the Vrijburg on the island of Vaz, opposite Recife, current capital of Pernambuco, evoking the Dutch conquests in Brazil, and was repatriated to Holland when Jean-Maurice returned from Brazil in 1644. (Louvre)

See also:

• Brasil