Landscape with an Episode from the Conquest of America, Jan Jansz Mostaert, c. 1535
Charles v’s Hapsburg empire was a realm on which ‘the sun never set’. It encompassed vast swathes of Europe, including Spain and the Netherlands, as well as parts of Central America and the Caribbean. This is the first painting to show how Spanish soldiers confronted the indigenous population and conquered America.Mostaert depicted the landscape in the tradition of Netherlandish painting, adding exotic elements, such as the unclothed natives and various fauna: parrots, a monkey and a porcupine in the left foreground. In 1604 the picture was the property of the artist’s grandson Niclaes Suycker in Haarlem. It was described at that time by Karel van Mander, the founding father of Dutch art history, as ‘a West-Indian landscape’.