Frans Post. Animals in Brazil

October 7 2016 to January 8 2017

In collaboration with Naturalis Biodiversity Center in Leiden, the Rijksmuseum presents from 7 October the exhibition 'Frans Post. Animals in Brazil'.

With Stuffed Animals from the Naturalis Biodiversity Center in Leiden

In 1636 the artist Frans Post travelled to the Dutch colony of Brazil in the retinue of its governor, Johan Maurits of Nassau. For seven years the Brazilian flora and fauna inspired many of his works of art. The Rijksmuseum is showing his Brazilian landscapes and preliminary sketches, along with dozens of stuffed animals on special loan from the Naturalis Biodiversity Center in Leiden. Thirty-four animal drawings by Post make their first public appearance. These completely unknown studies were recently discovered at the Noord-Hollands Archief in Haarlem.

post View on Olinda, Brasil, Frans Jansz. Post, 1662


In 1636 the Haarlem-born artist Frans Post (1612-1680) travelled to the Dutch colony of Brazil in the retinue of the governor Johan Maurits of Nassau-Siegen, who had been charged with securing the new colony and making it even more profitable by increasing the number of sugar plantations. The governor took a group of artists and scientists with him, among them Frans Post, to record the landscape, the inhabitants and the flora and fauna. The country continued to inspire Post when he got back to the Netherlands in 1644, and he carried on painting Brazilian landscapes, which sold very well.

Special loans

With a retrospective of six paintings, preliminary sketches, a wall map, and real (stuffed) animals, the Rijksmuseum will show how Frans Post encountered and immortalized this fascinating new world. There are loans from the Louvre, Paris, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, and the Fundação Estudar, São Paulo.

Discovered drawings

jaguar Jaguar, Frans Post (1612–1680), watercolor and gouache, with pen and black ink, over graphite, c. 1638–43. Noord-Hollands Archief, Haarlem, 53004667A special loan comes from the Noord-Hollands Archief, a public collection in Haarlem. In the course of a digitization project the curator of the image collection, Alexander de Bruin, stumbled upon thirty-four completely unknown drawings by Frans Post. That the native flora and fauna depicted in Post’s paintings must have been based on original drawings made in Brazil was always suspected. Until now, however, not a single animal or plant study from his hand was known. The animal studies provide the missing link between Post's seven-year Brazilian adventure and the paintings he produced on his return to Haarlem.

Families and children

The exhibition is especially suitable for young visitors and ther families. The renovation of the Naturalis Biodiversity Center in Leiden has given the Rijksmuseum the unique opportunity to display a large number of stuffed animals for this exhibition. They include a white-lipped peccary, a porcupine, a nine-banded armadillo, a capybara, a jaguar, a giant anteater, a sloth and a water opossum. During weekends and holidays children are welcome to explore and sketch animals in an art studio.

rio View of the Rio São Francisco Brazil with Fort Maurits and a capibara, Frans Post, 1639. Musée du Louvre Parijs

Catalogue | Frans Post. Animals in Brazil 80 blz. ISBN 978-94-91714-91-7 (€19,95 | English)

Symposium On 22 November 2016, the Rijksmuseum will hold an international symposium devoted to the discovery, jointly chaired by Jane Turner and leading Frans Post scholar Pedro Corrêa do Lago. With speeches by lezingen van Alexander de Bruin, Frits Duparc, Quentin Buvelot, Oscar Hefting and Rebecca Parker Brienen.

Frans Post. Animals in Brazil runs from 7 October 2016 to 8 January 2017 in the Rijksmuseum’s Philips Wing. The exhibition is organised in collaboration with Naturalis Biodiversity Center in Leiden and the Noord-Hollands Archief in Haarlem. Made possible by ING and Zabawas Foundation.