Gerrit Schouten (1779-1839) was born in Paramaribo, the capital of Surinam, then a Dutch colony. Schouten’s father, Hendrik Schouten, was a Dutchman and a prominent member of the local administration; his mother was Suzanna Hanssen, a Surinamese. Gerrit taught himself to paint. He produced portraits, vivid watercolours and studies of plants and animals. He made his name with a series of dioramas: flat boxes containing perspective, three-dimensional painted depictions. The themes that Gerrit Schouten depicted included Native American camps, slave dances, city and plantation views. These dioramas form a significant source of historical and topographical information about Surinam in the early 19th century.