Pieter Cnoll, Batavian Senior Merchant
Painted by Jacob Coeman in 1665, this painting depicts Pieter Cnoll, his Eurasian wife Cornelia van Nijenrode, their two daughters, and two enslaved servants. Cnoll was a senior merchant of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) in Batavia (present-day Jakarta), which was the center of Dutch operations in Asia. His wife, Cornelia, was the daughter of a VOC merchant and a Japanese courtesan. Situated in an idyllic setting, the family is dressed in opulent clothing and jewelry which highlights their wealth and status. The family's opulence is sharply contrasted with the plain clothes of the two enslaved persons in the background of the painting. The family portrait provides a window into the complex world of social intermixture in Dutch maritime Asia.
Jacob Coeman, Pieter Cnoll, Cornelia van Nijenrode, their Daughters and Two Enslaved Servants, 1665. SK-A-4062, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.
Annotated by Raymond Hyser