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Pieter Cnoll, Batavian Senior Merchant

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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.... Read More »

Political Cartoon from East Germany

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Twenty-eight years I've had to wait for this day, eh!

Portrait of Gaspar Sánchez

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This seventeenth century painting depicts the Jesuit theologian Gaspar Sánchez. He was born and educated in Spain, but his published works were distributed throughout the Spanish world. For example, the Jesuit library of Tepotzotlán has multiple volumes. Several aspects of this artwork shed light on the identity of Sánchez. The dark clothing he wears are traditional Jesuit robes, and the... Read More »

Portrait of General Artigas

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José Gervasio Artigas Arnal (1764-1850) was a Uruguayan soldier who became a national hero for his contributions to the wars of independence from Spain. He is a celebrated figure in Uruguayan culture, and his name has become ubiquitous throughout the country. For example, one of the main roads in its capital city of Montevideo is Artigas Bulevard. Artist Juan Manuel Blanes painted this... Read More »

Portrait of Hernán Cortés

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Hernán Cortés, a central figure in the establishment of Spanish rule in the Americas, is the subject of this painting. Throughout his career, he led several voyages back and forth between Spain, the Carribean, and Mexico. The Spanish Crown awarded him titles of honor for his efforts, including “Capitán General de las tierras conquistadas” and “Marqués del Valle de Oaxaca.” In the top corner of... Read More »

Portrait of Manuel Mansilla

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This painting depicts Manuel Mansilla, the Alguacil Mayor (sheriff) of the city of Buenos Aires. He held this position from 1795-1821, during a key transitional moment. When he began his tenure, the city belonged to the Viceroyalty of the Rio de la Plata, under Spanish rule. However, by 1821, the region was establishing its independence as the nation of Argentina. The position of Alguacil... Read More »

Ptolemy's World Map

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Ptolemy was an ancient geographer working in Rome in the 2nd century AD. This famous map, that attempted to comprehend the entirety of the known world at the time, came from his popular and influential book "Geographia." Like all maps now, Ptolemy accounted for space in ways that geographers had never done before, based on mathematical calculations, offering coordinates for lands and cities... Read More »

Reason

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To contemporaries who subscribed to the Enlightenment principles, preceding the French Revolution, the term "reason" was to be contrasted to superstition. Even though Christians, too, believed in reason, they also wanted to make room for the possibility of God’s intervention, particularly in miracles. Such exceptions seemed to Enlightenment adherents to conflict with reason, which they argued... Read More »

thumbnail of king of kandy

Reception of the Envoys from Kandy in Colombo

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This is a 1772 image by Carel Frederik Reimer depicting the reception of representatives of the King of Kandy at the Dutch East India Company’s (VOC) governor’s house in Colombo, Ceylon (modern-day Sri Lanka). The Kingdom of Kandy was an independent polity that controlled the central and some eastern portions of the island. The Kandyan and VOC officials are situated around a large table in the... Read More »

Remains of Christopher Colombus

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In October of 1492, the Spanish monarchs sponsored a voyage led by Columbus and his crew, who intended to sail towards India. Instead, they set foot in the Americas for the first time. Over the next several years, Columbus made many trips back and forth between Spain and the Caribbean Islands. His efforts established the foundation for Spanish colonial rule, which ultimately endured for more... Read More »

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