Treasure Hunting in Dutch museum collections

With these works of art and portraits in the Dutch Museum collections major stories of the past are brought forward again. You just have to look for the works and the stories behind these works.

That still hardly happens.

Gesina ter Borch FB
Gesina ter Borch (a woman!) 1654,  in Rijksmuseum collection
Hollar 1646 Teylers
Wenceslaus Hollar 1645, Dutch Museum collections
Hollar 1635 Teylers
Hollar. Dutch Museum collections
Surinaams meisje collectie Rijksmuseum
Surinamese Girl ca 1803, Rijksmuseum collection

About me:

In 2008 I was guest curator of the exhibition Black is beautiful. Rubens to Dumas. Important advisors: Elizabeth McGrath (Rubens and colleagues, Warburg institute Image of the Black in Western Art collection), Carl Haarnack (slavery in books), Elmer Kolfin (slavery in prints and paintings) en Adi Martis (contemporary art). Gary Schwartz made his research for The Image of the Black in Western Art available to me.

Black beautiful Rubens to Dumas cover
Black beautiful Rubens to Dumas cover

In 2014 my essay ‘Painted Blacks and Radical Imagery in the Netherlands (1900-1940)’ was published in The Image of the Black in Western Art Volume V (I). (ed. David Bindman, Henry Louis Gates jr.)

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is the-image-of-the-black-in-western-art.jpg

In 2017 I published a book about the black servants at the Court of the Royal Van Oranje family. More than a thousand documents have been found about their lives. (only in Dutch)

Cupido en Sideron Cover 30-8-2017

All photos on this site are not intended for any commercial purpose. I have tried to trace all the rules and rights of all images. As far as I know, these images can be used in this way. If you ar a copyright holder and would like a piece of your work removed or the creditline changed then please do not hesitate to contact me.


  1. Interessante beelden Esther, zeldzaam getoond. Schrijft Geesken ter Borgh eronder: Naar het Leven ? Inderdaad meer onderzoek gewenst naar wie dat waren!

    1. Goed plan. Inderdaad naar het leven en zelfs met een datum. De familie woonde geloof ik in Zwolle.
      Gaan jullie dat niet doen aan de VU? Er is op dit gebied zoveel te vinden in de museum collecties. Jij hebt daar toch een onderzoeksaanstelling bij slavernij project? Of houden jullie het alleen op de geschreven literatuur?

  2. Misschien een tip: Elmer Kolfin (UVA) heeft ook jaren geleden een groot bedrag toegekend gekregen om hier onderzoek naar te doen van NWO. Misschien kunnen jullie samenwerken?

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