Body’s in Art without a name and history

Because of the research I’m doing, I sometimes visit unusual museums for an Art Historian. Last week I visited  the National Military Museum in Soesterberg.

For those who like planes (F 16), guns and weapons, I strongly recommend it.


But there’s more.

Old uniforms such as these


And paintings with important white men.


For example, this is Marshal Jean-Baptiste Count of Dumonceau (1760-1821) on a
painting by Jean Baptiste in 1809, according to the description of the museum.
Further it states that this Frenchman (according to other data on the Internet he is Belgian) stood out for his bravery.

He was appointed marschal of the Netherlands and served under King Louis Napoleon (the first king of the Netherlands and brother of Napoleon Bonaparte) and King William I. His nickname was le général sans tache. The spotless General.

Graaf_Dumonceau_met_keten_van_de_Orde_van_de_Unie Dumonceau met de keten van de Orde van de Unie en het grootlint van de Huisorde van de Trouw van Baden. In zijn hand houdt hij zijn maarschalkss

But there is someone standing behind him. Who is he?

Really nothing is said about him. Did they not see him?

You would think that he is important as well. Otherwise he had not been on this official portrait. Nothing is meaningless in a work of Art (to qoute prof. Elizabeth McGrath) Certainly not in an unmistakable display of power.

DSC_3687 detail

Thinking about this I remembered a portrait in the collection of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.
Could it be the same man?

Jean Bernard 1818 RP-T-1904-385

Jean Bernard 1818 Rijksmuseum RP T 1904-385

A nice job to find out. Who will be the first to solve this mystery?

My research is supported by the Prins Bernhard Cultuur fund, The VSB fund, The Gravin van Bylandt foundation and others.

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.


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