In the sixties of the eighteenth century, the future stadtholder William V, receives two black children, Willem Frederik Cupido and Guan Anthony Sideron, probably as a present by The Dutch West India Company.
The seven-year-old Sideron is from the drought and famine stricken Curaçao, the slightly younger Cupido of the coast of Guinea, in Africa. The children land in a world of great luxury and abundance and rise in the hierarchy to Valet the Chambre at the court of the governor and his wife Wilhelmina van Prussia.
During the French Revolution, they flee with the couple and a small part of the court to Great Brittan. Cupido descendants now live spread throughout the Netherlands.
The black servants of the family of Orange can be seen in many paintings next to the stadtholders, princes and princesses, but very little is known about their lives.
Cupido en Sideron have been researched for years by Esther Schreuder. Based on this extensive archive research, which included dozens of documents written by Sideron, she describes how Cupido en Siderons lives went at the Dutch court. It’s a fascinating world of intricate power relationships, intrigues and double agendas.
The book is for the moment only in Dutch
More about the exhibition https://www.haagshistorischmuseum.nl/tentoonstelling/afrikaanse-bedienden-aan-het-haagse-hof
Gravin van Bylandt stichting, Mondriaan Fonds, Haags Historisch Museum, Prins Bernhard Cultuurfond, VSB fonds.
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.
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.)
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)
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