This painting is on view in Het Haags Historisch Museum in the exhibition African servants at The Hague court.
This exhibition tells the life stories of Willem Frederik Cupido, Guan Anthony Sideron and other African servants who, in slavery, were offered as presents to European courts during the eighteenth century. The exhibition highlights an aspect of Dutch history that so far has remained relatively unknown. Whereas exhibitions about courtly life often overlook servants, and especially those with a non-European background.
Usually, African servants were only depicted in paintings in the shadow of their ‘lord’ or ‘lady. An individual portrait such as this one is rare.
Unfortunately, little is knwon about the identity of the man in the portrait. He was presumably a servant to merchant Adriaan Boesses. After an extended stay in East India, Boesses returned to the Netherlands in 1787. Of the twelf passengers on board his ship from Cape the Good Hope, where he had a long stop to visit his nice, seven had been enslaved probably including the person depicted here.
Boesses was later appointed burgomaster of Haarlem by William V. His daughter married Count Abraham van Bylandt and the couple moved to Amerongen castle. Is was probably through her that this portrait of a servant came to hang in Amerongen Castle.
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