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Follower of Zacharias Wagener (1614-1688)


Tamanuâguasû (Giant Anteater)

Watercolour on Italian 17th or 18th-century paper, H. 28 x W. 43.5 cm

The present painting is a copy after Wagener’s painting of the anteater, Tamanduá-bandeira, which is illustrated in his “Thier Buch”, with 109 drawings of Brazilian fish, birds and mammals, published in Amsterdam c. 1641, in German.

Zacharias Wagener, or Wagenaer in Dutch, (Dresden 1614 – Amsterdam 1668) was a real adventurer who became Opperhoofd on Deshima and Governor of the Cape of Good Hope in the service of the VOC. During the Thirty-Year War in Germany Wagener tried his luck in Amsterdam where he worked for the map-maker Willem Blaeu. In 1634 he joined the WIC and left for Dutch Brazil where he worked as writer and painter, together with Frans Post, Willem Piso, Georg Marcgraf and Albert Eckhout to describe and depict Brazil for Governor Johan Maurits van Nassau Siegen. Wagener was the author of “Thier Buch,” with descriptions and drawings of fish, birds, animals, worms, fruits, etc. of Brazil, which were unknown in Europe.

In 1641 Wagener was back in Amsterdam where he signed up for the VOC and sailed for Batavia (Jakarta) in September 1642. There he quickly made a successful career, moving along with the highest circles. In 1656 he was appointed Opperhoofd in Japan where he made the court journey to Edo, and where he was caught in a great fire that destroyed most of the city, including the shogun’s palace. After a year he travelled back to Batavia (Jakarta), by way of Dutch Formosa/Taiwan. In 1658 Governor-General Joan Maetsuycker sent him to Japan for a second year as Opperhoofd. Because of the civil war in China between the Ming and the Qing no more ceramics were coming out of China and Wagener was the first to order ceramics in Japan, using German stonewares as examples. Back in Batavia (Jakarta) he was appointed surveyor, but because of health problems, in 1662, he was sent to the Cape of Good Hope as the successor of Jan van Riebeeck where he built the Castle of Good Hope.

Wagener kept a diary which was posthumously published in 1704, and in 1732 translated in English as “A short account of the voyages of Mr. Zachary Wagener, performed in thirty years, through Europe, Asia, Africa and America.”

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