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A pair of miniature portraits by Johannes Anspach (1752- 1823) depicting Vice-Admiral and Governor- General of Curaçao, Aruba and Bonaire Albert Kikkert (1762-1819) and presumably his brother Klaas Kikkert


The Netherlands, circa 1815-1823

Pastel on paper, H. 10.5 x W. 8.5 cm each (oval)

Born as the son of a high-ranked official of the Dutch island of Vlieland Admiralty, the 14-year-old Albert participated as lieutenant in the Battle of Doggersbank in 1781, after his father passed away. In 1786, the 25-year-old Kikkert set sail as commander of the ship ‘Hector’ for Curaçao, where he married Anna van Uytrecht (1768-1847). Through his marriage, Albert became owner of two plantations: Jan Sofat (or Jan Zoutvat) and San Juan.

 

When the Netherlands came under French control in 1795, Stadholder Willem V, who had fled to England, ordered all colonial Governors and officials to surrender to the English to prevent the colonies from becoming French. Kikkert initially chose the side of the French, but soon switched to the Stadholders side. Inspired by the revolutions in Europe and the successful revolt of the enslaved people on French Haiti, the enslaved of Curaçao in 1795 revolted as well. The ‘Captain’ of the freedom fighters, Tula, was ‘the property’ of Casper Lodewijk van Uytrecht (1730-1805), the brother-in-law of Kikkert. Two other leaders of the uprising were ‘the property’ of Kikkert himself, amongst them Bastiaan Carpata. Carpata was the ‘head’ or zwartofficier of Kikkerts plantation San Juan.

This was the reason for Kikkert to fight the revolt. With the deployment of the frigates Ceres and Medea, Kikkert brought cannons, munition and marines on land, and a civilian cavalry cleared the island of rebels. The revolt, in which many enslaved were killed, ended in a horrible execution of the rebel-leaders, in which Kikkert actively participated. Without a chill, he noted in his journal (translated) “The 3rd (October 1795) [....] two n*** wheeled alive, burnt, and afterwards decapitated and their heads placed on stakes, we chopped of the hands of one n***, and smashed his head in with a hammer, and hung five more.”

In 1815, after the installment of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the English returned Curaçao to the Dutch and in 1816 King Willem I visited the Island accompanied by Kikkert and his family members. Kikkert was appointed Governor-General of ‘Curaçao and Dependencies’. He was called the ‘Governor of Colours’ as he decreed to have the white buildings painted in pastel colours, as a doctor on the island thought the many eyediseases among inhabitants were caused by the reflection of the white. Kikkert died in 1819, while his letter of resignation was on its way to the Netherlands. The Curaçao newspaper noted that the funeral procession of officials and civilians was so long that the end did not reach the cemetery before the body was buried.

 

An almost identical portrait of Albert Kikkert by Anspach is in the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam (SK-A-4660). However, this portrait doesn’t show the Military Order of William, which Kikkert received in 1815 and does not have
a pendant entitled Klaas Kikker, probably Albert’s brother.

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