The Old Indies at the French Court: Johan Maurits’s Gift to Louis XIV


  • Carrie Anderson Middlebury College, Vermont



Johan Maurits, Louis XIV, Dutch Brazil, diplomacy, gift exchange, Old Indies, Ambassador’s Staircase


In 1679 Prince Johan Maurits (1604-1679), the former governor-general of Dutch Brazil, presented French King Louis XIV (r. 1643-1715) with an extravagant gift comprised of Brazilian-themed images and objects, including a set of eight cartoons by the Dutch artist Albert Eckhout (1610-1665), which would be transformed into a set of tapestries known as the Old Indies (Anciennes Indes). This article will focus on the points of convergence between the Old Indies and the Escalier des Ambassadeurs, or Ambassador’s Staircase, at Versailles – the decoration of which was being completed at the same time Johan Maurits presented his gift. Aimed at making tangible the possibility of colonial conquest, the immersive environments created by the tapestries and the staircase’s convincingly painted spectacle blurred the boundaries between reality and representation, mediating an ideological space that existed between the static, centralized authority of the French court and the far-flung colonial possessions it sought to acquire.


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Author Biography

Carrie Anderson, Middlebury College, Vermont

Carrie Anderson is an Assistant Professor of Art History at Middlebury College, Vermont. Her work has appeared in The Journal of Early Modern History and Artl@s Bulletin and she coedited the spring 2018 special issue ‘Coordinates’ for Journal18. Her current book project, Dutch Gifts. The Art of Diplomacy at Home and Abroad, 1600-1750, repositions Dutch intra-and intercultural diplomacy within the array of texts, images, and objects that shaped the practice.




How to Cite

Anderson, C. (2019). The Old Indies at the French Court: Johan Maurits’s Gift to Louis XIV. Early Modern Low Countries, 3(1), 32–59.