Classic Work on the Prince of Nassau’s Dutch Colony in Brazil

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23. BAERLE, Caspar van. História dos feitos recentemente praticados durante oito anos no Brasil e noutras partes sob o govêrno do ilustríssimo João Maurício, Conde de Nassau etc., ora govêrnador de Wesel, Tenente-General de Cavalaria das Províncias-Unidas sob o Príncipe de Orange, tradução o anotações de Cláudio Brandão. Rio de Janeiro: Imprensa Nacional, Serviço Gráfico, 1940. [i-ix] x-xvi, [1] 2-424, [2, limitation statement] pp., 57 leaves of plates on maize grounds (some folding), portraits, maps, views, etc. Large folio (45.5 x 32 cm), original paper wrappers printed in red and black. Fragile binding with a few tears and minor light staining, otherwise very fine, printed on fine laid paper. Provenance: Charles W. Hackett, with birthday presentation to him on half title.

     First edition in Portuguese. This is a translation of Caspar van Baerle’s original edition which appeared in Latin titled Rerum per octennium in Brasilia (Amsterdam, 1647), which Borba de Moraes describes thus: “Due to its sumptuousness and inestimable documentary value, it has been much sought after. Nowadays it is not easy to find a copy, and when one is found, it commands a high price” (p. 79). Borba de Moraes, p. 81 (citing the present edition): “To commemorate the third century of Dutch rule in Brazil, Gustavo Capanema, Minister of Education at that time, had Baerle’s book translated and printed by his Ministery. 500 copies of this edition were issued on ‘Vergé’ paper and twenty on ‘Ingres’ paper. Another issue, was printed in the same large format.” Sabin 3408 (citing 1647 edition). The author’s name is also spelled Barléu, Barlaeus, or Barleus.

     During the first half of the seventeenth century, the Dutch West India Company tried to wrest what is now Brazil from the Portuguese, with moderate success, and only for a few decades. Dutch holdings in South America reached their peak under Count Maurice of Nassau (1604-1679), who served as Governor-General of Dutch Brazil from 1637 to 1644. Upon his return to Europe Count Maurice commissioned Caspar van Baerle to write the present work about his Brazilian government. The Dutch did not retain their colony in Brazil after Count Maurice retired. They lost more territory to the Portuguese with each succeeding year, until finally in 1654, they renounced all their holdings.

     Caspar van Baerle’s book is the “classic work on the government of Mauritas van Nassau in Pernambuco” (Borba de Moraes). The engravings of Brazilian northeastern locales in this book illustrate fleets, battles, views of towns, etc. For the most part, the maps incorporate scenes which were created by renowned landscape artist Franz Post (1612-1680), who accompanied Nassau to Brazil with a group of artists and craftsmen. For over one hundred fifty years the images in Baerle’s book were the primary references to Brazilian landscapes available in Europe. Today the iconography in this work is familiar to Brazilians as the most important example of their pre-national art. The work includes a Mapuche vocabulary for Natives of south central Chile and southwestern Argentina.


Sold. Hammer: $475.00; Price Realized: $581.88.

Auction 23 Abstracts

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