A girl aged around three poses next to a high chair. She is beautifully dressed and wearing gold jewellery. Her parents were clearly well off – they could afford to have their daughter’s portrait painted by Govert Flinck, one of Rembrandt’s best pupils.
Lying on the high chair are some sweet treats, made with sugar from Brazil. These connect the luxury world of this young girl to the harsh reality of the people working on the sugar plantations. A reality that often remained invisible in the Dutch Republic and Dutch painting.
Lying on the high chair are some sugary treats. But the sugar that these sweets are made from came from Brazil. Almost all the sugar used in the 17th-century Netherlands came from the sugar cane plantations in Brazil. And was produced by enslaved men, women and children. The sugary treat may only be a detail in this portrait, but it connects the luxury world of this girl and her parents to the harsh reality of the people working on the plantations. A reality that often was, and is, invisible.
Hendrik Willem Cramer, Amsterdam and Cleves, 1853-1867; Arnoldus Andries des Tombe, The Hague, 1867 (on long-term loan to the Mauritshuis since 1890); bequest of Arnoldus Andries des Tombe, The Hague, 1903