Het Scheepvaartmuseum

Republic at Sea | May 2019

Republic at Sea

displays over fifty masterpieces from the museum’s collection. This exhibition tells the remarkable story of the Netherlands as a maritime nation. A 60 minutes dive into the golden age!

One of the highlights of this exhibition is a porcelain famille noire figure of a standing man, purchased by the museum from Vanderven Oriental Art at TEFAF Maastricht in 2018. We do have a comparable one in our collection at the moment, see below.

chinese, porcelain, famille noire, kangxi, blackamoor, slaves


Africans had lived in Europe - as free men and slaves - since Roman times, particularly in the countries around the Mediterranean. By the 17th and 18th centuries, dark skinned foreigners were present as servants and page boys in aristocratic households. This corresponds with the era of expansion of trade with America and the Far East, as well as the increased slave trade with West Africa. As with many of the imported trade goods, they were considered a luxury; a fashionable and suitably exotic status symbol, for the nobles and royalty who employed them.