Throughout history, landscape artists reflected the cultural overlay of human presence, the character involved by the artist in a landscape painting helps define the self-image of the people who inhabit the landscape and a sense of place that differentiates one region from other regions. A landscape painting simply is a visual documentary backdrop to people's lives.
The first European artist to paint landscapes of the Americas... Frans Janszoon Post.
In 1636, Frans Janszoon Post (17 November 1612 – 17 February 1680) traveled to Dutch Brazil in northeast of South America at the invitation of the governor Johan Maurits van Nassau-Siegen.
The Dutch Golden Age painter Frans Janszoon Post, though he was not registered in the guild until after his return, was the first European artist to paint landscapes of the Americas, during and after the period of Dutch Brazil.
At the time, Haarlem experienced an outbreak of the plague, so that his going to Brazil may have seemed a good option.
While Post was in charge of documenting the land, Albert Eckhout, another one of Nassau’s artists, was in charge of documenting the native people.
Post lived in Brazil from 1637 to 1644. He received 800 guilders for a landscape painting in the West Indies commissioned by Frederick Henry, Prince of Orange.
These works depict specific locations in Dutch Brazil, identifiable because of the representation of recognizable topography and buildings. Post includes a selection of Brazilian vegetation, and occasionally features birds and other small animals in the foreground.
Post continued to paint images of Brazil upon his return to The Netherlands in 1642, those paintings executed in The Netherlands have brighter colors with dark foliage framing an idealized baroque composition.
Frans Post's landscapes are open, full of resources. They evolve to show a more condensed view and desired depth with greener flora, bluer skies, and brighter horizons.
Upon Post’s return to The Netherlands, nearly every painting he completed in The Netherlands includes a large group of people interacting in some way, whether they are dancing or working in the sugar mills, typically, these figures are slaves. Unlike his Brazilian work, the figures are no longer subjects placed in the foreground; instead, they seem to become part of the landscape.
Post produced approximately 140 paintings during his lifetime. Of these, nearly half are dated, making it possible to track the evolution of his work between 1637, the day he landed in Brazil, and 1669, the date of his last letter. Frans Post continued to paint Brazilian scenes until 1669, and the lack of dated paintings in the 1670s suggests he stopped ten years before his death.
Frans Post's Brazilian landscape paintings strongly resemble the landscapes by his Haarlem contemporaries in terms of composition, style, and technique.
Frans Post's works were widely collected in The Netherlands, Europe, and Brazil, with the works showing an idealized vision of Dutch colonial rule.
So little is known of the last decade of post's life, Whitehead and Boeseman claim that Post developed an alcohol problem, which may be the reason He died in Haarlem and was buried in the St. Bavochurch on February 17, 1680.