Analysis Of Van Der Straet 's Discovery Of America Essays

1275 Words Oct 2nd, 2015 null Page
During the late sixteenth century, Spain had been fueled with fervor for colonial expansion. This reflected the European ideology of the time, which entailed the culturally myopic notion that Europe was the paragon of civilization, and that European nations had not only the right but also the obligation to civilize and westernize barbaric people from barbaric cultures, and to seize and imperialistically re-appropriate their foreign land. Jan Van Der Straet’s allegory “Discovery of America: Vespucci Landing in America” embodies the visualization of such European ideology and thereby attempts to lure early explorers and colonizers with enticing imagery, promising virgin land and bountiful natural wealth.
In the illustration, Van Der Straet depicts Amerigo Vespucci, an Italian explorer, fully clothed and concealing a weapon under his religious garments. He encounters an unclothed, barbaric woman who appears to have just awakened from sleep on a hammock. Vespucci carries a flag and crucifix, while the woman bears solely a helmet and minimal jewelry. The drawing shows a clash of two different lifestyles in which a culturally advanced Vespucci, with his fleet of ships, meets an unarmed, uncivilized woman with free roaming animals.
At first glance, one’s attention is drawn to the postures of the contrasting male and female figures positioned in the foreground of the picture. Their interaction alludes to the hidden implications within the allegorical illustration – a woman…

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