Jan Jansz Mostaert: Landscape with an episode from the Conquest of America (1545)

(Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

A painting by the Dutch artist Jan Jansz Mostaert (1474-1552/53). This painting is the first which shows Spanish soldiers fighting native indians in America and the Caribbean. It is assumed that the painting shows an scene from the 1540-1542 expedition of Francisco Vásquez de Coronado who hoped to find the fabled 'Seven Cities of Gold'. Coronado led his expidition from Mexico to present-day Kansas along the Grand Canyon and the Colorado River. The entire expedition was a failure which resulted into the bankruptcy of Coronado and a convictin of war crimes by the Spanish Council of the Indies. Coronado himself died later in 1554 of an infectious disease. The painting shows a fantasy landscape which has more in common with Europe then America. The native Puebloans who Coronado encountered during his expedition are shown here as primitive naked caucasians while the Spanish conquistadors (which Mostaert did know how they looked like) can be seen on the right. Painting from 1545.