Cuyp’s Portrait of Abel Tasman
This elegant 17th-century portrait is of the famous Dutch explorer Abel Tasman (c.1603–59) and his family.
Believed to have been painted in 1637 by Dutch artist Jacob Gerritsz Cuyp (1594–c.1651), it portrays Tasman, at the time a captain of a Dutch East India trading yacht, with his second wife, Janetjie Tjaers, and his daughter from his first marriage, Claesgen.
The arrangement of the three figures is symbolic. As Tasman motions towards a globe, as if introducing his skills to the viewer, his wife passes an apple to her stepdaughter, representing the conveying of knowledge from maturity to youth.
Tasman was the first European to see Tasmania and New Zealand. In 1642, while looking for a route to Chile, he sailed along the coastline of Tasmania before exploring the west coast of New Zealand’s South Island.
The painting is part of the Rex Nan Kivell Collection, a core collection of the National Library of Australia.