The Discovery Of America By Jan Van Der Straet

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The “discovery” of America was one that introduced a colonial discourse in Europe, which would shape the relationship between the Europeans of the Old World and the indigenous people of the New World. Exoticism, anxiety, and absurd speculation would fuel the European knowledge of the Americas during the late 15th and early 16th centuries. The drawing titled America by Jan Van der Straet, is a classic example of how Europeans used outlandish notions about indigenous Americans to distance themselves from these natives and thus, establish European superiority. Ultimately, Jan van der Straet’s image supports and justifies European colonialism by depicting the indigenous people as savage, primordial and in need of the paternal guidance of the…show more content…
The continent would then be named after Amerigo Vespucci as America (Almagià). The image also makes use of the two figures in the center in an allegorical way. The woman is representative of the Americas and the male is representative of Europe. Overall, the image makes use of a variety of iconographic elements to justify colonialism. Of these elements, one of the most significant is the indigenous woman in the center. The naked indigenous woman is a personification of America and is beckoning Vespucci, whom is a personification of Europe, to conquer and save her from the barbaric cannibals and creatures that are surrounding her in this unruly land. It is establishing the narrative that the Americas were consenting to colonization by Europe so that it may be rescued from the vicious and primitive people and creatures that inhabit it. The woman is the center piece of this image and is sitting upon a hammock while she is nude. As she is sitting down, she is drawing her hand towards Vespucci, who has clearly just arrived on the shores of the Americas as indicated by the caravel ships that are depicted behind him. As the two figures are meeting in the foreground of the image, cannibals in the background of the image are cooking and eating a human leg around a fire. Furthermore, the image is littered with depictions of monstrous animals such as the tiger and wolf towards the
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